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How do I Pair the Colors like an Artist?

Colors are everywhere. Okay, that’s obvious. But how about pairing colors based on different tones, saturation levels, hues, and more?

It is not easy for everyone. But for some reason, it was fine for me. I guess because I have artistic talent? Well, I did do a color and shape theme for my college thesis in my senior year.

I can pair pastels, bright colors, muted colors, and much more. Below is a painting I did where I put colors together based on similar factors.

Notice how most of these colors are kind of muted or achromatic, meaning they have only pure black and/or white–no colors? I was considering an Alaskan landscape theme for this work.

Below is a medallion I did on the computer.

These are all mid-tones. They are not too light, dark, prismatic, or muted. They all fall in between.

Sometimes I come up with colors based on a scheme or theme. For example, if the theme is Arabian Nights, I will consider gold, teal, and royal purple. If the theme is Jungle Safari, deep greens, and maybe some light oranges or yellows would work.

Some aspects are obvious too. For instance, if you are hosting a summer party and you want a color scheme, you wouldn’t choose gray. It would feel out of place. Plus, some people associate gray with drear or depression.

That’s right. Colors do affect moods. A study has shown that blue may keep people calm while bright yellow may increase their anxiety.

Well, this is not a psychology post. Nor is psychology something I blog about. The point is that colors matter. Whether it’s for art purposes, mood purposes, or etiquette reasons (i.e. you would never wear bright colors to a funeral), color choices are essential.

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Why I Draw with Pencils First, and Then Trace in Pen if Desired

Image from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, I was taught to draw in pencil first. Then trace it in pen if desired. And you know what? I think it was great advice. In fact, I still do that now these days… sometimes. To be honest, I haven’t been drawing that much recently.

Anyway, you know that pencils come with erasers. If you make a mistake, you erase that. There are also erasable pens. But I haven’t used those since, like, fifth grade.

Yes, if you make an error with a permanent pen, you can’t remove it. But you can put white-out over it. I’ve been doing that a lot these days.

What I like to do is draw the basic shapes with light pencil marks. Next, I draw the main images with normal pencil marks. Then trace over them with pens. I finish by erasing the pencil marks. After all, no one is perfect. So pencil marks will still show unless you erase them.

I have drawn purely without pencils before as a child. That was fine. But those were drawings for personal pleasure. Not for school. Plus, I hadn’t received the full formal training for art, then. I took art classes at school. But they were required for everyone, including those with little to no artistic talent.

Once I got the formal training in high school and college, I don’t think I ever started drawing with pens voluntarily again. Sadly, these days, my hands sometimes shake too much. And because I don’t have an authority forcing me to start with a pen, I probably won’t return to drawing with pens only for a long, long time. I will still trace pencil lines with pens, though.

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Drawing by Hand and Coloring in Photoshop

Who’s done this before? Raise your hand. Ha ha, just playing with you. But believe it or not, it can be fun. I’ve done it so many times.

I do have a graphic tablet that I can draw on. Although I’ve gotten better control at it, I still draw better with pencil and paper—the old-fashioned way.

However, when it comes to coloring, digitally is more fun. Think about it. You’ve got unlimited colors, digital tools, and best of all, no mess to clean up. It’s all on your computer or tablet (like an iPad).

Below is an example of an illustration I did where I drew by hand and colored digitally.

Can you see the pencil lines? I don’t know about you, but I can. They look kind of rough. There are a few digitally-drawn lines as you can see on the sidewalk, street, and even the bricks. And the colors are obviously digital.

Here is another image drawn traditionally and painted digitally.

Although this might not look nearly as exciting as the one with the teenage boy above, the pencil lines are more obvious. The colors were originally done with chartpak markers, which leave extreme marks. Some hues were re-painted in Photoshop.

While these were fist done with pencil outlines, sometimes I trace the pen over the pencil and erase the pencil marks, like in this image below.

Chairs

Those lines look crisp and clear, not to mention much smoother. That is because they were done with high-quality pens. And, of course, the colors are digital.

Yes, Photoshop and any other Adobe program is costly. But if you have it or want it, once you get good at it, coloring your hand-drawn images is super fun.

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Fun with Figure Drawing

At first, I would consider completely avoiding looking at nude models as I’d found nakedness disturbing. I would even decide that I’d rather fail a college art class than look at a nude model. But that was what I had thought when I was in high school.

In college, figure drawing was required in the art curriculum. At first, I was a bit nervous. Even when the model immediately removed her cover-up, I was a bit uncomfortable and tried not grin (obviously, I wouldn’t have burst out laughing—I was 21). But then I got used to it and discovered something new about myself: figure drawing was fun. I got past the discomfort of seeing nudity.

I learned how to draw poses and how to construct them with lines, shapes, and more. I still use these techniques when drawing for pleasure. It helps a lot.

Now why didn’t I post a picture of one of my drawings, you might wonder? Because I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a blog post. Everyone is welcome to read the articles, including kids. But you can try picturing drawing ideas in your head. This technique is necessary for art majors, especially if you are considering illustration or animation. Figure drawing may be exciting for you too. You never know.

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How to Use Reference Images for Illustration

An example of an illustration I did using reference material

What is a reference image, you may ask? A reference image is a picture you use to inspire your drawing or illustration. You do NOT copy it exactly, unless, of course, it’s for personal use only. However, if you’re going to upload it online or make money off of it, then at least some aspects have to be changed.

For example, you draw a portrait of a person. You use a photo to guide you. But to make it your own and not be considered plagiarized, you should change, say the eye color, remove a piece of jewelry, etc.

Another trick I’ve come up with on my own is mixing and matching facial features to create illustrations of people. I would use different images from various sources, like Google or my school yearbooks. I would draw one person’s set of eyes, another’s nose, another’s smile, and so forth, on one character. As long as it doesn’t look obvious and you change some details, you’re fine.

Reference images are also useful for body positions, scenery, backgrounds, and more. In fact, if you go into illustration or animation, then reference images are musts. You need to make the art appear credible. Drawing just from your imagination will cause more people to consider you illegitimate.

Of course, no artist is perfect. In fact, many cartoons have inconsistencies with their art. For example, a character’s eye color may change. Or a tree may disappear. This is easily noticed by audiences.

So there you have it. Now have fun illustrating using reference images.

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Mini Art Show: A Young Woman Sketch

Oh, isn’t she lovely? Ha, ha, just admiring this sketch I did years ago. It wasn’t for school, but for pleasure. I wanted to learn how to make more realistic (technically semi-realistic) portraits.

I saw a video of some guy sketching a woman’s face. I practiced that too, and then tried doing other variations of my own. This was one of them.

And let me guess what you think. She looks like Fleur Delacour from “Harry Potter”, doesn’t she? I actually discovered that by mistake when sketching this image. I was NOT trying to draw Fleur, nor was I trying any “Harry Potter” fan art. Actually, when I was 13, I made silly “Harry Potter” fan art of the characters doing silly, ridiculous things. They are no longer funny. Twelve years ago, I laughed by brains out at them and showed my family. They were unimpressed. Now I look at them and think, “Oh, god”.

That’s another topic, though. But who doesn’t like to have fun? Anyway, let me get back to the image.

Why does the hair have bolded streaks, you may ask? Because the demonstrator in the video did his drawing like that. Where are the other variations? Unfortunately, I might’ve thrown them all away, including this one. I was probably cleaning out my room and felt that I no longer needed those pictures. Luckily, I photographed this one and the digital picture of it is still here.

There is not much else about this drawing that I want to discuss. The shading was done based on what I’ve learned. Also, in the original image that this was based off, the woman didn’t have a ponytail. That’s all, guys.

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Mini Art Show: Perseus and Medusa

An illustration I did for college

How many of you enjoyed learning about Greek mythology? I certainly did. That was why I chose to illustrate scenes from “Perseus and Medusa”.

This was an assignment in my illustration class at college. It was the final one. We had to illustrate a fairytale NOT adapted by Disney. I was passionate about “Perseus and Medusa”.

Above is where Perseus has just chopped off Medusa’s head. Want to know the story? You’ve got Google for that. Or you may already know.

While my professor was unhappy about this, I had copied an illustration I did of Perseus holding Medusa’s head and pasted it into the cave background I drew. Except for the blood, which was done digitally in Photoshop, I drew the outline by pencil and pen and colored in strong markers. Not the Crayola kinds kids use. But professional kinds. There was a little bit of Prismacolor and a little bit of something else that was stronger and bled more.

I used a reference image to illustrate the cave. Thanks to learning figure drawing, building Perseus was no problem. He has muscles as a way to represent both strength and heroism.

You should know that Medusa is hideous and dangerous, especially when one looks into her eyes. So I had to choose colors that represented monsters. And because gazing into Medusa’s eyes can turn you into stone, Perseus’s eyes are closed.

And why this simplistic style, you might ask? It was the easiest at that time, which was two years ago. Also, a lot of people illustrate Greek myths in simplistic styles, especially if they are illustrating for children.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for more mini art shows. Thanks.

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Mini Art Show: Parrot at the Zoo

Who doesn’t love macaws, parrots, and other tropical birds? They have beautiful bright colors. Some can develop speech and mimic sounds. “Polly Wants an Art Show,” the bird above may say. Ha, ha.

So I was practicing my illustration skills. I decided to try a somewhat simplistic technique. See the solid colors and the simple designs of the “jungle”? Yup. You probably do.

Now why was jungle in quotation marks, you may ask? Because this was (pretty much) copied from a photo I took at the Central Park Zoo. The macaw was actually behind glass and behind it was a painted rainforest.

Except for the platform (I don’t know the word) and the bird, of course, pretty much everything else was official. I don’t even remember if the pink flower was real.

Some elements were distorted for ease and simplicity in the artistic style. The trees were, for instance, as were the leaves. Colors might’ve been changed too. But I am not totally sure. I might have the original photo I captured. Yet, I don’t know where it is.

The outlines may look a bit choppy. That’s because they were done in pencil and scanned into the computer, where I colored them in using Photoshop. And if you think lines need to be crisp and clean all the time in art or illustration? Think again. Many artists use rough outlines. Some use none at all because the style is intended to be outline-free. That is the case for some types of styles (like “South Park”) or realistic paintings (like the “Mona Lisa”).

Why dark green leaves, you might also wonder? I never knew why, but darker, bluer greens always felt more jungle-like to me while lighter, yellowish greens felt very grassy and sunny spring or summery, like a backyard. Of course, it varies per region. Rainforests in Central America looks quite different from those in, say, Africa. At least from the pictures I saw. Obviously, pictures aren’t enough for research.

All right, enough said. I hope you enjoyed this post.

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Mini Art Show: Round Gingerbread Ornament

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a mini art show. But hey, we’re just in time for the holidays. I’m going to discuss this piece above. I did this painting in my senior year of college two years ago, part of my senior thesis.

I love gingerbread cookies, especially when they’re soft and/or decorated. I also like to show some holiday spirit at this time of year. There’s green and red dots, representing Christmas. There are also blue and white marks, acknowledging Hanukkah.

The white against the light and dark browns were meant to look like icing. Yum, lol. The green and red dots could be big sprinkles, chocolate candies, gumballs, or anything sweet, honestly.

Of course, they’re not meant to be eaten everyday. But at holiday season, or any occasion, they are delicious. Decorated cookies rule as do plain ones.

Anyway, my thesis was complex or unusual abstract art. And because this was done in December, I wanted to add a holiday-themed tone to it. Themes actually helped in my abstract drawings and paintings. Otherwise, I would’ve been stuck with no ideas or making random shapes that would’ve taken me nowhere. However, I’d distort the shapes to not make them obvious because, hey, that’s what abstract art is all about.

I’ve done a bunch of holiday artworks and crafts before, although I don’t remember all of them. I do, however, recall wanting to draw snowmen a certain way when I was little. But that’s another story.

Why is it round, you may ask? Because one student wanted me to create works in non-traditional shapes, besides squares and rectangles. And I agreed.

So happy holidays to all!

 

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Mini Art Show: Birthday Card Design

 

sale birthday card 1

It’s my birthday this Thursday, November 22nd (whoo!). I’ll be turning 25.

So in honor of that, I decided to post a birthday card design that I made myself. That’s right. I illustrated the cupcake and decided on the text font, color, sizes, and alignment, based on my graphic design studies and greeting card research. I did this in Photoshop, but the cupcake image was hand drawn. I then retraced and colored it on the computer.

I chose pink since it is a light color and expresses (usually) positive feelings. And birthdays are often associated with positivity, such as a time to celebrate. Of course, as much as we’d all wish, birthdays are not always happy. I, myself, have had some miserable birthdays throughout my life.

But that’s a different topic. Anyway, I decided to make the cupcake look cartoony and give it eyes and a smile. It adds a very energetic feeling that makes many think partying rather than a more realistic or soft style, which would make a lot of people think sophisticated, relaxed, and quietness.

The text was done in a serif font (which is when the letters have tails at the ends of their lines compared to sans serif fonts, like Helvetica) because I wanted to add a little bit of sophistication and have it resemble the way letters are often styled on cakes. Bakeries may exclude the fancy style of writing on the cakes, but it varies. I never really paid much attention to the style of writing on cakes.

However, I do notice that fancier calligraphy is common on occasion cakes, especially for formal events, such as sweet sixteens, mitzvahs, and other catering events. I live in New York on Long Island, and while many other parts of the country usually only use catering halls for weddings, where I live, people do them for other milestones.

Anyhow, the “You” is large because I felt that it would make the word feel more personal to the birthday person. I’ve even had the cards printed and provided them to my friends for their birthdays. One person has complimented on the design looking professional.

Note, that this was not a college assignment. I chose to do this on my own. I thought it would be fun as well as a way to hone my graphic design and illustration skills. I even have this image on my online portfolio along with other independent art.