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Yes, You Can “Make” Primary Colors

Image from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but when I was in school, I was taught that no color can produce a primary color, such as red, yellow, or blue. That is true.

However, you can “make” primary colors with secondary, intermediate, and other colors already mixed. For example, if you have magenta and yellow, and you use more magenta and less yellow, you can make red. The same can work if you mix magenta and orange evenly.

Yellow can’t really be made with other colors, unless it’s a brownish or tannish kind. The prismatic kind is purely primary. However, if you have teal and royal purple, you can create blue with them.

This can come in handy when you are working on a project and you either don’t have, forgot, or ran out of the primary colors. Of course, if you are in school or college, never state in any assignment that secondary and additional mixed colors can produce red or blue.

So, if you are ever in a situation where you have no red, yellow, or blue, then you can mix other colors to produce them. But it’s always good to be prepared with your colors before you do any art project.

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Mini Art Show: Squid Piñata

In my senior year of college, I took a sculpture class. For our first assignment, we had to make piñatas. Our professor discouraged the traditional donkey piñata and filling it with candy. He wanted us to be more creative.

I intended to make an octopus piñata. But it ended up looking like a squid. So I made it a squid. Although squids are often pinkish gray, I made mine orange.

We were supposed to start off with smaller models. But my practice one was kind of big. So I got to turn it into my final project.

It was no joke that this project involved a ton of work. From putting the cardboards together, pasting paper onto it, and filling it, I would spend hours at night working on it.

Because squids have ink, I chose to fill my piñata with pens. And not just regular ones—colored pens. You know why—to make more artsy.

We hung up our piñatas at an event. Sadly, it rained later. But I did hear that someone got to hit my piñata and get the pens out.

Originally, I wanted to give the piñata a hat. But due to the work involved and the tight deadline, I had to abandon that plan. I do love putting humor in art, though. Nevertheless, I got a good grade.

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Simple Shapes vs. Outlining Drawings

Who has drawn before? Pretty much all of us. We learned it in school. However, only a section of us have developed a passion or talent for them.

Most of us were probably taught to outline our drawings first as children. And that is fine. But if you go into illustration or animation, you’ll have to learn about drawing using simple shape blocks. Why? Well, consistency. The smallest can be greatly noticed by the general public.

While I still outline some drawings, when I want to be serious, I now use simple shapes. The image below shows a drawing I did using simple shapes.

It wasn’t meant to be finished as it was used as a reference template for someone I’ve worked with. Yet, you can see the simple shapes as building blocks for each character or element.

There are times where it’s acceptable to outline or be very simplistic. Like in math, you may have been asked to draw out problems but not use details. The focus was the problem and not the art. But I’m no math expert.

Anyway, if you’re in a hurry, by all means outline everything first, like you were probably taught as a kid. But if you’re a serious artist who wants to hone your illustration or drawing skills, then simple shapes are a must. I was taught this in college.

I don’t have a picture that I clearly outlined. Well, I’ve practiced using other drawings. But I threw them all away due to space issues in my room. Also, they weren’t my ideas.

Yet, I can tell you the technique. I would select a semi-realistic image and decide on the person’s age range and gender. The choices for age range were baby/small child, older child, teen/young adult, middle aged adult, or senior. I would use an image from the face to chest instead of the whole figure. I would tell myself to observe the outlines but not to trace. Pretty much no image came out exact. However, most did turn out similar. And I accepted that.

I would practice at least a couple times a day. Then I would move to the next level of making them look like cartoons of themselves. That was very, very difficult.

Why semi-realistic, you may ask? One, it’s the style I’m most attracted to. Two, it’s neither too realistic or too cartoony. Many people prefer cartoonish style over realistic. But I feel cartoonish is a little too easy for me.

I would like to return to that soon. You could try these techniques too. Good luck.

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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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Fun with Photoshop

Lighting effect 3

Above is a lighting effect I did in Photoshop. That’s right, Photoshop is more than just editing photos, although that is the main purpose of it.

You can draw, paint, shade, and anything you would do with traditional painting. Errors are easier to fix. You don’t have to start over and redraw the thing you made a mistake with. Best of all, there is no mess to clean up. It’s just your digital palette which can be shown as a gradient bar or swatches. You can name your colors, too.

Just be aware that Photoshop is expensive and can be complex or abstract for those just starting out. I’ve used Photoshop for over seven years. It was one of my high school graduation gifts, along with a MacBook Pro.

You should also avoid letting it spoil you. Don’t allow the easy error-fixing shortcuts make you frustrated when you have to do traditional media . That happened to me when I was 19. I was a bit disappointed (although didn’t express it) to have to erase the eye on the portrait I was drawing and had to redraw it instead of transport it to the right spot quickly. That would be magic. And of course, that’ s not possible.

Another approach I’ve done several times was draw something by hand using pencil and then scanning it into Photoshop to color, like in the image below.

Little Girl Scan

Yup, you can color in Photoshop using the paint bucket tool. Photoshop recognizes lines and will color only in between them as long as there are no gaps. Even the tiniest ones can get unwanted elements colored in by accident.

Speaking of which, Photoshop uses pixels. If you draw an image in Photoshop and try to blow it up, it will look blurry. You can raise the dots-per-inch (DPI) to 300 and that’ll make it less blurry. But Illustrator might be better for enlarging a picture. That’s another topic, though.

Blending is also something you can do in Photoshop. Below is a portrait I did where I blended colors to add dimension to the subject.

20150613_195551_resized coloredYou can see the smudges, tints, tones, and highlights. It also looks tangible, especially the lips. I was trying to experiment with realistic textures in digital painting. Few simple digital art programs would offer something this complex.

So if you’re considering using Photoshop, take these into account. Get to know the program. Although I’ve used it for over seven years, there are still some techniques I have yet to learn.