Friday, January 31, 2014

Simply Messing About with Mediums

Over here in my head, there is always a debate over traditional vs. digital. Which is more appealing? Which is more fun to make? Which can get me more work? I switch back and forth all the time because my tastes change. My skills, however, differ in both methods. Sometimes I need them to influence each other.

Recently, I was approached to do a color sample in my sketch style and it turned my world around. It makes me ecstatic that this style may eventually be ready for publishing, but I still have a little ways to go. I wanted to show you a little bit of what my process looks like as I try to figure this out.

This sketch is what started me thinking about all of this again.

I've been drawing like crazy in sketchbooks for a little over a year now, and most often my drawings turn out looking like the one above. Recently, I started incorporating Prismacolor colored pencil and Copic marker into my usual pencil and ink brush doodles. My eyes needed to see more color and finish in the sketches I had grown to love making.

But that Alligator and Armadillo tea party got me excited, so I took it to Photoshop to color it as fast as possible. Why? Because my skills in Photoshop currently surmount my Paper skills...it's a crutch.

I liked this color, but it didn't have the same energy, so I left it as is...

In this particular case I was happy with the colors I chose, but it still wasn't working for me. I went back to the drawing board...quite literally.

That's better, but still not quite right.

But, I was missing the vibrancy and saturation. I know that it's possible to attain this with watercolor, but I haven't figured out how to get there yet. Then, I remembered the gouache set I got for Christmas and started to play again with yet, another new medium.

I started with a gouache warm up.

And this is where I landed.

My goal for what I post on the Simply Messing About blog was always to document my journey back into traditional painting...that's it. But with this particular project, I hit on an important fact, that it's ok to jump back and forth always letting digital influence traditional and vice versa. And sometimes, they work really well – together.

I added a background color to this gouache painting...digitally.

Until next time!
~Renee



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Manga Studio 5 Mini Tips: Color Palettes

There are two main ways that I use Manga Studio 5's color palette.

  • Tip 1 is how I save the color swatches I use in Photoshop and import them into Manga Studio 5. This allows me to go back and forth between the two programs and keep the colors consistent.
  • Tip 2 is about how I like to create new color palette files for each illustration project and save it for future use. I really like how quick and easy it is to create new palettes. It's also nice that MS5 gives you options to save it as a MS5 file or as a Photoshop swatch file.
Tip 3 is from fellow Simply Messing About contributor, Christina Forshay:

  • In her latest project, Christina made sure she named her swatches so she could use the correct color throughout her book. 


Tip 1: Import Photoshop's color swatch file: 

I frequesntly import color swatches that I use in Photoshop into MS5. This is really useful when I move my illustration files back and forth from Photoshop to Manga Studio and want to keep the colors consistent.

In Photoshop: Save your swatch that you want to use in MS5.

Save the .aco file. This is Photoshop's color swatch file extension.


Go to Manga Studio 5: Import the .aco file you just saved.


Select your .aco file.


Now you have your Photoshop color swatch in Manga Studio.




Tip 2: Create custom color palettes for each project 

I like to create new color palettes for every illustration project I have and save it in the project folders. I do this because it's easier to have the palette I use for each project accessible just in case changes are requested to an illustration weeks later.

Yes, I know that I can use the color picker but there are so many places where the colors are mixed that I want to know what original color I started with. That way I can make sure colors don't gradually shift from the first page of a book illustration to the last.







Tip 3 from Christina Forshay: Naming Color Swatches







Friday, January 3, 2014

2014: Working Smarter

Happy 2014! Just like everyone, I’m reflecting on what happened in 2013 and what I can improve in 2014.

Last year I experimented with how I could improve my work and how to do it more efficiently. Efficiency became key when I was lucky enough to be very busy with illustration work most of the year. I wanted to find the sweet spot between quality and speed. A lot of the blog posts here last year were my explorations in that.

The flip side of being so busy with work was I let my health slip. I stopped exercising. During all-night work sessions I would eat comfort food to get through the stress. My drawing arm and lower back started to ache. I started to realize that if I wanted a long career as an illustrator I needed to take better care of myself.

So 2014 is going to be the year that I figure out how to work smarter. This means I need to figure out a couple of things:

  • How to work in a way that causes less stress in my arm and back. I’ve partially solved this problem by buying a monitor arm that allows me to me to use my tablet monitor standing up and at any angle. This has helped my back and my arm a bit.
  • I need to figure out a way to work exercise in my schedule so I won’t just drop it when I get busy. I realized that if I keep myself strong, I’ll experience less of those aches and pains of over-working my drawing arm and back.
  • I didn’t do any personal projects last year. I want to commit to a project that I can do bit by bit this year so I can push myself as an artist.

You’ll see me post my various experiments in trying to work “smarter” this year. I hope I can figure it out and can report back good ideas.