This week I pulled out some eighteen month old drawings to work on. And I don’t mean small starter drawings from my ink books that go back years and years but drawings that I had finished way back in August 2013 but then abandoned. The original idea for these drawings was the message dress. I guess it’s similar in concept to my “Message Tee” comic (and that may be the problem) but instead of messages on drawings I was going to have messages on dresses. But the messages weren’t just going to be like type on a T-shirt. They were going to be drawn in sort of a 1960s style psychedelic poster with the words flowing all around the shape of the dress.
I worked up four drawings back in that summer. Oddly enough I made the initial drawings on trading card size paper (2.5×3.5 inches). I do that on occasion but not very often. I blew up the small drawings onto 6×9 inch paper and drew them at that size. After drawing them again I blew them up on 11×14 inch paper and inked them. Then what happened? Nothing. There they sat untouched. I just didn’t like them very much and moved on to other things. But they stuck in my mind because I still liked the idea a bit.
I pulled out the drawings this week and looked at them. I still didn’t like them. There was something missing in them. They had no life. I also didn’t like my inking. I can remember that I tried to keep the drawings simple. I wanted basic lines and shapes to fill in with whatever message I had to say in type. The colors and the words were going to make up the most interesting part of the drawing. But that doesn’t mean I should start with a boring drawing. A boring drawing is always a problem. And keeping things simple isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s actually easier to make something complex with a lot of lines than simple with only a few. With complex you can easily be off with five percent of your lines and it won’t be noticeable. They’ll blend in with all the rest. With simple if even one line is off there is nowhere for it to hide. And my bad lines were out in the open.
I decided that if I was going to work on Message Dress again I would have to go back to the beginning. I still liked the initial 2.5×3.5 inch drawings so I pulled them out again. I also decided that it was a mistake to only draw them at 6×9 inches. I think I did that in order to keep the shapes simple but it ended up making them inaccurate. This time I decided to break out the 9×12 inch paper for the pencil drawings so that I had a little more room. I think that extra room helped. At least I ended up liking the new drawings much more than the old ones.
After that I went with a bigger size for the inks too. I’m not even positive why I went with the 11×14 size originally. I almost never do finished pieces at that size. I went with my usual 11×17 inch size and made the drawings sixteen inches tall on that paper. I also took the time to redraw the faces at the larger size. I think the faces were a real weakness in the earlier drawings. Since I was trying to keep things simple and not make the drawings about the faces I didn’t give them the attention they deserved. The original faces were a bit too clumsy and awkward for me. I took more time with these ones and though I don’t think they turned out as perfectly as I might have wanted them too they are much better.
Now, of course, I have to finish them. I still have no messages to put on my dresses. Unlike before I like the drawings but I still haven’t finished them. I was planning on coloring them on the computer but I really haven’t done a ton of computer coloring much lately. It’s not a process I enjoy much these days. Oddly enough though I did finish one computer colored print this week. I kind of forced myself to. I was working on a large drawing using my Monster a Day dry brush style and I really wanted to finish it as a computer colored print. I must say that it took forever. I wanted to try some new coloring techniques but in the end decided to keep things simple. And simple took a lot of time. I couldn’t believe how long. And how many printouts it took.
When making a piece that’s destined to be a print on paper I can’t just rely on what the screen shows me. That’s because almost everything looks good on screen. Al the colors are bright, vibrant, and usually behave themselves pretty well. Those same colors on a print have a totally different act. So just when I think I have things finished I print out an 8×10 proof of the art (not its full 10×15 size) an inevitably don’t like something. I think it took me at least six proof before I got it right. The whole process was about five hours long. And that was for some simple non-illustrative color. Psychedelic 60s poster art color will probably take longer. Especially since I’m not quite sure how to pull it off. I don’t think I’ve ever done that type of color before.
So there you have it. I pulled some old work out of a drawer, improved on it, but still didn’t finish it. I consider myself a finisher so it’s a little disappointing that I still haven’t figured this out yet but I’m happy that I’m a bit closer. Now I think I’m going to have to figure out a few things to work on that don’t include computer coloring. I’m still pretty sick of it.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics and a hardcover book.
Check them all out here:
I finally did it and pulled the trigger on buying a new camera this week. A camera to replace my Canon Powershot SX30IS that I bought back in 2010. That one is a super-zoom model (35x zoom) that I bought to take street photos. It certainly wasn’t a dream camera and I originally bought it as a compromise since there really wasn’t one I liked for a decent price (I payed $470 for the SX30). But in the end I genuinely enjoyed shooing with the camera and its shortcomings didn’t bother me much at all. I am pretty good at finding the strength of a piece of equipment and playing to that rather than worrying about its weakness.
So this past December I looked around for a new camera to replace that one. Not that there was anything wrong with the old one but four years is a long time in the camera world these days and there were bound to be some features out there I could use. Actually I’m always looking at cameras on-line and have a wish list of camera stuff at Amazon. I rarely buy anything off it but I can keep track of stuff there.
I ended up wanting to get the latest model of the Canon that I already had. That’s the Powershot SX60. At $500 it was even more expensive than the SX30 when I bought it but it had a bigger zoom (60x), some wi-fi capabilities (plus an app), and an input jack for a external microphone. Though I had been saving up some money for it back in December I didn’t want to spend the cash. Especially since I don’t take street photos until the weather gets warm. So I waited. And then the price on the camera actually went up by fifty bucks! So I waited another month.
The price never came back down but I found a camera kit for the same $550 price that came with a 32 gig memory card, various lens cleaning stuff, a case, and one or two other little things that I’ll probably never use. I decided to get it now because I wanted to shoot some video with it. I would have bought the SX50 model instead because it’s cheaper and the lesser zoom wouldn’t bother me but it had no external microphone jack. If shooting video last year has taught me anything it’s that good sound is essential. I picked up a $25 camera mounted microphone to go with it.
After I received the camera I gave it a test and got no sound with the external microphone. That’s when I discovered that the mic needs a battery to make it work. How did I not know that? I didn’t look. That’s how. I also discovered that the camera shoots higher resolution video (1280×1020 60fps) than my old 2008 computer can actually play (gotta save up for a new one of those too). Higher resolution that YouTube will post too. So I ended up turning down the resolution.
I had come up with the idea for a walkthrough of how I made one of my large drawings a little while ago. I couldn’t quite do it with my old camera so I waited until I got the new one. I was planning on showing the drawing and then showing all the steps and tools it took to make the drawing. I have a lot of different French curves and templates that I could show and I though that would be interesting. Not to mention the different sized drawing it took to get to the big size.
The first time I shot it things went pretty well. Yes, I say the first time because remember that external microphone I mentioned? As well as having a battery in it you need to remember to turn in on. I forgot and since the light that shows you it’s on in on the back of that mic/camera and I was in front of it I didn’t notice it was off. I filmed the whole thing, took the camera off the tripod, popped the memory card in the computer, copied the video, played the video, heard nothing, and said, “Oh, no”. I’d have to start over again.
The good thing about doing it twice was that I knew what I was doing the second time around. Instead of flying by the seat of my pants I knew what shoots I needed. And I could shoot them out of order. The first time around I had to keep moving the camera ant tripod around between my easel and my desk. Not a huge deal but I had to reset and reframe everything a couple of times. The second time around I wrote down what all the different sections would be, there were seven sections, and then shot the easel ones first and the desk ones second.
The $25 dollar mic did a good job. The problem I have with built in microphones it that they pick up a lot of ambient room noise. External microphones are more focused on a person’s voice. I have no experience miking things but I think the sound with the external mic is passable. It’s at least as good as I’m going to get it. The only thing I had to fiddle with in iMove was the sound levels. For the easel shots I was in front of the mic and for the desk shots I was beside it. I had to turn down the volume on the desk shots. They were just a little too loud.
When the warm weather comes around I’ll head down to Manhattan and really put the camera through its paces. I’ve read that it’s tough to focus at its full 60x magnification and I expect it to be but I’ve also read that same thing about every super-zoom camera over the years. The knock on my 35x zoom was the same but I worked with it just fine. I expect the same of the new one.
One last thing that is really really annoying about this camera is the battery. They made it ever so slightly bigger than the SX30 battery so I can’t use my old batteries and will have to buy new ones. And a Canon made battery is about $50. I think I’m going to have to go with a knock off battery. I just can’t reward Canon for such bad battery behavior.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got eight new comics plus a hardcover.
Check them all out here:
Habit is a funny thing. I always try to make it work for me but you never know. This week I was making it work for me in order to get some stuff done but it was a mystery as to why I couldn’t get things done before then. Or at least the drawings I got done this week. My large marker drawings. It was back in September that I made a bunch of my 20×28 inch marker drawings. By a bunch I mean four of them. Being that they each take a day to two to make that’s a bunch of time and the strange thing is that after I spend so much time on one thing I start to think it would be time better spent on some other thing. So it was about a two and a half week period in which I got those four drawing done and then I moved on. The odd thing is that between the beginning of October and now, the end of January, I wanted to do some more but couldn’t. It just didn’t happen and I don’t know why. It’s not like I was doing nothing. I was working on other types of art. But not the large marker drawings.
When I say that it takes a day or two to make one of these drawings that doesn’t count the time it takes to make the initial drawing. That can be fast or slow but it takes a little time. I have to dig through my sketch books, find a drawing I want to work with, and then draw it at a 6×9 or 9×12 inch size. After that is done I’m ready to make a big drawing. It was back in December I got it in my head to make some more large marker drawing and so made up a bunch of smaller drawings. About half a dozen 6×9 inch ones and one 9×12 inch one. Then they sat there. I’ll often work up more drawings than I’ll ever make into large 20×28 inch drawings because often all I fell like doing is making small drawings. I can work with a lot of images in a short amount of time. Sometimes all the ambition I have is to work on a small drawing.
This week I decided to make a large marker drawing. I grabbed the largest of my preliminary drawings, the 9×12 inch one named “Unboxing Truth”, and decided to go with that one. It was the most complex of the drawings featuring a large figure, two small figures, a large face, a big building like structure, and a few more smaller buildings. I thought it was a decent image and I especially liked the large female figure. I scanned in the drawing, blew it up to the size it was going to be, and then printed it out on four sheets of 11×17 inch paper that I taped together. I taped the over-sized print out onto my drawing paper and placed graphite paper in between then. Then I took a pencil and drew over the lines on the print out. This transfers the line to the drawing paper by way of graphite. It makes for a crude drawing on the large paper but that’s all I need to get started.
This one was a long one. Over the next two days I used my markers, straight edges, and various curves and templates to make my drawing. I wan’t happy with it most of the time. Whenever I make one of these large drawings I always add things that weren’t in the preliminary drawing. Since the final drawing is so much bigger then the preliminary one there is a lot of room to add things and I do. Scale changes a drawing and I have to change along with it. Still, even after adding things I still wasn’t thrilled with it. I managed to make it better and find some textures that pulled it all together for me but in the end I was still a bit dissatisfied.
In the end I decided it wasn’t the drawing that I didn’t like but it was the fact that I wanted to do a different drawing. I wanted something in a bigger scale and less illustrative and even more graphic. After figuring that out I went to bed. The next day I woke up and got a couple of things done for that day that needed doing. I did all of them and then just before lunch was contemplating what to do with the rest of my day. I decided to make another marker drawing but this time with an image that I wanted to work with. I grabbed my 6×9 inch drawings and liked the one called “Grand Facade”. It was what I was looking for. A large and very black and white graphically drawn. I scanned it in and printed it out (with some annoying trouble from my inkjet printer that day) and transferred it over to my large sheet of paper.
I have to say I enjoyed working on “Grand Facade” much more than “Unboxing Truth”. So much so that I just kept working on it hour after hour until I finished it that night. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t stay up late or anything. That’s not my habit. But I did work on it from about 11 AM until about 9 PM with few breaks. I don’t usually like to work that much especially coming off quite a few long days in a row but I was on such a roll that I kept going. It was the drawing I wanted to be doing for the last two days squeezed into today. In the end I really liked the drawing. And it even made me like the first drawing better.
I paid a price for it though. The next day I was exhausted. I could barely move or get anything done. I was in a miserable state. I absolutely hate getting that way and therefor usually pace myself but I’m also not often on a roll such as I was the day before. It was fun. I got it done. But I still don’t know why it took me from the beginning of October to the end of January to get a large marker drawing going. Habits are weird.