August 7, 2019

Crystal Reed 100% vector portrait

Haven't been posting for a while. Life kept me busy, staying alive mainly. Started a new project some time ago: a vector portrait of Crystal Reed who plays Sophia Falcone in the television series Gotham. 100% vectors, zero pixels. Created once more in Affinity Designer, no other program was used. Reference photo you find here. Below I post the progress sequence, which will be slow I suspect. Oldest stage at the bottom, newest at the top. Please bear with me as I complete this portrait, that for the time being is a work in progress.

The face' pores were created with custom brushes that I gave Gaussian blurs, transparencies and in some cases 3D fx. In some areas over- and underlays were placed that I gave custom fills, transparency and Gaussian blurs. All fx and strokes were given the property scale with object, so that the portrait can be re-scaled to any size without losing quality and crispness. This was all done using the mouse. The hair will be done with the Huion 610 Pro graphic tablet.

Tip: if you click on an image, you're taken to Google's Lightbox (which are slides basically) that allows you to scroll back and forth through the various stages, that makes it easier to compare the stage differences. On a PC you can use the scroll wheel to flick through the stages, on a tablet you must click the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen and on a smartphone the Lightbox is unfortunately not available.

This is what the portrait may look like when framed.

Now I have to put it away and not look
at it, before I apply the final touches . . .

Drawing the hair is tedious labour
as can be seen in this outline view.

Started detailing the hair Did this with the
mouse because the pen battery was dead.

Finally I got around to working on this vector portrait again.
Did subtle detailing on the pores and accents, the eyebrows
and increased the height of the portrait. After this I hope to
start on the detailing of the hair and her dress.

Outline view of the image above this one.

Colour testing

Stage 13 - hair background added

Stage 12 - accents, highlights, shadows & lip creases

Stage 11 - upper lip details

Stage 10 - accents highlights and shadows

Stage 9 - working on accents and shadows

Stage 8 - added some shadow backgrounds on right side of face

Stage 7 - fine tuning location and shape of face components

Stage 1 to 6 - setting up face components

August 4, 2019

Blender 3D re-invented itself

The 3D world has almost completely been monopolised by Autodesk and their subscription fees have since soared beyond the spending capacity of by far most people. One could comfortably buy, drive and maintain a properly ensured car for that kind of money. And whereas the opportunity to travel is a basic need of life, leasing a 3D package for an extremely steep rental fee, certainly is not.

Donating a voluntary modest monthly amount of money would greatly help to continue the development of Blender that has finally made its UI more accessible to a larger number of users. Expanding its contributing user base would allow it to remain competitive.

A truly open source model without donations would make it difficult to survive for complex and regularly updated programs in a market aggressively attacked by corporations such as Autodesk. The Blender organisation offers a way for many users to benefit from far more reasonable terms than the corporate products, while by no means sacrificing functionality.

In addition, the recent alliance with Ubisoft has the potential to counter Autodesk's monopoly, especially since Blender in fact offers more than the average 3D program in terms of versatile capability. Blender offers advanced modeling, rendering, sculpting, 2D vector drawing and animation / screen capturing in one package! In more than one way, this is a magnificent development!

I would therefore urge 3D artists that formerly found it difficult to wrap their mind around Blender's UI, to check out the 2.8 beta release candidate that features many significant changes that make it a lot more user friendly - nowhere near the puzzling shortcut key driven workflow of previous versions. It truly blends all above listed options into one coherent and relatively easy to learn application.

I get it that hardcore Blender users find the changes annoying, but I think there are at least equally as many artists that could never get on good terms with the old UI. For the latter group and new users the renovation of the interface will probably feel as a blessing. In view of Ubisoft's involvement the aim most likely is to grow, which means that some of the functions that were hidden within Blender's former niche interface, needed to be altered to suit a more common understanding of how to operate the program. Which in my view the developers did in a wonderful way.

If Blender would have continued its niche approach of its interface, that may have hampered their aim to expand its user base and make its program more attractive for developers in the gaming industry (and in doing so for a great number of other users as well!), which would be a pity since the program has so many awesome functions, that put it on par with its hugely over priced commercial competition. This undoubtedly is why Ubisoft sought collaboration, that must have seen this is potentially a match made in heaven . . . .

July 23, 2019

My Digital Art portfolio

Not too long ago I was forced to take a break, but lately I cautiously started to get some things done again. Currently I am busy creating a portfolio of my Digital Art that will contain portraits, paintings, creative writing, DTP, tech art, logo design, illustration and cartoons. As some of you may have figured out as a result of my more recent posts, I have been putting an increasing emphasis on vector art for a while, but haven't yet abandoned pixel art all together. Affinity Designer makes it possible to even make realistic portraits and paintings in vectors that are indistinguishable from pixel art, except when this type of art is re-scaled; vector images retain their quality and crispness regardless of how much they're enlarged or sized down as opposed to pixel art that is created for one specific resolution.

But I digress. So far I've finished the cover of my Digital Art portfolio and a good number of pages that contain examples of my work, but the booklet needs to be completed still. At this point I am selecting a number of my poems to be contained within the document - I've written so many.... In addition I remake them in vectors to maintain the crispness of the fonts; so this may take some time. I plan to issue versions for print and for the web (in pdf) and will make them available in this blog and on the blog page on my website. Bear with me while I work on completing these documents and stay tuned. Above you see a 3D rendering of the booklet and below the cover image that was drawn in 100% vectors in Affinity Designer. The booklet is created in Affinity Publisher, Serif's newly released DTP-program.

I have vectorized the poems after which there are no more jagged edges (unless you zoom in like crazy). The portfolio is still not completed, but you can see the stage so far (August 1 2019) here. Bear with me; this document may still need editing. This will be completed in the final version that is still to be issued.

May 22, 2019

Airbrushing that relativity bloke

I hadn't touched an airbrush for over two years, but picked up the tool again yesterday after a visit to Airbrush Services Almere that has redecorated their shop excellently. Not sure if I'll continue this old trade again, but it was nice to do. Therapeutic more or less. I used the Iwata HP-BH airbrush with Inspire H2O sepia paint on a canvas structured paper (Canson for oil- and acrylic paints). 100% freehand airbrush and some erasing with Faber Castell 7057 eraser pencil. No pencil- or hairy brush strokes added to enhance accents or add detail. I may be testing other airbrushes and paints while at the analog airbrush craft again.

The Canson paper is extremely strong and allows erasing (even with fiber glass erasers if done carefully) after which airbrushing over the erased area can be continued without a problem. In some places I sprayed Inspire white over the erased area before continuing airbrushing. That is somewhat similar to applying a layer of gesso onto which the portrait is sprayed. No spiders or absorption blobs due to too much paint accumulating in the damaged area where the paper surface was erased (which results in unwanted dark spots). Excellent!

This paper is well suited for artists who want their painting to have an authentic canvas effect, but in fact works a lot easier than real canvas.... It does not allow as meticulous details as on smooth paper, but real canvas doesn't allow too much detail either.

The H2O paint was I recalled it to be; the best a available on the market. Using reducer works better than mixing the paint with water. It makes the paint flow well, gives less clutter and keeps it usable / sprayable in the airbrush paint cup longer. In addition it allows erasing with more control. Finally it makes the airbrush easier to clean. These are properties not all paints combine.

For fine details I added Vallejo Flow Improver to the mix: paint : reducer : flow improver = 2 : 8 : 1 The Flow Improver really does its job well; add too much and the paint will slip (and cause 'spiders'), but it significantly extends the period in which very fine details can be sprayed or postpones clogging of paint in the airbrush. Nice stuff. Mind you, fine details are better applied on smooth paper or special airbrush board. Use low air pressure, push the trigger carefully to barely let paint come out and work very close to the surface (1 to 2 mm) with the air cap removed.

Oldest stage at the bottom, newest at the top. Hint: click on an image and you'll be taken to Google's Lightbox which is a type of slide show that allows you to scroll tbrough the stages (on a PC that is) for easy compare of the stages.

Really finished. 19:44 hrs June 11 2019
Only varnishing still needs to be done.

Finished. I think. 11:16 hrs
June 2 2019. Daylight photo

Further hair detailing 10:45 hrs
May 29 2019. Daylight photo

Added hair contours and texture accents
23:22 hrs May 27 2019. Daylight photo

Adding background for accent balancing
11:22 hrs May 26 2019

Adding texture detail 10:24 hrs May 26 2019
Daylight photograph

Accent and balancing by erasing 23:33 hrs May 24 2019
Photo shot in artificial light

Added texture detail 21:39 May 24 2019
Photo shot in the evening with artificial light

Corrected left eye and added some detail 12:02 May 24 2019

After another half hour 14:00 hrs May 22 3019

After airbrushing half an hour 14:00 hrs May 21 2019

January 1, 2019

T-shirt designs

Here are some T-shirt designs I made, some of which admittedly are rather mundane, but I believe such are the requirements of the market of the printing-on-demand business. I created these, using Affinity Designer - the best vector drawing program around. Click on the images to enter Google's lightbox in which you can conveniently scroll through the images with your mouse's scroll wheel and see them against a dark background.

The T-shirts and other products with the designs can be ordered on the SpreadShirt site; just click the link in the captions below the shirt images.

Visit the Top Teez store on SpreadShirt

Visit the Top Teez store on SpreadShirt

Visit the Top Teez store on SpreadShirt

Visit the Top Teez store on SpreadShirt

Visit the Top Teez store on SpreadShirt