March 31, 2018

Vladimir Putin - vector portrait

I started my third vector portrait - no pixels, all vector. This one is the first I did in full colour. Subject is Russian president Vladimir Putin. By far the smartest and most likely the most sincere politician of these days. This is a work in progress, so far only the vector shapes have been created. At this point it still contains matters that must be changed. Vector texture brushes will be drawn after this stage to make it more realistic. In all but the last phases I draw first and amend and tune later to get colours right and accents in balance with each other.

The image was created in Affinity Designer - the best vector drawing program around. Putin, since he was in office, raised wages of Russian wages by 300 to 400%, lowered inflation from 12 to 2% and cut the unemployment rate in half. On May 1 2018 he increased the minimum wage with 43% (! ! !). That is demonstrably more than western leaders did for their people. He was able to do all this because he kicked out the Rothschild Central Bank, which allowed Russia to take control of its own currency - an other major courageous step by Putin. He also got Russia involved in the BRICS Alliance that makes the countries collaborating in the alliance less dependent on those who control the world's financial and economic markets. Eventually these markets will be overtaken by BRICS, while western economies have been in decline for decades. In spite of what the corrupt and biased western mainstream media spread about Putin and Russia, he has performed a tour de force for his country, while also defending the legal rights of others, i.e. Syria.

Tip
To see the often subtle difference between the various stages, click on an image and use the mouse scroll wheel to flip through the stages in Blogger's Lightbox viewer. Each stage increment contains at least 50 vector bush strokes and / or shapes in addition to the previous stage.



And this is what the portrait looks like
in a virtual frame on a virtual wall.





Drew shoulders, chair and background. Almost complete now.






Added and tuned many custom made brush strokes
that were created for this particular portrait.






This is what the image above
looks like in vector outline view.





Started with texturing of wrinkles and pores
with custom vector brushes and vector shapes.





Worked on mouth, face, forehead and hair textures.





Tweaking of vector shapes - April 2 2018 - 00:23





Stage 10 - March 31 2018 - 19:31




Stage 9 vector shapes outlines




Progress sequence showing stages 1-9



Western leaders are inventing all sorts of unfounded accusations in an attempt to make Putin look bad with the assistance of the corrupt mainstream media. The miserable traitors are all under the influence of the occult, satanic Deep State that aims to wipe out 90% of the world population. An increasing number of people in the west begin to see through the devious smear campaigns of their leaders, many of whom have come in office through election fraude. Once Vladimir Putin and Xi Jin Ping succeed in killing off the petro-dollar it will mean the end of the utterly corrupt capitalist banking system and evil, deceiving politicians. People will lynch them in the streets (as Bush Sr. once remarked in an interview), which is why the Bush crime syndicate has prepared an escape to Paraguay and other wealthy parasites have bought property in New-Zealand. It won't help the bastards, they will be found and still be dragged into the streets.





March 15, 2018

Marlon Brando vector portrait

This is my second vector portrait created in Affinity Designer. It's still a work in progress. I started drawing vector shapes only. After this I drew skin and hair texture details with custom made vector brushes - so far I've created 16 of those. It will be a more subtle texture than in the Abe Lincoln portrait, because in this image Brando is younger than Lincoln, featuring less wrinkles and pronounced pores. This portrait's appearance will be indistinguishable (I hope) from one created by a bitmap-editor once it is completed. Accuracy and subtleness will be just as good or better. The difference with bitmap images is that the vector image will be re-scalable to any desired size without loss of quality. What is very helpful in Affinity Designer is that it is parametric, which means that you can later still apply changes to what you have drawn before. Endlessly. This function of the program is absolutely brilliant.

Below you see its current state and a compilation of its previous states. Also the outline views are added, which reflect what shapes and lines were actually drawn. Of course gradient fills and transparency were used a lot, as well as blurring of shapes. Designer's most recent version does not yet have mesh-fill, but I didn't miss that function much. Click on the images to see larger versions of them. I work in many layers, which sort of resembles the glacis technique used in painting and in airbrush. It gives the portrait depth and allows to make many changes, like darkening areas or making them lighter than they were drawn originally. The fills can also be given completely a controllable level of noise which gives an instant texture.




This is how the portrait could look when framed.





Neck & jacket basics done.





More changes applied to skin and hair texture.





Outline view showing the vector shapes and lines
that were used to draw the image above this one.





Some more texturing & colouring test.





The head after further texturing - adding
some vector shapes and vector brush strokes.




Skin texturing with custom vector brushes in an early stage.




Outline view showing the vector shapes and lines
of the portrait as it is visible in the image above.




Only vector shapes are drawn. Skin and hair texture will be added later.



Previous stages + vector outline view.



This portrait is being created with Affinity Designer 1.6.4.104 (beta). It allows me to do what I wasn't able to create in CorelDRAW 2017, without using its mesh-fill tool that I don't like (as I dislike the one in Illustrator). Using vector brushes is far more intuitive for those artists that do not wish to strictly copy a reference photo, but aim to add their own signature to a portrait, i.e. putting an emphasis on certain facial features while giving other less of a pronounced appearance. Affinity has been around for just a few years, while Corel and Adobe have been since the beginning of the nineties of the previous century. Adobe has 10,000+ developers and Serif (the company that created Affinity designer) 80. Creating such a wonderful and efficient program with so few people in such a short period of time, borders on a miracle in my mind, but they have managed to build a program that already now rivals the competition in a most excellent way and even surpasses them in certain aspects.

In addition, purchasing Affinity Designer will not force you to apply for an extra mortgage like the programs from the Adobe suit do - it cost just 54 Euro which includes the right to three updates.... Designer is also more stable than CorelDRAW, even if it does not have all the functions Corel does yet. Though as I wrote earlier, it does have certain functions Corel does not and for people interested in creating vector portraits, that is wonderful news. And what's more, it is available on Mac OS, iPad and Windows. Pixel pushers may find it nice to know Affinity also has a program for them: Affinity Photo, that is an equally promising development by Serif. Probably this summer (of 2018) Affinity Publisher will be launched, which is a DTP (Desktop Publishing) program, that will make it a suit of programs allowing artists to create art and publish it in documents, folders leaflets etc. with Serif products only.

I used to do a lot of airbrushing (as can be seen on an other page in this blog), but I have switched to digital art creation because of the undo functionality (up to 8000+ undo's in this file...), the parametric functions and the excellent history function that allows to go back in time and make changes afterwards. As I become more familiar with Designer's possibilities I expect to be able to draw portraits that are of the same quality as my airbrush work or better (in less time). I focus on the vector drawing program Affinity Designer mainly because it allows to rescale images without loss of quality. Affinity Photo allows me to make additional changes (once I have decided on the image size) before the image gets printed or published digitally to make final touches to portraits.








March 11, 2018

Abe Lincoln vector portrait

I have made a few portraits and paintings in photo editors, which process bitmaps, i.e. pixels. The problem with those is that I was basically stuck with one size - the original pixel measurements. Enlarging bitmap images causes them to lose crispness; they become blurry. Vector images don't cause such a problem, because the lines, shapes and colours (gradients) are expressed in formulas. Enlarging the image simply is a re-calculation of the original as a result of which the image retains its sharpness and detail. Up to recently I was restricted to use CorelDRAW, which lacks functionality to create a proper realistic portrait, unless one is prepared to use the mesh fill tool. Which I wasn't. Working with this particular tool is a horrendously tedious and time consuming process that didn't appeal to me at all.

And then I encountered Affinity Designer, a vector drawing program that has all the goodies to create vector portraits without having to spend huge parts of ones life with mesh colouring. When creating custom brushes, the program allows to 'paint' with vectors. In addition it has magnificent control over areas and lines (strokes) that are necessary to draw when making portraits - gradient colours, gradient transparency and blurring of the edges. Inkscape also has this type of functionality, but its user interface I find difficult to get familiar with. The stylish Affinity Designer UI is simple to use for artists that have experience in working with Illustrator or CorelDRAW, because of its similarity to their interfaces. In fact, less clicks are required to achieve the same in Affinity Designer than in Corel's and Adobe's vector drawing programs. And - best of all - Affinity Designer costs a very user friendly 54 Euro.... No wretched subscription model while three free upgrades included. What more can starving graphic artists wish for?

Actually, I considered dropping Windows some time ago, because I thought I had found all alternative Linux programs to do the graphic art I could do in Windows. But then I encountered the Affinity Designer and Photo, which made me decide to stick with Redmond's not always stable (cough) operating system. This first attempt at creating portraits in a vector drawing program - Affinity Designer - makes photo editors redundant, as well as the tedious and time consuming mesh-fill tools in vector drawing programs such as CorelDRAW and Illustrator. Affinity Designer, like Inkscape offers the possibility to blur vector shapes, which is a quick way to create the gradient coloured shapes to which gradient fills can be added. These are very effective functions to create realistic vector portraits, which allow to rescale to any desired size, without losing detail and unwanted blurring and jagged border shapes in unwanted spaces. Designer's competition is already now lagging behind, eventhough Designer is a relatively new program. Corel is too buggy, Illustrator too expensive and Inkscape's UI requires a type of intuition that I don't have.

I could fill a lengthy blog entry with the advantages I found in Affinity Designer compared to its competition, and I may do that in future, but not now. After a brief test in which I explored the techniques that I thought I would need to create a realistic vector portrait, I looked for a subject for a portrait that would be suited for my first vector portrait attempt. I remembered I did a test of a new, synthetic type of paper when I was still airbrushing for which I used creepy prez Abraham Lincoln. I thought I would make a portrait of him again in vectors, so that I could compare the results. And low and behold: the vector program made my airbrush skills totally redundant...(except for its therapeutic usefulness perhaps). The only problem is that you have to get your artwork printed when you want to hang your portrait on a wall, which is a rather costly affair, although A3 printers are becoming relatively affordable. Their ink cartridges on the other hand remain ungainly expensive. Other than that, Affinity Designer absolutely blew me away with respect to its ease of use and most magnificent functionality. Below is the result - an oversight of the various stages and the portrait so far. The head is completed (I think) and all that is left for me to do, is draw the neck and costume.



After having had a tip at the Affinity forum
the colouring of the jacket has improved a lot.




Outline view showing vector shapes and lines
as they were used in the image above this one.





Colour test





Head is close to completion. I plan to
also draw the neck and his costume in
the near foreseeable future. Stay tuned....



These are the various stages of the portrait.
Click the images to see larger versions of them.



There still are numerous mistakes in this portrait, but they won't be repeated in future projects. Visually the portrait appears to be okay, so I'll settle for this and consider it to be part of an unavoidable learning curve. While drawing I continued to run into new possibilities and questions I had with regards to Designer's functionality were promptly answered in the Affinity forum. The portrait was drawn in a beta version after I had a horrendous crash with the previous versions of Designer and Photo. I guess this is all part of the early stages of the development process in which Affinity currently finds itself. The beta version gave no problems at all, which raises my expectations for their next upgrade. In their forum they announced its change list, which is huge; it most likely will make Designer even more effective than it already is now.


A few words on digital art
I've noticed that many artists and art lovers find that digital art is not real art or inferior to analogue methods of creating art at best. I have done a lot of airbrushing in the past, which also isn't considered to be real art by fans of the hairy brush artists and to such people, digital art is even worse than airbrush. In all honesty, I must admit that I couldn't care less what people think about it. What matters to me is that I find the level of control digital means offer, are beyond anything other techniques do. I'm not a control freak at all, except when creating realistic portraits. I always aim to bring out the essence of the people in my portraits, making changes that aren't present in the photographs that I use as reference material, and for now digital methods suit me best to achieve such matters.

I like the tinkering to get things right, without having to go through a lot of time and effort to revert to a previous state (after having made a mistake) and work from there have an other go to express what is in my mind's eye. Affinity Designer is over 90% parametric, which means that the original - any stage of the drawing I created - remains untouched if I don't touch it. Modifications, additions and subtractions are simply stored in different layers on top of the original, which theoretically allows to create and endless number of changes. That is also possible to do in traditional painting with brushes or in airbrush of course, but it simply takes a lot more time and effort. In addition, Affinity's History Panel allows to make changes in any stage of the project, while it offers a 1000 (!) undo actions.

With a vector drawing program like Designer I don't need to waste time and effort; I can make any change I want immediately and accurately. Outside critiquing art, those that dislike digital art, love all the handy digital gadgetry they use on a daily basis while being dependent on computers, tablets, smart phones, smart household applications, the internet and cloud storage etc., but when it comes to art, they suddenly have an opinion that is incongruous with the rest of their largely digital life. In most cases just because they've heard other people, who they consider to be influential, say that digital art creation isn't 'real art' and therefore choose to remain in denial, since everyone else who is similarly conditioned, does that too. To me, for the reasons mentioned here, digital art actually is art. Perhaps in 50 years from now people will barely know what analogue painting and airbrushing is, because all artists have gone digital. So digital artists may be nothing more or less than a poorly understood avant garde group of creative souls.





March 7, 2018

Native American Paintings

I've always felt attracted to the Native American way of life and their often spectacular appearance. Needless to say I was intrigued by the work of photographer Edward S. Curtis and painter Howard Terpning. They both captured an age in which people were brutally massacred by invaders. An estimated 100 million Native American people were slaughtered; the biggest genocide perpetuated in modern history. Yet only few are aware of this as a result of intentional falsification of historic records and the (mis)conduct of current broadcasters that either distort facts or omit them on order of the descendants of those that committed the cleansing.

The indigenous people's closely related spiritual approach to life and and its oneness with nature is without doubt the fact that appealed to me most, because I intuitively sensed that this is how beings in this material realm would perhaps one time be able to return to their original, majestic and magical existence. All is transient - some situations are ended by violent interference while others sought harmonious ways to transform. I believe the latter is the process that the Native American people attempted to do. I realize of course that there were wars between various Native American nations, but consider such to be the consequence of the ominous legacy that this material realm imposes on all life forms present in it.

I made two digital paintings so far (that are more or less finished) that depict the Native American life style. Both of which contain rifles, which is some sort of symbol that reflects their battle with the invaders that brought an entirely different way of living to the North-American continent. Also visible in the paintings are the traditional dresses, hair styles and environment. I chose to show these paintings in frames, because that is how they would look once they were giclee-printed, which is the goal of every painter. I used a computer to create them, so that they would be preserved beyond the life span of traditional materials. I started creating them in Corel PhotoPain(t), but after it continued to crash, I switched to Affinity Photo that has an UI that I find pleasant to work with.

Please click the images to see the paintings in full screen full HD resolution.



Tribe gathering



Peace Pipes & Winchesters



Lakota warrior 'Kills First'



Proud Men



Powow



Kiowa warrior