August 31, 2019

Old demo airbrush on T-shirt

While browsing through old files I found a freehand airbrush of a Native American chief as seen below. I recall using a Vega 1000 airbrush and Illu-Color paint. I did this portrait during a demo for Revell, the company that sells magnificent scale models of all sorts of vehicles. I was in my Native American period and sprayed portraits of  Native Americans almost exclusively. Somewhat to the annoyance of the Revell sales persons, but I drew a bigger crowd than the companies from the surrounding booths, so they did not forbid me to spray such portraits.

Revell planned to sell airbrushes and paints that could also be used by the scale model hobbyists. The Vega airbrushes that Revell rebranded to their own products were ok, but their paint was not suited to spray portraits during a demo, because they obviously were tuned for use on scale models. I never tried it for this purpose, but I think they were well suited for it. But I had to spray 8 hours in a row in a demonstration, so I threw away their paint and filled the bottles with Lukas Illu-Color, my favorite brand of paint at the time, excellently suited for use in airbrushes, particularly for T-shirt art because it can be made water resistant when adding Lukas' Textil Medium. Visitors couldn't visually tell the difference between the Revell paint and Illu-Color, so I got away with the switch.

Spraying on T-shirts is the most forgiving way to airbrush. It is in fact difficult to produce spiders - paint slipping over the surface in all directions except the right one. The cloth absorbs most of the paint and you have to spray in one spot for a really long time to make the paint soak the fabric and create a blop that darkens the paint's colour which can't be repaired. T-shirt cloth will absorb most applications of too much paint and thus hide mistakes. In addition subtle fadings are easy to make, which is perfect for portraits as well as really thin lines and spatter texturing. T-shirt cloth allows to almost touch the surface while spraying without risking the paint to land in a different sport than the artist intends.



Freehand airbrush portrait of a Native American chief sprayed on T-shirt




The show was very busy, it was held in the Jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht in the early nineties of the previous century and the sales people were happy with the public's attention. Next to our booth were people of a company that sold colour pencils, crayons and all sorts of hobby paints, who mingled with the public in front of our stand where I gave the demo. They pretended to be part of the crowd and asked all sorts of stupid questions in an attempt to disrupt the demo. Probably because they though it was funny. When lunch time broke they asked us to guard their booth and went to grab a bite in the giant mall in the Utrecht train station area. That was practically begging for revenge.

We opened their bottles with mediums that they used for their demos and replaced the substances with all sort of fluids we used to get our paint to work - thinner, reducer, flow improvers, ox-gall etc. none of which would suit the purpose that was indicated on the labels. When they gave their demos in the afternoon we mingled among the crowd and pretended to be an interested visitor asking to demonstrate their mediums, which of course ended in a disaster. They soon understood that we had been fiddling about with their stuff and stopped messing up our demonstrations. They never asked us to guard their booth again in the remaining days and did no longer try to disrupt our demos.

It was a good show for Revell and we drew bigger crowds than nearby stands. It was always very busy, we sold a bundle and had a lot of fun. One of our competitors dropped by and asked how we were doing. On of our sales persons boasted that he was the best salesman ever, claiming he could even sell a colour TV to a blind person and a widescreen at that. Word spread quickly among the companies participating in the fair and I guess events like these made us the rogue participant at the show, which made us stand out among all average people hired by the competition.



Even older airbrush than the one above
also sprayed during a demo for Revell.
Image is small because in the early 90's
of the previous century cameras all were
low res and the battery died after 3 shots




Brief airbrush resume
. 
In the late eighties of the previous century until the first few years of this century I conducted airbrush demos and seminars for Van Beek Graphic Art supplies, mainly the Paasche airbrushes (before they threw product quality out of the window), Bakker Graphic Art Supplies, demonstrating the brilliant Fischer Aerostar, Badger Holland obviously demonstrating their models and the Testor company, demonstrating the innovative Aztek airbrushes, spoken of with disdain by many airbrush artists, me excluded. After that I taught at an airbrush school in Almere where I met many nice people, but the owner of the school put too many students in each class, which made it difficult to give everyone the attention they deserved. Besides that he forgot to pay me more than once. Today I focus more on creating digital art - vector art in particular - but as a therapy do the occasional airbrush now and then.



Freehand airbrush portrait of Bob Marley
sprayed with a Paasche V1 airbrush and
Rotring Artist Color acrylic ink for the
great, late Henk Bensdorp of Van Beek
Graphic Art Supplies.



The man who helped get started in airbrush was Henk Bensdorp of Van Beek Graphic Art Supplies. He not only introduced me to the scene, but also gave me the tools to spray - airbrushes, paints and mediums. Without Henk - who unfortunately is no longer with us - I would never have gotten this far in airbrush art. The above portrait of Bob Marley was a visual thank you for all he had done for me.



Freehand airbrush portrait 'Ernesto's mom'




Another really old airbrush (early 90's of the previous century if I remember correctly) was the above freehand portrait that I sprayed for a co-worker, using the Paasche V1 airbrush and Rotring Artist Coloro acrylic ink once again. The V1 was stolen years later while attending an other airbrush show. I bought an Iwata HP-BH on the sport with a participant of the show: Airbrush Services Almere that became my trusted and preferred tool later.




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 design 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 . . . .