Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fake it 'till you make it



I've written before about how the media you use should look like the media it is. That makes digital a little bit of a sticky wicket. It certainly has its own look, but at the same time it's really good at mimicking other media.

So is it wrong to try and make digital look traditional? I think so, because on is missing a real opportunity. There are things digital can do that nothing else can, and one would be silly to not take advantage of it. Of course, what does that mean? Certainly the time saving and money saving benefits. But what about the look of the final product?

I think even if one wants a work to look traditional, they should let a little of the digital's nature shine through to give the work that extra umph.

The two illustrations above were drawn with a Japanese brush pen and then colored in Adobe Photoshop to look like watercolors. But if you look very closely, you'll notice they are digitally colored, and I think it adds.

But what do you think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wandering Koala leaping thru the air


Here is my latest sketch of the Wandering Koala leaping thru the air. Drawn with a Japanese Brush Pen and colored in Adobe Photoshop.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Art Philosophy: Digital Watercolor



In the 80s, several beautifully crafted graphic novels were released that used watercolors for the coloring producing beautiful hardcover volumes. In the 90s DC released a line of comics called Milestone that again used watercolors to produce a unique look. Unfortunately they did not use high quality paper like the graphic novels of the 80s and the effect fell flat.

I've always loved the look of watercolor and the actual experience of producing watercolors. There is such a hand crafted quality to it. Which is why I find digital watercolors so ironic, and yet so beautiful.

The illustration above was produced in Adobe Photoshop using flat colors, one watercolor brush, and a few filters and photoshopping to give it a watercolor look even though the color is 100% pixels. I really like the end result, even if it is cheating.

What do you think?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Art Philosophy: Is the Pen mightier than the Brush?



You've probably heard the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword," but what about the brush?

Definitions


Let me begin by defining terms. By pen I refer to words (creative writing, business/professional writing, critical writing, etc) either written or spoken. By brush I refer to visual art (illustration, painting, photography, sculpture, etc.). These tools may be used separately such as in a novel, poem, or painting on a wall. Or they may be used together such as in an advertisement or storybook.

Show Not Tell


Often English and Writing teachers and so-called "experts" will tell you to "show, not tell" implying that painting a visual picture in the mind is better than explaining a situation with words. They claim this creates a more vivid picture, evokes feelings, communicates ideas, etc. that mere "telling" just can't. This suggests that the brush is mightier than the pen. And this from proudly professed wordsmiths.

Wordless Stories


But then I've read many statements by comic book writers/artists that get all excited about creating a completely wordless issue (all start out as artists illustrating other people's stories) and then complain about all the limitations and difficulties they face not being able to put in simple captions such as "2 hours later" or "the next day" because while you technically can show these concepts visually, they take up a lot of space and aren't always clear. And in movies you see words used at the beginning to set the scene, at the end of "based on a true story" summing up how the story really ends, and throughout the movie even when we can visually see when and where we're at. This suggests there are times the pen is mightier than the brush, and this from artists first who later write.

So the simple question does not have a simple Yes or No answer. There seems to be times and situations when one is better than the other. So what about the meatier parts of the story? And is a combination of both better than the sum of the parts?

The Book was Better


Most movies it seems are either remakes of older movies or adaptions of books, plays, comics, etc., so there is a book or other written source to compare it too. And more often than not people who have both read the original and seen the adaption adamantly claim with absolutely no hesitation the book was better. Why is that? The book only had words, the pen. The movie had both visuals and words, both the brush and the pen. So shouldn't the movie always be better?

This may seem like a paradox, until one considers there are other factors involved. First, books tend to require several hours to read meaning they have more time and space to tell their story. Movies are, with very few exceptions, 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours long meaning something has to be cut, and usually a lot of somethings. Second, movies also tend to want to do something different than the book to justify its existence and because it is a different medium. I've seen direct adaptions to the screen and was always very disappointed. There are things film does very well and you have to make changes to take advantages of these. A lot of times people don't like these changes or resent them. Third, while books are just words, they can paint a mental picture, meaning they can mimic the brush and use it's strengths. A lot of times people complain about certain things being left out or not as well developed. This tends to be the narration or thoughts of the characters that are clearly spelled out and explored in great detail. Movies don't do that as well both because of form and time.

In my experience, whichever one I experience first is more likely to be my favorite, because it sets the expectations the other has to live up to. Of course, this requires a caveat. I usually experience both only if I liked the first. (I'll only watch the movie if I liked the book and vice versa.) If I didn't like the first, I usually don't experience the second and give it a chance. I liked the book Timeline better than the movie, but I liked the movie The Fellowship of the Rings better than the original novels. But this isn't always true. I saw the movie Paranoia before I read the book, and while I enjoyed both, the book was better.

These examples have complimented the matter further providing arguments for both sides while creating a third side.

I don't know much about Art, but I know what I like


Unlike math, science, engineering, IT, or other fields of study, art has a large measure of subjectivity you just won't find when adding 2 to 2. This subjectivity seems to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Someone may love a work of art because it brilliantly exemplified the principles of design while another person hates it because it's a picture of a dog and he hates dogs. This subjectivity tends to contribute a rather large undue influence over an otherwise objective evaluation of a work. This explains why the same book or the same story can appear on both a 10 ten list and a worst 10 list. There are some people that are snobs for one thing or another (such as book snobs that insiste the book is ALWAYS better even when it isn't or physical is better than Kindle edition even if they are identical). One can say, "well his or her opinion is only his or her opinion and doesn't matter," but it does--to him or her.  That opinions shapes not only thoughts but judgement and enjoyment.

Conclusions

The answer to the original question isn't as important as the journey to answer it. Through the journey one learns the strengths and limitations of both the pen and the brush and how external factors and forces influence them both. Using this knowledge, one will be better equipped to best communicate whatever story, message, emotions, etc. one has to spread. And isn't that the most important consideration for both a writer and an artist?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Story Illustration: Pondering on the Meaning of Life


Have you ever found yourself alone amongst beautiful surroundings? Has the scene ever sent your mind down paths long ago tread? Have you ever wondered about why you are where you are and if that is where you are supposed to be? Do you ever ask your self "what if I had or hadn't" about choices made in the past followed by possible answers you will never know are right?

In the illustration above, the Wandering Koala is having just such an existential examination. I drew the image in my "combo brush" style with a Zebra disposable brush pen and Japanese brush pen, then colored it in Adobe Photoshop. This is a style and approach I'm considering for the next Wandering Koala story. Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tools of the Trade

I love walking into new Art Stores and Craft Stores and discovering tools and other items I have never seen before or didn't know existed. I love getting new pens, brushes, pencils, software, papers, and other items to see what I can do with them. Most of the time I don't find anything life changing, but occasionally I find some real gems.

I've been using a Zebra disposable brush pen and Japanese brush pen in what I call my Combo brush style. I've been throwing in crosshatching courtesy of Adobe Photoshop. I love the effect, but that doesn't mean I don't feel like experimenting.



I recently bought a dual-tip Zebra disposable brush pen with a thinnish tip and a thick tip. I was pretty excited to try it out. It gives me a thicker line than the fine-point Zebra pen, but a more controlled line than the Japanese brush pen. I thought it would give me the perfect line, but after completing several sketches, I don't know that I'm sold on it. I've posted my lasted below so you can compare it to my Combo brush style which is above.


What do you think?