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Making space art

Space

For the longest time, I have been curious about photo manipulation. It seemed like a logical step to combine my interest in photography with my interest in digital art and painting.

The problem was that I had no idea where to start. But then I got lucky and found this excellent tutorial by Chris Spooner, which provided a very good starting point. Because sometimes all you need is a place to start. It’s also space themed and I’m really fascinated by that kind of stuff. Once I had seen some basic techniques, photo manipulation became a lot less intimidating.

I only use my own photos, it’s less trouble that way since you don’t have to keep track on a bunch of different licenses and all that stuff. So I have started building my own library of textures and stock images. It’s not very impressive yet, but it’s slowly getting there.

Are there any new skills you want to learn?

Christmas and painful hands

The blog has been rather slow lately, mostly because I’ve had some trouble with my hands that made writing and art making rather difficult. Of course, Christmas has also eaten a big part of my time, but i wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy it immensely. All the lights, the food and getting to spend time with family. Great stuff.

On the subject of my bothersome hands, I’ve had painful joints and trouble bending my fingers. Which is not the best thing for creating art or being a productive person in general. My right hand, which just so happens to be my dominant one, is the worst. So maybe I have strained it to much or something. I have been trying to use my left hand instead, but with limited success.

At least this has forced me to be more aware of how i treat my body and respect the fact that i have to take breaks sometimes. Even though i tend to get carried away while I´m working on something. I have been researching ways to make the strain easier on my hands. Things like how to sit properly, different ways to hold a pencil, stretching and even a different keyboard layout. I will try to write a bit about that later, in case someone else have the same problems that i do. Or in case you don’t and desire to keep it that way. If I ever get used to this new keyboard layout that is.

Take care of your hands everyone, you kind of need those. Remember to take breaks sometimes:)

Experiment with masking fluid

window

It’ s always fun to try new tools, especially when they work well. This time that tool was masking fluid, also known as liquid frisket.

Masking fluid usually consists of latex, water and ammonia, often with some kind of pigment added so you can see where it has been applied. Put some on the paper, let it dry and then you can just pain on top of it. This way it’s possible to preserve highlights or other shapes that would be complicated to paint around.

After trying it out with this quick painting I feel like this is something that I will make use of a lot in the future. I enjoy using my watercolor with lots of water and my painting can get messy at times. It might be useful for other mediums as well, I´m going to look into that.

Keeping it loose

These paintings were done as a kind of personal exercise with the goal of actually completing something without over thinking it.

This was useful for me since I have a tendency to get caught up in the details and then abandoning my artwork when I can’t get it just right. So the goal here was to go rather fast and focus on the big picture. No erasing was allowed.

I did these paintings in ArtRage 3 studio pro, which is a digital painting software meant to emulate natural media. Doing it this way instead of using more traditional media has both pros and cons, but it does allow for experimentation without being limited by what materials you have available. It´s also nice not to worry about wasting anything or about preparation or cleanup. But it does  allow for near infinite reworking, which is something I try not to do right now.  Computing power is also a concern, my hardware is getting a bit old at this point. You can´t have everything I guess.

Either way, this was a very enjoyable experience and I was actually rather happy with the results.

Do you ever struggle with finishing your work?

Watercolor field

field

I wanted to do something quick and simple  to try out a pad of watercolor paper that i got some time back. When I get really nice art supplies I tend to be afraid to use them. I guess i don´t want to mess up and waster them. So they sometimes tend to sit unused for far to long.

Anyway, the paper in question was The Langton Prestige from Daler Rowney. It´s the 300 gsm (140lb) cold press variety made from 100% cotton. I usually go for the cold pressed papers. This is one of those pads that are glued on all four sides so you don’t have to stretch the paper before painting. It´s probably useful if you are painting outside. I found it to be very convenient, but I also found the finished painting got be a bit hard to remove without  cutting it up by accident. It turned out alright in the end, but it was still a problem.

The sky is painted wet on wet, one of my favorite things to do when it comes to watercolor. As for the color palette, I keep coming back to yellow ochre and olive greens. I think they go well together and there is just something about this combination that is really pleasing to me.

This was created with the help of a reference image from PaintMyPhoto, the photographer being Irini Adler

Do you have any color you keep coming back to?

The salt lake

I was on a wonderful vacation in Spain recently, accompanied by my sister and father. One day we wanted to do some exploring, and we ended up at Las Salinas de Torrevieja.

Since we travelled by plane, with all the weight restrictions and other concerns that comes with it, I wanted to bring as little equipment as possible. So these photos were all taken using the 18-55mm kit lens. They were handheld as well, since my tripod was a bit to heavy to bring along.

This lake is used for salt production, wich means it´s really salty. As a matter of fact, it´s way to high in salt for fish to survive in it. There are other forms of life however, such as a species of algae that´s responsible for turning the water pink. It´s also home to shrimp that apparently attracts flamingos during some parts of the year. We were not there at the right time though, unfortunately.

At least we got to see the beautiful reflections the lake has to offer. The water sitting on top of the salt acts like a mirror. It was a very impressive sight.

Yellow bell pepper

paprika

This is a drawing i finished some time back, while I was visiting my parents for Easter actually. But I somehow forgot to take a decent picture of it. So it had to wait until now, when I’m once again back in my home town to spend some of the summer with my family.

It´s done in colored pencil, a mix of several different brands. I had just gotten a new pencil case, one of those where every pencil goes through an elastic hoop and you then roll the whole thing up. A lot of time were spent picking just the right pencils for my travel kit, to make sure I had a good selection of colors. I also tried to avoid the shortest pencils, just to make sure they wouldn’t become unusable while I was away from home.

I started this drawing because I wanted to practice drawing yellow objects. In my somewhat humble opinion, it´s one of the hardest colors to work with, especially when working with dry mediums. Mostly since you can´t get a really dark yellow, instead you will most of the time get some shade of orange. So my biggest problem was to get all the shadows right and give the object a sense of dimension while still making it look like a yellow bell pepper, not an orange one. There was some green in there as well, that i felt helped in making everything appear less monochrome.

The reflection of the pepper on the surface it was placed on caused me some trouble as well. I didn´t get it to look as smooth as i would have liked. Reflections are now on my list of things to practice.

This was done in a sketch pad containing Fabriano academica paper with a weight of 200gsm, which I have grown quite fond of. It has a god texture, but the drawing is now a bit warped. If this is caused by the rather heavy application of waxy pencils, or if it happened at a later date due to storage or something else I unfortunately can´t tell at this point.

Do you have any color that you fins to be extra troublesome?

Flower bud

Flower bud

I haven’t been drawing a lot lately. Mostly because I’ve been very into jewellery making for a while now. But you will see more of that in a later post. Today, I wanted to show you one of the few drawings that did get finished.

This was a shorter project, drawn using a reference photo I snapped with my phone. I liked how the pink flower and green leaves looked against the brick wall.

The sketch was actually something I created a while back, but didn’t take any further at the time. I tend to have a whole bunch of sketches lying around that may or may not end up being made into a more finished artwork.

This was actually one of my first times working with colored pencil on watercolor paper. I don’t know why I never tried it before. It has a really nice texture that’s rather similar to what I normally look for in a good paper. And while I do enjoy my colored papers a whole lot, it does not always suit the subject. Especially not when you want to go for strong and clear colours.

I actually lost the reference photo I used for this about halfway through. The cause being a corrupted memory card, something I have never experienced before. But at least I learned something about the importance of backups. This led to a somewhat rushed finish for this drawing, where it didn’t end up quite the way I envisioned. But that rarely happens anyway.

What is your favourite paper? And have you ever had any incidents with memory cards or hard-drives?

Some space art

Space

 

I wanted to try something new and a video on imagine fx inspired me to try creating a space scene. Since it was my first time doing something like this, I went for a simple composition with fewer elements to be concerned about.

When I try to draw an unfamiliar subject I prefer to work digitally. That way I don’t have to worry about wasting materials and can be free to experiment. This time I worked in photoshop. My biggest problem was to get the finished picture to look like my photoshop document. It lost a lot of contrast and colour depth somehow. I most likely made a silly mistake somewhere. Do you ever have this problem?

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