Flexing the creative muscles after graduation
Oh, and she painted me! As as a dragon! It's super fitting:
Flexing the creative muscles after graduation
To keep connected and to have some artistic fun together, my friends all got together to form a sketch group dubbed Drunk Lightning! I didn't hop into the fun for the first activity (making the logo, I believe?), but I did join in for the second one! This time we were randomly assigned a friend and we had to choose an animal that we felt fit their personality and draw them as that animal! My friend Emily and I ended up being partnered (though it was a little bit of a misunderstanding on how we got assigned to each other) and I could think of no better animal than the adorable dik-dik!
Oh, and she painted me! As as a dragon! It's super fitting:
An example of a speedpaint commission!
Whoop! Been a while, eh? Well, here I am and I've been having quite a busy time since graduation! After a great number of repairs, modifications, and renovations,I've finally moved into the house I bought back in June of last year (2012). My fiance and I would have been high and dry without the generous help of plenty of our friends and family. There's still a lot to do, like renovate the upper garage into a studio space, but for now we are happy and comfortable! Next up is the wedding party in October! Fun!
Our chicken escapades have been successful, as well! We now have 23 featherbums in our flock, though we're looking to find a home for a few roosters. We've already had to rehome two boys (and they ended up in heaven, let me tell you!) We had a hen go broody a number of weeks ago, and it's been a blast watching the five healthy chicks trail behind her in the yard. Momma hens can be so sassy!
Art-wise, I've been doing some freelancing stuff for private clients and have been enjoying it immensely. You can see some new art in my portfolio! Hopefully, I'll be able to dedicate some time to creating more tutorials and whatnot. If you have any suggestions for topics that I should cover, just let me know! It's always good to get a gauge of what my audience likes.
That aside, I am open for commissions! Check out my commissions page and If you've got questions, just sling 'em my way!
That's about all for now! Hopefully, I'll have some more random news and artsy fartsy stuff to show everyone soon!
Well that was a blast! I am super stoked, and quite tired from all of the excitement this evening and tomorrow is graduation, so the fun isn't over yet!
If you missed the show, here are the pieces I presented!
I sold a few things, which is a wonderful experience, but I have some leftover prints!! Check them out below. I'm also doing a free shipping special to folks inside the USA! I haven't gotten a cart set up yet, so just send me an email with the print you are interested in and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
And that's about it for now! Thank you for stopping by and be sure to come back. More fun stuff in store for the future!
That's right... I've started my last semester at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design! I'm very excited, but also very concerned... I'm going to be entering the work force! Gasp!
So, I've got to start cracking down on my Thesis for graduation as well as the painting I've been working on with my mentor, Todd Lockwood. I've been working on my house in my spare time and things are starting to come together quickly. We should be able to move in within a few weeks. Once that's done, and spring comes around, I can get working on my new studio space! Woo!
The holiday season was a bit of a bummer, what with the passing of my father and the car accident that ruined my car, but 2013 has been looking up, and I'm thrilled to see what it has in store.
It will be a very busy next few months, but I'm looking forward to it!
Hello again, folks! Just a quick update on some things going on in my life and my interests at the moment.
As you might know, I purchased a house over the summer. It's a major fixer-upper and my fiance and family and friends and I have been working hard to get it livable so that I can officially move out of Reading, PA. We're actually nearing the point when that can happen and I am very enthusiastic about it!
The chicken coop that we started back in September has been completed enough that we were able to put the chickens in it for the winter. I started the process of breaking down the old crappy coop, as well, and will be quite glad to have that eyesore out of my yard.
Recently, it was announced that Illuxcon will be in Allentown next year, which has me extremely excited! I have never attended that particular convention, but I've heard amazing things and it's definitely worth a look!
I have been mentoring under Todd Lockwood since the summer, as well, and hope to be able to get the painting he has been critiquing me on well under way in a few days.
So, aside from art, I've always been a lover of animals. My previous blog post has related my most recent animal-keeping endeavor: chickens!
Recently I've been having a bad rash with my birds, and it upsets me greatly. I've lost 2 now, the hen Hilda for causes I am unsure of (she was found laying down in the coop) and Sass (who I believe fell victim to one of my unruly, and inexperienced cockerels trying to "tread" her). A third chicken (a cockerel named Flynt) is ill with I don't know what, can't stand, and seems to be suffering from a sour crop, which is no-so-good.
Now, this brings me to the major point of this post: do your reasearch before trying to keep any type of animal. Seriously. This is a major deal. Be sure to look up common illnesses and how to treat them, collect any recommended medications or items that could be used as first-aid. Talk to experienced keepers. Learn about the animal itself, what it eats, what it likes, what it needs, be it in its environment, food, or care. It doesn't matter what the animal is: fish, cat, dog, rabbit, lizard, amphibian, etc.
While I wasn't the one who really made the decision to keep chickens at my new place (a handful were already there) I should seriously have done a lot more looking into things like this so that I would be more prepared for when issues arose (and they always do.)
I should have known better. Last year I had to euthanize an iguana I had kept since high school because I was giving him an improper environment to live in. He didn't have enough of the different types of UV light that he needed to survive and came down the Metabolic Bone Disease. Iguanas get that light naturally from the sun, so he was fine in my previous home, where his cage was in a window. Once I moved, however, that was no longer the case and because I hadn't needed any fancy lights before, I didn't think I'd need them after I had moved. Big mistake. I miss that boy something fierce, he was one of the friendliest, most loving and attentive lizards I've ever met.
Every animal has its needs and if you plan to keep them as a pet, their life is in your hands. It is your obligation to give it what it needs to survive. Period.
Hi there everyone! Let's take a break from the art for a bit, eh?
So, over the summer my fiance and I purchased our first home. It was the culmination of about 9 months of grappling with banks and inspectors, fixing and tweaking small (and sometimes not-so-small) things until we got the approval for our mortgage. It was a terribly frustrating experience, with the house going into short-sale and the gentleman who lived there doing his damndest during the interim to let the place fall into a state of utter ruin. Had the house been even half as maintained as we'd thought it was at the time, the price we paid for the place and the 2 acres it sits on would have been a steal. That was, sadly, not the case. In the end, the house pretty much had to be gutted, and things still haven't been set completely right.
That aside, this home-buying journey has awoken in me a love of keeping chickens. The previous home-owner left 4 white leghorns to roam the yard and because they weren't being fed, they had begun wreaking havoc with the neighbors, raiding bird feeders and digging up gardens. What's a person to do? Catch 'em and coop 'em, of course. So, we gathered random bits of junk from around the yard and put together a really nasty, albeit functional coop. Keeping these little birds has been quite a learning experience and is, for the most part, a very fun pastime. I've been learning about the fickleness of roosters and the hilarious pugnaciousness of hens and now have a ragtag collection of 13 birds, 2 white leghorns, 4 easter eggers, 1 silver-laced wyandotte, and 6 tiny and sassy old english game hens.
Stupid or not, these birds have some of the most vibrant personalities of any animals I have ever met. The queen of the bunch, Lydia the white leghorn hen, is an aggressive little stinker, always first to the food and water and generally grumpy when others come around. Dovah is the king of the coop, and keeps his harem of girls well under his wing and away from the three unruly youngster roos, Flint, Steel, and Ember. Rosa is an easter-egger (which quite a large percentage of Ameracauna) and is one of the friendlier birds, more than willing to get up close and personal if you've got a treat to "share." Hilda, the wyandotte, is sassy but flighty and doesn't much like being touched by people. Rosa and HIlda are an inseparable duo. Sass, Frass, North, South, East, and West are the bantam old english game hens and despite their size, they can certainly hold their own with the larger birds. They're quick and agile and can even get quite a lot of lift with their little chicken wings.
Owning chickens has been a charm thus far, but now the weather is getting cold, and the need to build a bigger, better, proper coop has arisen. So, that's what I've been up to in any and all of my spare time (and even time that isn't so spare). The coop has a cinderblock foundation witha concrete slab floor, stick-frame construction with fiberglass insulation. It has a clear roof to let in heat and light, and will have a very large run when all is said and done. Right now, the coop is about 85% complete and I'm quite frazzled that it's so close, yet so far. These are going to be some of the most spoiled rotten birds on the planet when we're done.
I'll soon have pictures to share of the happy birds in their new home, but for now I think that's about it.
Two posts in one day? Oh boy.
I just wanted to throw some helpful things around.
And lastly, above is a file that is free for download and use and sharing that is simply meant for blending practice! Enjoy!
Alright! Let's keep this train rolling onto the thrilling conclusion of the first part of this instructional stuff.
The first chunk of the video is me finishing up the lines. Now, as I said last time, I tend to set my brush to a hard round with the minimum opacity raised to somewhere between 80% and 90%.
After that, it's time to color (which begins at around 53-54 minutes into the video)! I tend to "cheat" a little bit when using this style, because the clean lines lend very easily to using a magic wand/fill method. So, step 1 is to create a new layer underneath your lines. Afterward, go back to your line layer, select the magic wand tool and click outside the line art. This is to make sure you are getting all of your subject as well as underneath the lines. Be sure to select any spaces that might be missed, such as between legs or if a tail or limb circles around and cuts off your magic wand. This means there will be less cleaning up later.
Next, you'll want to go up to Select > Inverse to switch your selection from the area around your subject to the subject itself. After this, you'll want to go to Select > Modify > Contract and choose a pixel value. This can depend on the size of the image you're working on, but I tend to work at 6400 pixels across, so my contract pixel value is generally around 5 to 10. What this does is prevent the icky, pixelated halo that can appear around your lines by removing those pixels from the selection.
But, you might be wondering, what about if you want your color layer to be neatly underneath your lines? Don't fret! Just have your line layer select and then go to Select > Load Selection and be sure to check the "add to selection" box before hitting OK. This only works if your lines are on their own layer, so if you started with traditional media or have your lines on a layer with a white background, you'll have to take a few more steps to get rid of the background on that. More on that involved process at a later date.
Alright, now you should have your color layer selection made, the next step is to lay down your opaque background. Generally I choose a medium gray so that I can lay out my values. After this, be sure to keep your color layer selected or create a layer mask! If you get annoyed at the little ants that march around your selection you can turn them off by going to View > Extras and unchecking Extras. If ever you accidentally deselect, simply use the Select > Load Selection tool on your color layer again.
After you've chosen your opaque color, it's time to start the actual painting. For this style, I tend to start with simple black and white and gray values. The majority of my art is painted using Photoshop's default hard round brush with the opacity and flow settings on. Simple! To begin, I simply paint softly starting with white and eyedrop the colors in between over and over until I smooth things out. I NEVER use the smudge tool for shading or blending. While it can result in nice work, it generally looks cheap, messy, and extremely unprofessional.
Above, I've uploaded a quick and small Photoshop file for practicing to blend with my method. Feel free to download it and pass it around.
So, after a long time spent blending and working on the highlights, I might go in and add some darker areas if places need some greater contrast. Once this is done, I make sure I have my color layer selected and then I create a new layer on top with the blending style set to either Color or Overlay (generally, Overlay looks better). On this layer, I'll begin laying down my colors either by simply Filling, or, if variation is needed, by painting it in with a brush. A good hint here is to select your Eyedropper and set it to choose colors from only the Current Layer. This way, you can move colors around on your current layer without having to change the layer style to get the one you want.
You've probably noticed that once the values are laid down, the rest is going to go pretty quickly. After the colors are laid down, I tend to create a new layer directly under the line layer. On this layer I'll pick a bright color (usually white) and I will choose a very large, feathered brush. Using quick, soft dabs and strokes, I'll add soft highlights to areas that could use a bit more "pop."
Once that's done, there's only one thing left to do... the final details! I create yet another layer on top of all of the layers and I begin picking out and repainting the important details and making them more prominent. I also add things such as light reflected off of objects, wrinkles in skin, scars, highlights and colors on the eyes, etc.
So, that's about it for now. Please feel free to sling questions my way if you have them!
Hey there everyone! I've waited long enough, I suppose, so let's officially kick things off with some not-so-quick instructional videos! If you're curious about how I accomplish the style I use in most of my conceptual illustrations, then look no further (though you might have to jump around the video if you don't want a 1:1 experience of me staring at a computer screen or hours at a time).
First, let's take a gander at how I begin my pieces, using this Pernese blue dragon as our guinea pig:
As you can see, the first stage of most of my pieces in this lined style begin with a great deal of sketching. I start with a background layer (which is always a neutral color, such as white or a light to medium gray) and I create a new, transparent layer on top of this as my "sketch" layer. Generally, my brush is a hard round with about 70% size variation on it and with 100% opacity, 100% flow, as well as all three of these attributes being controlled by "pen pressure." My trusty tablet is a 5-year-old 12x9 Wacom Intuos3, if you are curious.
Now, back to the sketches. Generally I start pretty rough with a medium gray to black coloration (though the color isn't a major concern at this point), laying down the basic pose in large, general shapes. Legs can appear in this stage simply as scribbles and not a lot of detail is given overall. Once I've got my concept down, as well as the composition (for this is probably the most important consideration to creating an appealing piece of art), I will take the opacity on my sketch layer down to anywhere between 20% to 50% and then I will create a new sketch layer above this. Using my rough first layer as a guide I will begin to flesh out the piece on the second layer, adding musculature and details such as claws, fingers, spikes, horns, fur, bristles, fins, and so on. A piece can take only a few sketch layers or it can take many. I simply keep lowering opacity on the less-detailed ones and adding new layers until I feel I can get a good set of lines from it.
You'll notice in the video at around 33 minutes that I have to adjust the size of the wing. That's the great thing about digital that a person should not be afraid of taking advantage of: you can edit anything at any time without fear of ruining a piece. And as a general rule of thumb in any sort of art, If something looks off, make sure you fix it sooner rather than later so that there isn't a lot of mess trying to alter it later.
The next step after this is lines! I again choose a hard round brush, similar to the sketching brush, but this time with the minimum opacity raised to somewhere between 80% and 90%. Rarely do I use the exact same brush settings between two pieces, as certain things can be subtly different (such as the amount and size of detail in a piece). Line width is a very important thing and varying the line width in a piece adds interest and shows control. The width of a line can also denote things, such as the distance of a "part" in the piece from the viewer, or a gradual shifting from one plane (such as the forearm) to another (such as the chest) in a piece. I try to end my lines in soft, controlled, thinner ends.
The video ends before the lines are completed, but don't fret! You can watch the second part (and thrilling conclusion) of this piece right here if you don't want to wait for my next blog entry. :) But, if you can, the next installment is coming soon.
Thanks for stopping by!
Hey there! The name's Alyssa Davis and I'm a illustrator of the fanciful and fantastic; dragons, gryphons, fictional worlds and all of the birds, beasties, and folks that inhabit them!