Just Like Looking at Clouds


I can tell when I feel like I’m not successfully moving forward in my art goals.  I tend to begin slacking off on the amount of work, waking up later in the day, and generally just end up bummed out.  Strangely, instead of taking action towards moving back on track, I do everything that moves me away from where I need to be… Strange indeed. [/introspection]

Regardless, I’m thankful that I decided to break my art funk and do something new and fresh, because afterwards I felt like I really leveled up, learned some new tricks/techniques, developed a new-cool process, and moved further in developing my new world for my story.

Moving forward.

I watched this cool tutorial for creating environment concept sketches many many moons ago and I’ve always intended to go back and follow along with it.  If you’ve seen some of my previous school work in photo-manipulation you’ll understand why this tutorial really appealed to me.  It basically paralleled perfectly with my own process, because it uses almost all of the tools I use on a consistent bases with photo-manipulation.


Using a variety of images, layers, blending modes, opacity settings, masks, filters and other tools.  You create a multitude of different shapes, colors, lines, spaces, etc that give an impression of a landscape, interior, cityscape…  These thumbnails are then used as a base to paint/sketch on, and eventually creating unique environments.

In the video, he uses this process to create these fantasy landscapes only, but the process is the same for other genres too.

It is worth noting that the video suggest using low res images and after my 30th save (ended up with around 80) or so I can tell you my computer started chugging because I save mostly larger reference images when I do my google searches.  Most of the images I used were actually images from my Blue Moon reference boards off of Pinterest, with a couple odd balls thrown in.


There is a ginormous amount of experimentation that the gif doesn’t come close to showing.  Sometimes it was a matter of choosing a single filter or blend mode and it seemed like I knew just where to put the image.  Other times it was me going through all of the possible options before decided on something or just trashing it and starting over or with another image entirely.  It was more trial and error than anything… sometimes I just immediately saw something and I just built that idea up.


Really fun and interesting process and because I was “Working Small” (I worked at 16.7% of the actual canvas size), I was able to focus on the shapes and colors and composition and not all the little details and “Learn Big.”  This is a screen shot of my work area in Photoshop and my canvas to screen (21.5″) ratio.


Again, this is just the beginning phase of the tutorial.  At about 10 mins in he begins to start painting over his thumbnails.  A really fascinating watch if this type of stuff interests you.

I am curious what people see in these thumbnails and which people like the most.  Pick a couple and let me know which you guys like the most or which stand out, or which aren’t really working.


“Imagination rules the world.”  – Napoleon Bonaparte

Lip Chewer


Haven’t quite nailed down what I want to do with her hair, but I feel like I’m getting closer.  Her face and height are right, and her expression (although completely accidental) fits her character so well.


Still using almost the exact same process as before, although instead of going over the blue line-work with black and go for a ink like look, I opted to throw a Hue and Saturation adj layer on top of it and soften it to a brownish blue instead of pure black.  I felt like if I’m going to find a balance between cell shading/coloring and digital painting, I need to get away from the heavy ink lines that are more closely tied to western comic book art style.

I’ll probably do one more row as I render her further, I’m still using 100% brush right now, just focusing on shapes and creating volume at the moment, but I know from experience that when I start pushing the digital painting/rendered look; I’ll need that solid foundation.

I’ve got some ideas on how to add some interest/details to the uniform to help bring it to life more.  I’ve been noticing that although I wanted something simple when I initially design it, what I got was just a starting point and like everything so far I need to be open to change.  This whole thing so far has been quite the learning process.

One I’m enjoying more and more.


“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”  – Oprah Winfrey

Great Way to Start Your Day


One hour speed paint

Been awhile since I did any art, just to be doing art.  Everything has been for school or some commission.  It felt good just do do something I wanted to do, even if I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time on it.

I’m glad I did, because I see I’ve gotten rusty and I miss drawing everyday when I wake up.
It’s a great way to start your day.


“Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.”  -Elizabeth Gilbert

0017_v0.0 0017_v0.1 0017_v0.2 0017_v0.3 0017_v0.4 0017_v0.5 0017_v0.6

Older, yes. Wiser, maybe?


Self-Portrait Assignment
Work in Progress

I took some time to really think about what I wanted to do with my self portrait.  I immediately crossed off the usual themes I normally use in my work (sci-fi, high-tech, space, and contrasting themes) and started thinking about myself, how I view myself, who I am and all that jazz.

I’m not sure when the idea of doing an older version of myself emerged out of all that (perhaps somewhere between all the seriousness and philosophical/introspective brainstorming), but it did and I started running with it.

My first couple of minutes after I found an image was spent arranging the image, fixing the canvas size, adding guidelines, etc.  But when I was ready to start laying out the foundation, I ended up with only a couple minutes before I had to go do something.  But this ended up to my advantage because I maximized those few minutes grabbing the most important lines, shapes, forms of my face.

I used the mouse and just clicked on a spot and then holding shift clicked on another location to connect the two points by a straight line.  I could’ve used the Line Tool, but this kept everything simple and allowed me to just click away.

When I came back to work on it a couple hours later I used the mouse a little bit longer, but then picked up my stylus and went to work.  The Canvas size is like 4500×2000 and I’m working at around 12.5% zoom, really focusing on form and shapes.

While working that small I started loosing details so I added a quick under painting on a new layer I placed underneath the sketch layers.

Establishing my value range.

I also duplicated my line work layer and placed the duplicate to multiply.

Also, started getting a weird Count Doku vibe.  :(

That pea soup green was getting on my nerves, so I brushed in some color into the background and added some color to my clothes, not sure whether or not I want to keep the hoodie or go for another look.  :/

Filling in the colors a bit more, still not sure what I’m doing with the clothing yet, just going with the flow.

I also started working at 25% zoom now.

Where I stopped this morning.

I really don’t want to recreate the foliage in my backyard, but I’m not sure what to do with this background.  Between that and the clothing I need to come up with something.  Most of those pink and purple colors will probably be pushed back once I start getting working in the details and probably at 50% zoom as I’ll be closer to putting in the textures.  But I want a better idea of what I’m going to do with the clothes and background before I start doing details.


It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.”  -André Gide

The False Mirror


My assignment last week was to use the tools and techniques we’ve been taught in our Computer Art class to make our own interpretation of a famous painting, I choose Rene Magritte’s The False Mirror.

Reference images

First thing I did was to bring both images into Photoshop and place one on-top of the other.  I placed the cloud layer on Multiple so I could position it.

I created a circle Marquee selection and filled it on another layer, so when I wanted to make a mask, I’d be starting off with a perfect circle.  Whenever I wanted that same size and shape selection, I could just Ctrl click that layer for that same selection.  It came in handy later.

Placing a Mask on the eye layer I used a Hard Edged Brush at 100% Opacity to Mask out the whole circle except for the pupil and that highlight/reflection.  Placing the cloud layer underneath it and removing the Multiply blend mode.

Using a Soft Edge Brush at about 25% Opacity I began bringing in the edges of the Mask closer in, I felt the Reflection was distracting, so I filled it in to see what it would look like.

I didn’t like the lack of reflection either, so I ended up using that layer with the circle on it to make a perfect circle selection of the original eye before the mask and copied the pupil.  I then rotated the pupil and then added a Mask to it to get rid of all the extra stuff I didn’t need.

Using that Soft Edged Brush to blend in/out those edges again.

Ended up moving the cloud layer around to find a more appealing position, then copied it and added it in front of the eye Layer to create some depth.  Using a Mask to delete all the blue sky and leave nothing but the clouds.


From there it was all about blending in the blue into the darker/green edges of the eye and painting in the rest of the foreground clouds.


“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”  -Leonardo da Vinci

One Particle in Particular


Finished abstract assignment for my Computer Art class.  Ended up going for something simple (lack of time), just playing around and experimenting with Photoshop.  Had loads of fun and learned a ton with this assignment.


I was going to start off with a background fill, but decided to go with a Gradient instead.  Once I pulled up the Gradient menu I went with one of the ones I haven’t really used before.  I choose the complimentary colors blue and orange.


Next I went into the Filter menu and decided on Pixelate>Pointalize, adjusting the amount until I found something I liked.  Then I duplicated the layer and used the Ctrl+T command to Transform the new layer (holding shift key to maintain the proportions).  Then I centered the new layer so it aligned with the first.  I then duplicated that second layer and set the Blend mode to Multiply and lowered the Opacity.


I then duplicated the first (bottom layer) and went back into the Filter Menu, this time choosing Distort>Spherize and placed the Blend mode to Multiply.


I couldn’t see the sphere shape all that well, so I ended up repeating the process (Filter>Distort>Spherize at 86%) four or five more times.


I felt the colors weren’t saturated enough, so I duplicated the spherized layer and started experimenting with the Blend modes until I got something I liked.


  Then I took that layer and added a new Filter to it.  Choosing Blur>Lens Blur.  This created the glowing feel to the sphere.


Again playing with Blend modes until I found something that worked.  This time settling on Vivid Light and adjusting the Opacity (duplicate layer).


My final step was to add a Lens Flare.  Filter>Render>Lens Flare and then decided the little square was distracting, so I got rid of it.

I really didn’t know what I was doing from one step to the next, it wasn’t’ until I got that sphere shape that things started moving for me.  Even then it was a journey of exploration.  I did learn a lot though, through this process, I haven’t used the Filter>Distort>Spherize before, so this was a cool find for me, as I can definitely see it being useful in the future.


“Success is all about letting your will power takeover from your fears.”  -Unknown

A Storm is Brewing


Grey scale to color (Total Colorization)
Computer Art Project


Beginning photograph, courtesy of Google search.


Using Photoshop

First thing I did was select the solid black color at the bottom with the Quick Selection tool, reversed the selection with Select>Inverse, and then added a Curves Adjustment layer.  This gave me a nice mask to work with.

I then began manipulating the colors until I got this warm reddish color.


The next thing I did was choose the Quick Selection tool again and made a second selection, this time choosing the sky behind the clouds.  I wasn’t overly concerned about getting a perfect selection in this step because I knew with the mask it creates, I could go in with a brush and fine tune the edges of the mask.  Which I began doing.


Here you can see the result of the fine tuning.  I was basically erasing the sky Curves Adjustment layer with the bright red.  This brought back the bright white from the original image, giving the clouds a nifty highlight to them.


I wanted the scene to be a warm red color, but I was unable to get the two Curve Adjustment layers to cool natural and still contrast.  So, I ended up going for a warm orangish color that I thought still looked natural.  Basically going back into both Curves Adjustment layers and tweaking the curves to get the right color.

I’m not too keen on which direction to move the curves to get the color I want, so it was more exploratory than anything.

I also added a Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer on top of everything to get a more even color across the whole image.  Trying to unify it more.


I added a Levels Adjustment layer under the Hue and Saturation layer to brighten the image up a bit, it was looking a bit dark and I wanted those holes in the clouds to really pour in bright light.  My teacher suggested using another image and introducing rays of light slipping through the holes in the clouds, that’ll be my next step.


“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. ”  -Mike Murdock

Blueberry Lemonade



My teacher posted two tutorials in our Computer Art class, the first showed these abstract polygon shapes (Shape Tool, Polygonal Lasso selection for highlights and shadows using Dodge and Burn.  Duplicate, rotate, wash rinse repeat) like the blue ones on the left side of the image, so I started playing with those and while I like it, the image as a whole felt flat.


I decided to put some of the blue in the foreground in the background, but instead of right on top of the orange sherbert, I put the blue circles on a layer behind it.  I’m a huge fan of space and all things sci-fi so stars in the background is a common theme for me.


I liked the ghost like feel that change was giving off, but now the background was clashing with the foreground.  So, instead of rushing into any choices, I took a break, ate some food, and came back with a fresh pair of eyes.  I decided to trash the polygonal shapes and focus and moving from the back forward.

I duplicated the orange circular gradient and applied the Pointallize filter (Filter>Pixelate>Pointallize) twice on two separate layers, setting the layers to different blend modes until I found something I liked.


Next, I used the keyboard short-cut Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge all my layers selected onto a new layer and used the Filter Twirl (Filter>Stylize>Twirl) then added the blend mode Multiply.


Next I duplicated the merged layer and Ctrl+T to enter free transform mode and then selected the warp button on the top tool bar.


From there it was a matter of experimentation until I got something that felt right or interesting and repeated the process several times.  Often rotating and transforming the size of each duplicate layer I created.

From there I saved as a jpg and then opened up the jpg back in to Photoshop, then used a combination of Hue and Saturation, Levels, and Vibrancy adjustment layers to change the colors and intensity.

Here are the finished products…


Blueberry Lemonade


Cool Blue


Purple Lime



It was a fun project to work on and I’m glad to watched those tutorials as I learned a lot of cool new tricks to add to my Photoshop knowledge.  :)


“You have to put in many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.”  –Brian Tracy

Science Blows Me Away



Reference Image


My assignment this week in my Computer Art class was to combine all my previous lessons along with the manipulation of text.  I began with taking a photo of an older man with a basket on his head and adding some adjustment layers to lower the saturation and give it that old photograph brown color.  Then I removed the background with mask.

Next, I added some text in the background using two custom brushes, one was a paragraph of text and the other was some math formulas.  I lowered the opacity of the brown text and set it behind the equations.


I ended up duplicated the old man three times and added different levels of the wind filter (Filters>Stylize>Wind) to give him that disintegrating/blowing away look.  I added a rectangle on the bottom right corner and then began removing it with an eraser and painting over it with a brush.  I also added some more text to the foreground and background of that lower right corner.


The last couple steps were composed of adding more text to the fore and background, using opacity and size to either push it back further, or bring it to the front.  Then I took a brush to that lower right corner again and began removing that hard edge and really get it to blend in with the rest of the image.


“If you can dream it, you can do it.”  –Walt Disney