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Painting – Work in Progress

Here’s a painting that was started a little while ago for a few friends of mine as a gift. Unfortunately it had to put it aside temporarily so I could focus on some other projects.

I could probably could have just finished it off quickly but I was having trouble getting a likeness for the last missing portrait and felt like I was overworking it.

Since it wasn’t crucial that I finish it right away I thought it’d be best to take a break from it and come back at it with fresh eyes.


Spiral Staircases

I’ve been taking some perspective drawing classes over the past few weeks in an attempt to refresh my understanding of it.  I’ve always had a basic working knowledge of 1, 2, and 3 point perspective drawing but I thought it would help if I learned some more technical approaches.

In our earlier classes we focused on constructing ellipses and staircases.  This naturally led right into the construction of spiral staircases!

The staircases above were drawn using a more technical method where you locate the vanishing points for each step individually as they turn in perspective. 

The 2 drawings below were done using a more of a ‘freehand approach’.  Basically the steps are all eyeballed in after plotting out an inclined plane that wraps around cylinder.

This is supposed to be a quicker method (and probably is with practice) but I found that it took me just as long to draw these as the more technical way and they feel a little wonky to me.  You have to eyeball the depth of each step as they turn away from you and it can take some trial and error to make it look correct.

I guess that in a situation where the stairs aren’t the focal point of a composition and you don’t want to spend too much time working on them that this method is the way to go.

As we got more comfortable drawing generic staircases from our imagination I thought it might be interesting to try and animate one turning.  So I animated this little 3 drawing cycle.

I’ve never animated a run cycle up a flight of stairs before so I might try to come up with an excuse to do it sometime.

We’ve just started into the Cylindrical-Curvilinear Perspective lessons during the last couple of classes so if you enjoy all this brain melting technical stuff as much as I do then stay tuned!  I should have some more stuff to post after the long weekend.  Happy Canada Day!!

Life Drawing

Here are a few more studies from my life drawing class.  Most were done in about 20 min.  It’s becoming less of a struggle now that I’m drawing more often but I’ve still got a lot of bad drawings that I need to let out.

I’ve also been taking a class on Linear, and Curvelinear perspective so I plan on posting some of the exercises I’ve been doing in the next day or so.

Birthday Commission

This is a digital painting I made for my good friend Adam.  I thought it might be helpful to show the step by step process from rough sketch to finished painting.

Adam took culinary arts in college and has worked in a few high end restaurants in the Ottawa area so I wanted to focus the piece around his love of food.  Whenever we get together he will have prepared some kind of mouthwatering dish like pork ribs with his own homemade BBQ sauce or thick juicy steaks that have been cooked to perfection.  He just got a new chocolate lab puppy named Fletcher recently so I thought it would make sense to show him doing what he does best for his new, furry pal.

This is the rough that I made using some photo reference of the two of them.  Adam’s a bit stocky in real life so I tried to exaggerate that a bit and he has a pretty unique and goofy way of smiling which I tried to capture.  Fletcher looks pretty much like any other chocolate lab so I tried to just focus on keeping his proportions looking cute and his expression excited as though this is the first steak he’s ever seen!

I like to use a really soft dark graphite pencil at first (like a 4B or sometimes higher) and I tend to be pretty heavy handed when I draw so I rely on yellow sticky notes for some of the corrections where things start to get too muddied up.  I’ve never really been comfortable with col-erase coloured pencils as I tend to draw more stiffly when I use them.

For the clean up I would usually put another sheet on top and trace over it using my light table but this time I tried a new method that my girlfriend, Katie showed me.   I scanned in the rough drawing into Photoshop, brought down all the brightness/contrast/black levels and printed it out onto 11/14 illustration board in light red ink.  That way I could draw directly on top of the original rough without the need for a light table and it was easier to keep the drawing looking solid.  Plus, it was way more comfortable than staring into a fluorescent bulb for an hour.

Afterward,  I designed the text on another sheet of paper and then pasted them up onto the illustration board.  When I scanned in the drawing I was able to remove the red underdrawing digitally and was left with just my final clean up.

I’m not the most confident painter and when I comes to technique I feel pretty clueless so I don’t really have a process figured out.  I heard that it is best to work out your values first before getting too involved with colour so that’s what I tried to do.  The biggest problem I found was trying to balance the dark values of the puppy with the bright white of Adam’s chef outfit.  By focusing on the values rather than the colours I realized that by painting Adam’s name the same value as his clothes it would help to balance the composition while also visually associating him with his name.

Finally I started to add colour on a layer above the grey tones.  My main focus here was trying to keep all of the warmer flesh tones in middle of the frame and supporting the composition so that the viewers eye would circle around from Adam’s face, across the steak to the dog and back again.  I also chose various shades of blue for the rest of the picture to contrast the more important warmer areas that I wanted the viewers eyes to be drawn towards.

Overall, I found that painting in Photoshop was a bit frustrating.  I don’t have any custom brushes set up so I found that I was always trying to ‘fake’ traditional brush technique but not really understanding how.  I think that for my next project I will be experimenting with the real thing (like watercolour or acrylic) rather than resorting to Photoshop.

I’m going to be getting this printed onto canvas and shipping it to Ottawa for him this week.  I’ve never printed anything out onto canvas before so I can’t wait to see how it will turn out!

Caricature Studies (Ricky Gervais)

I recently made a list of celebrities to caricature so I could start to build a portfolio of recognizable faces.  I’ve always been a big fan of Ricky’s since I first saw the original, BBC version of  The Office.  He was such an unlikeable character in that series that I couldn’t even look at the screen when he was embarrassing himself.

While I’m fairly satisfied with this sketch of Ricky, I don’t feel that I quite captured his over-the-top, high pitched laugh.  I also feel that this works as more of a portrait then a caricature as I didn’t really exaggerate many of his features.  I found that as I tried to play with the proportions of his face I would lose his likeness, it’s something I’ll have to work on.


Earlier this year, I was involved in a video-game project that was being developed by my friend Mike MacDougall. He asked me to help him animate and composite some of the cinematic sequences using Flash and he provided me with all of the character and BG layouts.

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Images Copyright 2010 Ripple Effect Games

It seemed to take a long time since we also had full-time jobs and could only dedicate a few hours a week on the project.  Regardless, it was a lot of fun to work on.  Now I just need  get a chance to play the game!

By the way, yours truly also got to provide the voice of the hero in the trailer!  I’m no Matt Damon (although I think I might be taller), but I hope my acting will hold up until they can get a more suitable leading man to take over the part!

Freddie Moore Mickey Studies

I grabbed this Freddie Moore model sheet off of the blog of a talented, local Toronto board artist, Warren Leonhardt.  My ‘drawing juices’ started to flow again after seeing the unfinished Disney short ‘Plight of the Bumblebee’ from which these poses originated from.  ( I would link to the short for those that haven’t had the privilege of watching it yet but the Disney brass have already removed it from the internet.)

Today I decided to learn from the greats by reproducing a couple of poses as closely as possible.  Trying to give my eyes and analytical abilities a workout.
I started to work out the main forms first and then as I went back over the rough to start adding his expression I realized that Mickey’s face was turned towards the viewer too much.  I also toned down his lean forward.  The original drawing has his head lower, closer to the ground.  There are also a few other inconsistencies that I noticed so I decided to go over the drawing again to correct the mistakes before tying everything down.

This is my 2nd attempt right over top of the original.  I tried to correct the problems I noted above but I still didn’t get his head low enough.  I keep over inflating parts of him too, his hat, ear, chest, and butt are all a bit too big.The differences are really obvious when the drawings are flipped together.  It’s close but I’ve shifted a lot of the subtle forms and shapes. I guess I’ll keep practicing!  Mickey has some tricky proportions that you have to maintain for him to stay appealing.

Next Post:  Something original…

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