Cintiq sketch of Trilobite Boy

Recently comic artist and children's book illustrator Eric Orchard invited me over to his studio to try out his Cintiq.  Talking with Eric is always a joy, and I headed over.

For those not familiar with them, most digital tablets such as my Wacom Intuos 3 are flat pads with a surface that remains touch sensitive to over a thousand points of pressure when using the accompanying pen. Once you get usde to drawing on the tablet on the desk while looking at the screen (try writing your signature a bunch of times and it will help at first) it becomes an incredibly realistic drawing device. Here's a pic of mine below:




The Wacom Cintiq takes it one step further: you are actually drawing right on a pen-touch-sensitive computer monitor.

Eric sat down to demo how it works, and with amazing speed whipped up an excellent little sketch.  I realized how much I still hold back when using digital media: I have an oil painter's habitual sense of caution and planning. Eric made it look fun, almost breezy.

My turn. After maybe 7 minutes, I made this little sketch of Trilobite Boy:




Whenever I test out a new art medium, I sketch something I know. This was using Photoshop in black and white, without any zoom.  I tried to test line widths and opacities to get a feel for it.  It was completely fun.  It felt like I was drawing right on a page, and I had to pay less attention to the interface than I do with my Intuos.

One of the things I'm finding being in an at-home studio with a newborn in the house, is setting time to work in oil paint is difficult.  Scrubbing my hands to pick up the baby is time-consuming, and I am jumping up and down. But working digitally, I can hold him in one arm if need be, or at least just dive back into the art project without the palette set-up. I will still happily take oil painting commissions, but I think for my own projects such as the Trilobite Boy comic, I will be working increasingly digitally.

Thanks for the test drive, Eric!

I've got to find a way to afford purchasing a Cintiq.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow

Pink Parasaurolophus

It's done!  My Pink Parasaurolophus submission for Art Evolved's Pink Dinosaur charity drive.  



 

The drive is going great, and there's over 100 pink dinosaur submissions so far!  It's not to late to submit one: we're going to the end of October.

You can see a higher-res image of my pink duckbill in my
DeviantArt gallery or my print shop. I have a couple of posts with sketches you can find here.

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Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under
Creative Commons Licence.



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Trilobite Boy - gargoyle progress

Continuing the work I showed in Monday's post, of Trilobite Boy sitting on a rooftop near some gargoyles.

Found a bit of time to start laying down colour.

Below, you can see the colour under the sketch layer with the sketch rendered invisible.  The bits of wings and buildings are on another layer entirely.



Here's the original sketch overlayed on top of the colour, below. 



Once I build up enough colour, I'll erase the sketch.  Although...maybe I'll leave some of the bluish lines on top of Trilobite Boy, or just his wings, to give it a ghostly appearance.

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Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
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Creative Commons Licence.

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Trilobite Boy - gargoyle sketch

Still working on other Trilobite Boy pieces, but I was in a mood to work on this darker sketch last night. 

Trilobite Boy - Gargoyle.






The wings are intended to be bony and floating above him. You can see a number of arm+hand positions I'm playing with. In ArtRage, I increased the thinners a lot, so the pressure sensitivity of my Wacom tablet will feel more like a wash.

I'm aiming for this to be monochromatic, bluish grey, Payne's gray, shiny streets below.   A melancholy feel.  I just realized, this reminds me a bit of Batty in Blade Runner. But trilobite-ish.


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Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under
Creative Commons Licence.

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I really love ArtRage 2.5 - I'm hoping to treat myself to 3.0 sometime soon.  It has watercolours, which I used to paint in before university.  I miss them.  ArtRage will be less expensive than buying physical watercolours.  One day...

Caffeine tattoo commission for Scicurious

A few months back, blogger Scicurious of Neurotopia asked me about designing a tattoo to celebrate her PhD. Sci was specific on the subject matter: caffeine! She knew she wanted something one-of-a-kind, black-line, and possibly tribal.

Most of the commissions I've ever had have been through people online as opposed to people in my own community. While this is the first pseudonym-anonymous blogger I've worked for, I wasn't concerned. Besides the fact we've met in person, you can tell a lot of things about bloggers from their writing, and the way they're held in the blogging community. I expected this commission to be a lot of fun - and it was.

The designs went through a lot of versions. Here's a look at some of them. Click to enlarge.

These are from the first few sketches. I called the top one 'droplets' and the bottom one 'scanner' : For a design like this one below, I was basically trying out a variety of lines and shapes to see if any struck a chord with Scicurious: I went for something a bit Tim Burton-esque here, and ended up with something with a hint of Celtic knotwork. I really like this type of line. But maybe for a different molecule. The development of the droplets idea. A more jewellery-like design. Playing with the bonds and chemicals. On many of these, I had the chemical diagrams a bit off, but Sci knows her stuff, and made revisions easy. Droplets develops more. Sci asks for the nitrogens to resemble "n's" since there's a hint of an "o" in the oxygens. The nitrogens were tough to pin down! To make sure we weren't missing something from an earlier iteration, I sent Scicurious this batch of nitrogen designs, with some new ones on the right. By this point, we'd pretty much pinned down the rest of the tattoo, and I'd switched from pencil to Photoshop to make the swapping of the nitrogens easier. The doodles on the left are done with my Intuos 3 tablet in Photoshop. I was feeling stuck, and the loose drawings helped me get back into the design. Just throwing things at it, to see what worked. I sent the image to Sci and whaddaya know? She loved one of the doodles! And here's the final! Congratulations on your PhD, Dr. Scicurious! And thanks for a terrific collaboration-commission!

(Links to the final at Scicurious's Neurotopia and Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium.)

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Interested in your own one-of-a-kind science tattoo?
Send me an email at theflyingtrilobite [at] gmail [dot] com.

ScienceOnline2010 tablet workshop; or, playing with Bora's face

Click on the scio10tablet label to see all posts. Many thanks to Darren of the Park Research Center for the enthusiastic help setting up Gimp and the drivers on the session laptop!(picture by Ben Young Landis and tweeted during the session. Thanks Ben!)


After a mad dash from the airport, I settled in at ScienceOnline2010 to do a workshop about digital tablet technology. Bringing two tablets through customs wasn't hard, though I had to explain what they were a number of times.

The two models we played with were a Wacom Bamboo and a Wacom Intuos 3. The Bamboo had been solemnly lent to me by my 8-year old sk8tr nephew who said he was "giving you -no, lending you this on one condition: you bring it back." Fair enough.

Our workshop attendance was relatively small, which was perfect. After a quick introduction to tablets, the group split into two groups of three and began to play. We used Gimp, which as an astonishingly versatile free program able to do many of the things Photoshop and similar programs can do. My hope was that the group would enjoy the pressure sensitivity of the pen and tablet, and begin to think of how that could be fun to make images.

Here are the results of the workshop! (And apologies for the long wait! Has it been 2+ weeks already?These exercises were to allow everyone to get a fee for the pen and tablet, and try a bit with how the sensitivity responds. The initial drawings above were cautious and careful, as it can be disconcerting to move your drawing-hand while looking elsewhere at a screen at the result. This technique however, is a one made popular by the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a traditional pencil and paper book. It includes exercises doing just this: follow the contours of the object you're drawing, and don't look at the page you are drawing on. It allows your eyes to have time to practice moving in unison with your hand.
Here's the examples when we tried varying the line pressure:

We played with Bora's image a bit. Everyone took a turn on separate layers, including Bora himself adding a dapper aviator's scarf (later made hard to see by the Magic Wand tool).

Original photo:


Completed image:

Many thanks to Janet, Ben, Evelyn, Bora, Allie and John! And Bora's dinosaur.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Work above by conference attendees - thanks for playing everybody!


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Art Monday: Balloon Boy


A doodle-y sketch using the fun and excellent Sketchbook Pro app on my iPod Touch.
Click here for more of my iPod Touch sketches, or visit fingerpainted.it to see other artists' impressive work, including with the new iPad.

The iPad is certainly on my *want* list, (mostly because my wife and I have to budget our computer needs on our one sweet pc), however it isn't really the same as a digital tablet like my Intuos 3. For one thing, the inaugural version of the iPad doesn't have any levels of sensitivity, making it a significantly less versatile tool than a digital tablet & pen. Still I love my iPod Touch so a bigger more sophisticated one would be amazing.

I already use my iPod Touch as a portfolio, (the reason Michelle bought one for me) and the iPad would be even better.



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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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*** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Art Monday: Mountain Discovery

Mountain Discovery
"We're gonna need another Order of trilobites!"

Created for the January time capsule gallery at Art Evolved. This time the theme was a paleo-environment. I tried to make the fossil itself an environment. And to put Isotelus to shame.

This is the first complete fully digital painting I have displayed: most of my digital work involves enhancing my oil paintings, or digital roughs. I feel I still have a lot to learn before I am satisfied with my skill set, though my friend, artist Chris Zenga, suggested I may be uncomfortable with this since most of my work is quite a bit darker than this.

Michelle likes it, and would like to see me produce more landscapes

This was created using mainly ArtRage 2.5, a bit of Photoshop Elements 6 and my Intuos 3 tablet.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.


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Art Evolved gallery sneak peek

The newest Art Evolved time capsule gallery launches today! The theme is palaeo-environments. Here's a sketch of the painting I made for it, done in ArtRage totally digitally. Convincing pencil, eh?It's called Mountain Discovery. Click-y to enlarge-y.

Go to Art Evolved to see the finished piece, fully digital, created using ArtRage with a few last-minute Photoshop tweaks.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***