Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've been doing a lot of sketches lately with somewhat the same feel to the Matei Apostolescu master study I did in Mr. Babcock's class earlier this summer. Not sure where I'm heading with them but would like to elaborate at some point. Here is just an example of one:

Quite sloppy, I know, but I try to do them in under 20 minutes.

Friday, June 18, 2010


First, thanks to Mr. Babcock for being so prompt in answering our questions and for being so thorough in your comments and videos. Not only have I learned a lot by you helping me and answering my questions personally, but the videos you made for other people helped just as much and taught me a lot of things about the programs I would have never known how to go about otherwise.
Also, thaks to the rest of you who left comments and suggestions throughout the course; your insights were very helpful and much appreciated. I really think the fact that this class is in a blog setting helps tremendously because we were all able to help and critique each other at 'the speed of Internet', 24/7, versus being limited to just a few days a week for a few hours a day in a classroom, given that we'd all even show up every day.

I really learned a lot in the last six weeks. I think the style in which we did the projects (master study then original, repeat) was a great way to go. You know, I could read the instructions on how to do something a hundred times but I wouldn't gain as much as I would by learning hands-on, through trial and error, how an artist executed something. Even when I didn't figure something out the first time through, the process was helpful because I'd learn other things, sometimes by accident.

I learned about a lot new tools as well as mastering a few that I had prior knowledge of including but not limited to the blob brush, pen tool, gradient mesh, clipping masks, layer masks, the advantages and disadvantages of making selections via quick masks vs. magic wand vs. marquees vs. lassos, all the different layer modes, several different filters, making new brushes (both regular and pattern) in Illustrator, etc. I learned that the eraser tool can be detrimental and that there is almost always more than one way to do something. Also, I got a lot of much needed practice with my Wacom, which at the start of the course I was very new to, and now I don't ever want to be without it.

As for my overall comfortability, before taking this course I would honestly almost cringe when I had to do something that involved Illustrator instead of Photoshop. But since I forced myself to do a few projects solely in vector
, I got a lot of much needed practice and am proud to say I'm starting to really come around. And by come around, I mean I kind of love working with vectors now. Also, I've realized in the process of this course, just how important it is to be organized. I used to waste so much time by having my layers in no particular order and when I wanted to edit something, I'd have to run down through the list until I found it. Grouping and naming works wonders, who knew? Now I just need to figure out how to organize my apartment.

In the future, my goal is to continue doing master studies as I think it legitimately helps and I don't think there's such a thing as too much practice. I want to continue improving with vectors and I'd like to keep learning new tools and shortcuts in Photoshop. I'm looking forward to mastering the tablet as well. The goal is to get what's in my mind onto the screen. :)

Thanks again to everyone for your help and kind words, and good luck to all of you in the future.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


My brother just enlisted into the Army so this one is for him. Not the most pleasant piece ever, but realistic.

Here it is:

And the tutorial on how I did it:

I've been awake for like two days, so I think I'll wait and do my reflection after I get some sleep. Otherwise, it won't make sense.

Original #4 & Proposal

This is my original based on the Rhys Owens piece I copied. Done in Photoshop and Illustrator.
Angry shark is angry:

Below are the three main pictures I used in collaboration.

I selected each of them and then free transformed, warped, rotated, and masked them to get the best fit I could.

Next, I desaturated everything except the shark's mouth. I selected the tie, added a layer of flat, red color on top then Overlayed it. I applied the 8-layer cutout filter to everything and then faded them to 80%. I made the background in Illustrator using the gradient mesh tool and then brought it over. I added a grainy effect on the jacket by adding gray areas with my brush tool and then applying a gaussian blur, film grain filter, and then played around with the levels until I thought it looked right.

Last, I added the dark, gray border and logo complete with drop shadow and bullet wound. I got the logo from the internet and drew my version of a bullet hole with the brush tool (looked at pictures on the Internet for reference). Also added a background texture with my brush tool, lowered the opacity to 15% and applied a color dodge but it might not be shown in this screenshot.

I had a lot of fun with this study and original. I've always enjoyed merging different elements from different photos together but doing so eloquently to create an actual character can sometimes be a challenge. I also did a lot of trial and error with grain/blur filters and layer modes which helped me really get a feel for what effect will come of doing something without actually having to test it out and see.

I've decided to do the tutorial. I think the easiest way to master something is by teaching it to someone else. It forces you to really think about what you're doing and saying, and then having to actually explain the motives behind something can really give you a better understanding of the process instead of just going through the motions. I've never done a tutorial before so please don't expect flawlessness, but I'm going to do my best to explain what exactly I'm doing and why.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rhys Owens Master Study

I decided to do my last study based on a piece by Welsh Illustrator, Rhys Owens. It seems like he has a lot of pieces that incorporate both Illustrator
and Photoshop, and I just like his overall style.

Since his piece uses specific photos that I didn't have access to, I just had to do the best with what I could find.

Here's his original:

Here's mine:

First, here are the images that I used. Found them in a google search:

Kind of a long step.
I extracted the hoodie, the cat's head, and the headphones from their originals, placed them together, then desaturated everything. I did 8-layer cutout filters to all of them but faded the headphones to 80%. I used the brush tool to change the back of the jacket and cat's head to black. I drew the glasses in Illustrator and brought them over. Then I selected the section on the headphones that I wanted to color red, filled it with flat color using the paint bucket, then changed the mode to Overlay. Last, I drew the cord with the brush tool.

I opened a flattened .jpg of my work so far in a separate window, selected the area I wanted, and filled with the paint bucket. I then copied it over to my .psd, enlarged it, and placed it behind the cat.

Next, I just added and fixed certain details: added a layer of flat, yellow to the top of the cat and changed it to Soft Light mode, drew the whiskers and additional fur onto the face, dissolved some of the black on the jacket, added the border, touched up the glasses and surrounding, yellow line, etc.

Last, I drew the coffee logo in Illustrator and transferred it over.

Pretty pleased with the way it turned out. I guess I didn't realize this when I was doing it, but there seems to be a little bit of texture on top of the orange background/logo in his piece, so I might go back and add that.

Original #3

Okay, I'm back.

Here is the original I did based on my Matei Apostolescu master study. I decided to go a little bit different route than the study. Instead of leaving most of the picture white, I have covered this entire piece in light color and I decided that I'd make the content a little bit more realistic (but still maintained some of the crazy, line work that Apostolescu incorporates into his pieces; I just aimed to make it a little bit more controlled. See: mountains, rocks).

I forgot to take in-progress screenshots until I was about 98% finished, but my process wasn't much different from the original. I did a sketch in ink, scanned it in, went over it with the tablet, made the colorful lines in Illustrator and brought them over, then lots of mask work to finish up. I decided that I wanted the illusion of shadows on the mountains to be made up of line work that somewhat mimics Arabic writing (might have even slipped a phrase or two in there!). Maybe a bit cheesy but ehh.
I do like that it's a bit ironic in that the colors are warm and light and happy, but the content is sad and harsh.

Might go back and make the kid's clothes a different color. Might also make the AK-47 a different color than the kid.

Mr. Babcock, if you read this, I know it has nothing to do with this particular project but:
Sometimes if I exit out of Photoshop and come back, my brush tool goes from "precise" tip (I think) to crosshairs for no apparent reason, and then I'll go to preferences and try to change it back but no changes are ever made. Do you know why this happens and how I can fix it?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Something small came up.

My dad is going to be in the hospital for a few days so I'll be in KC, away from a computer. It's nothing too serious, I just need to be there. I'll be able to do some prep work outside the computer though, hopefully, so that when I get back I can get caught back up really easily.