Archive for September 30th, 2010

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Fan Art Fun: Losing My Digital Art Virginity To A Vulcan

September 30, 2010

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m more of a traditional artist; it just doesn’t feel right if my fingers aren’t stained with paint, ink, charcoal or what-have-you by the end of the day. I’ve involved computers in my art before, but only in very limited ways — tweaking, cleaning up lines, or doing the odd coloring job, etc. — and only after I’ve completed a piece by hand and scanned it in. But last week, I had a conversation with Rowan that made me consider seriously taking the plunge into digital art.

I’ve always envied what digital illustrators can do and had wanted to try it for myself, but I’ve put it off because I am a complete moron with these art-oriented software programs and I was also always too busy. But earlier this week, I promised myself I was going to suck it up and do some research. I got a friend of mine to hook me up with Corel Painter 11 and maybe this weekend I’ll go to the bookstore to buy some tutorials on the subject.

I can’t ever hold myself back from fiddling with a new application though, so in the meantime I decided set up a small canvas to play around a bit, test things out a little on the Wacom tablet. Well, what started as just a short test resulted in this. I sometimes like to draw my MMO characters whenever I practice with a new medium, so yes, that’s T’Androma, my main from Star Trek Online.

There you go, my first ever attempt at a piece of art created 100% completely on a computer. My first small step into the world of digital drawing!

Thoughts for my Art Journal: It was pretty awkward and the results weren’t exactly as I wanted. Because I didn’t know any better, I did the entire thing on a “pencil” setting; otherwise, I hadn’t intended the lines to look so harsh in the hair, the shirt, etc. There were so many other effects and things I wanted to do to get the look I wanted, and even after several (fruitless) web searches I still had not a flipping clue where any of the myriad options were or how anything worked. I am utterly hopeless when it comes to all this technical stuff. The ironic thing is that even with all these possibilities within my grasp, I’ve never felt so powerless when doing art before. That’s where the tutorials will come in handy, I’m sure.

I was also limited by a stubborn part of me that still wanted to treat the whole thing like a traditional drawing, just putting down lines and shapes onto the blank space I was given, not bothering with layers or any other features that I’m sure would have made my life easier. Old habits die hard, I guess.

It certainly felt weird working completely on the tablet. Some things were similar, others completely different. The stylus is designed to be very sensitive to my every movement, but compared to holding an actual pencil or paintbrush, it still felt infuriatingly clumsy. The whole experience also felt “sterile” to me, something I can’t really explain. I found a lot of things I liked, though. If this were painting, digital art would save me the trouble of mixing my own colors, which always takes a lot of work to get just right when you’re doing it manually with actual paints. I also loved being able to move my hands all over the surface without worrying about smudging anything. And finally, fixing any mistakes is a cinch. Though every time I erased something, I would get this urge to blow on the surface of the tablet.

Regardless, clueless as I was, I’m glad I took the time to play with it. Being mostly self-taught, this was just another learning experience to see if I could problem-solve my way out of obstacles. I can hardly wait to get a book so I find my way around Corel Painter to access more tools, and practice with bigger canvases, wider shots, full bodies and environments.