Tom Parrish Concept Art and Illustration

Tom Parrish Concept Art and Illustration: January 2014

Friday, 31 January 2014

Timelapse Inking Demo

I set up the camera last night whilst I inked my next Illolife RPG character sheet as a test really to see how well it'd capture. I think it worked pretty well, so thought I'd share.

I inked this in about 40 mins (sped up by about 900%) using a .35mm rapidograph and a #3 Raphael 8404 brush + FW Acrylic ink. I did the whole piece in tech pen first as I'd decided at the last minute to redraw part of the image, so the lines were a bit muddy. I call this 'safety inking' as I can pull the right lines out in pen first, before going in and adding the correct line weights with the brush afterwards.


Would love to hear what you guys think/how I could improve the setup for next time. If anyone has a suggestion, please post it in the comments below!

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Monday, 27 January 2014

The Doodle Bug!

Here's a creature I designed for the Illolife RPG over on Facebook - The Doodle Bug! The idea is to take a challenge or peril that artists face and create a monster from it... and the one I seem to face is the endless doodling/junk drawing in my sketchbook.

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

My Anime/Comic Style Tutorial

I'd been asked about this over on the Illolife RPG Facebook group, so I decided to put together an overview of the process I use when doing a cell shaded/comic-book style character design, from start to finish.

1. Thumbnail

As with any illustration, I start out with a thumbnail sketch. I find that the smaller I work, the better I am at balancing a figure's initial proportions, so my figure thumbnails tend to be no bigger than an inch or so. Once I’m happy with the gesture and rhythm of the figure, I take a quick snap of it with my phone (I do this a lot, rather than using a scanner!) and transfer it via Photostream to my PC, and then into Photoshop.

2. Digital Rough

Once I’ve got the thumbnail into Photoshop, I work over it using the Cintiq and flop (flip horizontally) the image regularly to check that it reads correctly. I stay away from detail at this stage and worked zoomed out, just working on blocking out volumes and forms, so I don’t need to worry about them in the next stage.

 3. Pencils

With the roughs done, I print them out on A4 paper in a very light grey, and then proceeded to tighten the drawing up using an F pencil (weirdly my favourite graphite pencils). I make sure to reference my skates, satchel and scarf while drawing so that the props and costume look accurate.

 4. Prepare Bluelines

With the pencils finished, I scan the lineart in and print it out on A4 Bristol board in blueline. To create a blueline version of the pencils, you simply change the image mode in photoshop to from Greyscale to Duotone (Image>Mode>Duotone). In the Duotone options, I double click the colours swatch and set it to 20% cyan, which is light enough to see, but not dark enough to interfere when scanning the inks.

 5. Inks

I chose to ink this traditionally, using a .35mm Rapidograph and a Kuretake brush-pen. I opt for a more graphic style with a slab outline as opposed to a more cursive comic book style. I would have preferred to ink this with my favourite tools (Raphael 8404 #2 brush and FW ink), but I was inking at Drink and Draw so had to use what I'd brought with me.

 6. Separating The Lineart

After scanning the inks and cleaning them up using the levels tool, I selected the lineart by going to the channels palette and command clicking on 'Blue'. Invert this selection with CMD+shift+I (or Ctrl+Shift+I on PC) and then create a new layer. Paint bucket fill this layer with black. From here, you can either hide or delete your original scan, as the lineart is now separated.

7. Flats

Using the Lasso tool, I make selections and bucket fill these areas on a new layer underneath the line art. Make sure that you don't have any feathering set on the Lasso tool, as you want crisp areas to be able to make selections from (using the Magic Wand tool). The layer is then duplicated, locked and hidden at the top of the stack to create a layer to make selections from. The original flats layers stays underneath the lineart, and serves as the base to build colour upon.

 8. Colouring

The fun begins! With the correct local colours in place (I tweak the flat colours before I start to make sure that I've got the right base colours to work over), I first made the choice of lighting direction and colour. Using a clipped colour burn layer to begin with, I selected a mid saturated purple (my light source colour) and created a gradient over the bottom half of the image, to create the cell shade/anime look I was going for. After getting the overall tone sorted with that, I then started sectioning off the image with masked groups.
Within these, I would create one screen and one multiply layer, that I would then make lasso selections in and apply a 22% radial gradient to build my volumes. I used this technique on every part of the character (in some instances though, I found overlay or linear light modes more applicable than Screen. If in doubt, experiment!). I work systematically through the illustration like this, until all of my cuts and shading are done. I might go back and add a unifying gradient over the top of the lot of it sometimes (maybe as a low opacity 'Colour' layer) just to tie the image together if necessary.

 9. Lineart Bloom

I call this effect bloom for lack of any other technical definition that I've managed to find. It's the sort of line softness that you see in anime mostly, and it took me a while to figure this one out. To begin with, duplicate your separated lineart layer (we'll call this the Bloom layer), and then move it beneath the original. Hide the lineart layer, and then open up the Gaussian blur options with the bloom layer selected. Blur it by approximately 5px (you'll need to eyeball this as to your preference!). Once done, hit CMD+U or Ctrl+U and bring up the hue/saturation options. Tick the 'colourise' radio box, and pick a hue to colour the lineart. I would ordinarily aim for a sepia colour (as it tends to work quite nicely and give a more analogue feel), but in this instance as the unifying colour of the piece was purple, I opted to go with that. Bump up the saturation and lightness so you can see it, and then hit ok. Now when you toggle you Lineart back on, you can see the bloom sitting underneath it! I went further a well and combined the bloom effect with a colour hold over the original lineart, which is done using the same 'colourise' technique, but with the lineart layer selected.

10. Finished Colours

...and we're done!

If you've any comments, queries or suggestions as to other methods, I'd love to hear about them in the comments; Or if you've used this method to colour some artwork I'd love to see it!

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Time to start levelling up.

I've just joined a fantastic real-life (not LARP!) RPG over on Facebook: Illolife RPG. It's definitely worth heading over and checking out, in the meantime here's my character sheet!

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why You Shouldn't Make Art Like Tin Cup

In the film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner played a washed up golf pro who had always had potential, but never quite made it. Throughout the film, through his attempt to return to the glory days we see time and again his dogged personality getting in the way, until ultimately in the final scene he just won't let a shot go, and throws the game in an attempt to pull off one glorious shot.

From a story point of view, we're engaged with his hubris and are on an emotional journey with the character. But as a metaphorical example to apply to art, this is a great example (to my mind at least) of what not to do. other words, you need to know when to quit.

In the film, Tin Cup doggedly tries to make this final shot, ignoring the advice of his friends. If he'd listened and stepped back when it wasn't working, he would have been able to refocus and perhaps achieve his goal, instead of getting sidetracked by a single idea along the way.

From an artistic point of view, the comparison is knowing when an illustration just isn't working. You try flipping the canvas, it still reads, but it doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor. You can't see it, can't put your finger on it, but you know that you're not connecting with the piece. You're lacking that excitement that often comes when a painting just 'clicks'. The colour comps have become more of a muddy soup, because you're preoccupied trying to work out what it is about your composition that's grating.

It's hard. You're invested in the drawing. You like the lineart, but something is bugging you.

Listen To Your Heart
Oh yeah, I made a Roxette reference.
Even if you can't understand why, you need to listen to that voice. Not to the doubt; this isn’t just about the self doubt that creeps into every artist's mind. Don't just listen to your self doubt, but really listen to what you feel about the piece. Try to understand why it's not working, and start plotting solutions. Does it communicate what you had originally intended? Did you have a particularly strong story or message to begin with? These could be minor tweaks, or, in many cases, radical redraws.

Don't be afraid of the  radical redraw. It has never been easier in a digital workflow to preserve your 'work so far' and experiment with further ideas. If your gut is telling you it's a bit dull, 8-10 hours of detailed painting isn't going to rescue it. In fact, it's more than likely to compound the issue. Pause at this early stage, and take a step back to just explore a few more ideas. You never know; exploring the alternatives may lead to confirmation of the idea you had originally, or could lead to a much stronger idea and composition.

I'm not advocating simply giving up when a painting gets tough, or when you get to the inevitable 'turgid middle phase'; but you should have the confidence and conviction to stick to your goal of producing something great which might mean stepping away and reassessing when you know that something is bugging you.

It’s a tough but necessary skill to know when to step back and reassess, rather than ploughing head-long into polishing a mediocre painting.

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January Sketches

I've been tied up with the prep work on a painting for the last couple of weeks, so I've not done an awful lot digitally, but I've been busy sketching away in my sketchbook in the evenings!

I'm hoping in the next couple of weeks (as the weather gets better) to finally put some of my new materials into service and go for a plein air painting session out in Dorset.

Study for a painting.

Sketching on the train (The girl was already on the page!)

Glen Kean studies

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Kickstart My 'Art 2014

Woah! YEAH! Kickstart my art, give it a start!

So a slightly delayed start to 2014 as we've been in prep mode for Charlene heading off on fieldwork. Going to miss her terribly while she's away, so I'll be making the most of the evenings with lots of painting, studies and live streaming sessions. Stay tuned for an action packed January! (...or something like that).

Here are some sketches from last weekend's Dorset Roller Girl training session - I thought it'd be a great chance to try some dynamic life drawing, and the skaters made for a great subject matter!

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