Digital art Illustration Friday

IF: Twist (second version) & feeling twisted

Twist 2

Drawn with pencil, scanned, redrawn and digitally painted in Painter

Apparently I’m suffering from an artist’s form of writer’s block–instead of working with oils or acrylics like I planned to today, I procrastinated by making this crappy illustration instead. I’m feeling sad and annoyed with myself that I spent my painting time today drawing on the computer. At first it was fun. I had another idea for Illustration Friday’s challenge of “Twist” this week that I had quickly scribbled in a little notebook. I intended to only spend an hour on the computer with it.

Skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested in boring technical stuff of what went wrong.

When I experiment with digital art I always try to learn something new. So today I tried starting with colored “paper” in Painter. Unfortunately, I discovered to late that it would prevent me from working in my usual way: preserving the line drawing as the bottom layer and adding color using the digital airbrush on new layers using “Multiply” as the layer type. The paper color showed through so I ended up working directly on the main layer, which kept erasing the lines. The colors were icky. I redid the colors a bunch of times, then redrew all the lines. Then messed some more with the colors.

I knew it was a losing proposition but I’d already invested a couple hours trying to fix things. Finally it was good enough and I imported it into Photoshop and all the colors turned way too bright. I guess Painter didn’t use the monitor/system calibration I did yesterday. So then I had to tweak it in Photoshop, making things less intense. But when I used the “save for web” command in Photoshop the colors got all too bright again. So then I experimented some more in Photoshop and learned how to use the “Replace Color” command. I’d always wondered how it worked and it’s really cool. But I could have learned that reading the manual, not spending my precious Sunday fixing a stupid drawing.

I’ve been unfocused all week, having finished all my work in progress and needing to start some new paintings–always a difficult time for me if I don’t have a burning inspiration. Clearly I need to stay away from the computer for a while and get some paintings started so I have some in progress. The problem is I have several ideas and couldn’t decide which to start. So tomorrow I’m going to start three of them, as soon as I get up in the morning and then I’ll feel much happier, I’m sure. I’m going to make the most of my last 3 days of vacation!

7 replies on “IF: Twist (second version) & feeling twisted”

I wouldn’t say you wasted your time – you learned something worthwhile, and you also created this happy little illustration. That’s a good use of time in my book.


Hi Jana, it was interesting to read about your digital troubles. I’m learning to use Painter hoping I get inspired and get back to painting the old fashioned way!


I think we North Americans have the wrong end of the stick re. vacations. Europeans generally take at least 6 weeks holiday a year. I notice my kids have a 2-week decompression period when summer holidays start. Only then does it become more about productivity/creativity and less about seeking distraction. You’ll find it kicking in just when it’s time to go back!


I’m thinking of how you might have dealt with your piece….From your description, did you do your line drawing in a separate layer? If so, putting your line drawing as the top layer, then your painting layer under that (as a gel layer) with your base as the color paper would preserve your line art and keep the color opaque (so the paper color won’t be transparent). When I work, I like to duplicate my line art layer and then colorize/paint on the lower duplicate. I can merge the top line art layer later if I want. And don’t kick yourself. As you know, we’ve got to put hours into our ‘crap’ work to get to our better stuff. I know the feeling though, putting so much time into a piece that seems to fail in the end. recognizing we learned somethings in the process helps gives it meaning and purpose. Oh…And I’m not agreeing with you that this piece is ‘crappy’! Just speaking to you where you’re coming from. Keep on with the Painter-learning!


Jana – don’t be so hard on yourself.

Everybody needs time out – and we can’t do art to order (or at least I’ve never been very successful in that respect). Messing around and trying things out sounds like just the sort of thing for freshening up the brain cells and getting them ready for a spot of creativity.


I understand your frustration! I too have spent way too much time on the computer when I felt I should’ve been doing something else. But you did learn a lot and by providing your info., you’ve helped others learn, too! So your time was well spent 🙂 I think it’s a very happy piece, by the way.


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