Wedding: Illustration Friday

Matt & Margot

Watercolor, 22″ x 15″
Illustration Friday’s topic this week is Wedding. Usually when I participate in IF I create something new. I love the creative process of coming up with a concept for an illustration that is fresh, unique, and not the first thing anyone would think of (e.g. Paris = Eiffel Tower = trite). The second fun part is imagining and visualizing the image and then bringing it to life with pen and paint.

But this week I couldn’t resist posting this wedding portrait I did a couple years ago for my friends Matt and Margot, especially since this month is their anniversary and they’re expecting their first child in less than a month. Congratulations M&M!

Illustration Friday: Geeky (Computer Geek/Circus Freak)


Sketched on paper, traced manually in Painter and then automatically in Illustrator, colored in Painter, converted to Photoshop and “saved for web”.
Click here to see larger.

This weeks Illustration Friday challenge is “Geeky.” The original definition of a geek is someone from a circus or carnival freak show who ate live animals such as mice, including biting the heads off live chickens. How the word Geek came to mean someone who is into computers and nerdy, I don’t know. I guess it’s the social outsider thing. So I just took it a step further and made it a freak show guy who eats computer mice and other computer parts. I made myself stop playing with this illustration so that I’d still have time to do some real painting today, so it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be.

I’m a bit of a computer geek myself, and have recently been studying color management theory and practice between devices and software programs. It’s really complicated. This time I was able to embed my monitor and color profile in Painter so that when I converted it to Photoshop they had fairly similar color.

Refrigerator Update
For someone who prides herself on being a techno-geek, I definitely don’t have it when comes to large appliances. It turns out that whole disaster with my fridge was caused by the dial in the freezer (which I didn’t even realized existed) being turned to OFF. I don’t know how it got turned off, but that’s all that was wrong. The skinny, weasel-faced jerk of a repairman tried to charge me $98 instead of the $65 I was quoted over the phone for a diagnosis, claiming he had to charge for his (5 minutes of “labor” too).

I told him the guy on the phone said there’d be an estimate before any labor was charged and he said, oh yeah, they always tell you that. But I have to charge for my time starting with when I walk in the door.” I called Sears back and the guy on the phone confirmed I was right so I asked him to talk to the repairman. They chatted for a bit, the repairman said “OK” and handed me the phone, which I hung up. He said, “No, you were supposed to talk to him–he was going to tell you to pay the $98 and take it up with Customer Service later.”

I thought for a moment and said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the $65 I was quoted and YOU take it up with Customer Service” and crossed my arms and stared him down. He realized there was no point arguing any further and gave me a “discount” back to the original quoted price and left. Sheesh! What a scam!

Here’s the original sketch on a decorative notepad.
Original sketch for Geek

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!

IF: Twist; EDM #124: Something Yellow

Twist; EDM Something Yellow

Watercolor in Moleskine large watercolor sketchbook

This week’s Illustration Friday challenge is “Twist” — there’s nothing like a nice twist of lemon in a glass of ice water (or in something more exciting, like a lemon drop martini, which I’m sure sounds better than it tastes, since I’m not a fan of martinis). And last week’s Everyday Matters challenge was to draw something yellow…so there you go.

I did this watercolor sketch yesterday but when I scanned it, my monitor display was driving me crazy. No matter what I did in Photoshop I couldn’t get an image that looked anything like the original. I tried again and again to calibrate my monitor using Adobe Gamma but just couldn’t get it right. I finally gave up around midnight, vowing to resolve the problem today one way or another.

Today I went to a great photography store in Berkeley, Looking Glass Photo. They rent and sell everything you need for digital or film photography and they’re staffed by experts who are generous with their knowledge. Initially I was going to rent a fancy set of calibration tools but a handsome, Buddha-like man named Paul (a customer who used to work there) steered me towards buying a simpler unit for not much more money than it would have cost to rent the unnecessarily fancy tools for just one day. I bought the Gretagmacbeth Eye-One Display 2 which looks like a small regular computer mouse.

I waited until it got dark out, turned on my full spectrum overhead lights only and then hung the little device over my monitor. I tried the automatic calibration which was OK, and then I tried the more detailed program, which I think did a better job. When it finished, I scanned my little lemon twist and amazingly it appeared on my screen just like the original. I have no idea how it will look on your screen, but at last, after all the changes in my studio, my monitor, scanner and printer are all working together again. Whoopee! Now I can get back to painting instead of messing with computer stuff!

P.S. If this looks washed out or too bright on your monitor, please let me know.

IF: Suit (Birthday Suit)

Birthday Suit (Illustration Friday: Suit)

The Illustration Friday challenge “suit” really didn’t grab me until I remember it was my birthday this month…

Birthday Suit original sketch

(above) I scribbled the idea for this on a handy notepad with pencil at midnight while I was waiting for my neighbor’s party to end so I could get some sleep. Then I inked over the outline today and followed the steps below to get to the finished picture. The color in the picture above comes printed on the notepad.

Techie notes:

I outlined the sketch in ink and scanned into Photoshop, using Levels to erase the background (paper had designs on it) and improve the contrast. Then I opened it in Illustrator and used “Trace” command to get clean outlines. I imported that into Painter, doing some more drawing and then creating layers defined as “Multiply” to paint it without losing the outlines. I mostly used the digital airbrush. Then I opened it in Photoshop to use the handy “Save for Web” option (Phew!) It took about 2 hours total.

This is my first project on my new electric sit-stand desk/computer workstation. It was a massive project requiring lots of computer and furniture wrangling in my studio to get it all set up and functional and some really late hours. That’s why I haven’t posted the past few days. Tomorrow I’ll post some pics of my new desk and write about the project, my ridiculous goof-ups, the fixes and the complicated but very groovy computer setup that my friend Richard, tech consultant extraordinaire, helped me plan and assemble.

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