… and part two of the omnibus covers (increasingly uncommon) digital work.
So this “character sketch” from 2011 starts a series of digital paintings in which I implement a “hybrid” shading using pencil lines and digital color. I would not even think about doing this now, but at the time I needed a crutch to distinguish hard and soft divides in my shadows, which had been blurring into a muddy mess in the past few pieces.
It took a while for me to get over the hybrid process and start making good divides again without the crutch, but this 2012 painting finally turned out well. It is also my first ink line art in a long time, and it spawned a decent number of good pieces done with the same process.
I still wasn’t consistent with that style of painting though, and in between duds and decent works, I tried my hand at some cell-shading, my first attempt at that in a long time as well. From this point on I would try to incorporate cell-shading into my “normal” process in order to help manage those shading divides.
At the end of the year I also painted a piece from reference. The point of the exercise was two-fold: one was of course the do a digital painting from reference, which I had not done in the past, and two was to do the thing without lines, which I had tried in the past, but not with consistent results. The latter is something with which I still struggle today…
In 2013 I did another sequence of experimental works in which I tried to care less about precision, using pencil line art and a single layer for paint. As usual, the first couple turned out well, but I was unable to execute consistently, and this process eventually went away.
Having faffed around with pen, pencil, and no line art, I returned to digital lines in the middle of 2013, trying to make them very thin and very clean, initially with this cell-shade, but later on with more soft shading too. Nonetheless, this kind of line work turned out to be another dead-end, though it’s something I would like to revisit.
Finally, at the end of 2013, I switched from OpenCanvas 1.1 to Photoshop CS2, and I am still using the latter now. That old version of OC was literally just a brush engine, and while I really liked that brush engine, I strongly felt the need for a little more functionality. That being said, my first painting with CS2 was not particularly good…
This early 2014 painting gets a mention even though it is a one-off. A lot of people, myself included, seem to really like this low-color, background-focused piece with a cell-shaded foreground and a softer-shaded background: it even won a mention on DeviantART. Background-focus is another something I’d like to revisit… someday.
I spent the rest of that year’s painting wading through more one-offs, trying various combinations of lines and shading, many of which I had tried before, but ultimately at the start of 2015 it all came back to digital lines and digital “paint”, and this, for the most part, is still how I would color today.
Still, I could do a bit of cleanup, and this late 2015 painting is presumably cleaner than the previous, especially with regard to line art. I also managed to pull off a pretty good background with no lines, albeit a fairly abstract one.
Painting is becoming a rarity at this point, and the next significant piece doesn’t come until mid-2017 when I discovered PaintsChainer, a software that automatically colors! I really liked the idea, and I really liked the colors it output, but it was too hard to integrate into a workable process, and I only managed one “finished” painting after a number of experiments.
Writing about art also became rare after the end of NW, but I did write about PaintsChaining and this next piece. Basically I tried to formalize my process more, and while I liked the results then, I now think it is missing a bit of the texture from when I do more “hand painting”.
Still, I liked the formalized process enough – and long enough – for me to touch up some older work, which I had never done before, so that has to count for something. I still like this touched up 2015 painting now – and still more so than the original!
I basically did not digitally paint anything in all of 2018, so I’ll end with this 2019 piece from almost two years later. This isn’t particularly good, but it’s the only recent thing I have, and like my last pencil drawing in part one, probably representative of what I’m doing going forward. Mostly I think I’m still looking for a good balance between cleanliness and texture, but we’ll see…