Pencils First: Day 194

Warped Abandoned Cityscape

Today felt like a super productive day as I only painted for an hour or so, but it felt like a got a lot done overall. Usually I sit down to draw and spend an hour or two figuring out what I’m going to do, and then fail for a couple hours until I get a better idea. Today though, I found a comfortable way to use my drawing tablet and my laptop and still accurately paint with it. Usually I struggle, even after using these tools for a couple years now, with finding a proper way to sit comfortably and still use the tablet with any accuracy.

I had a brief conversation with another artist recently about using drawing tablets. He didn’t use them because he felt they were inaccurate, and so it takes a lot longer to draw basic shapes, for example, that look as good as if you were drawing them on paper. I didn’t disagree when we had the conversation, but I’m unsure how I feel right now, because everything went really smoothly for me. Oftentimes it does take a bit for your brain to adjust to looking at a computer monitor while you draw, rather than looking down to where you’re drawing on the tablet with the pen. Today I was situated on my reclining chair where I had the laptop screen and keyboard within reach, my Wacom tablet on my laptop, and I was able to shift around in my seat a bit so I don’t get uncomfortable or get any cramps from being so steady.

What I’m discovering lately though, is that if I draw out my ideas using pencils, pens, and real paper, then take a photograph and trace over it using Photoshop and my tablet, I seem to have a much easier time jumping into the painting part of the process. You know, mostly broad strokes. I did that yesterday, and so I’m pleasantly surprised that today, when I began to recreate some of the smaller objects and details in the picture, I had no problems at all. In a short amount of time I was able to add some interesting effects to the moon there. Not to mention make the buildings look a bit more deteriorated. It’s really noticeable in the zoomed in version where you can see the effects best. So that’s what I posted today, the zoomed in version. You should still full-screen the image if you want to see the details properly.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s a moon, a natural “event”, a spaceship, or all three! I kind of let the paint brushes steer the ship, and just add or remove color as I see fit. Depending on what kind of emotions the brush types and colors bring out in me. Seriously, I think almost everything I’ve ever created is done that way. Think of all my pictures as an abstract piece. I start with some basic ideas (or sometimes none at all!) and every single time it ends up being completely different from where I started. So for this moon-like object, it was a pale yellow/gray, and when I started using the fine tipped brushes, I wanted to make the swirling tendrils feel like something you might see on a telescope picture of our Sun. However, red sends out the feeling of anger/rage or impatience/speed (just me?), and so since it was that pale yellow/gray, throughout the process of detailing I felt a calmness. I don’t get a fully nefarious feeling from it. There’s certainly a questionable feeling about it though.

So for this object in the sky, it originally was a simple moon. If you remember, or look back at previous posts, I had three “wave” type shapes around the moon. When I began to remove the black outlines around them (as I did with the buildings today as well), which was left over from the pen drawing I started with, I began to notice some odd blurring effects that I thought looked pretty cool. Then I couldn’t resist adding some tendrils (lol always with the tendrils, eh?) and things just kind of evolved from there.

Anyways, I could go on forever about the process. I’m sure someone out there finds it interesting. Personally, I like writing about it because I never stop to think about my own process, and sometimes it’s important to do that. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve subconsciously figured out a fantastic process to create some cool effect during an art session, and never think about it ever again.


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  • Brad Thornhill

    The moon/spaceship looks really cool 🙂 just thought of something while reading your post, whenever you get around to doing that comic maybe the ship that your characters fly in should be like this moon thing or a similar thing like the two are connected in this universe somehow, just a thought!

    • See, an idea like that gets me excited, because that’s straight from FFIV. Oh man, now youre getting my brain flowing with ideas. Thanks for the comment, Brad 🙂