Today’s Art ( 18th February 2018)

Well, it has been ages since I last made any fan art. Not to mention that, despite being a fan of Iron Maiden for over 15 years, I’ve never actually really tried to draw them before. So, the idea for today’s (heavily) digitally-edited painting was something of a no-brainer.

Surprisingly, the most difficult part of making this painting was actually finding a way to fit all six members of the band (plus, Eddie the head) into a single painting.

Since this is fan art, this painting is NOT released under any kind of Creative Commons licence.

“Fan Art – Iron Maiden” By C. A. Brown

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The Benefits Of Making Terrible Art In Less Than Optimal Circumstances

The night before I wrote the first draft of this article, I was in that terrible combination of being in an awful mood and feeling extremely tired. Plus, I still had to prepare one of the daily paintings I’ll be posting here next month.

Although I was able to salvage the painting a bit after scanning it and editing it extensively on the computer the following morning, it ended up being predictably terrible. Not only are the shading and reflections slightly wrong, but (due to covering up a few mistakes) it’s also about a million miles away from the vivid, heavily saturated art that I normally make. Here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 18th March.

So, why have I mentioned this? Well, it’s to do with why making terrible art under less than optimal circumstances can actually be a good thing sometimes. Yes, you heard me correctly. It can actually benefit you. I’ve mentioned all of this stuff before, but it’s always worth repeating.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that comparing it to bad art (or even good art) you made a few years ago can show you how much you have improved as an artist. This can be an invaluable motivational tool if you’re in the kind of mood or situation that results in bad art.

For example, in the painting I just showed you earlier, I probably wouldn’t have thought to add falling leaves to it (to give it a sense of momentum and depth) or to digitally desaturate it (to cover up a few imperfections) if I’d made it a couple of years ago.

The second reason is that it’s a test of your artistic skill and motivation. If you manage to churn out a painting, however terrible, in less than optimum circumstances then this shows that you still have some kind of artistic motivation. It shows that you’re still determined to be an artist.

Not only that, if you’ve got limited time or energy available to make a painting then it can also be a test of your skill in the sense that you have to find a sneaky way to make the least-terrible terrible painting with the resources you have. Likewise, if you’re feeling extremely uninspired, then working out how to make a painting (however terrible) despite this can be a great test of your artistic skill.

The third is that it can actually increase your artistic confidence. If you’re in a situation where making art feels more difficult than usual, then even producing a bad piece of art under those circumstances means that you’re more dedicated to making art than some artists might be. After all, if you still have the confidence to know that you can still make art under adverse circumstances, then this is always a good thing.

Likewise, having the confidence to actually show off your failed artwork can help novice artists too. There seems to be this misconception that even vaguely good artists are people who only ever produce great works of art. This isn’t true! All artists make crappy art every once in a while.

Yes, even the artists who are so good that they make you think “I’ll never be able to make something as great as that!” will make terrible art occasionally. The main difference is that many artists tend to hide their failed pieces, to give the impression that they only produce great art all of the time. They don’t.

Finally, it gets you used to failing sometimes. Being able to handle failure is one of the most important parts of being a creative person, since it’s the only way that any artist, writer etc.. improves. If you want to get better at making art, you have to fail sometimes. So, making terrible art occasionally can be a good way to get used to it.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art ( 17th February 2018)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting was slightly on the uninspired side. Basically, after several minutes of not knowing what to paint, I remembered a documentary I’d seen about spring festivals in Japan and initially thought about using this as an inspiration. Of course, the picture then went in more of a “Blade Runner”/”Ghost In The Shell” -inspired direction instead because, well, cyberpunk art is one of my favourite types of art.

Apologies if the Japanese text isn’t correct, I used an internet translation for it – so, I’m not sure how accurate it is.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commmons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Outskirts” By C. A. Brown

Letting Your Imagination Assert Itself – A Ramble

Although I’m sure I’ve written about this subject at least once before, I thought that I’d talk about how your art can sometimes end up looking totally different to the original idea/plan that you had before you started making the drawing or painting. This tends to happen most often when you draw or paint from imagination (rather than from life, from photographs etc..) with relatively little pre-planning.

This is when it feels like something else was involved with the painting or drawing you’ve just made. Like how, on the journey from the initial idea to the final painting, something has changed a few details and made several alterations. It can be a really strange experience sometimes.

So, what actually happens here?

Simply put, many of the creative influences/inspirations that you’ve (knowingly or unknowingly) encountered in the past can end up having an effect on the painting in some unexpected way or another – for the simple reason that they’ve shaped your imagination and/or your aesthetic sensibilities (eg: the set of “rules” you believe that good/interesting art should follow).

This is a good thing. After all, one of the best ways to make more distinctive art is to learn how to take inspiration properly and to look for things that fire your imagination. Likewise, the more influences and inspirations you have, the more stuff your imagination has to work with. So, the more likely you are to surprise yourself in interesting ways.

Since our imaginations aren’t computers, influences and inspirations don’t tend to stay separated in neat little folders. They blur and blend together to produce slightly new things. This is the foundation of pretty much all types of creativity. It is also why the more inspirations you have, the more original your creative works will be. After all, originality comes from having a unique mixture of inspirations (since it is literally impossible for anyone to create anything that isn’t inspired by something else in some way or another. Even humanity’s earliest cave paintings were inspired by things that the artists saw in real life.).

What this means is that virtually every idea you have for a piece of art will be filtered through your existing mixture of inspirations at some stage in the creative process, and this is one of the main reasons why your final painting or drawing can look somewhat different from your original idea.

After all, if you’ve seen and studied a lot of cool and interesting things that have made you think “I want to make something like that“, then your imagination is going to remember this. It will have probably devised a set of “rules” that it learnt from all of these things, so it will probably feel more right to follow those rules than it is to ignore them. This is where the “something else” I mentioned earlier comes from.

So, if you’ve been practicing for a while (and the differences aren’t down to a difference in artistic skill), then it’s usually a good thing when your final artwork ends up looking somewhat different to your original idea. It means that your imagination is working properly. It means that you are beginning to discover your own unique type or style of art.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (16th February 2018)

Today’s (very heavily) digitally-edited painting was another one that I made when I was tired. Originally, it was just going to be a greyscale painting but I eventually decided to add some colour digitally.

Although it isn’t a perfect painting, I was in the mood for making some Anceint Egypt-themed “Roaring Twenties” mostly due to playing part of a really interesting FPS game from 1996 called “Killing Time“.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Another Soiree” By C. A. Brown

One Basic Way To Make Up For The Lack Of Background Music In Art, Comics And Fiction

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this subject before, but I’ll be talking about background music (or, rather, the lack of it) today. This was mostly because I ended up watching this absolutely fascinating video about the soundtrack to the classic 1982 sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner“.

As the video explains, the soundtrack to this film is an integral part of the film for all sorts of interesting reasons. Naturally, this made me think about making art, making comics and writing fiction.

After all, in their traditional form, these mediums can’t include background music. In purely practical terms, this is probably a blessing (given the money and/or stress involved in licencing background music or hiring a composer), but it also means that comics, traditional art and prose fiction can’t really do the same things that films, TV shows and computer/video games can.

So, I thought that I’d take a quick look at one of the most basic ways that you can make up for the lack of background music in art, comics and/or prose fiction.

One of the most important features of background music in films, television and games is that it helps to set the tone of what is happening. If you hear ominous and suspenseful music during part of a horror movie, you know that something frightening is going to happen. But, of course, you can’t do this in art, comics or fiction.

So, what do you do instead? Simple, you use the background elements to do the same thing. Whether this is carefully choosing the lighting you use in a painting or using a slightly faster-paced narrative style with slightly less complex language during a thrilling scene in your novel, changing some of the background elements slightly can really help to set an emotional tone in a smilar way to how this is done through background music.

To show you what I mean, here is the example painting that I used in yesterday’s article. It’s a piece of gloomy 1980s/90s-style sci-fi horror art that I made a few months before writing this article. It relies heavily on gloomy lighting, a slightly limited colour palette etc… to create a slightly ominous atmosphere which compliments the events of the painting:

“Scaffolding” By C. A. Brown

Now, here’s a digitally-altered version of the same picture which changes a lot of things (eg: the background, the colour saturation etc..), whilst keeping the events of the painting the same. As you can see, it loses a lot of the ominous tone of the original version:

This is the same painting, but with some digital changes to the background, colours and colour saturation levels. The events happening in the picture are the same, although they look less dramatic due to the brighter tone of the rest of the painting.

To give you an example of this kind of thing in prose fiction, here’s a lush, vivid description from the first page of “Lost Souls” By Poppy Z. Brite: ‘The sky is purple, the flare of a match behind a cupped hand is gold; the liquor is bright green, made from a thousand herbs, made from altars.

And here’s a quote from a later part of the book during a more fast-paced moment. The sentences are shorter and the descriptions are considerably less complex: ‘He edged around the front end of the car and pulled his door open. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Ghost do the same. They threw themselves in and both doors slammed at once. Steve thumbed the lock button. Ghost was ranting at him.

Although neither scene includes any background music, you can probably imagine the first one having a much deeper, more complex and more ambient soundtrack. Likewise, the second quote would probably have a much more muted and fast-paced soundtrack. Yet, the changes in atmosphere and tone are achieved by the way that each scene is written.

As for comics, there are all sorts of ways that these techniques can be used. As well as changing the “look” and detail level of the art to reflect the mood that you want to get across the audience, you can also do things like having dialogue-free segments during fast-paced or suspenseful moments etc.. Likewise, changes to the panel layout can also affect the tone of your comic.

For example, the second panel of this comic update of mine is a long, flowing thing that seems to consist of four panels blended together. Since there are no obvious panel borders in this scene, it creates a slightly dreamy and ethereal atmosphere which might make you think of a similar type of background music.

“Damania Reflection – Attention Span” By C. A. Brown

So, yes, novels, art, comics etc… can’t include background music, but they can do a lot of the same things that background music in a film does.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (15th February 2018)

Well, the painting stage of this digitally-edited painting was completed during a failed attempt at pulling an all-nighter (which is probably why it looks like the kind of stuff that I’d post here in mid 2017 – since tiredness can sometimes temporarily take 6-12 months off of your current level of artistic skill). Even so, this painting still turned out surprisingly better than I had expected.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Late Evening” By C. A. Brown