Another “Alternate Versions” Art Preview :)

Well, like with a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the article that I’d prepared for today.

So, instead of leaving today’s post empty, here is another preview of alternate versions (eg: Line art, versions with fewer digital effects etc…) of some of the art that will appear here early next year (and, yes, I tend to make art quite far in advance).

Sorry about this (and the slightly smaller number of pictures), but normal daily articles will resume tomorrow. Plus, of course, there will be the usual art post tonight.

Anyway, enjoy πŸ™‚

“All Kinds Of Awesome (II) [Line Art]” By C. A. Brown

“Party Hard, Daybreak Approaches” (Without digital lighting effects) By C. A. Brown

“Entertainment” (Line Art) By C. A. Brown

“The Skull Stall” (Without digital lighting effects) By C. A. Brown

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Art Preview: Line Art, Alternate Versions etc..

Although I had a full article prepared for today, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it (it was supposed to be an article about computer games, inspiration and storytelling – but it mostly just ended up being a description of playing a computer game.).

So, instead of posting nothing, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for some of my upcoming paintings (for late this year/early next year) in addition to some alternate versions (eg: with fewer visual effects etc..) of paintings that will appear here late this year/early next year.

So, enjoy πŸ™‚ Normal articles should resume tomorrow (plus, there will be the usual daily art post here tonight too).

“Fan Art – Memories Of Books (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Ruins (Without rain, digital lighting etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – The Green Leaves Of Summer (Line Art)”

“Metal Returns (Without rain, digital lighting etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – Bus Station (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Rural Gothic (Without rain)” By C. A. Brown

PREVIEWS: What To Expect Here In 2018

First of all, happy New Year everyone πŸ™‚ Since I prepare the articles, art, comics, reviews etc.. for this blog ridiculously far in advance, I thought that I’d give you a summary (with previews) of what you can expect to see here this year.

Comics! Although you probably know this already if you’ve read the comics index page, there will still be groups of comics appearing here every month or so.

The highlights will include a series of highly-detailed “Wordless Comics” during the spring, a vampire-themed Halloween comic, a slightly more ‘intellectual’ series of “Damania” comics later this month and a series of remakes of “classic” comics from 2012/13 in late November.

In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you. So, here are a few previews from this year’s upcoming comics:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] (And, yes, I know that the first two are already on DeviantArt).

I’ll also be moving back to the “traditional” square format for my comics from April onwards. So, if you don’t like the current A4-size format, then it won’t be around for too much longer. However, this year’s Halloween comic will have A4-size pages because, well, it’s a Halloween comic.

Art! When I’m not making comics, I make daily art and the main improvements that you can expect to see later in 2018 are slightly more realistic shadows/shading.

Although this has occasionally turned up in the title graphics of unplanned articles from 2017 (and in this article), it will become a regular feature of my art later this year. I learnt this technique from making a study of this 19th century Gustave Courbet painting. Here’s a preview of my study:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 6th May.

Some artistic highlights that you can look forward to include a series of gothic paintings, set in Aberystwyth, that will appear here in June. In addition to this, there will be a series of about seven paintings, set in abandoned 1990s-style American shopping centres, that will appear here in early-mid August. In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you what kind of art to expect here this year:

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.

In addition to this, I also went through a brief phase of experimenting with some new digital effects too (eg: pattern fill effects, digital lighting effects etc..) but although this will appear in a couple of paintings/drawings in early June, it won’t be a major feature. This is mostly because I was worried that I’d get out of practice with certain drawing, painting etc… techniques if I relied on these effects too heavily.

Articles! As usual, there will be lots of articles too πŸ™‚ In addition to the usual art/writing advice and reviews, there will also be a few more “critic”-like articles, where I’ll be examining various things in order to see what they can teach us about creativity.

Some highlights will include an article in May (?) that will compare two 1990s TV shows called “Sliders” and “Lois & Clark” in order to discover what they can teach us about 1990s-style storytelling. And, yes, 1990s nostalgia will be a little bit more of a theme this year.

In addition to this, there will be an article in late April (?) looking at how the film “Blade Runner” presents fictional violence in a somewhat different way, and what this can teach us about writing/comics. I’ll also be looking at things like music, animated sitcoms etc.. in other articles too.

Film Reviews! Although there were a few film reviews posted here in 2017, there will be a lot more of them here later this year.

In particular, there will be a “1990s films” review series which will appear every 2-4 days during parts of June and early July. This will include reviews of films like “Practical Magic”, “Mallrats”, the 1999 remake of “House On Haunted Hill”, “Gremlins 2” etc…

In addition to this, I’ll also be reviewing a few other random films (such as the 2017 remake of “Ghost In The Shell”) and – later in the year – the first four “Resident Evil” films too.

Game Reviews! But, this doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected computer games though. In addition to my usual reviews of fan-made levels for classic games (eg: At least one “Doom II” WAD review each month, a “Heretic” WAD review in October and a review of a set of “Quake” levels in July), I’ll also be reviewing a fair number of classic games and a couple of more modern indie games too.

Although there were at least a few games I’d planned to review, but didn’t for one reason or another – there will still be a few full and/or partial (eg: “first impressions”) reviews of games, such as: “SiN” (and the expansion for it), both official expansions for “Quake”, “Killing Time”, “Silent Hill 3”, “XCOM: Enforcer”, “Legend Of Kyrandia – Hand Of Fate”, “Hotline Miami”, “Enclave”, “Kathy Rain”, “Clive Barker’s Undying”, “Deux Ex: Invisible War” etc…

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Anyway, I hope that you have as much fun reading this stuff as I have writing it πŸ™‚

Three Things To Do When Your Art Starts Looking Mediocre

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If you make art regularly, then you’ve probably gone through a mediocre art phase at least once. This is a time when your art isn’t exactly terrible, but it isn’t exactly at it’s best either. Whether it’s because you were feeling uninspired, or were mostly focusing on other projects or just didn’t have quite enough time, it can happen.

In fact, it can sometimes happen annoyingly often. I mean, some of this month’s paintings and quite a few of next month’s paintings and comics (as well as some paintings that will appear in early October), were made during these phases.

So, what should you do if you find yourself in the middle of one of these mediocre art phases?

1) It isn’t as bad as you think: Chances are, if you’re able to recognise that you’re going through a mediocre art phase, then you’ve probably got a bit of artistic experience. You probably practice regularly enough to notice both subtle and large changes in the quality of your art over time. You’ve also produced good art, which allows you to notice that your current art is mediocre by comparison.

Well, one of the great things about practice and experience is that it can help you out during the difficult times. If you practice regularly, then there’s a good chance that the “uninspired” or “mediocre” paintings that you seem to be making at the moment are probably better than the “good” paintings that you made a 1-2 years (or more) ago.

So, if a painting is “mediocre” by your current standards, then it’s probably jaw-droppingly excellent by your old standards. In other words, it’s a sign that you are still improving and that you should keep practicing.

2) Get some inspirations: If you have a solid idea of what you want to paint before you start painting, then this can improve your mediocre art. The more specific the idea, the better.

For example, during the mediocre phase I was going through when writing this article, I made a relatively decent painting during a fairly rushed day purely because I had the idea of “cyberpunk hackers using typewriters” before I made the painting. Here’s a reduced-size preview:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 2nd October.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 2nd October.

But, where do you find these ideas?

Before I go any further, I should probably link to this article of mine that explains the difference between inspiration and plagiarism. That said, don’t be afraid to do a bit of artistic research (eg: image searches, films, games etc..) before you start making your painting if you don’t have any ideas. As long as you only extract the general themes/general ideas/general techniques etc.. from those things and use them as the basis for your own ideas (instead of copying specific details), then it’s ok.

For example, both this short story of mine and my “Cyberpunk Typists” painting were – amongst other things – partially inspired by an episode of “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman” (one of the few superhero-related things I actually like, due to 1990s nostalgia) where the city’s computer systems are damaged and the newspaper that Lois and Clark work at has to return to using typewriters and linotype machines. I was curious what a “low-tech modernity” storyline would look like when transposed into the cyberpunk genre. Hence the painting and the short story.

3) Keep going: This one is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s something that I’ve said in many other articles. If you’re going through an uninspired phase or a mediocre phase, keep making art. Even if it’s crappy art, keep making it. Even if it feels like a chore, keep making it.

If you keep up the rhythm of regular practice (to the point where not making art every day or every week or whatever feels somehow… wrong) , then you’ll be able to get back to making good art a lot more quickly after the mediocre phase.

Likewise, if you have a brief moment of inspiration or a bit of extra time during your mediocre phase, then you might just even be able to make a good painting or two. Sometimes, this will help you get out of the mediocre phase (by increasing your confidence). But, sometimes it’ll just break up the mediocre phase slightly and remind you of what you’ll be able to make when the phase passes.

For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a good painting that I made during a mediocre phase that affected the art I made in late September/ early October. If I hadn’t kept up my practice during the “mediocre” times (eg: if I’d waited until I felt totally inspired again), I probably wouldn’t have made this good painting.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 25th September.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 25th September.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three More Tips For Making Better Paintings When You’re Extremely Tired

2017-artwork-making-better-tired-paintings

The night before writing this article, I was extremely tired. I’d been awake for almost 24 hours and, at about 1am, I realised that I needed to make a daily painting.

But, unlike my usual “tired paintings” (that often look like something that I made 6-12 months ago), this digitally-edited painting only looked like something that I’d made 2-3 months ago. Here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

 The full-size painting will be posted here on the 20th September.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 20th September.

So, how can you make better paintings when you are extremely tired? Here are a few tips:

1) Focus on the scenery: If you look at the preview painting that I showed you, you’ll see that it mostly consists of… well… scenery. Sure, there are a couple of people in it but, they’re standing in the distance and/or are drawn in a slightly undetailed way. The main focus of the painting is on the giant city that they are standing in.

Now, compare it to this preview of a quick “minimalist” painting that I made on the day when my all-nighter began, when I was considerably more awake:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 19th September.

As you can see, the painting that I made when I was awake features a lot more character detail. The person sitting on the chair is shown in detailed close-up, rather than hidden slightly in the distance. But, why didn’t I do this in the “tired” painting and why shouldn’t you?

Simply put, people are more difficult to draw well than angular buildings, natural landscapes etc… are. A lot more complex thought has to go into character designs – including everything from their pose to their clothes, hairstyles, expressions etc… And, if you’re tired, than you need to conserve that mental energy.

So, you can make much more impressive-looking paintings when you’re extremely tired if you mostly focus on painting the scenery. Sure, you can do things like adding a few undetailed people to the background but, for the most part, you’ll make much better “tired” paintings if you focus more on buildings and scenery than on painting people.

2) Have an inspiration right in front of you: First of all, if you’re making a painting when you’re extremely tired, then you should make it in a genre that you really love and, more importantly, a genre of art which you’ve already practiced a lot.

For me, this genre is the cyberpunk genre. This is a genre that almost always inspires me in some way, and it’s a genre that has had a huge influence on my art. Your own “inspirational genre” may be different though.

But, when you’ve found the genre that inspires you a lot – find a DVD, internet video, piece of music etc… from that genre and put it on in the background when you are painting.

No, you shouldn’t directly copy any of it (although taking inspiration is perfectly fine), but having something from your favourite genre directly in front of you can help to get you in the mood for making art. It’s a way to increase what limited motivation you’ll have when you’re extremely tired.

For example, when painting the picture at the beginning of the article, I re-watched two and a half episodes of “Ghost In The Shell: SAC 2nd Gig“. This made me remember the highly-inspired cyberpunk art that I made when I watched this TV series for the first time (which helped me to feel motivated). Likewise, the futuristic cityscapes shown in the TV show helped to put me in more of a “cyberpunk” kind of mood.

Yes, the actual painting itself was more heavily inspired by other things in the cyberpunk genre (Blade Runner” and “Technobabylon” spring to mind for starters…). But, I was able to work up the enthusiasm to make it by watching something else from the same genre. So, yes, having an inspiration directly in front of you can be a useful thing when you’re extremely tired.

3) Use every trick in the book: Finally, if you want to make good-looking art when you’re tired, then you’ll have to be sneaky. You need to use every piece of art-based trickery in your repertoire to give the illusion that your painting is more detailed than it actually is. If you’ve practiced enough, this sort of thing should be second-nature to you.

There are too many tricks to list here but, to give you an example, here’s a reduced-size version of my “tired” painting that highlights all of the detail in the painting:

 All areas featuring artistic detail have been highlighted green.

All areas featuring artistic detail have been highlighted green.

If you compared the number of green pixels to the number of black pixels in this picture, it would probably only be something like 30-40% green and 50-70% black. In other words, through careful use of composition and lighting, I was able to make a better painting when I was extremely tired by only adding detail to less than half of the painting.

Likewise, here’s a close-up detail of one of the background details in the painting, from a version of the painting that doesn’t include any rain. For the sake of clarity, I’ve also digitally removed all of the colours from this close-up:

This is a close-up of a greyscale background detail from a version of the painting that doesn't include any rain. As you can see, most of the buildings are just simple shapes and/or random scribbles.

This is a close-up of a greyscale background detail from a version of the painting that doesn’t include any rain. As you can see, most of the buildings are just simple shapes and/or random scribbles.

Although distant objects in paintings are meant to look less detailed, this looks extremely undetailed (and more like a rough doodle than anything else). Yet, thanks to both the vivid colour scheme that I used and the rain that I digitally added to the background after scanning the painting, it looks a bit more detailed in the final painting:

This is the same area in the final painting. The lighting, colours and digitally-added rain make it look slightly more detailed.

This is the same area in the final painting. The lighting, colours and digitally-added rain make it look slightly more detailed.

So, yes, if you’re making a painting when you’re extremely tired, then be sure to use every sneaky artistic trick that you know.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Tips For Making Minimalist Art (Or, My Interpretation Of It)

2017-artwork-minimalist-art-techniques

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk briefly about minimalist art. Or, rather, I’ll be talking about my own approach to minimalist art. This is mostly because knowing how to make art that includes relatively little detail can be extremely useful when you are either feeling uninspired or if you don’t have too much time.

There are lots of different approaches to making minimalist art, and I’ll only be covering one of them here. But, here are a few tips for how to make minimalist art in the way that I do:

1) Darkness: Shrouding large parts of your painting or drawing in darkness can be a great way to make minimalist art. Not only does the darkness make all of the colours in the painting look bolder by comparison, but it also allows you to do things like play with the lighting in your painting and to use a limited colour palette too (just remember to use pairs of complementary colours when choosing your palette).

One of the advantages of using darkness (with a few small light sources) is that, if you know what you are doing, you can leave a lot to the audience’s imagination. In other words, you can tell a story only using a few small visual details.

For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a digitally-edited painting that I’ll be posting here in September:

The full-size painting will appear here on the 15th September.

The full-size painting will appear here on the 15th September.

As you can see, most of the painting is filled with black paint. But, the silhouette of a tail against the red doorway in the background implies the presence of some kind of alien monster. Likewise, the outline of the man is standing upright in an alert way, with the lights in front of him illuminating part of a pistol in his hand. This picture contains a fairly small amount of detail, but it still hints at a story of some kind.

2) Detail choice: Although your painting should look “minimalist” from a distance, one way to make it seem less minimalist (and look less “lazy”) is to add a lot of detail to a few small areas of the painting. These should usually be areas that are close to the foreground.

For example, here’s another art preview. This is a digitally-edited painting that will be posted here later this month and it features no background detail whatsoever and only four objects (three trees and a glowing orb).

The full-size painting will appear here on the 24th August.

The full-size painting will appear here on the 24th August.

As you can probably see, the tree in the foreground has a lot of extra detail. There are striations and realistic shadows on it’s trunk, there are veins on the leaves and even the soil that it sits in has some level of detail. The other trees have considerably less detail than this but, because the detailed tree is the first tree that the audience sees (and the other trees are further away), they’re just going to assume that the other trees have the same level of detail. They don’t.

So, if you want to make a “minimalist” painting that doesn’t seem like something lazy, then add a high level of detail to a few select parts of the picture.

3) Silhouettes:
One way to give the impression of detail, whilst keeping your painting fairly minimalist is to make heavy use of silhouettes.

But, as a general rule, if you are going to include a silhouette, then there should be a light source of some kind behind it. After all, this is how silhouettes work in real life.

One advantage of using silhouettes is that, as long as you get the outline vaguely right, then your audience will automatically imagine all of the details that you haven’t included.

Plus, even a more limited use of silhouettes can also give your artwork an ominously gothic “look” too- like in this almost-minimalist digitally-edited painting of mine that makes heavy use of silhouettes:

"Storage" By C. A. Brown

“Storage” By C. A. Brown

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Fascinating “Time Travel”-Based Art Exercises

2017-artwork-art-time-travel-exercises

Unfortunately, apart from following the normal passage of time, travelling through time is something that is impossible in real terms. Yes, according to Einstein’s theories, if you travelled vast distances every day for several decades, you would be a miniscule fraction of a second ahead of anyone else. But proper movie-style time travel doesn’t exist.

Still, if you are an artist, then there are at least a few thought provoking time-based art exercises that you can do in order to see how time affects the art that you make.

1) Work out the earliest date your art could be made: Although I think I mentioned something vaguely similar in a previous article, this is a really fascinating exercise.

This version of it was inspired by an online discussion I read somewhere about a modern fan-made modification (for the classic computer game “Doom”) called ‘Brutal Doom’. Basically, the creator of the mod had worked out that the earliest time that computer hardware could support his mod was sometime in either 2002 or 2003.

Yes, “Brutal Doom” didn’t exist back then. But, the idea that people in the early 2000s theoretically could have been playing “Brutal Doom” is an absolutely fascinating one.

Naturally, this made me wonder if artists can do anything similar. And, yes, we can!

Take a look at the materials you use to make art. Take a look at the common subject matter of your art. Take a look at the things that inspired your art style. Now work out which years all of these things came from. This should give you an approximate time when someone like you could have made the art that you make.

For example, my art could have been made in the late 1990s. The traditional materials that I use (eg: waterproof ink [albeit in rollerball pen form] and watercolour pencils), existed in the 20th century. My favourite digital image editing program (“Jasc Paint Shop Pro 6”) is from 1999. Likewise, although the version of MS Paint I use is from 2007, I tend to use basic features that probably also existed in previous versions of the program.

Likewise, most of my artistic inspirations come from the 20th century. Even some of my more modern inspirations (like this set of levels for “Doom II”) are often heavily inspired by things from the 1980s and 1990s. The very earliest beginnings of my art style were also inspired by animated TV shows from the 1990s like “Pepper Ann”, “South Park” and “Pokemon” that I watched (or, in the case of “South Park”, really wanted to watch) during my childhood.

So, yes, the earliest time that someone could have produced art very similar to my own is probably sometime in the late 1990s. The idea that my art could have existed back then absolutely fascinates me.

2) Remakes: Yes, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, remaking your old art can be a way to see how much you’ve improved. But, in addition to this, it can also be useful when seeing how the passage of time affects your own art. And when it comes to predicting what your art might look like if it had been made in the past or future.

For example, here’s a small chart showing two versions of the same painting that were made (but not posted here) pretty much exactly a year apart from each other:

Click to see a larger version of this picture. The full-size version of the second painting won't be posted here until the 1st September though.

Click to see a larger version of this picture. The full-size version of the second painting won’t be posted here until the 1st September though.

Doing this yourself and comparing the two pictures will show you how your influences and art style have changed over the past year. This can, of course, make you think about how some of your current artwork might have looked if you had made it a year or two earlier.

Since you’ll be able to notice and categorise the technical differences in the art you made in the past and the art you make today, seeing a comparison of two versions of the same picture from different times will help you to imagine what other pieces of your current artwork would have looked like if you’d made them in the past.

3) Predicting the future:
One easy way to predict what your art might look like in the future is to look at the types of art that really inspire you, but which are way above your current skill level. If you keep practicing, then there’s a good chance that your art might eventually end up looking a bit like a combination of these things.

Yes, developments to your art style can be unpredictable (after all, you don’t know what else might inspire you in the future). But, taking a careful look at what the things that inspire you have in common with each other can be a great way to see how your art might change in the near or distant future.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚