Five NEVER SEEN BEFORE Paintings And/Or Cartoons :)

2016 Artwork Unpublished art bonanza article sketch

As regular readers of this site know, I tend to write these articles quite far in advance of publication. As such, I’d originally planned to post an article about the “making of” a political cartoon I’d made – but not posted– a few months before the EU Referendum (I eventually ended up posting this last-minute webcomic mini series just before the referendum instead).

But, the day before this article was scheduled to be published, I worried that it might be “too political” or that it would come across as strangely irrelevant, given that the referendum has long since happened.

So, instead, here’s a gallery of some exclusive “never seen before” artwork (at least I think it’s never seen before, I’m not quite sure if the “Garden Corner” painting has turned up in another one of these last-minute posts. I don’t think it has, but I can’t be certain).

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

This is a digitally-edited painting called "Abstraction Corridor" that I salvaged from a failed painting I'd planned to schedule for next year. Luckily, I had to move some scheduled paintings around and saw an opportunity to remove this painting from the "official" line up of scheduled paintings.

This is a digitally-edited painting called “Abstraction Corridor” that I salvaged from a failed painting I’d planned to schedule for next year. Luckily, I had to move some scheduled/drafted paintings around and saw an opportunity to remove this painting from the “official” line up of scheduled paintings.

This is a panel from an abandoned gamebook-style horror comic project that I'd planned to make for Halloween (to run concurrently with the zombie comic that should appear then). But, the project failed quickly for a number of reasons. Still, I quite like the first two panels.

This is a panel from an abandoned gamebook-style horror comic project that I’d planned to make for Halloween (to run concurrently with the zombie comic that should appear then). But, the project failed quickly for a number of reasons. Still, I quite like the first two panels.

This was a painting called "Garden Corner" which was originally going to be the first painting to appear here next year. It didn't really seem cool enough to start the New Year with, so I replaced it with something else.

This was a painting called “Garden Corner” which was originally going to be the first painting to appear here next year. It didn’t really seem cool enough to start the New Year with, so I replaced it with something else.

This is a painting called "Dark Knight" which ended up being removed from my art schedule for next year. At the time, I didn't really think that it was good enough but, looking at it again, it actually seems ok.

This is a painting called “Dark Knight” which ended up being removed from my art schedule for next year. At the time, I didn’t really think that it was good enough but, looking at it again, it actually seems ok.

This is a sci-fi painting called "Above The City" which was also supposed to appear next year, but I ended up removing it from the schedule since it didn't really turn out as well as I'd hoped.

This is a sci-fi painting called “Above The City” which was also supposed to appear next year, but I ended up removing it from the art schedule since it didn’t really turn out as well as I’d hoped.

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Stay tuned for a proper article tomorrow 🙂

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Three Very Basic Ways To Salvage A Failed Painting With Digital Editing

2016 Artwork Salvaging failed paintings digitally

If you’re an artist, then you’ll know that failure happens sometimes.

But, as long as you’ve got a digital camera and/or a scanner, and an image editing program (if you don’t have one, you can download a freeware open source image editing program called “GIMP” here), then you can at least have a better digital copy of your failed painting if you’re prepared to edit it.

Just remember that, if you’re planning to sell your art, then the digital image of it that you post online should be an accurate representation of the original painting or drawing. But, if you’re not selling it, then feel free to edit away to your heart’s content.

Although I use a combination of an ancient 1990s version of Paint Shop Pro, GIMP 2.6 and/or MS Paint 5.1 for my image editing, most image editing programs share a few basic features.

So, it doesn’t really matter which programs you use. I’ll try to write these instructions as generally as possible, so that they’ll be useful regardless of which image editing program you use.

I should probably also point out that the three tips in this article are extremely basic. So, if you already know a little bit about image editing, then you probably won’t learn anything new here.

1) Your picture looks too faded: One problem with scanned or digitally photographed paintings or drawings is that they often look slightly faded.

An easy way to remedy this in pretty much any image editing program is to look for an option (it’s probably in the “colours” menu) labelled “Brightness/ Contrast”. Once you’ve found it, all you have to do is to lower the brightness level slightly and raise the contrast level until your picture looks right.

Personally, I usually tend to use a fairly low brightness level and a fairly high contrast level, because it gives my art a “vivid” look – but just experiment until your picture looks right.

Once you’ve done this, then just cut the image to the proper size (eg: if there’s other stuff in the background of your digital photo etc..) using the cropping tool in your program ( In GIMP 2.6, the icon for this tool looks a bit like a scalpel. In other programs, it often looks like a square made from two overlapping “L” shapes).

2) You’ve messed up the colour scheme: If you’ve messed up the colour scheme in part of or all of your painting, then all is not lost. In fact, there are several things that you can do to create a better digital copy of your artwork:

– Hue/Saturation: Select the parts of your picture that are the wrong colour (or don’t select anything, if you have problems with the whole image), then look for this option in your image editing program (it’ll probably be in the “colours” menu).

Once you’ve found it, just move the “hue” slider until the selected area is the right colour. This will probably require a bit of trial and error, but you can change the colour of pretty much anything (except for solid black and white areas) using this.

– RGB values: Another way to change the colour of a selected area of your artwork is to look for the “RGB” options in the colour menu of your image editing program. This allows you to alter the amount of red, green and blue in the selected area. This is less precise than altering the hue levels, but it can be useful if you need to add colour to a solid white area of your artwork.

– The Nuclear Option: If your problem can’t be solved with either of these two things, then you can remove all colour from your picture by either looking for a “greyscale”/”desaturate” option in the colour menu of your editing program, or by opening the “Hue/ Saturation” menu and reducing the saturation to zero.

Once you’ve done this, then you can mess around with the RGB options (or look for a “colourise” option) to give your artwork a tint if you want to.

In fact, I actually did this with one of my failed paintings from late April (in addition to using a “blur” effect too) after I messed up the colours in it fairly significantly. This is what the final picture looked like:

"Let The Rain Fall" By C. A. Brown

“Let The Rain Fall” By C. A. Brown

3) Correcting small mistakes (in a less noticeable way): I usually tend to do this in a fairly basic program like MS Paint, but you can do this in any image editing program.

The main thing to remember when correcting small mistakes is that the exact colours in your painting are different from the basic stock colours that are available in the menu of your image editing program.

If you use the stock colours (or try to create a similar colour using a custom colour menu), then your corrections will stand out from a mile away.

So, before you correct small mistakes, look for a colour selection tool first.

In MS Paint 5.1 this is called the “Pick Color” tool and the icon for it looks like a pipette/ dropper. In GIMP 2.6, it’s called the “Colour Picker Tool” and the icon also looks like a pipette/ dropper. Virtually all image editing programs contain this tool, so you should be able to find it.

So, what does this tool do? Well, once you’ve selected it, just click on any part of your painting and the brush/ airbrush/ pencil colour will change to the exact colour of the area that you’ve just clicked on. This means that you can seamlessly alter a part of your painting using the exact colours that are in this part of your painting.

Yes, your corrections will still be noticeable if people know what to look for, but they won’t be extremely obvious at first glance.

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Anyway. I hope that this was useful 🙂

Behind The Scenes! The Paintings That Didn’t Make It!

2016 Artwork Never seen before paintings May 2016

Well, there was originally going to be a “proper” article posted here today. In fact, there were going to be two. However, I ended up ditching the first article (about political cartoons) because I felt that it was “too cynical”… only to replace it with an even more cynical article about how videogames were better in the 1990s.

So, as a last minute replacement (since I’m not in a cynical mood at the moment). I thought that I’d show off a few of the paintings that – for whatever reason – didn’t make it into any of the daily art posts that I’ve got lined up for the next few months. Some of these are “new” paintings and some are unused alternative versions of existing paintings.

"Purple Sky Pyramids" By C. A. Brown [This digitally-edited painting was made in about twenty minutes as one of two emergency filler paintings I made so that I could start a comic on a particular day. After I'd made it, I realised that I only needed to make one filler painting, so this one got dropped.]

“Purple Sky Pyramids” By C. A. Brown [This digitally-edited painting was made in about twenty minutes as one of two emergency filler paintings I made so that I could start a comic on a particular day. After I’d made it, I realised that I only needed to make one filler painting, so this one got dropped.]

"Upon The Quad (Edited Version)" By C. A. Brown [When I was making a painting that will be posted here later this month, I wasn't sure about the colour scheme, so I made this surreal digitally-edited alternate version. Compared to this version, the more "realistic" version looked better - so I went with that version instead.]

“Upon The Quad (Edited Version)” By C. A. Brown [When I was making a painting that will be posted here later this month, I wasn’t sure about the colour scheme, so I made this surreal digitally-edited alternate version. Compared to this version, the more “realistic” version looked better – so I went with that version instead.]

"Vintage Bebop" By C. A. Brown [This was the original version of the 'Virtual Bebop' Painting I posted a couple of days ago. Since this painting looked a bit too minimalist, I ended up digitally adding a 1980s-style sci-fi background to the final version, which was called 'Virtual Bebop']

“Vintage Bebop” By C. A. Brown [This was the original version of the ‘Virtual Bebop’ Painting I posted a couple of days ago. Since this painting looked a bit too minimalist, I ended up digitally adding a 1980s-style sci-fi background to the final version, which was called ‘Virtual Bebop’]

"Resort Coast" By C. A. Brown [This was a digitally-edited landscape painting I'd originally made for an art post later this year. However, it looked kind of "boring" and, when I thought of a better idea for a painting for that day, I ended up replacing it].

“Resort Coast” By C. A. Brown [This was a digitally-edited landscape painting I’d originally made for an art post later this year. However, it looked kind of “boring” and, when I thought of a better idea for a painting for that day, I ended up replacing it].

"Alien Pyramids" By C. A. Brown [This was an extremely rushed digitally-edited painting that I made on Christmas Day 2015. In the end, I waited a while and replaced it with something that I put more time and effort into]

“Alien Pyramids” By C. A. Brown [This was an extremely rushed digitally-edited painting that I made on Christmas Day 2015. In the end, I waited a while and replaced it with something that I put more time and effort into]

"Where The Ice May Fall (80s Version)" By C. A. Brown [This is an alternative version of a digitally-edited painting that I posted here a couple of days ago. In the end, I went for the version with an all-blue colour scheme, but - at the time-  I was curious what it would look like with an orange/blue colour scheme]

“Where The Ice May Fall (80s Version)” By C. A. Brown [This is an alternative version of a digitally-edited painting that I posted here a couple of days ago. In the end, I went for the version with an all-blue colour scheme, but – at the time- I was curious what it would look like with an orange/blue colour scheme]

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂 I’ll post a proper article here tomorrow 🙂

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My Cyberpunk Art Series From March

2016 Artwork cyberpunk lineart article sketch

Woo hoo! Although it will have probably been posted here back in March, I finally finished the cyberpunk art series that I’ve been talking a lot about in these articles for the past week or so.

Anyway, I thought that I’d show you the “work in progress” line art for each of the paintings in this series – so you can see what mistakes I made, what I changed etc….

But, first, if you haven’t seen the finished paintings yet, then I’ll provide direct links to each of them here.

– “Tower Nine
– “And Outlaws They Were
– “Balcony Moments
– “Abandoned Sector
– “Screen Glow
– “Strange Case
– “Cityship Bridge
– “City Noise
– “Archive Files
– “Blue Light Lab
– “Losing Perspective

Anyway, here’s the line art – enjoy 🙂

"Tower Nine (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Tower Nine (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"And Outlaws They Were (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“And Outlaws They Were (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Balcony Moments (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Balcony Moments (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Abandoned Sector (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Abandoned Sector (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Screen Glow (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Screen Glow (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Strange Case (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Strange Case (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Cityship Bridge (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Cityship Bridge (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"City Noise (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“City Noise (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Archive Files (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Archive Files (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Blue Light Lab (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Blue Light Lab (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

"Losing Perspective (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Losing Perspective (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

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Anyway, stay tuned for the next “Blackwell” review tomorrow 🙂

When NOT To Include A Background In Your Artwork- A Ramble

2016 Artwork when shouldn't you add backgrounds article sketch

Although this is an article about compositions and backgrounds in art, I’m going to have to start by talking about my recent cyberpunk art series (again) for a while because it provides an example of what I’ll be talking about.

Anyway, here’s a cyberpunk painting that I made the night before writing this article:

"Blue Light Lab" By C. A. Brown

“Blue Light Lab” By C. A. Brown

And here’s another painting from the series. You can probably see the obvious difference:

"Strange Case" By C. A. Brown

“Strange Case” By C. A. Brown

Yes, there’s no background! Whilst virtually all of the paintings in the series have large detailed cityscapes and/or rooms in the background, this one painting doesn’t.

Why was that? Well, it was to do with the fact that adding a background would have completely ruined the painting. If you don’t believe me, then just take a look at the original line art for the painting and you’ll see a couple of my failed attempts at adding a background.

"Blue Light Lab (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Blue Light Lab (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

Because my original idea for the painting was to have the entire picture lit by a glowing blue orb, I quickly realised that this would probably only illuminate things close to the light source. Although I later added orange light to the painting too (to compliment and contrast with the blue light), I realised that the low light levels in the picture would be great for emphasising just one part of the painting.

As such, I had to leave the background out – since it would have distracted from the more interesting parts of the picture and it would have also ruined the gloomy atmosphere of the painting too.

But, when shouldn’t you include backgrounds in your art?

Generally speaking, if you want to emphasise something you’ve drawn or painted- then the easiest way to do that is not to include a background. Likewise, if you have a limited amount of time to work on a piece of art, then the background can often be the first thing to go in order to save time.

In situations where a background would be expected, an easy way to get around this is to – if possible – use a solid colour background, rather than just leaving the background blank (personally, I like to paint it black – but you can use any colour that compliments the rest of your picture). This gives the impression of a background, without actually including a detailed background.

As for learning when it’s right to include backgrounds and when it isn’t, the only real way to learn this is through trial and error. Of course, since every drawing or painting is different, you can only learn a few general guidelines rather than a specific “one size fits all” rule.

But, this isn’t as bad as it sounds – if you’re more of a traditional artist, then just experiment with backgrounds in your preliminary pencil sketches (they can be easily erased). If you also work digitally, then backgrounds can always be added or erased later (although it’s obviously much easier to erase a background – I mean, you can do this in MS Paint – than it is to add one digitally).

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Futuristic Tips For Making 1980s/1990s Style Cyberpunk Art

2015 Artwork Retro cyberpunk art tips article sketch

This might just be me, but the sci-fi genre just looked a lot cooler in the 1980s and 1990s than in any other period of history.

This was the the time of “Blade Runner“, of “Cowboy Bebop“, of “The Matrix“, of Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time” album, of “Akira“, of Warren Ellis’ “Transmetropolitan” comics, of William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” and a hundred other cool things that presented a very distinctive cyberpunk vision of the future.

Anyway, the day before I wrote this article, I made two 80s/90s-style cyberpunk paintings that were originally posted here in December. In case you haven’t seen them, this is what they look like:

"These Awesome Relics" By C. A. Brown

“These Awesome Relics” By C. A. Brown

"Roboforensics" By C. A. Brown

“Roboforensics” By C. A. Brown

But, how do you come up with ideas for this kind of art? Here are a few tips:

1) Set it at night: This goes without saying, but one of the easiest ways to make your 80s/90s-style cyberpunk picture look a lot more atmospheric is simply to set it at night. This is mainly because a major part of this aesthetic comes from the contrast between brighter and darker areas (eg: the glow of a hundred neon lights on a rainy street at midnight, the glow of a computer screen in a dark room etc…).

If you want to see a great cinematic example of this technique, then just check out the movie “Blade Runner” – the entire film is set at night and it looks both futuristic and stunningly beautiful as a result.

Yes, you’ll probably need ot have had some practice at painting or drawing realistic lighting in order to be able to do this well. But, you’d be surprised at how much more atmosphere you can add to your cyberpunk art if you set it at night.

2) Technology: One of the great things about 1980s sci-fi is that almost all of the technology in it often looked a lot chunkier than we would expect futuristic technology to look like these days.

So, if you want to give your cyberpunk painting or drawing an 80s kind of look, one way to do it is to make all of the technology in your artwork look like either slightly bulkier versions of modern technology or heavily-upgraded versions of technology from the 80s.

If you want to give your cyberpunk painting a 90s look, then make the technology either slightly smaller (eg: “Matrix”-style flip phones, modern-style VR headsets etc..), but include to include futuristic versions of things which are slowly becoming obsolete these days.

After all, even back in the 1990s, no-one could have imagined that things like purpose-built digital cameras, wristwatches, print newspapers, portable CD/ tape/ MP3 players, desktop computers etc… would be less popular in the future because their purpose can be fulfilled with other items of technology (eg: *ugh* smartphones).

The trick with technology in 80s/90s style cyberpunk paintings is to show slightly bulkier versions of technology that would have seemed futuristic at the time, but which is either in common use now or will probably come into common use within the next decade or two.

3) Detail: One of the defining features of 1980s/90s cyberpunk is sheer sensory overload. In cyberpunk novels, this is done through using a lot of futuristic-sounding descriptions (which are never always fully explained). But, in things like art, comics and film, it’s often done through including a surprising number of background details.

One easy way to make your painting or drawing look cyberpunk is, if you are setting your picture in a public space, to include a lot of advertising in the background. You can make this advertising look undetailed (if you’re in a hurry) or you can have a lot of fun creating satirical adverts, but you need to cram the background with more advertising than usual. Just make sure to advertise things that don’t actually exist (because, honestly, there’s already enough genuine advertising in the world as it is).

Likewise, including things like crowded outdoor areas, lots of screens in the background (in indoor areas) and/or large angular cityscapes in the background can also be a great way to give your artwork an old-school cyberpunk look.

If you want a good example of this kind of artwork, then just read some of Warren Ellis’ “Transmetropolitan” comics.

4) Fashions: When it comes to thinking of clothing designs for 80s/90s-style cyberpunk artwork, you can have a lot of fun here since there are many different approaches you can take to the fashion design in your picture.

You can make the characters in your picture just wear classic 80s/90s fashions, you can go down the “Matrix” route and make all of your characters look like goths, you can go down the “Blade Runner” route and make all of your characters wear sleeker versions of 1940s fashions or you can make the fashions a lot more wierder. Seriously, the only limit is your imagination.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

A Ramble About Optical Illusion Drawings

Ha! You must be joking!

Ha! You must be joking!

Well, since I can’t seem to think of an idea for a proper article for today, I thought that I’d ramble about a really cool art-related thing that I saw online a few months ago. I am, of course, talking about anamorphic “3D” optical illusion drawing videos on Youtube (like this one).

Bascially, these are the kinds of drawings which appear to be actual 3D objects when viewed from a particular angle. They’re like those famous pieces of “3D” pavement art that get sent around in chain e-mails occasionally.

But, of course, anamorphic 3D drawings often tend to do this kind of thing on a much smaller scale. So, after seeing a few videos of people making this kind of art, I started to wonder “how do they do this?

Thanks to having about three years of regular art practice, I was in a slightly better position to work out how it was done than I might have been a few years ago. After all, even the most basic types of “realistic” drawings and paintings require you to be able to draw things that look like three-dimensional objects. Like this:

"Random Still Life" By C. A. Brown

“Random Still Life” By C. A. Brown

But, even though I could figure out the basic principles of how these kinds of optical illusion drawings work, my own attempts at even just copying the ones I saw on Youtube ended in miserable failure. And I think that I know why.

I still don’t understand enough about perspective and lighting.

You see, one of the things about making optical illusion drawings is that the perspective and the lighting have to be absolutely perfect. They have to be absolutely identical to what a 3D object might look like when viewed at a particular angle. They have to be close enough to the real thing to fool your brain into thinking that you’re actually looking at the real thing.

In other words, you have to know exactly where the light will fall on different parts of the object that you’re drawing. In addition to this, you not only have to know what something looks like from a particular angle (which is something that most artists can work out just by looking at it carefully), but you also have to know how to represent this view from a totally different angle too.

In other words, you need to be able to draw a bird’s eye view of the side view of something, so that it’ll look realistic when the paper is held at a particular angle. If this sounds confusing, that is because it is.

Ultimately, this kind of thing is still years ahead of my current artistic abilities. But, at the very least, I now know why artists make these kinds of drawings – not only do they look really cool, but they are also the ultimate way to show off your artistic knowledge and talents. And, as types of showing off go, I can’t think of one that’s cooler than this.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂