Today’s Art (15th November 2019)

Well, due to tiredness, today’s artwork is a somewhat random piece of digital art that I made in about twenty minutes.

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

“Mansion Of The Bizarre” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (2nd July 2018)

Well, due to uninspiration and time-based reasons, today’s artwork ended up being a somewhat random digitally-edited drawing instead of a painting. Still, for something that I made hastily, it turned out surprisingly well 🙂

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

“The Garden Of Scribbles” By C. A. Brown

Short Story: “Food Court ’95 ” By C. A. Brown

It’s, like, totally not true.‘ Roy said as he sat back in the metal chair and sipped his coffee. Although it was a bleak Wednesday morning, the food court of the Westview Street Mall somehow seemed to be at least half full. He checked his watch. It was ten in the morning and the shops surrounding the rectangular court were already a riot of neon and strip lights. He wondered what it looked like at night.

Beside him, Lucy picked up a French fry and sighed. ‘I’m telling you, they make these chairs uncomfortable on purpose. It’s all part of a cunning plan to get as many people to buy as much food as possible. They could put proper chairs in here, but of course, they want you to just eat and leave so that the next people can eat and leave. It’s like we’re robots or something.

An impish smile crossed Roy’s face and he leant sideways. With one fist, he tapped his behind, whilst secretly tapping the chair leg with the other at the same time. As a quiet clang echoed across the table, he said: ‘Buns of steel. It’s probably why I don’t notice it.

Lucy wasn’t sure whether to laugh or roll her eyes. So, she did both. Finally, Roy said: ‘Seriously, did someone at one of your punk concerts tell you that thing about the chairs?’

No, there’s a couple of books about it in the campus library. You know, the building you’re supposed to go to every week.‘ Lucy gave Roy a sarcastic smile, before eating another French fry. Above the babble of conversation, the tannoy pinged and a muffled voice babbled for a few seconds. Neither Lucy nor Roy could tell what it was trying to say. Obviously, no-one else could because, ten seconds later, the same garbled mumbling filled the air again.

Roy sipped his coffee and said: ‘We’ve got a guy in our frat who takes notes for all of us. We each give him five bucks a week. The time savings are incredible.

Lucy didn’t dignify that with a response. Instead, she ate a couple of French fries and slurped her milkshake. On the table next to her, two blond guys in leather jackets hastily exchanged dollar bills with each other. A smile crossed her face and she got up and walked over to them. Roy raised an eyebrow. When she returned, she slipped something into her bag and said: ‘We’re all set for Friday night. You owe me ten bucks.

Roy lowered his voice to an indignant whisper as he fumbled for his wallet ‘Ten bucks? You talk about the evils of capitalism and then let – he isn’t even a hippie – rip you off like that. I mean, there’s probably thirty cents of oregano in there.

He handed her the note and stared at his coffee cup. There was an advertisement on the side of it. It was an advert for coffee. As Roy wondered why on earth these supposed evil geniuses would try to advertise coffee to someone who had already bought it, Lucy stood up and stretched her legs: ‘Anyway, I’m going numb. We should probably get out of here. I hear they’re still showing Pulp Fiction at the cinema.

Waste of two hours. It doesn’t even make sense.‘ Roy sighed. ‘Seriously, a guy dies and then he just appears a while later like nothing happened.

It’s meant to be art house, I think. Don’t tell me that you want to see the intellectual masterpiece that is Die Hard With A Vengeance instead.

Roy shrugged: ‘At least it probably makes sense. I mean, it’s the last film in the trilogy, so they’re probably going to go out with a bang. Hopefully lots of them.

Lucy rolled her eyes and said: ‘Whatever. Hey, do you want another coffee?

Roy shrugged again: ‘Sure, why not? More to the point, aren’t we supposed to be leaving here like robots? I mean, you said that whole thing about the chairs earlier. How this place was designed to get people to stay for as little time as possible…

I’m rebelling. Proving them wrong.‘ Lucy grinned. If Roy had bothered to read his frat brother’s notes about dramatic irony in 20th century literature, he’d have probably creased over with laughter. Instead, he just stared at the empty coffee cup that remained on the table. As his eyes fixed on the advert on the side of the cup, they widened and he muttered ‘Holy sheet! THAT’S why it’s there! Well played, evil geniuses…

Three Sneaky Ways To Show Off In Your Art

Well, it’s been a few days since I last wrote an instructional article (sorry about all of the writer’s block-induced rambles recently). So, I thought that I’d look at a few ways that you can really show off artistically. Although you’ll still need to have at least some level of artistic skill, these tips can make your art look a lot more impressive with relatively little extra effort (although some of these can take more time).

And, yes, I forgot to add still life painting to this list. If you know how to copy from sight, then you can use this skill to make still life paintings that look ten times better than anything painted from imagination (since you can just copy the shadows, lighting etc.. from whatever is in front of you rather than working out where they have to go).

Sorry for not including this in the article, but it seemed worth mentioning, especially when you can use the technique to create paintings like this old one of mine from 2015 (when most of my “ordinary” art looked nowhere near as good):

“Plush Rat And DVDs” By C. A. Brown [2015]

Anyway, that said, here are some other sneaky ways to show off whilst making art:

1) Want to make your art look more detailed? Make cyberpunk art: If you’ve never heard of the cyberpunk genre before, it’s a sub-genre of science fiction that was popular during the 1980s and 1990s (but is enjoying a slight resurgence these days).

Visually, this type of science fiction tends to focus a lot on high-contrast lighting (eg: most things in the cyberpunk genre are set at night, so that light sources like neon signs and computer monitors stand out more) and it also takes a few cues from things like the film noir genre and modern cities in Japan, China and South Korea.

Although there are lots of different ways to make cyberpunk art, one constant is that cyberpunk art is almost always detailed. Whether it’s the angular buildings of a futuristic city skyline, thousands of animated billboards competing for attention or the strangely-dressed crowds of a bustling mega-city – cyberpunk art needs detail because, like with cyberpunk fiction, it often relies on “overloading” the audience with information in order to create the impression of a futuristic world.

Because of this, people expect detail when looking at cyberpunk art. So, you can either use this as an excuse to cram as much detail as possible into a picture, like this:

“Architecture” By C. A. Brown

Or, you can make a more undetailed and impressionistic painting which will look more detailed since the audience will expect it to contain detail (and will see detail where there is none). Like in this preview of a slightly rushed digitally-edited painting I made on an uninspired day:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 17th January.

Although there is some detail in the foreground, most of the background just consists of shapes, scribbles and silhouettes. Yet, it looks more detailed than it actually is because it’s in the cyberpunk genre, where detail is expected.

2) Want more interesting compositions? Computer games are your friend!: If you don’t know what “composition” is, it’s a fancy word for where everything in your painting is. It can also sometimes include things like perspective (eg: the “camera angle” in your painting or drawing) too.

One of the best ways to open your mind to more interesting ideas about composition is to play computer games. Not just any computer games, but games where the player can’t control the “camera”. In other words, games that still include significant two-dimensional elements. Old-style 2D “point and click” games, modern hidden object games and 1990s-style survival horror games (with pre-rendered backgrounds) are some of the best genres for this sort of thing.

Because the player can’t move the “camera”, these games have to find other ways to make each location look visually interesting. And they often do this by playing with things like composition and perspective. Here are some examples to show you what I mean:

This is a screenshot from the introductory segment of “Alone In The Dark” (1992) which shows a common composition used in old horror and/or adventure games, where something menacing would be placed in the very close foreground and would “frame” the rest of the picture.

This screenshot from the bonus content in “House Of 1000 Doors – Family Secrets (Collector’s Edition)” (2011-14?) uses a simple one-point perspective, but the artist makes the hallway seem larger and more ominous by using a slightly low camera angle, where the “camera” is near the floor.

Seriously, if you play computer games that used fixed camera angles, then you can pick up all sorts of cool-looking perspective and composition tips that can help your art to look more impressive with less effort.

For example, here’s another reduced-size preview of one of my upcoming digitally-edited paintings. This one uses a variant on the “dramatic stuff in the very close foreground” technique.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 14th January.

3) Want more precise paintings? Use watercolour pencils!: If you’ve never heard of watercolour pencils before, they’re coloured pencils where the “lead” is made from watercolour paint pigment. When you go over your drawing with a wet paintbrush, the pigment will turn into watercolour paint. This article of mine goes into more detail about how to start using them.

These pencils are made by most major art supply brands and, although they’re often slightly more expensive than coloured pencils, they’re often much cheaper than alcohol-based markers.

Although you’ll need to use these pencils in conjunction with watercolour paper (cheap, thin, flat and slightly absorbant watercolour paper is better for precision) and possibly waterproof ink (if you want to include drawings), these pencils allow you to make very precise-looking paintings when compared to traditional painting.

And, best of all, you only need basic drawing skills for this. So, if you want to give your drawings a bit more of an “artistic” look, or your want more precisions in your paintings, then these are the tools to use!

You can also do a few other painterly things with them, such as colour blending (just go over an area with two different pencils before using the wet paintbrush). But, you can’t really use them for “wet in wet” painting or anything like that. Even so, if you want an extra level of precision in your paintings or want fancier-looking drawings, then it might be worth experimenting with watercolour pencils.

———

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Random Techniques That Will Make Your Art Look Cooler

2017-artwork-three-random-techniques

Whilst there is no substitute for regular art practice, there are a number of simple artistic techniques that I wish that I’d learnt a lot earlier than I did. I’ve probably mentioned this stuff before, but it’s probably worth repeating nontheless.

So, here are some techniques that will make your art look cooler.

1) Cylindrical surfaces and neon lights: Interestingly, the same technique that can allow you to make cylindrical objects look 3D can also be used to create realistic-looking neon lights and/or strip lights.

The technique is, of couse, simply to make the areas around the edges of a long, thin area darker than the middle. If you want to make something look cylindrical, then make the middle part a lighter shade of the same colours you’ve used for the edges. If you want to make something look luminescent, then either leave the middle part blank or make it significantly lighter than the edges.

Here’s a quick MS Paint diagram to show you what I mean:

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Here is an example of the technique in action (albeit with some extra lighting added to the surrounding areas too):

As you can see, the middle part of both flourescent light tubes are either left blank or are a significantly lighter shade of the colour around the edges of the tube.

As you can see, the middle part of both flourescent light tubes are either left blank or are a significantly lighter shade of the colour around the edges of the tube.

2) High-contrast art: I’ve mentioned this before, but one way to make your art look significantly more vivid and dramatic is to ensure that at least 30-50% of the total area of the painting or drawing is covered with black paint or black ink. This makes all of the colours in your artwork look bolder and more vivid by comparison, as well as giving your artwork a gloomy 1980s/90s style “look” too.

Whilst this effect can be improved through digital editing techniques (such as altering the brightness/contrast levels in an image), one sneaky way to use this effect without being too obvious about it is to add black “letterboxing” bars to the top and bottom of your painting. This also has the effect of making it look like a frame from a film too.

Here’s an example of the technique in action. In addition to my usual digital editing, I’ve also added a sepia filter to the original painting to make the contrast between the light and dark areas of the painting stand out more:

This is a sepia-tinted version of one of my paintings. As you can see, the painting is about 50-70% sepia and 30-50% black.

This is a sepia-tinted version of one of my paintings. As you can see, the painting is about 50-70% sepia and 30-50% black.

3) Wall tiles: One of the easiest ways to give a painting or a drawing a cool retro-futuristic look is to use tiled walls. Yes, these can be a little bit time consuming to draw, but there are a couple of simple tile designs that will give your picture more of an atmospheric look.

Here’s a simple diagram that I made in MS Paint that will show you how to draw two of my favourite wall tile designs:

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.

———

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

Today’s Art (30th September 2017)

This digitally-edited painting was kind of random. I’d originally planned to make a short comic mini series consisting of higher-quality remakes of a few of my old “Damania” comics from 2016 (since there were only six new comics this month) but, due to being even more short on time and creative energy (since I was also writing this old short story collection whilst preparing quite a few of this month’s paintings in advance) than I thought, I decided to make a gothic cyberpunk painting instead. But, I didn’t like how the background turned out – so, I ended up changing it digitally. But, this looked kind of random.

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

“Data Station” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (13th August 2017)

Well, I was feeling mildly uninspired when I made today’s digitally-edited painting. Since I was watching the last couple of episodes of season one of “Twin Peaks” at the time, I was in the mood for some 1980s/90s style art but, about halfway through sketching, I realised that the people in it looked like actors on a stage, so the painting ended up going in a slightly more random direction.

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

"Retro Stage" By C. A. Brown

“Retro Stage” By C. A. Brown