Category Archives: Digital Paint

My Most Popular Sticker Ever

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Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014

Why is “Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014” my most popular sticker design? I literally have no idea. I don’t know why anyone does anything on the Internet. I don’t understand why I keep selling stickers of this dog that doesn’t even have a fandom but nobody wants to buy Princess Sealestia, Ruler of Aquastria merchandise. I mean, it was a cool dog, and his best friend, Mr. Macho Bush Pilot, is not difficult to look at, but really? If anything was going to sell stickers, you’d think it would be the fabulous Blue Morpho Butterfly. Nope, people want notecards of that. And nobody, but NOBODY wants “Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes” even though that thing took me like 3 months to finish and is absolutely the most complicated digital paint thing I’ve ever done.

If I knew then what I know know (i.e., how to use more features Photoshop) I guess I would have made the dude’s muscles a little less ropy and pronounced. Or maybe he really looked like that. Who remembers?

Johnny the Australian Shepherd it is. These stickers are available in 3 sizes: 4″x2.2″, 5.5″x3″, and 8.5″x4.7″. Prices range from $2.32 for the small ones to $5.66 for the medium ones and $9.80 for the big ones. It all seems totally random. I also sell this design on a huge range of clothing, bags, cups, prints, and other completely random things that you can have your designs printed on. But if you want it, you’ll no doubt want it on a sticker. It’s $2.32 of pure sporting canine goodness.

The Living Reef

It's even better if you can imagine David Attenborough gleefully narrating the death throes of one sea creature as another organism devours it: "The speckled spitfish thrusts its meager stingers in all directions, but it is too late. The tentacled pseudoblob has already begun the digestion process."

It’s even better if you can imagine David Attenborough gleefully narrating the death throes of one sea creature as another organism devours it: “The speckled spitfish thrusts its meager stingers in all directions, but it is too late. The tentacled pseudoblob has already begun the digestion process.”

One of the first digital paintings I ever completed was Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999, which has its merits, all things considered, but looking back it’s almost funny. I was working off a photograph for that one, but I had not yet learned how to use layers, or basically any tool other than the brush and the color picker. I didn’t even know how to change brushes at that point, or opacity, or begun experimenting with brush modes. I never did feel 100% satisfied with that picture. I don’t mind things being deliberately rough, but in that case, I simply lacked the knowledge to take it where it needed to go.

That was 11 months ago.

This image does help me see how far I’ve come; it’s not even based on a photo. I didn’t use any reference images at all. The fish are all just bits of color that I played with until they took shape. The entire painting is basically bits of color smeared around. It’s one of my favorite things in Photoshop right now; the blur took can take the roughest image and make it look more real.

(Or, as in yesterday’s comic, it can take a more realistic image and make it look more fake.)

Some of it was probably also inspired by David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet, which is a really lovely thing to watch before bed as long as creatures eating other creatures doesn’t upset you.

The red fish is my absolute favorite. It looks perfect and I would look at it carefully before I drew another fish to see what made it work.

Another thing that’s happened since I got the Wacom tablet is that my brain has begun to dissect light everywhere. Understanding how light works when it falls on objects inspired a big leap for me in taking my work out of the purely flat realm and giving it greater dimensionality. I only tried to use realistic light and darkness in small doses here, but it really changes the character of the image.

My Nephew Goes Wading, Take 2

My brother emailed me asking if I could send him a high-res version of “My Nephew Goes Wading,” the little doodle I scrawled out a while back when I was working on “My Sister and Brother-in-Law Look to the Future.” I sent him the files but really, it was just a scribble. I always meant to paint it. He wanted an art print or something! It was just a few lines. So, the last few days have been dedicated to fleshing it out.

It's hard to capture the joy on her face.

It’s hard to  accurately capture the joy on his face.

It’s not quite 100% satisfactory yet. In small format it looks good but for a blown up version it’s not quite there. Maybe in the next day or so.

Digital paint has a lot of advantages over real paint; it’s less messy, and it’s easier to take back, paint over, or adjust mistakes. It’s cheaper. It smells better. But…it’s still nice to have real materials (which I can’t afford right now so whatever). Painting is for the wealthy, or for people with patrons.

Anyway, “My Nephew Goes Wading, Redux.” I can get better with practice. I know I can.

Dragon Comics 30

It's true. He does smell delightful.

It’s true. He does smell delightful.

When I showed him the illustrations, before I added the text, he said, “I’m so glad you got outside.” Figuring out how to draw the Milky Way was the fun part of this drawing. Getting the silhouettes right was also something of a challenge, but not as much as it would have been 29 comics ago.

In case you’re wondering where Dragon’s tail is, it is flat and limp without the cave’s magic, and therefore spilling down the hill with no curl whatsoever.

In reality, I spend far too much time outside the cave. Why, just yesterday I went to 2 parties and 3 stores, and later found out that I missed an old friend passing through town due to my own busy-ness. And today I attended a Girl Scouts Brownies meeting for the first time since 1981. Fascinating. Getting the comic written is getting harder as the frantic part of the year encroaches, but I’m committed to at least 100 of them before I reevaluate.

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My Sister and Brother-in-Law Look to the Future

My future brother-in-law is the only man my sister has ever brought to a family gathering. It was my wedding, and I’m glad they got engaged, because he’s in the family photos, and it would have been awkward otherwise.

Those hats!

Those hats!

I took the source photo a few days after the wedding. In fact, this is another section of the image used for the “My Nephew Goes Wading” drawing. A rather rich image!

A few weeks ago we went back to that place and The Man took some magical photos of the girl sliding down the dam. Might be another cool design.

I printed 50 of these and sent them to sissy for an engagement present. I’m uncertain as to whether she’s received them or not, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read QWERTYvsDvorak or check Facebook on a regular basis, so it can probably remain a surprise. I hope she likes them!

I think I’m coming to the end of my infatuation with this style. Although it was obviously insane, I started a huge painting based on a really complex image; after a week, it’s maybe 15% finished, and my thumb is all messed up and who knows if I’ll ever be able to wield a stylus again.

I hope yes.

For now I’m wearing the brace and typing slowly, with 9 fingers.

Quoth the Raven, “Shop My Store”

I overheard Fox telling Otter, “Dragon draws these T-shirt designs but they’re all for girls so we can’t get any.” Gah! Gendered much? OK, fine. I drew this freaking raven, based on a photograph I took at the Grand Canyon. There is nothing girly about this raven with his weird punk rock mohawk head feathers, all right?

This raven is not interested in your problems.

This raven is not interested in your problems.

He’s all dark and brooding and mysterious and whatnot, sitting high above you, looking imperiously down like a king on his throne or something equally majestic.  Ravens are bigger than crows, and somehow more dignified, and they’re so dark that they seem to almost swallow the light into them.

Of all the designs I’ve done so far, this is the first one that really seems to look good on a cell phone case.

Mythologically speaking, Raven is the bringer of knowledge (in the form of light) to mankind; he literally steals what belongs to the gods in order to make it public domain. Raven is a friend to people, and a force to be reckoned with. If you’ve never gotten close up to one of these birds, you’ll be surprised at how large and sturdy they are, almost like raptors in their muscularity. They’re also, when they feel like it, extremely vocal. I believe they can be taught to mimic human speech, but even in their own tongue, you can get a conversation going. I’ve had long back and forth exchanges with chatty ravens, some of them rather far away. If you hear a raven, call back and pretty often it will answer you, even if you can’t see it.

The Desert Explodes in Glorious Technicolor

For ten years, I’ve lived in the Sonoran Desert, where we enjoy 330 days of sunshine every year. It may be hot, but it is also beautiful, full of sharp contrasts and luscious details.

This agave had reached the end of its life cycle. After sending up the shoot and flowering, the plant will die, but for a brief, breathtaking moment, it resembles a flaming torch.

If all else fails, you can always make tequila.

If all else fails, you can always make tequila.

This drawing is based on a photograph I took over the summer; I had a 2-day window in which this plant exhibited these gorgeous colors. In fact, I wanted to paint a hibiscus today, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the right reference image.

This lovely design is available for purchased on a variety of fine products in my shop.