Category Archives: wacom tablet

Perfectly Wonderful

wonderful_edited-1

I’m a tasteful nude.

This week has been pretty rough. Chronic pain is kicking my backside and I’m half the dragon I used to be. If that. It seemed like it would be fun to just color tonight but this took me 3 hours and the only part I like is the socks.

So, you know, art is about constantly exposing yourself. At least what I do is. Every night I sit here and ask myself, “Are you really going to share this with the world?” Yes. Yes, I am. That’s why I wear socks: so as not to get cold feet.

Here is the thing I drew tonight. People need to know that they’re OK the way they are. Exactly who they are. Dragons too. Even when they don’t feel OK.

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Further Thoughts on Color Correction in Photoshop

The more I play around with the “Enhance” feature in Adobe Photoshop, the more I question the nature of reality. If a photograph isn’t a perfect visual representation of a moment in time, how can we trust something as subjective as memory?

Sun sets over the cove at Long Gulch on the north side of Lake Roosevelt

Sun sets over the cove at Long Gulch on the north side of Lake Roosevelt

The Man and I watched this sunset, and I’m certain that every moment was dazzling, and that the stones on the lakeshore truly did glow in the golden light of the setting sun. And yet, the original photograph was flatter than memory. Then I messed with the levels in Photoshop; now the stones glow. Still, did they glow to that degree? The sky probably wasn’t quite so blue, and of course the sun was sharper.

Complicating matters, I have long since stopped trusting my own eyes. My vision gets worse every year; I wear prism lenses to correct some of the problem, further distorting my view of reality, even though my brain corrects back to true, most of the time. In addition, I don’t do anything in natural light without polarized lenses, which sharpen everything and amplify colors. The world looks much crisper, and more beautiful, in polarized lenses.

A verdant piece of desert

A verdant piece of desert

This one, obviously, can’t be right. It reminds me of a picture postcard from the ’50s, when, I guess color photography was a novelty and all the colors were boosted into glorious technicolor. The sky is even bluer than in the previous image. This was a fast fix; results would probably be better had I worked on different parts of the image separately: the sky, the saguaros, the rest of the plants, the rocks, the water. At heart, I see with the eyes of a child, and the brighter colors delight me. I’ll take paintbox primaries over reality any day, I guess.

The flower of the saguaro cactus

The flower of the saguaro cactus

This is the most confusing one. I still don’t have a zoom lens for the Canon EOS, and if you know anything about saguaros, you know that getting close to their flowers can be tricky. Most of the flower are on the top of the plant, and a mature saguaro can grow as high as 50 feet, while I myself stand only a touch over 5. We spent days looking for a cactus that was either growing below the ridge, or else had a frostbite damaged arm that hung in my line of sight. No such luck on this trip, and the saguaro only blooms for a short while. I had to resort to the Powershot, which has a great zoom feature, even though the picture quality is of course not as details as with the DSLR.

But here’s the thing: the zoom feature is much better than my eyesight, so good that I have often used it in place of binoculars. It allows me to see things in sharp focus that would otherwise appear as distant blurs. So I couldn’t even tell you what these flowers really looked like because I never really got a good look at them myself. I couldn’t even really see the display since the sun was shining directly on it AND I was wearing polarized lenses. This photo pretty much involved just waving the camera in the general direction of the thing I wanted to shoot and hoping for something to line up.

So, what does the world look like? It’s not exactly what I see with my eyes, even with corrective lenses, and it’s not precisely what the camera returns to me, and it’s definitely not what photos look like after hue and saturation and balance. Every image is filtered these days; everything is Photoshopped. We can’t trust the visual world.

Color Correction in Photoshop

I am not going to tell you how to color correct images in Photoshop, because my knowledge is insufficient for instruction purposes. Just starting out: I’m just feeling my way and going about it in a rather haphazard manner. A couple weeks back, my friend the Vampire Bat saw a picture I took of a hummingbird and color corrected it, and the difference is sort of amazing, so we talked for 30 seconds about it and I was inspired. I took a slightly less awesome hummingbird picture last week and decided to give it a shot. After I finished, I did a more subtle correction on a picture of an Arizona cardinal.

Brightening Birds in Adobe Photoshop

Brightening Birds in Adobe Photoshop; originals on left, color corrections on right.

To my eye, the hummingbird might be a bit too bright and the cardinal could be brighter, but they both definitely look better than the originals. I shifted everything blue-green in the first picture, but I only changed the color of the bird in the second.

I also enjoyed practicing that tiny bit of digital calligraphy, which I tried one time when I first got the tablet and then forgot all about as I struggled to figure out how Photoshop worked. Since most people use that program more for the color correction and less for drawing horrible webcomics, I was really feeling my way and probably not learning things in the same order as other people.

The Man also required some brightening.

The Man also required some brightening.

Here you can see some sort of over-the-top work I did for The Man, who wanted some professional head shots. I made a few mistakes, including causing the tree to look sort of unrealistic, but he liked it well enough to use it. It’s interesting to see what details pop out; I definitely have many sky photos that could use this treatment. Not sure what to do about his skin, though. For this image, I selected the sky first, played with that, then selected the inverse and worked with that section.

Anyway, like I said, I couldn’t exactly tell you what I did to achieve these results. It was sort of random button pushing, but I think I’m learning.

Dragon Comics 11

White dudes: so oppressed, so voiceless.

White dudes: so oppressed, so voiceless.

Every night is basically a Man talking party in certain company. 

All I really have to say about this comic is that I had a lot of fun drawing hands this week. Friday’s comic has some even more amusingly drawn hands. The Man looked it over and informed me that Dragon is using the wrong finger in panel 3, but I guess that says more about his worldview than my ability to draw hands. It’s funny, because in a lot of circles the ability to draw hands is sort of considered the benchmark. I think hands are only medium-hard; it’s faces that cause me the most grief. 

What I’m not entirely satisfied with is the placement of the word balloons in this comic. That’s another important skill in creating a visual narrative, and it’s not always obvious how to line them up so they’re read in order. I’ve actually read quite a bit on this, and I get that it’s part skill and part art. And if you think it doesn’t matter, you should read this hilarious takedown of inexplicable newspaper comic Mark Trail in Cracked. Actually, the whole article is hilarious. But actually, people have written much more serious pieces about word balloon placement. And it’s even more important in a bigger format, because then you also have to think about panel placement. Simply placing 9 or 12 equal-sized boxes in a grid over and over gets boring. The best artists can create a magical flow of images that sweeps the reader along from action to action in a visual way that somehow reflects the action, but done incorrectly, this method can just confuse the reader.

I’m fair from having to worry about that. But it is interesting to consider how the chosen format affects the storytelling. I’ve already got a little story planned out that examines this, but first, Dragon has a few things to say about art, friendship, truth, and beauty. Stick around!

My Nephew Goes Wading

The week after our wedding, we hiked to Sabino Dam with the family that remained in town. It’s kind of a long walk for little kids, but I promised them they’d like it when we got there, and they did. It’s only a very small amount of water spilling over, at least most of the year, but it forms a lovely wading pool, and there are even little patches of white sand here and there among the rocks, so you can pretend it’s actually the beach.

My nephlings were delighted. The baby went pantsless, the middle child rolled his cuffs all the way up and walked carefully, but the big one just jumped in wearing jeans. To me, that would have been very unpleasant (and walking back in wet jeans? Ug!) but he was deliriously happy up until they told him it was time to leave. I love the attitude captured in this drawing. He is so enraptured, and he is so uninterested in anything besides his own joy.

noah

It’s a rough little image, but I guess he’s a rough little guy.

I like learning about the interplay of light and shadow, as well as the anatomy I pick up as I go. Wonder what other people think of this. Does it need more detail or does this picture tell the whole story?

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Dragon Comics 9

I apologize in advance to any splendid otters who may just randomly stumble upon this comic strip, and also potentially any foxes even though obviously any similarity of these characters to any people/animals/mythical creatures, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Clearly, drawing a comic that is really only a thinly veiled depiction of ones friends and family could be a very dangerous pastime, unless all of ones friends and family have a really great sense of humor. Which, of course, mine do. But still. Purely coincidental.

I drew that otter around 1 a.m., looked at it, and then laughed for about 10 minutes straight.

I drew that otter around 1 a.m., looked at it, and then laughed for about 10 minutes straight.

I definitely do not know any large, muscular, barrel-chested otters. That would be utterly ridiculous.