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d381 Tales of Xillia Paintings 2013

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Well, as it goes: another month, another post…

I haven’t been quite as prolific with paintings in 2013 as I was in 2012, but I’ve been turning out a good number and variety nonetheless. I say time and time again that my constant struggle is one to simplify tooling and process, to make the finished product with as few tools and as few steps as possible. For the past couple years this has been a theme in my life outside of drawing as well as I’ve continuously tried to get rid of junk that I don’t need.

Anyway, this quest has led me to keep revisiting tried methods of painting, which is how this first one is done.

Pure pencil linearts have been done time and time again with varying degrees of success. Even this particular flavor of pure pencil lineart – more or less a sketch with little to no touchup – has been done enough for various Tales group paintings that you can see the evolution (The years are 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2013 respectively)! Overall I think I definitely did better on this than on the Graces 2012 painting with the same process, but it’s one of those cases where I can’t quite put my finger on why.

One of the reasons I want to simplify drawing process – other than for the sake of simplifying – is that I want to be able to draw detailed backgrounds without having to draw them twice. This means that I don’t want to have to draw it in pencil and then go over in ink, nor do I want to draw it in pencil and go over it again in digital ink. Going all pencil is one direction I could go, but with pencil I have that whole smearing problem, and increasingly more relevant is my increasingly passionate hatred of eraser crumbs.

Going all digital is a little more interesting because even after many false starts (almost as many as pen), I am still convinced that it is ultimately the way forward. That being said, I am increasingly convinced that the false starts are from beginning to hit the limits of my tooling, and that goes for things other than cursor accuracy now. My latest gripes are not being able to zoom out more than a certain amount in OpenCanvas and how the program renders everything without anti-aliasing at any zoom level other than full size. The former obviously makes it very difficult for me to look at a drawing in it’s entirety, which is especially important if I’m going to draw stuff digitally from scratch, and the latter makes it very difficult for me to visualize actual line quality when zoomed.

Of course, the accuracy problem is still more annoying especially for drawing, which is part of the reason I keep trying to let paint do the work. This next painting follows the same theory, but I am also trying to do some better background work as per my last post. Initially I intended to digital ink the figures and remove the background lineart, but I didn’t.

I thought the lighting here would be difficult to do, but I just did it like element by element, little by little, and I think it turned out pretty well. I did a tiny bit of erasing/touchup on the single-weight pencil sketch, but I didn’t do any color adjustments on the paint – for the most part I think I’m becoming decent at getting the colors that I want the first time around.

Published by D, on October 29th, 2013 at 9:38 pm. Filled under: d_paintsNo Comments

d380 130920 miscellaneous sketches

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Recently I did some sketches, and I had some thoughts! It’s been about a year and change since Ink, and the best thing it’s done for me is make me draw more with pencil.

I’m not really talking about quantity, as that just doesn’t happen. Two years ago I wrote about drawing and sketching and about how I usually drew instead of sketched. I’d been feeling that the added effort required to hit this drawing tier was limiting my drawing in the same way that the added effort required to make a painting was limiting my painting. The overhead has also made it harder for me to just “go and draw” than it had been for me when I was a kid.

While not necessarily a cause or effect, I’m confident that backdrawing with a harder pencil contributed to that overhead. At one point H6 backdraw with HB lines had been the only way for me to get clean drawings, and then both H6 backdraw and clean drawings became the norm. When I switched to HB backdraw with ink lines to get those clean drawings, I discovered that I could get decent quality sketches using HB backdraw with HB lines. It’s now come to my attention that the latter may have been just as enabling as the former.

For a long time, I’ve had difficulty putting figures and non figures together in a way that doesn’t suck. I’ve physically written and mentally noted some theories, but having this low-quality, low-effort sketching ability has helped me execute: most of these doodles are about scaling figures and backgrounds and having them interact with each other.

This is a ground level view of my neoclassical station from the start of Ink. I think the more aggressive angle gives it a better sense of depth; this is actually much closer to the view that I originally wanted but apparently couldn’t implement. The light battleships up top are mockups of a model I might build in Lego.

This is my favorite one of the lot. It’s hard to draw figures and trains at the same scale because figures are small and trains are not, so you have to draw tiny figures or giant train parts… and that’s hard. That being said, I think the giant train parts turned out pretty good.

This is the cab of the 7-9 Series steam-electric locomotive I keep drawing. It’s probably a little small relative to the figures, but likewise scaling is hard. I semi thought through what all of the levers and dials did, which is what makes this sort of greebling hard for me these days; I don’t think I did that nearly as much when I was a kid. For much the same reason, I mostly reuse designs now and only occasionally introduce new ones.

This is my second favorite of the lot. The conductor is actually from here. The condenser isn’t actually part of the original design, but I felt like having it.

I originally thought the 7-9 Series was a legacy design that survived the BKS era, but I couldn’t find an original drawing, so I assume it originated as part of my 2006 BKS/CL locomotive reference set, which codified some legacy designs like that AT01 Series Atlantis class shay, and introduced some new ones like the 7-9. These drawings are based off an updated 2012 revision.

Published by D, on September 22nd, 2013 at 9:24 pm. Filled under: d_sketchNo Comments

d378 Chikara 2013

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This painting was actually done back in July. It has a couple “first in a while” elements: the first Chikara painting since 2007, the first digital lineart since 2010, and the first cell-shade painting since, well, last year. Also of note is a from scratch, no lineart background that isn’t just a tree. Or a shadow. Or a rectangle.

Read more…

Published by D, on August 22nd, 2013 at 1:25 am. Filled under: d_paints Tags: No Comments

d379 ThinkPad Helix Review

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First hardware review for a while! I would have wanted to write this post months ago, but Lenovo botched the launch of the Helix like no other. It was initially supposed to come out in February at a rumored price of about $1300, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on one at that price until now, almost five months later.

This is actually round two of “try to replace my x220 tablet with something better”. I briefly tried an x230 tablet at launch last year, but the benefits were far too marginal for me to care, so I returned it. This year there supposedly won’t be an x240 tablet, so I’m trying the Helix, which is very different and very much a compromise. The problem I have and have ranted about is that I just want a better conventional convertible tablet, but nobody wants to make one anymore because they could make some new and gimmicky form factor instead.

Read more…

Published by D, on July 23rd, 2013 at 8:05 pm. Filled under: d_others Tags: , No Comments

d377 GT1 Test Painting

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Non-figure paintings are generally pretty few and far between, but I think I may be on the verge of changing that. Non-fanart paintings are also in the same boat. The GT1 is a car I designed for a project prompt that J proposed (more on that in the future if it goes through). It’s called the GT1 as I took design queues from the Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1 and T1 locomotives. I didn’t intend to do a painting from the start, but this test has been in the pipeline and the GT1 became an appropriate subject at time.

The GT1 painting is new in that it is a “custom” painting with no final lineart. Like the ink comic from last time this painting was basically an inevitability since London Waterloo, which was my first actual painting without any final lineart despite being a copy. The roots go a little further back to the Pieces painting, but I definitely wasn’t ready for this back then. Nonetheless, as with ink drawings, I don’t think anything has fundamentally changed about my drawing; apparently I just needed to do these things to get there.

The process is the same as that of the Pieces painting: I paint in a sketch and remove the sketch afterward. Unfortunately it’s a mediocre painting that might still look better with the pencil sketch, and it’s made worse by the really crappy no-lineart figure. Like it’s really no better than just removing the lineart from the Estelle 2013 painting, and in that painting I never intended to remove the lineart. The one bright spot here is the shrubbery, which is done completely from scratch and doesn’t look half bad. Then again, I’d already done something similar for the tree in the ToG crossover painting from last year. So I’m becoming more convinced that no-lineart painting should be relegated to backgrounds, but I’ll hold that thought for a while longer.

And of course, in my effort to document process, here is the lineart with extra backdraw, and here is the painting at an intermediate point.

While I was reading through old posts, I realized I hadn’t talked about computers or computing for what is probably a record long time now. I think the glut of project-specific posts over the last half a year have focused my attention and prevented me from letting loose and rambling, so I’ll take the liberty to do that now.

The fleet is actually down to just two laptops now, the x220 tablet and the t430. This is a low that hasn’t been reached since I got my D830 way back in 2007: I recently sold my second MBA because I still don’t have a use for it… just like the first time around! When I bought it I was still in school and thus taking it to class, and for that it was fantastic, but I now I no longer travel enough without wanting to have my tablet, so the niche was apparently gone a long time ago. Maybe this time I will learn.

I’m more and more dissatisfied with the x220 tablet as time goes on. I’ve been really wanting a thinner and lighter traditional convertible tablet with longer battery life and a 1080p screen since forever, but in this day and age of shitty “pure” tablets, no manufacturer is willing to give me what I want, so the x220 tablet stays. I’ve been considering getting a ThinkPad Helix because it is basically the closest thing out there to what I actually want, but the Helix is stupidly expensive (compared to an x220 or x230 tablet) because it is full of stupid features that I don’t want. So that sucks.

The t430 does what it needs to do as a desktop replacement. I’m generally satisfied with it. They even released a BIOS update that fixed some of the issues in the fan profile… wow!

On the other hand USB3 has a complete and utter shitshow. Back in 2011, I defined my current storage solution and bought those USB3 peripherals looking forward to the day that I would finally be freed from the limits of USB2. Well, first I found out that the ExpressCard USB3 adapter was a piece of crap, and after moving to the t430, I found that the USB3 to SATA adapters were also a piece of crap. Thus, I am still using old and slow USB2 hardware to do all my external file transfers. I can’t even replace my USB2 external hard drive because I can’t find a USB3 drive or enclosure that powers down when idling, and I am now super fond of this feature. So that sucks too.

My setup actually hasn’t changed for more than a year now… I think the only thing I’ve done is run a USB extension cable behind the monitors such that I have an easier way to connect USB stuff to the t430. I have considered replacing my speaker set as it occasionally seems to have issues, but I’m not really going to do it unless someone has extra speakers or the current ones die completely. They are making a new version of my lovely Corsair keyboard with backlighting and clicky switches, so I’m definitely going to buy one of those when it comes out. They claim in July but you never know with these things.

I even went back to the same desktop backgrounds. For a long time in high school and college I was changing desktop backgrounds two or three times a year, but somewhere along the way I got tired of that. I think my standards eventually increased to the point where I couldn’t find anything that sufficed, and that was that. I will force myself to find a higher-res wallpaper if I get a Helix though.

Published by D, on July 8th, 2013 at 11:58 pm. Filled under: d_paintsNo Comments

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