Monday, November 29, 2010

I Cheat Towards the Pretty


A few years back, I refused to do digital art at all. I considered it "cheating".
After all, "the materials don't make the artist", right? Or at least they shouldn't. I resented the praise that digital artists got for "smooth lines" and all that shiny crap you can do so easily with a computer and tablet.

I didn't download gimp until I felt really good about pixels.

(Some weird thing for a pixel site I was active on)

I refused to get a tablet until I knew I could work with the touchpad on my laptop.

("The Last Great Touchpad Project")

I denied myself use of pressure sensitivity, a undo/redo button, by using that silly little paint program on facebook.


But I've realized that in the end, no one cares about the process but me. My job is to serve the end result, and find The Pretty.
I can make more, and better pictures if I use the tools I have.

So let's draw a weird-ass baby!


First, I make a trace a little map for myself. I've used gridding before, but I have problems keeping things feeling three dimensional that way.

Then I create a new document, and start blocking in general areas of color and shadow, using the original as a reference.


Then I spend a million years layering, and relayering, until the form is solid enough to remove the lines.

That's when the real cheating starts.
I've gotten to the point where my free hand sketch will almost line up with the original anyway. But why go through the trouble? I know I can do it, so at this point, I just overlay the drawing with the original and fix all the proportions from there.

At some point, I get distracted by some amusing detail. At which I switch to my tiny brush and detail it. It takes about an hour for every 100x100px box I detail. Slightly less for eyes.

I'm not going to finish this baby because it break my number one rule in my art: the painting has to be better than the reference. Otherwise, I'd be a super cheat and just take pictures. ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Gareth Bale looks like a Shark

If you're a football aficionado, you're probably familiar with the "Gareth Bale/Monkey" theory.
Though fairly accurate as far as proportions go, it's also completely uninteresting to me.

According to the internet, if you wear glasses, have a low brow, stick out ears, a larger nose, a shorter nose, thin lips, or have ever opened your mouth in public, you look like a monkey.

So what? Humans are built nearly the same as monkeys anyway.

Myself, my first thought when I saw him was "Shark". My friend agreed, and demanded that I study this further.


I began by mapping out our two subjects.

The first, a young 21-year-old welsh human.
The second, a fearsome great-white-shark, of indeterminate age and gender.


The similarities are striking, right?

Okay, so it's not as pronounced as monkey is.

Here's Bale, reduced down to a cartoon. Just enough to keep him looking like himself.
This is what I know about him.


1. There's a weird dip between his cheekbones and brows from front and 3/4 veiws.

2. This is partly due to his low, heavy brow line.

3. There's just barely enough room for an eye-width between his eyes.

4. At rest, his mouth is of average size, as near as I can figure (the corners fall under mid-eye). But when we look at it with the rest of his face (the narrower back part of his jaw, his tiny nose, his small close-set eyes to name a few) it sure does seem massive, doesn't it? I guess he has a narrow face or something.

5. We can fit a hole eye-height between the bottom of his nose, and the top of his upper lip.

6. The form of the muscles around the mouth is huge. It makes crazy lumps.

Additionally, it's worth noting that he has a jutting jaw to the front, and his neck is super thick.

What happens if we measure these things on a shark?


1. Although the sharks eye sockets are formed differently, which kind of destroys any brow line, the shape is still present. At least to me. This kind of thing is like cloud watching: I'm like "Oh look! That one looks like a shark!" and maybe you think it looks like a duffle bag.

2. Sharks don't have to shade their eyes from the sun, so they don't have little bony crests up there like we do. Also, they don't have eyebrows.

3. This time, we can fit many, many eye-widths in. Bale doesn't have Shark-ish eyes, that's for sure.

4. Massive mouth of doom. No lips to speak of. Also, this shark has dimples like Bale. Aw...

5. From some angles, shark noses look huge. From others, they're humorously tiny pointy bits. Bale looks more like a Shark as viewed from below. Just before it devours you.

6. Massive mouth of doom requires massive muscles.

Four out of six. That's not bad.

The moral of the story: His mouth takes up too much room and his head is lumpy.


And he gets bonus points for his giant muscled neck that would allow him to glide through the water with minimal drag.

(Dear Mr. Bale, sharks are awesome. You're face is awesome. You're awesome.)