Monday, January 26, 2015

February 2015 - Dragons 2

Found some pretty cool concept work from this one, so it was hard to choose!

If these get more popular I might have to put a piece of art every day on the calendars =P
Hope you enjoy! And thanks for the reminder, Kelly!!!



Cheers,
JECooper

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Words of Art": Save your Eyes! & Other Tips

This week's Words Of Art are a little different from our typical, but just as important.

I'm going with more of a 'survive as an artist' direction. So if this isn't your cup of tea, LOOK AWAY!!!


…you still here?
Cool. Glad you stayed. You're about to hear some of the little tips I've learned recently on how to continue to survive as an artist, especially a digital one. Let's get started!

#1: Sitting in front of a computer isn't good for your eyes. 

We've all heard that one before.

But what are some ways to continue to work as a digital artist, and to 'Save Your Eyes'? It's something I've heard multiple times, and there's the trick I've heard:

every 20 mins, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Yeah, I mean if it works for you, there it is. If it doesn't, then you're in my boat. I forget to look away every 20 minutes and if I set an alarm, I get out of my artistic groove.

Let's look at #2 so I can give you the answer for TWO BIRDS, one stone! Hollar!

#2: Sitting in one place for too long isn't good for your body.

Here's my trick! Ready!?

Go for a walk/jog.

Yup, that's my simple trick. Go outside, every day, once a day.

It's important. Not just lunch break of walking around the office. I mean, go outside and walk.

Find yourself a friend, a dog, or just get some quality alone time to listen to music or just think.

Walk for about 15-20minutes. (work your way up to longer if you can, if not, just this little amount of time will help!)

My schedule is at 5:30pm, I go for a walk with my dog. I focus on the sky and far away objects while walking, so I can stretch my eyes on different distances.

#3: Keeping in a creative mood is hard to do when you work everyday.

It's hard! Sometimes you just aren't creative anymore and you just can't seem to muster anything else out of that mind of yours.

It happens, now how do you fix it? (How now brown cow??)

Give yourself 'play time.' I'll explain:

There's this nifty thing one of my friends showed me called Kinetic Sand. It's basically like real sand but it has a polymer in it that makes it not stick to your hands (and everything else the way normal sand does haha), and it's super easy to clean up because it 'sticks' together. You'll have to try it out, it's at Target and Walmart. If you can play in real sand, that's fantastic.

GO PLAY WITH SAND. That's right. You heard me. Go. Play. Rekindle that childlike innocent fun and remind yourself how exhilarating it is to make something.
Don't get caught up in making something fantastic, just let your brain wander and have some fun with the feeling and the excitement of it.

If you can't get to sand, and on a super budget, or you want to play in another way: steam up the shower and make shapes in the shower mirror. Swirl your fingers and forget about making something perfect.

Just have some fun, and relax. You can also borrow your kids' play dough, anything you can do with your hands that you can't get perfectionistic about. Go draw on a white board and DONT get overly attached, make weird shapes and turn them into animals.

The point: go find something fun, somewhat artsy, maybe you did it as a kid, that shows YOU how to have fun again. Even if it's for 10 minutes, it'll make you laugh and help you let go.

#4: My hand cramps so bad.

Ah, that oldie but goodie.

There's a few different things I've adopted, pick whatever works for you.

One thing is I play an instrument for fun. How is that related?! I'll tell you!
I play the piano and boy does it help strengthen my fingers. Guitar, Flute, even the Trumpet, all have hand positions that help strengthen your fingers other than drawing.

Another thing is those lovely stress balls. Your hand cramping up, grab it and mush it for awhile. Mush it to stretch your fingers out, that's the goal here. (Though it works great to get rid of the stress too!)

Finally, (not really a problem, just a suggestion) #5: Get a hobby outside of drawing.

It will bring such life back into your work and in unexpected ways.

I love to take photos on my walk (that's like 3 birds with one stone, haha!) and for me, that's really fun. As I said previously, I like to play the piano too. Whatever it is, whether artistic or not, it'll bring a bit of life back to your digital workspace, I promise.

What do you love to do, other than digital art? I'd love to hear it in the comments section!

***ANNOUNCEMENT: WORDS OF ART WILL UPDATE EVERY FRIDAY!!!
That's right! I have a weekly schedule now! Wooohoooo! Feel free to RSS follow or email subscribe with the links on the top right of the page if you want reminders!
See you next Friday!

Cheers,
JECooper

Here are some of those photos I take on my walk :






Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gasp!

;P

Thought this one was a new take on my style. I really like it.




Cheers,
JECooper

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Words of Art: The Art of Tracing

A subject that you might find interesting:
Not sure about you, but as a kid I was ALWAYS told that tracing was for losers.

I'm serious.

I think you have heard similar, that tracing is for the weak, the lame and the artistically inept. That tracing has no value; is useless.

Well I am here to tell you that it isn't true. And I'm also here to show you one of the BEST ways to learn:

Trace.

Tracing is beautiful.

Now is there an ART to tracing?

Of course there is! That's what was in the title wasn't it? haha!
How is tracing useful? And in what ways is it actually educational?

***Before we hit that: in what ways is tracing still cheating? If you take a finished work and you simply redo what has already been done, that's not what's meant to be learned.

The idea isn't at all to recreate what they did. Now, I know what you're thinking: You said trace! Trace means… well… TRACE.
Haha, and right you are. But give me a moment to explain myself.

The idea is to understand HOW the artist draws. Get into the mindset. It's like dissecting and re-imagining the way that they draw. The technique. The freedom. The hand set. The flow of the wrist.

What lines came first? How did they start this? Where are the 'planning lines'? The structure lines?

You're plan is to mimic the hand of the master. And do it again.
And again.

That's what I meant by 'recreate' what they did. You're not in it for that. You're in it for the techniques.

My biggest suggestion: finished works are Not the best way to learn with this style of… well learning.
Don't take paintings for example. I mean, sure you can, but it's not the best way to trace learn. In my opinion.
The best is the sketches. If you can find the sketch blog of an artist that you love, that's an excellent start. If you can't find that, you can always go for ink work. That's another great one. Why you may ask? Because these sketches leave in the original foundation lines that the artist used to plan! That's what you want to grab at! Where was it rough? Where did they know what they wanted and commit?

So draw over it, and then erase it, draw over it again. This time, fewer strokes. Don't 'back and forth' like the student draws. Confidently make a mark. If it's wrong, do it again. And again.

Do it til your sick of it. Then mirror the sketches and do it again. Turn off the base layer, and look at just your art and trace your sketches of the original.

You think I'm crazy? I thought I was stupid nuts too when I started. But man, can I tell you a secret?
I'm LEARNING. From TRACING.

So for all of you awesome artists out there that already know tracing is fantastic, I have some fun little things to think about when you trace next.
Who knows? Maybe you'll learn something new from me =)

1. Who is the artist? What was their job/place in the pipeline? This answers basic "who" questions.

2. Where in the process did this fit? Early sketches? Finals of the character? Rough facials? Body testing? This answers the "when" questions.

3. How old is the master? How many years have they put into this? This answers the "insecurity/inequality" feeling more than anything.

4. Who is this character? Age? Gender? How did they define that with this sketch? The eye shape perhaps? Proportions and shape theory? This answers the "Creativity" questions.

And 5. What can I use in this to my sketch? What techniques do I want to use? How do they define their __________ in a way that I can too? What effortless lines can I use over and over again? Application time!!

I hope this helps.
What other things could I add to this list? Can you give me 5 more to make it to 10??

Here's some sketch-overs/traces that I did of Hiro Hamada from Big Hero 6!
I can't tell you how much I love these sketches. The artist who did these had such effortless lines. And ease of facial expressions and anatomy!! Ahhhh!! The love. THE LOVE.

Cheers,
JECooper

PS As always when you trace, these are not my work. I mean, the trace is, but the originals are made my someone fantastic.

 First sketches are my understanding phase, you can see I have to apply my way of drawing: use of a circle and then a build off from there. But I realized that it was not what was done for these at all. 

My investigation sketch phase: which lines were first, where is the emphasis? Which lines are a crutch to me? Where do I need to free up my own line work? 

The trial and confident stage. They're as close to the originals as I managed (yet haha), with a style of myself thrown in because I was becoming more confident. There's no crutch used on these, simply understanding. These are drawn with Hiro's jaw line and the one simple line across the eyes setting the rest of the head. No circles needed. The build out for the hair is a spacial understanding of Hiro's head in space. Something that I am NOT great at yet. Notice the looseness? Another thing, these are much easier done. There isn't multiple lines done for the face. One swoop. Something I will work into my own style for certain.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Words of Art: Fear & Laziness

Starting a new series (if I keep it up haha) called Words of Art.

I realized recently, while enjoying a lovely shower, that Art for me, isn't just pretty pictures.
And I think that's why I've been lacking connecting to my own work lately.

There's something about DEFINING with Words, what it is that I'm about to do. For example, If I am going to do a character design, I just start drawing. And then, halfway through the FINAL PAINTING, I look at it and think: Oh. I coulda done this, and this. It would have been better…. and then I want to start over.

But then I think, but I already put ALL THIS TIME and EFFORT into the art?! I don't want to start over painting the SAME THING.

Fear. FEAR AND LAZINESS.

There's this weird phenomena that happened when the computer became an art tool.
We forgot it was a TOOL.
When we, heck when I, started using the computer to paint, I somehow got lost in thought and somehow we, I myself too, thought the computer was a SHORTCUT.
Something to speed up art, not just a different color of pencil.

And that's what happened. To me. To us All.
The computer: Photoshop, Corel Painter, Zbrush, Manga Studio, whatever it is YOU use….
It's just another pencil. Albeit a very expensive pencil.
But a pencil. Not a shortcut.

And there's this weird FEAR that comes about when you see your art on the screen and all the things you did wrong with it.

For me? I don't want to start over. I just want to scludge (yeah, its a word now) whatever it is I have together and just finish the stupid thing. Post it on my wall/page/blog, and move on.
That's a terrible thing.

It's not going to be loved if I don't love it. Sure, people will scroll by it, but there's no lasting impact.

WORDS OF ART.

If I speak, then listen.
If I type, then read.
If I draw, I should be prepared to entertain an audience.
Not just finish it quickly.

If I want to start a new piece (not a speed paint, which is another view of our impatience and laziness in its own right), then I got to invest in it.

NOW: I've read everywhere that I need to get reference.

But that's not really it. (I love you all, just please bear with me).

For me? BEFORE I get reference, I need an idea. I need something to get REFERENCE FOR. I can't reference a world I have in my head…. If I haven't even defined what it is in my head. In my head its a feeling. A REALLY REALLY COOOL feeling…. but a feeling that needs some form. Some sort of definition. My head can get fuzzy, and I think other people know that too.

So, Here's how we solve, I solve, the issue of FEAR AND LAZINESS:

Grab a sketchbook and draw terrible. I mean it. Draw ideas, ugly circles, weird spirals that aren't even. Let clouds inspire your hand to scribble. Grab a sharpie and think of the weirdest things ever. If they don't work, use cheap paper. Throw it out and laugh. YOU ARENT WASTING TIME. Keep reminding yourself of that, that's the Fear and Laziness kicking in.

For me? I need to sit and TYPE. I'm a writer and I don't know why I am ashamed of it.
I think in words. Is that so bad? I don't think in beautifully drawn circles. If you do, great. I am not you.
And if that's not you, that's great too.

Because I need to type out, where does this person live? What do they wear? HECK: WHO are they??? What's their personality?
I can't believe I go into a painting unprepared.
It's that stupid FEAR: that writing and planning is weakness.
and LAZINESS: I want to just start, everyone else does.

No. They don't. They Plan. We just aren't privy to the planning on a speed paint.
And the reference that follows the planning.

I hope that was interesting to you. It was to me.



Here's some of my starters, the ugly drawings that inspired a character.
And there's a whole TYPED OUT LIST of who she is. That helped.
That helped a lot.
Oh and there was reference. You want to see it? I can post it.

Because I'm not going to lie to you. There was thought. There was a whole character design sheet behind these silly little sketches.

I'm not ashamed of that. I'm not afraid. I'm not lazy.

And neither should you. Join the conversation below, I'd love to hear if there's anything that you're afraid of or lazy about.

Or if theres a Words of Art topic you'd like covered. My mind is open. <3 p="">
Cheers and all that,
JECooper




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning Stuff

Hey, thought i'd show some of the stuff I've learned this year.



Cheers,
JECooper

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014