When I bought a Surface Pro I romantically imagined drawing directly to the screen as I traveled; drinking in cafes by the Seine, jet-setting through airports and all that. And, this will be feasible eventually, digital sketching turns out to be just as much hard work as any other way of drawing. Just a little less messy.
Working in a new medium is always a mix of lovely and awful. I’ve been taking the tablet to a weekly drawing portrait group I attend for a couple of months now. While still mild torture (I miss you charcoal) the processing is slowly becoming fun-ish.
After much practicing with different programmes, I settled on Autodesk’s Sketchbook as having the best interface for drawing live. Photoshop is just too fiddly for quick brush changes and such with out a keyboard, and Sketchbook lets you work in layers (so an under sketch to paint over is possible), as well as having a interface easy to manage with just a pen, a nice selection of so-called natural media brushes available anda fair amount of control over how they perform.
Here’s a couple of examples, each about 1 1/2 hours drawing time, from live models.
Another week, another puppet finished – in a little over a week Late Night Puppets will be opening in Wellington, part of the 2018 Fringe Festival. It’s a playful improvised show, with as the title suggests, a few puppets in it, as well as a bunch of human friends. Most of the puppets found me through ebay, but a few, five or six if I keep sewing, will be puppets I’ve made.
Here’s Cinnamon or Caramel or Ginger (he/she goes by various names), whose arms were stitched on just in time for today’s training session.
The eyes are from a $1 toy found in a charity shop, with added doll eyes replacing the original black spots. I felt vaguely guilty about cutting up a creature just for the eyes, so also reused the fabric horns, and made a blue and pink tongue out of one of the original legs.
In pieces on Friday
This little bee’s grooming routine on my hotel balcony was like some kind of impressively athletic workout.
35mm macro lens, IR modified camera, f/9 1/250 iso 320
And here, a much less elegant pose
Hmm, even at life drawing classes, when there’s a whole person to draw, I seem to be most enjoying just drawing the face at the moment. The model today had a nicely classical sort of profile, with one of those scrubby little beards that are so irritating to draw quickly.
Charcoal on A3 brown paper, 15 min sketch
I spent last weekend in Christchurch, a city justly famous for it’s blossom-tree filled parks. Thinks look just a little different in the near infrared: branches about to burst with buds are glowing already, and sometimes colours sharply different in daylight aren’t (magnolias for egs, the dark dark purple kind and the white kind, both look the same).
Duck Lake, closeup blossom and a Field of not-golden daffodils, all with the 35mm lightweight macro lens which has become my go-to holiday lens choice.
I’ve been rummaging in the ‘never processed images archive’ again. Around this time in England last year I visited this ferny grave beside a ruined church, where all names and all sorrow have long since been worn away.
With the IR mod camera, and a 20mm lens.
There are people who proudly proclaim that their photos are all “just as they came out of the camera”. I am not these people. I am particularly not these people when it comes to working with the IR mod camera. Images need to be processed or they’d all just be a sad red fog. Let me show you . . .
Roughly, the processing process here went like this (clockwise from the top left).
- The in-camera jpg, which is pretty much what my camera’s viewfinder shows me
- The raw file with default settings
- Custom camera profile applied and brightness etc adjusted in ACR
- Colour channels swapped in Photoshop, tweaking (I like the Nik HDR filter to add some structure, though not tooo much, also playing with the colour balance) and finishing with a high-pass to zing up the fur
One of the aspects I enjoy with this sort of camera (with the sensor that filters out non-visible light removed) is that as well as all the usual photographic fun of choosing subjects and lenses and apertures and shutter speeds and all the rest, there’s also a very necessary bunch of extra creative choices to make.
- Before the photograph: which filter to catch which part of light our eyes can’t quite see naturally
- After the photograph: all the different processing choices. So many choices.
Part of the joy is the joy of discovery, revealing an interesting or unexpected image hiding in an unprocessed fog.