Monday, August 26, 2013

The Curious Concepts Project: Reward Drawings & New Series Progress: "A Skydiver" and "Neil"

After a pile of minor delays, a couple of weeks of trying to get back on track and another week or two of  drawing/digital painting:

At long last it's time to post a blog update on how the new series of illustrations is going.

First up, If you're following this project through KS or FB then you've seen the previews of the already finished "Haiku Letter Drawings". After sending them out, I did post some photos of them on DeviantArt so that any curious followers could get the chance to see what they looked like. Click on the links to read their descriptions over at DA. (But come right back here, because there's more new work to see!)

N.C. Sailor Boy - Haiku Letter Drawing by ~Kyle-Lefort on deviantART
Bubbly Frog - Haiku Letter Drawing by ~Kyle-Lefort on deviantART

Now for my progress on the new series;

Illustration #1: Brandi's request, "A skydiver".

Here's the full description she gave me to work off of;

"I'm not talking about a literal skydiver jumping out of an airplane, but the spirit of a skydiver. I know people are sick to death of me talking about skydiving and no one wants to hear it anymore...but it is something that transformed and redefined my life so it is incredibly important to me. Skydiving is freedom and clarity and peace. It is a rebirth, a transformation, like a phoenix rising from the ashes as cliche as that might sound. When you finally become a skydiver, after all of the time and training and work, you're not the person you used to be anymore. You have a new sense of purpose and a completely different outlook on you life. Skydiving is friends, family, community. It's a sense of belonging I can't really put into words, a kinship you feel for complete strangers because you share something that sets you so apart from most of the people you know.
Give me something that means to you everything skydiving means to me ok? Something other than the typical symbols you'd see like the phoenix or a butterfly, lol."

Alright, so I'm going to be honest here: I've never even flown in a plane. I'm out of my element here, and no amount of reference material is going to get me to really, fully understand what skydiving is to someone who's really into skydiving. And that last line, "Give me something that means to you everything skydiving means to me ok? Something other than the typical symbols you'd see like the phoenix or a butterfly, lol.", actually made things kind of tough because not only do I not know what the skydiving experience is, but I also had to try and figure out what the typical artsy depictions of it were too.

I was stuck, but then I thought about it. What do I understand well enough that I could make a comparison to Skydiving without it being a hopeless typical depiction of it? Swimming. You're not on the ground anymore, you and gravity end up playing out a love/hate relationship unlike what you would experience on the ground, you're suddenly a lot more aware of the air around you, and if you're really into what you're doing-the line separating you and "crazy" can be very hard see. Fun times.

I wanted to make it a little more interesting than that though, so after getting the ok from Brandi to work a little more surreal that I originally thought I would, I started adding in the ocean. Actually, I promised Brandi a skydiving whale once that didn't pan out, so this is sort of a throwback to that too, I guess.

^^^Rough thumbnail sketch^^^

^^^A whale to prove that I can actually draw this thing^^^

And a sloppy layout/mock-up composition 
that looks like it was made by a 5 year old.  

Believe it or not, I used Photoshop for this.
-Proof that Photoshop doesn't magically make things perfect.
I hand draw my compositions and then adjust the sizing/layout on the computer, so my "Digital paintings", are surprisingly traditional in technique. This colorful explosion was just to help me figure out where the skydivers were going BEFORE I spent hours drawing in all of the detail.

You saw the whale though, so you know it's going to get better.

See? Already much better. Told you.
Printed out a gray-scale version of that mock-up and drew in the actual details.

Almost ready to start the digital painting on this one. I just need to finish the already landed Skydiver (should be bigger) and actually draw out the plane where I wrote the word, "Plane", up at the top. And I think I have over-sized the whale well beyond a believable size. Feel free to let me know whether or not you agree with that statement. I'll probably shrink it back down a little before I start the painting.

And it may not make much sense in writing, but the plan is to blur the 'water' theme with the subject of Skydiving. This is very much happening in the sky, but the enigma of being in the depths of the ocean is a big part of this illustration too. You'll see what I'm talking about later on.

Illustration #2: Devon's request, "Neil".

I'm really not sure what to say about this one...
...Because requests were open to anyone in the U.S., and things like model releases would have made this project way more complicated than it needed to be, I made the rule that I wasn't going to be drawing any actual people.

Well either Devon didn't read that part of the KS campaign page, or he ignored it-He requested that I illustrate, "Neil".  FYI, Neil's my brother, not the one that gets me to do things like make miniature riker mounts, a different brother.
A much different brother.

I asked for some reference photos, but was told just to take something off of his Facebook account, so I did.

He's been in a couple of obscure community theater projects, one of which was a Star Wars parody title, "A New, New Hope", and  I'm positive that's where this photo came from.  He was mostly the play's version of, "Chewbacca", who does not fly in an X-Wing starfighter so this is either set building or a rehearsal, but a photo of Neil trying to fly something worked for me, so this is the photo I chose.

Thanks to some voluntary portrait practice I did (you can see those on DA, if you want), I know that I'm not really much of the portrait making type and that if there's a photo available, I'm better off working directly from it. So the first thing I did was go into Photoshop and blocked out the different colors and layers that I would be working with, right over top of the photo.

^^^It looks like this now^^^

Then I did some basic shading with the burn tool, 
and used some faux-texture brushes to make, well, textures.

More burn tool shading, some new layers, 
the paintbrush tool, and a few blur filters-Here we are now.

It still needs a lot of work, but after only spending one late night working on this, I gotta say-This one's going pretty well so far.

That is all of my progress on this project so far, more updates, of course, are on the way.


You might be wondering the specifics on how I do all of this digital painting stuff, if so you're not alone. I was asked several times by members on DeviantArt to show my process, which led to a semi-formal WIP post-Just click here to see it over at my DA gallery.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Catching Up on Life - And Other Things

In an effort to finally get caught up on blogging, I'm making this one catch-up post about the many of things I feel like I need to blog about, so that I can mention it all and then move on with everything else I should be doing. If you're not into what you're reading, feel free to scroll down until you find something more interesting. ^_^

(I would also like it known that I have just about caught up on my blog reading, but to catch up on my reading-and everything else-I really couldn't leave comments on many of them. I do read them all though)

1. Update on the Market I took my work to;

I'm not saying it went badly, but it could've gone better. Compared to the last time I had a booth somewhere, I think I was more prepared and professional, I even remembered to take photos of my setup this time;

There was some wind, and the tear down had to happen in the rain, 
but it all held together pretty well.

Because I was basically trying to sell my work in the same location as last time, and I already know it's not a great market for my work, I really wasn't expecting much, but the one sale I made more than covered the entrance fee and quite a few people took my business cards, so it wasn't a loss.

Honestly though, I wish I had more of a budget for shows. I'd like to try some outside of Lockport, but I keep picking paying my bills over entry fees and other overhead. Stupid me, right? I dunno, I'm hoping that either I finally snag a long term job in my field or this freelance designer/artist/craft-person thing I do starts getting more regular business. Getting to the point where even a minimum wage job anywhere wouldn't be a terrible option, but it's going to take tons of time away from what I actually want to do, so I keep dragging my feet on that one.

2. Every year my church has this sale called, "Trash and Treasures", which I can only describe as a great way to clear all the junk out of your house(donating it to a church) and a great opportunity to get some neat stuff for dirt cheap (other peoples' junk-that you want), because unlike a garage sale, the church is the seller AND they're in charge of donating/recycling/giving away/throwing out whatever is left when the sale is over.

I love going to Trash and Treasures, but I purposely skipped it this year, waaay to much budget breaking temptation. The sale goes on during a yearly picnic/car show that I volunteer at, which makes avoiding it tricky, and wasting money at the picnic really wasn't any better that spending it at the sale, so instead of what I usually do at this thing, I skipped it and stopped by afterwards to help clean up (which went well with the church people because they have a tough time getting volunteers for that).

Well, my Mother did volunteer during the picnic and she spent some time at the sale, where she found and bought me this;

It's a weird little house! (That blue disk is a turntable/base for the house to sit on) I say it's weird because it's a bird house at the top, the front is one big out of scale tole painting, and it's part lazy Susan. I like it. A week before all this I was looking at the Steampunk House thinking about how much I enjoyed Undersized Urbanite and wishing I had another house on hand because, whether or not that Challenge becomes a yearly thing, bloggers are always coming up with things that a spare house would come in handy for. Now I have one. (Thank you Mom!) 

3. Clay-A-Palooza!

This was already a few weeks ago, so I'm going to save some time and direct you to a journal explanation I posted over on DeviantArt >>> Here.
Here's the results;
Miniature Pumpkins,

micro miniature pumpkins,

And micro miniature Penguins!

Out of season stuff, but it's what I felt like making. And look how tiny it all is! It's all up on Etsy now if anyone's interested. (The photos are linked to their listings).

4. After seeing my new micro miniature penguins, someone placed a custom order for some equally tiny charms.
If anyone in the U.S. wants to a custom order of miniatures/jewelry pieces, 
Seriously, just ask.

The order was for 4, I ended up making a batch of 7 though. I was planning on posting the extras on Etsy, but the shop's pretty full right now and a friend just reserved one of them. So I guess the 2 left are for sale online by request only.

(2 for $9 USD + shipping, if you're interested-feel free to contact me about them)

5. While I'm talking about Etsy, I'll mention these too;

A year and a half ago I opened my Etsy shop and the first thing I posted for sale were these miniature caramel apples. They sat in the shop, weren't selling, but they got tons of views and brought people to the shop so I kept renewing the listing. They weren't super expensive or anything, more expensive pieces were being bought up, but not theses apples. I guess the right person needed to see them or something, because right before that awful thunderstorm came through a couple weeks ago-someone finally bought them!

Normally  wouldn't just post about a sale, but being the first thing I ever tried to sell online, I dunno, It's kind of a bittersweet sign of progress. :)

6. Pumpkins

They're back again. ^_^

Yay, pumpkins!
(I love pumpkins)

Boo, whatever did this! It can have that one,  
but I'm hoping this isn't the year of the groundhog all over again.
It even ate the seeds this time.

Bonus photos;

City People: This is a field being harvested

This is a slug, 
which of course is crawling across my brother's arm
(Check out that slime trail)

And This...
...was probably a bad idea, 
but hanging out with some friends 
and figuring out how to use this canoe without paddles was pretty fun.

7. County Fairs

I usually go to two of them. Niagara County (Remember this?), where I mostly just hang out with the 4-H members I know, and Erie County, where I spent all of yesterday enjoying dorky things like the pig races. ("Swifty Swine Racing Pigs")

Winner gets a cookie. They're so cute.

And that my friends, brings us to today. There all caught up, woo-hoo. ^_^