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Having The Will To Get Better At Something Is The First Step To Achieving A Dream! - Jessie T. Wolf
December 12th, 2005
03:44 pm

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Having The Will To Get Better At Something Is The First Step To Achieving A Dream!
I decided it’s about time I finally sit down and learn how to use Layers in Photoshop. By the Gods I am going to learn how, because up until now, everything I’ve ever done on a digital piece has been strictly by mouse alone! It isn’t that I don’t know HOW Layers work… I get the gist of how it works like acetate. I remember Wookie showing me how to use layers while I was at his place one time, but being able to remember every step of how to choose what action from what file to be able to do things like select all of your black lines and copy and paste them on a new transparent layer, so that when you do new layers the color will show through… that was what my biggest issue was with trying to remember how to do all of those steps to get to what I wanted. O.x

So I finally spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon, just sitting down and fiddling with layers in Photoshop. AND, I think I finally got it!! So yesterday I did three things that I don’t usually do at all. I drew up a picture of a simple sitting fox, just by using the Wacom tablet that fiskblack got me for my birthday in July (thank you hon!! I promise I’ll get really good at it!). Still trying to get the hang of using a tablet, especially drawing up a sketch from scratch. I still need quite a bit of practice. I also used different layers to color and shade individual areas on the fox.

Then I went all out and decided to try doing a full background. Nothing fancy. Just a large rock behind the fox, some grass, the fox’s shadow, and a sky. It’s kind of boring looking, but it was mostly just a test to see if I could pull off something that was half decent looking. I’ve got character design and layout down fine, but I want to actually sit down and do some studying on background layouts, because I’ve never been good at creating full backgrounds, and I feel that I could really use the practice. The piece itself isn’t done yet, but when it is, and whenever I can figure out how to get my FTP thingy working again, I’ll post it up on LJ for you people out there to critique. :-P

So, where did this sudden inspiration come from? Just from going through other artists’ works, and admiring and appreciating the works of others. I know a lot of artists who will get really down when they see work that is “better” than their own, and they’ll kick themselves and convince themselves that their art sucks. I find that I’m the opposite way. Looking at other artists’ works actually gets me motivated to want to draw more, and better myself! I look at artists like evana_love, xxbalaaxx, and tania (just to name a few who’s works I really love) who can produce animated film quality digital works, and my jaw just drops in awe, and I WISH that my digital stuff could be that good one of these days.

But I also consider that another artists’ work isn’t necessarily “better” than my own, but simply the result of a lot more devoted time, practice, and experience. Not to mention difference in style. I look at works of xxbalaaxx for example, and see that two years ago, her digital works were about the same quality as mine is now. Even looking back at my OWN work from two years ago, I can see the proportion errors, and other mistakes that I’ve improved on a significant amount with time. So, this fact alone keeps me optimistic that as long as I keep working hard, I just MAY one day be able to produce works of digital art that are just as good as some of these other artists. :)

A lot of other artists are also able to whip out a TON more art than I do on a regular basis, so they’ve had a lot more practice. If I could produce drawings as quickly and as regularly as some of my other friends do, like huskie666, or frisket17, then I could get a lot better, quicker. But as it stands now, work at the vet clinic and finishing commissions take up most of my time, and leaves me with a lot less time to get my own personal practice art done. And it’s not that I don’t like my art as it is now. I’m fairly skilled with color pencils, but I’d like to be able to improve in different medias, (even been interested in experimenting with markers…) which is one of the reasons why I’ve stopped taking on digital commissions (for now) until I feel that I’m good enough, I guess, to be able to offer folks much better quality work for their money.

But also, mostly, just because I’d like to be able to produce pieces of art for myself, that I’m happy with. I’d like to be able to actually get what I see in my head out onto paper, and have it look like what I had always imagined. That would be really nice. :) *wags*

Current Mood: creative

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From:kitchkinet
Date:December 12th, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC)
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awww *hug* Your art is awesome already. :3
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From:wlfdog
Date:December 14th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC)
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Jay showed me how do use the Multiply mode for layers tonight. :) It's some pretty nifty stuff! ^^ I wanna learn more!! :) *cuddles a liz!*
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From:ion_seal
Date:December 12th, 2005 10:34 pm (UTC)
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I was like: Huh? No layers? o_O
But yeah, it's a key feature of Photoshop.
You wouldn't believe the things you'll be able to do with them, and you'll soon wonder what you were ever doing without them.
You're a traditional artist, I know, but if you want to use Photoshop and a Wacom tablet, layers and other features will save a lot of time and work when you've gotten it nailed down. So just go crazy with it.
I got to borrow a tablet myself a month ago, and I love it so much that I think I'll just ... "forget" ... to give it back... ;D
Personally, I love to use the smudge tool with the tablet, you can get it to look very organic, like an oil painting or something.
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From:tania
Date:December 12th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Your art is already great! Everyone improves with time; it's good to see you being positive about it. Like you said, if you go back a year or two or three for most of the well-known artists of the fandom, you'll see that nobody started out knowing everything. And the truth of the matter is that the more you learn, the more you realise that you don't know very much at all. I know that I will never stop being a student of art. :)

And I'm really flattered that you like my work so much. *hugs* ^___^ That was a really nice thing to wake up to. Thank you!
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From:wlfdog
Date:December 14th, 2005 07:56 am (UTC)
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Yar, I always readily acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn about art, and that I could stand to improve in certain areas. :) You never stop growing from experience, at all. And thank you for the compliment about my work! I really do appreciate that! ^^

You're welcome! But really I should be thanking you, and a bunch of other artists, for the bits of inspiration. ;) *hugs back!* I'm just a real fan of the classic animated cell-shading look. It would be fun to actually be able to study a bit of classic 2D animation one of these days, but it's looking like I'll be going into training for CG Animation instead, in the very near future! *excited and nervous all at the same time!* O__O
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From:wlfdog
Date:December 14th, 2005 07:46 am (UTC)
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Thanks a bunch hon! :) Tim's currently looking into Rainmaker Digital Effects (? hope that's the one I'm thinking of...) which is located in Vancouver. Apparently Tim already knows the guy who runs the studio, and they're looking for people to hire to work on the FX for the new Garfield 2 movie. Hopefully he'll hear something back from them soon! :)
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From:fiskblack
Date:December 13th, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC)
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I really only use layers for when I cell shade stuff. But the tablet is extremely useful when drawing the shading lines in that, and also when applying the airbrush highlights and any airbrush shading that you do. It gives you the control that you have in the hand that's trained to draw stuff.

I don't use the tablet to draw the entire picture, though. I know some people that do, but it's not something I've gotten the hang of, or really practiced. I still just pencil everything and lay on physical ink and then scan it in. For best control when shading and editing, I actually put a sheet of regular printer paper on top of my tablet and move the stylus around on that. It's something my hand is used to "drawing" on, as opposed to a slick plastic surface.

http://www.jaynaylor.com/images2/jn-Bethprev.jpg (worksafe) had the cell shade tones added in layers underneath the main image, simply by coloring in a light gray tone in the appropriate areas on the bottom layers where desired. The lighter areas on her clothes were added with airbrush at 16% intensity on the top main image layer. It's rather simple, but it's fast and easy once you get the hang of it.

And lastly, always remember: If you're doing good art without layers, don't think you _need_ to use them just because everyone else is. But it's good to learn new things and explore as your brain gets thirsty.

And super final lastly: I think you'd get faster if you did sketches of regular characters every day, instead of dwelling on the details of commissions. And nothing makes you draw more than doing comic panels and storyboards. You can get quick doing those.
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From:wlfdog
Date:December 14th, 2005 07:47 am (UTC)
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Thank you for showing me stuff in layers this past night, hon! ^^ *chews fondly on a kitty!*
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