A Drama in Monotones, The Tutorial
Early June, 2021, A new series of Digital Illustrations & Animated GIFs
(This post is an adaptation from my personal website, it has context here as it serves as an example and prompt for reflective writing about one’s process. How may you turn this into an assignment?)
Welcome to yet another new series of art works! Let’s talk about how they come together while we appreciate them, shall we? I have always felt that writing about my process itself is a very helpful way for me retain it and expand upon it. I always find myself inspired by the process itself, so why just narrate it inside my own head… I like to share, as you know! Lets examine, how did this series start? Where does it all come from? Where will it go? What am discovering in the process that I should make a note of? Let’s take a look. Im a big fan of open education and learning from others, I hope this post can help you! Scroll down and take in these first two illustrations.
“The Untitled Minimal Setting”, 2021 Digital Illustration
“The Untitled Minimal Setting II”, 2021 Digital Illustration
The two images above really fueled this whole series below. I know, that may seem strange, but this is what may happen sometimes with process. Sometimes I simply create an arbitrary “scene / setting” first, but it was really through some random experimenting this time. I knew that I wanted to work in monotones and play with some single color values. The trees in the illustrations above came as ready made graphic assets. It is a part of a photoshop brush plug-in set that I found online, (there are tons of free brush tool plug-ins out there for photoshop..) I applied the tree as a solid color image into a flat landscape that I made and duplicated it to use as a shadow on the ground. I then added a gradient overlay to the tree’s layer and I duplicated the trees and the shadows as layers. I placed them all into the composition. I made a few other variations of this scene but these two above are my favorites. This was all done in adobe photoshop.
I now knew that I wanted to add “something” or “someone” into the scene that I had just created. A narrative or perhaps a snippet of “life happening” in a fun or other-worldly way. I kept thinking about the nostalgia that childhood cartoons had and continues to play in my art. I also wanted to make this image move, animate and loop. I recalled something… oh yes, that drawing that I made a few months ago, those cool looking line characters were still waiting for me to activate them! The image above (click on it to expand and make it bigger) was a part of series of characters that were drawn with a stylus in adobe illustrator with my wacom tablet. Those smooth vector lines are so much fun to make and are also editable as paths. This makes it really fun to alter and stylize. I began to deconstruct the image and isolate several parts.
As I mentioned, from the big drawing above I derived a few fragments and played with them. I reconstructed them into new forms and assets to start making a new character with. I mean, sky is the limit here and I love discovering the possibilities to expand things into new works. Once I was happy with my new graphics I colorized them and isolated them onto one page. I brought the new illustrator file back into photoshop and made individual files and layers for each asset. I realize now that I only focused on the upper torso and the arms of the character but thats OK for now as I can always continue forward if the inspiration keeps stoking the fire for more! Haha, I know that it will!
This was the first composition of the new character placed into the setting. Once I did this I knew that I could easily animate it too. I still really like the static illustration and it forced me to make another one, which you see below (haha, and a few more!) The illustration below is a bit more abstract and possibly even more fun to look at, what do you think? I kept going.. obviously, wouldn’t you?
It was fun to make this variation, and.. once I did, I decided to send all the individual assets to my phone and play around there too. There are so many ways to use mobile devices for digital marking.. that is another story for another post as go forward. I love the tension that different devices and interfaces give in terms of their screen resolutions and how things look across multiple devices or outdated tech.. For example, this week I will pull this image up on an old MacBook laptop that I have from the year 2009. I’ll take a few screen shots of it and transfer it to a mini DV tape and play it back through an older monitor, or something like that. Those screen captures and variants taken from things like a mini DV tape are so much fun to play with.
This illustration above was composed from those same assets using my iPhone. I used the “Glitch’e” app (check the app store or google play) to bring it all together (as layers) and play with the color. It is over saturated on purpose to give the impression of a bit more intensity and a warmer temperature in the “scene”. The cropping of the composition leads us to think that “something or someone” else is also participating in the dialog.
Does it work? Ok, let’s animate this thing!
Then.. it was finally time to fire up adobe after effects and bring this guy to life. First, I put that background on a seamless directional loop to the left (I expanded the background layer / screen by twice the length of it) so that the character would appear to be moving forward in a walk cycle. This is my first iteration of this animation cycle. I like it so far but I want to do more with it. I need to fix a few of my puppet warp movements, or should I make it “glitch” more? Hmmm, Ill play with it a bit more and already think I have another idea..
Welp, as I mentioned, once things get going, its kind of hard to stop pushing the limits with creativity. I started to bring in “other elements” from things that were previously made. I make a ton of graphic assets from my illustrations and applied art works. This is the beauty of digital art, there is such a powerful immediacy to aspects of it. Of course, making the assets can be super time consuming depending on what you are doing. For example, working with the pen tool in photoshop or illustrator.. either way, its good practice and the assets are always waiting for you! I kept going and made things a bit more abstract… Thoughts?