Carrie’s Hair (from my Patreon page)

I actually have been as intimidated about trying to do Carrie Fisher’s “Leia Organa” hair as much as trying to capture the smooth skin tone transitions on her face.  For one, the image I am working from is a black and white photo where her hair comes out almost one tone.  So I pulled down a color photo to get better references for highlights and color but the pose and lighting are completely different.  The challenge is to envision the hair I am referencing with the lighting in the image I am working from and also to give it a sense of shape/dimension.

Shape can be given by drawing lines that follow the shape of the head; however, when you are using dark shades with not much difference in tones, how do you get the lines to show enough to depict the lay of the hair.  I may have actually have lucked out by using a base color that is lighter than the color I plan to use for the darkest shade.  The highlighting is more of a challenge because the color photo has so much more than the black and white, which means I will have to wing it a bit.  In addition, in the color photo, Carrie’s hair is not as groomed as it is in the black and white.  I assume it was taken later in the day after several takes.

All in all, I am pleased with the start I’ve made.  I just thought you might enjoy hearing the thought processes that go into completing an image I am working on.  Remember, I am still fairly new to this digital stuff.

Painting a Princess Update (from my Patreon page)

Well, we are now in the home stretch if I can keep my moral up.  I am doing my taxes now so that remains to be seen.  Anyway, I have been playing with where and how I want to place the individual elements and working on finishing the Carrie Fisher portrait.  I have been tweaking some areas of Carrie’s face given some ideas I had on improving the transitions.  The results were good but now I need to get to work on the hair to pull it all together.  From there it is a matter of adding her to the background and playing with some ideas I have for effects.  All in all, some of the hardest parts are done.

New $5 Reward added to my Patreon Page

This week’s $5 reward is a copy of the digital painting I did after finishing “Leviathan Wakes” by James S. A. Correy. The painting depicts the climatic scene of the asteroid Eros breaking apart and falling into the planet Venus where it will be a source of dread for stories to come. The ending was so epic that I had to bring it to life, which pushed me to learn more about Gimp 2.8 and tricks to achieve better images. I had a lot of fun coming up with this image because the book was so great. I highly recommend the series.

You can cut the tension with a knife! (from my Patreon page)

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before but there are some interesting dynamics occurring in my writing.  Being a fan of authors like Tad Williams, Stephen R. Donaldson, and C.J. Cherryh, I like to write very descriptively.  This is also the result of being an artist, too.  So, my sentences can become long and involved with a lot of adjectives.

On the other side, I have an associates degree in business management.  One of the earlier class in the course was business writing.   The objectives in business writing are completely at odds with my creative style.  In business writing you are trained to be concise and simple; you are told to refrain from using lesser known wording or sentence structures.  You need to make the assumption that people of varying levels of education will be reading you papers and all should be able to make sense of them.   This does not mean that you cannot challenge them but you must be very clear and concise when you do.

With these two styles at play in my writing, there is a constant tension when I sit down to type a story on my laptop.  Halfway through some sentences I have to stop and rethink them because my business side is saying “Whoa, Whoa, hold on there big fella.”  I look at the line seeing too many descriptions and too many ideas for one sentence.  Of course, business me is right.

I have come to a moderate balancing act between the two styles by allowing my creative side free rein initially.  Then when I need a break, I go back to what was written and let my business side rip it to shreds and tighten it up.  Unfortunately, the two sides don’t always play well with each other so, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that tension spills out into the story.

Why Fund Arts? (also on my Patreon page)

Our illustrious leader has sent a budget to congress with the idea that we can no longer fund a program without concrete evidence of its effectiveness.  Putting aside the reality that many of the programs he plans to cut impact large segments of our population, while requiring less money per person than if the resources were not pulled together by the government, there is the fact that the results of these programs can not easily be distilled down to profit/loss statements.  Also, put aside that the so-called savings will be offset by increased military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy.  Well one of the programs to be cut is the Endowment for the Arts.

I find it laughable that the President and the people he has surrounded himself with are so clueless as to the amount the arts affect the world around them and us.  Do you have an Iphone, twitter account, or television?  Well all of these are influenced by the arts.  The screens on your Iphone and the layout of Twitter were all designed by graphic artists who may have gotten support or been influenced by someone whom got support from the Endowment for the Arts.  Graphic Artists design how our cars, computers, and appliances look.  They give your favorite websites the style that catches your eyes.

Musicians make the music for your TV shows and Movies, making them more entertaining and life more enjoyable.  They play the songs writers create or create them themselves.  The commercials our economy depends upon feature music from all walks of life to connect with customers on an emotional level, including ads for political candidates.  Writers come up with the stories that become the movies we can’t wait to see.  They also write the commercials that help businesses survive, as well as the manuals that help their customers use their products.  Writers even come up with the lines in political ads.

Wow, there sure seems to be a strong case here for the benefits of the arts.  Without all the things creative people do for business, our economy would be much weaker than it is.  Hell, the Iphone’s ability to stream live music and television is a major selling point and they seem to constantly be trying to improve those abilities.  What would be the point of that without the arts?  The days of the public being wowed by watching a train arrive at a station, one of the first examples of motion pictures, are long gone.  Providing content solely by what we observe is in the past; now the public demands more and you can’t get that without art.   So, does funding the arts have an impact?  Hell yeah, if you aren’t stupid or greedy.

My God, it’s full of Stars (from my Patreon page)

Tonight I find myself contemplating stars, Star Wars stars to be more specific.  Each Science Fiction movie and television show has found their own way to depict the star filled expanse of outer space through which their iconic vehicles wander.  From Star Trek’s orbs of light streaming by to Babylon 5’s enveloping nebulae, views of outer space have been varied and beautiful.  For my Carrie Fisher tribute I decided to try to capture the kind of starry backdrop seen in the movies.  I re-watched my favorite, “The Empire Strikes Back”, yesterday to study the star fields.

Unlike the skies I have done so far, there are no obvious depictions of galaxies or nebula mixed into the star fields, yet there are areas of soft fuzzy light such as you see from a mass of stars together.  As I looked closer, I could see a layer of very diffuse stars in clumps behind much sharper stars, which created the glow.  In addition, I noticed relatively  dark areas creating splotches of darkness throughout the pattern.  Now, the trick is to try to recreate this effect decently in the painting.  You will have to let me know how I do.