This is a culmination of my too many interests. It's is an in-between place. It's more focused than my Myspace blog, but less so than my author blog. Here you can find artwork, photography, writing, poetry, book covers, manga and pointless videos. All of these things mesh together to become a reflection of their creator in an in-between place colored like shadows and flavored like frappuccinos and chocolate. It's one heck of a world.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Draw with No Money and No Talent - Part 3


So far we have learned about image licenses and copyrights, chosen our "reference" image, printed it and found ourselves a lightbox of some kind.  Yeah, we've accomplished a lot – but now it's time to draw.
Relax, relax. This step is going to depend on your level of talent. If you're a seasoned artist who can draw from a reference picture then you know what to do. If you're not, then you're going to be tracing, so just relax.
Like any activity, the first thing we need to do is gather our tools. In this case we have our lightbox, but we also need some paper, tape, a pencil and an eraser.  Aha! You knew this was going to get expensive – ERP! Wrong.


Sure, expensive tools would probably make things look better, but who has that kind of money? Do you know that watercolor paper is over a dollar a sheet? A DOLLAR!?!?!  Art paper is nearly as overpriced, so  I just use regular old printer paper – yes, the same paper you print your everyday stuff on. But, you can use any paper you want, so long as you can see through it. As for a pencil, yes, you can use expensive art pencils, but I am perfectly happy with my eversharp (.5 lead). Our art teacher used to make us use those fat kindergarten pencils, so as you can see, you can really use anything you want.  Erasers are the one thing, however, that I am willing to go a little bit more on. The white erasers (which you can get at wal-mart in the pen/pencil department) are much cleaner and they  do a better job of erasing. Of course, you can use the eraser that comes on your pencil if you have one (mine is long gone, lol!) As for tape, scotch tape works, hell even masking tape would work, but after years of taping things I have decided that I like black "electrical tape" better.  You can use the pieces over and over again, so it uses less tape, it holds better and it leaves no sticky adhesive residue on surfaces. Of course, you should use what you have on hand, but if you have some electrical tape then use it – trust me.
Optionally, if you would like to ink your final product you may want a nice ink pen.  If you don't want to pay art store prices, then any good black pen will do – Pentech makes some nice ones in fact. (yes, I like pentech :p) You can even use those really cheap papermate pens, but they have a tendency to smear easily because they take a long time to dry.
Now, get comfy in front of your lightbox (As I stated yesterday I will be using the coffee table version because I am lazy) and get your paper ready. The impulse when tracing is to tape the bottom paper to the lightbox then tape the clean paper over it – like you would if you were using a window. But, this impulse is wrong. When you do that you can't spin the paper anymore,  and as you draw – or trace – you'll notice that some curves or shapes are easier to draw at certain angles, so you want to be able to spin your paper around.

To do this we want to overlap the blank paper and the "reference" picture and secure it with a little piece of tape like so:


Now flip your paper over.  The easiest way to do this is to hold down the taped side with one hand. With the other hand, start against the already taped side and slide your hand towards the other side, pressing down to smooth the paper out and push out the air between the layers.

Don't get really anal about this step, it doesn't need to be perfect. Once it's smoothed out, tape down the loose side:


And just because the photos aren't THAT clear:


In case you didn't guess – YES, the taping is important. This is what holds your paper together so that you can flop it all around and not lose your place as you're tracing over it.

Okay, so let's draw! We don't need to make this look perfect because it's just a rough draft, not a final drawing.  So just relax. Besides, all we need to do is outline the basic, important lines. But wait, what are the important lines?! How do we know what we need?! Pretend that you have scanned off your line drawing and that all you have to color in is what you've drawn. So, what lines are important to you? Here is what I chose:


As you can see some lines are thicker than others. The thick lines (1) are the ones that are going to stay black when we color this in, but the sketchier, lighter lines (2) are ones that I am putting in for color reference and which will either get erased or colored in.
Sometimes, as your tracing your image, you may find that you're having trouble seeing what things are (I especially had this around the base of the flower where it overlaps the lily pad). That's where this handy taping method comes in because you can just flip up the top page and look.


When you think you're done stop and check to be sure you have everything you want drawn in:


I decided not to trace the lily pads that are in the background because it looks a bit cluttered to me. This is part of taking the picture and making it yours. If you don't like the way it looks then change it – take out lily pads, add a dragonfly, do whatever you want to it. It doesn't need to be an exact duplicate. Also, you may notice that my lines don't perfectly line up with the original image and that's just fine. If we wanted this EXACT image we'd just hang the photograph up!
All done? Good, now peel  your tape off – what? Did you say something? Oh… I see. As you peeled off your tape this happened:


Yep. That happens a lot, and it's just fine. The picture isn't using the whole sheet of paper thanks to our overlapping method, so it doesn't matter if the edges get peeled a bit.
Before we go on we need to stop and compare our original image to what we've created. Especially any places that you found hard to see.


As you might notice, I have some issues with the flower, so I am going to take a moment to correct them. Don't worry about making it look pretty – remember, this isn't our final drawing.


When you're all done it's time to make our second trace. Tape the clean paper on the opposite way we did the last one (otherwise you eventually end up with no border on one side of the paper):




As you trace this, feel free to change things – fix lines that you don't like etc. Sure, it may change the picture, but as I keep saying it doesn't matter. You don't need to make this perfect.


So, you got it done and you made mistakes. Some of your lines are wrong. Things need redone. Yeah, well, mine too. So guess what we're doing? That's right – we're tracing it again. And if you need to do it another time go ahead – and even another or another. As I said yesterday, I sometimes trace my copies ten or more times until all the lines are perfect – or until I am sick of it, whichever comes first.
If you choose to ink your final drawing this is the place you're going to want to do it.
When you get it all done, don't forget to sign it because, unless you have a tablet, you don't want to try to write your signature on the computer – and you don't want to use a font to sign it!


Now that you have your line drawing all done you need to scan it. Unfortunately I don't know what scanner everyone has, so I really can't tell you how to do it. I will give you some important tips though.

IMPORTANT TIP ONE: you NEED to scan this as a black and white image. No, not a black and white photo, but a black and white document, one that has only two colors: Black and white. Yes, this takes away some line smoothness, but it is going to enable us to color it in using only Paintbrush, as well as eliminating the need to ink it.
IMPORTANT TIP TWO: DPI means Dots Per Inch – aka Pixels per inch. Pixels is the  measuring method used on computer display – such at 1024 x 768 for your wallpaper that means it's 1024 pixels wide. It can then be anywhere from one inch to ten inches depending on the DPI settings. If you scan something that is five inches wide at 300 dpi then it will end up being 1500 pixels wide. If you scan something that is five inches at 200 dpi it will be 1000 pixels wide… seeing a pattern? Inches multiplied by DPI equals size. WHY is this important? Because you need to make sure your system can handle the picture you scan, that's why. The bigger the picture (in pixels not inches) the more resources it's going to take for you to open it and edit it. If you have an older computer then you want a smaller image. Before we upgraded I used to stick to nothing bigger than 1500 pixels. Since the upgrade I tend to scan things at about 3000 pixels. The bigger the picture the better it looks when you resize it, but again, make sure your system can handle it.

IMPORTANT TIP THREE: file types matter! JPG is a common file type for images, but it has a problem – it corrupts the edges because of the way it compresses. You need to use a file type that does not compress and those are BMP (bitmap) and PNG (Portable Netwrok Graphics). For a universal file type I'd go with BMP. Keep in mind, these file types make bigger files than a JPG would, but unfortunately you need it noncompressed.

INTERESTING TIP FOUR: if you don't have your own scanner then you can probably borrow one from a friend/family member. Nope? Then how about work? If that's still no then try your local library. Many libraries have scanners and can help you get the information from the paper onto a disk or thumb drive so that you can get it to your computer. If you don't have a disk or thumbdrive but have to use someone else's scanner and computer then you can always email the image to yourself ;)

Next time we're going to start coloring!


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