Learn to DRAW: coming full circle

General / 10 December 2020

A little while ago, I was rummaging through old files on my hard drive when I came across a positively ancient art folder. It contained the images from my first ever online gallery, dating from the year 2000. This was shortly before I switched to 3D art, so the gallery consisted of... well, bad high school drawings. :D

Here is one of the hilarious gems I found:

I remember I drew the image in school on binder paper. I had intended to finish it digitally, but clearly that never went anywhere. And in case you are wondering, this is indeed the resolution I scanned it at, a humble 400x500 pixels! It seemed like a good idea at the time... It fitted nicely in my browser window on my 800x600 pixel CRT monitor, haha.

But now that I have spent the year 2020 reviving my drawing ability, I figured it would be fun to actually finish this image with my newfound artistic knowledge! Better late than never, right?

Whew, things surely have changed a lot in the past 20 years! And yet, here I am again drawing a buff demon dude and skulls... maybe not that much has changed after all. XD

Learn to DRAW: overcoming anxiety

General / 24 October 2020

Over the past months, my weekly drawing routine was to do constructive drawing studies throughout the workweek, and spend the weekend doing more fully-fledged rendered drawings.

For the most part, this worked great. On weekdays, I had no trouble getting to work quickly, after all I only had about 2 hours to spend. The drawings were nothing special. I would draw them on basic printer paper, I didn't do any rendering on them and I didn't even bother erasing the construction lines. They weren't meant to be pretty, they were just practice. Most of them looked something like this:

But when the weekend came around, I would bring out high-quality drawing paper, and I would do a rendered study. Suddenly, my anxiety levels would spike and I found myself dilly-dallying to get started for the day. And even after I got started, my anxiety usually remained very high throughout the entire drawing process.

I knew I had to make these rendered drawings less scary for myself, so it was time to switch my approach. Putting aside my regular constructive drawing practice, I decided to spend all of my practice hours doing rendered studies. This had several effects.

Now all of a sudden, I had to get started quickly with each rendered drawing, because I was doing them on workdays in my limited time block of only 2 hours. I would complete a drawing over a couple of mornings, which meant I was getting multiple starts and stops for each. The process of starting again and again helped to make it more "normal" and less scary in my mind.

Aside from that, I downgraded my tools on purpose. Instead of drawing rendered images on high-quality paper, I decided to do them on printer paper. Instead of using a fancy art pencil, I used a cheap school pencil... a hot pink My Little Pony pencil to make it extra silly.

The last change was mental. I would tell myself: I'm going to make a crappy drawing on a crappy piece of paper with a crappy pencil. It's just practice. I'm not going to post this. And with that in mind, I went ahead and drew this:

Reference by Grafit Studio: https://www.artstation.com/grafit

Much to my surprise, it didn't come out that crappy. And I did end up posting it, along with several others that I created afterwards.

But next was the real test. Did I really succeed in overcoming my anxiety? I brought out a large, expensive sheet of drawing paper, and a costumed reference image to add additional complexity. And when I sat down to draw the image, it felt tough but doable. Here's the result!

Reference by Andrey Zvyagintsev: https://unsplash.com/@zvandrei

Learn to DRAW: daily schedule

General / 12 September 2020

At the beginning of the year, I set out to learn how to draw. Since then, I've been able to keep up my daily drawing habit, and haven't missed a day. I wanted to share with you how I managed to keep up with this, and the changes I made to my daily schedule!

I had previously attempted to form a daily drawing habit, in 2016. But I found that when I came home from a long day at work, my energy and creativity had depleted. Forcing myself to draw was grueling, and just not fun at all. I managed to keep up with it for three months, and then had to give up from pure exhaustion.

This time around, I flipped my schedule on its head! I started going to bed two hours earlier, and waking up two hours earlier. Now, I get up at 5:00 AM every day, and I draw for two hours before I go to work. I also make sure I'm in bed before 9:00 PM each day, because I do need good sleep to feel rested in the morning.

So now I get to work on my personal art first thing, with a clear and well-rested mind. The results have been life-changing for me! I used to wake up groggy and unmotivated. Instead, I feel like I own my day, because the first thing I get to do is my personal art. By the time I go off to work, I already feel accomplished and wide awake. Even the workday itself feels much better as a result.

On weekends, I allow myself to sleep in. Since I'm now used to getting up early, on weekends I tend to wake up naturally at around 7:00 AM. On weekends I also draw, usually for a bit in the morning, then I have lunch and draw some more afterwards. On average, I draw for about five hours on a weekend day. I still try to go to bed at 9:00 PM even on weekends.

I never thought I could get up this early, as I'm not a natural morning person at all. The key was simply to go to bed at the same time consistently, instead of erratically. Now I have more creative energy than ever!

Also, here's a drawing for good measure! XD

Learn to DRAW: 4 months progress

General / 10 May 2020

A little over four months have passed since I started my drawing journey. I'm still at it daily and haven't missed a day since the beginning! I figure it's time to show another update of where I'm at.

Learn to DRAW: 2 months progress

General / 07 March 2020

Hey everyone! I'm back with some more drawing stuff.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been going through Proko's figure drawing course. I'm two months in now, and I haven't missed a day of drawing! At the 2 month mark, I decided to redo the first drawing I did on the course.

So here's a little before/after result for my first two months of learning how to draw:


Goal for 2020: Learn to DRAW!

General / 15 February 2020

Once upon a time, way back in the year 2000, I used to draw... badly. Then I got into 3D, and slowly faded out of drawing.

It was never intentional. It just kind of happened as I started to get deeper into modeling and texturing. I made a brief attempt to get back into it in 2016, but then promptly got distracted again.

But I've annoyed myself with being bad at 2D art for long enough now! So in 2020, I've decided to learn how to draw.

Here are some early attempts from the past month so far!


Contrast in art: Saturation

General / 30 April 2019

There are many ways to add contrast to a piece of art, such as value contrast, color contrast, contrast of shape, and many others. In this article, we'll discuss a way of adding contrast that's talked about less frequently: adding contrast through saturation.

For starters, lets take a look at this older piece I did in 2012:

My intention with this piece was to make it bright, colorful and upbeat. However, it doesn't work as well as intended due to the way I handled the saturation.

Notice that everything is super-saturated. The character's clothes are bright orange, his hair is bright orange, his skin is bright orange. Even the brown of his pouch and the tan color of his pants are very saturated!

When you make every part of your art saturated, you lose the opportunity to make any color in particular stand out. If you want to create something that looks colorful, you need to set bright colors against less saturated ones.
Key point to remember: if everything is saturated, then nothing is!

More recently, with the new incarnation of our game Nightstream (formerly Axon Runners), I had the opportunity to go back to this character and rework the textures with my current skill level. I was very excited to be able to apply what I have learned in the past few years!

Here's what it looks like now:

When reworking the character's color scheme, I first decided which colors I wanted to play up. I wanted to keep the orange of the shirt and boots as the main color. I also thought that the goggles and glows provided an opportunity for a nice color accent, so I decided to push the saturation even more and make them as neon-colored as possible! For everything else, I dramatically reduced the saturation.

To get started on the skin, I actually reduced the overall saturation to 50% of the old version! I originally made the skin a really bright peach, because I thought that reducing the saturation made the skin look dead.

This time around, I realized that skin is in fact quite desaturated in most areas; the life comes from the color zones of the face as well as subsurface scattering. So, I reintroduced some red color on the lips, cheeks and nose. I cooled down the face around the chin and jaw, to create a subtle five-o-clock shadow effect.

To simulate subsurface scattering, I painted thin strip of a saturated color sandwiched between the light and shadow areas on the face. I also pushed the saturation on the ears, to make them look almost glowing. In the end, getting the right look for skin comes down to understanding its subtle color variations, instead of making it one block of color as I had previously done.

The bright orange hair just had to go. I made it a much more natural strawberry blonde instead. The biggest problem with the orange hair was that there was just no opportunity for it to stand out against the shirt. Not to mention, no one's hair is that bright, even with hair dye!

In addition to the saturation changes, I also pushed on the value contrast between different areas. I made the dark brown parts much darker, so they stand out better against the other colors.

When deciding on a color scheme, consider all three elements of color: hue, value and saturation. You will want to make sure all of these elements are separated enough from each other. In my original piece, I thought I had a nice collection of matching hues. The problem was that they were all very close in saturation, and also too close in value in some areas.

Beyond the color changes, I also repainted all areas with improved structure, lighting and material definition. Reference is really your friend here! But that's a topic for another article.

Here's one last line-up of both versions, so you can check out the differences:

Custom Thrall doll

General / 25 February 2019

Although it's too off-topic for my portfolio, I still wanted to share this Thrall fan art doll I made.
I crocheted the body and some of the armor pieces. Other parts are fabric, felt, and leather, all hand-sewn. He's about 28 cm tall (11 inches).

It took me 500+ hours to design the pattern and make the doll, so I'm very happy he's finally done!

If you like crochet dolls, you can check out some more on my DeviantArt gallery, although none of those are nearly as complex as this one! https://www.deviantart.com/wayuki