Saturday, December 31, 2011

Improvement Calendar

This is my improvement calendar for 2011. I recommend all artists do this. It not only gives you a look back at the year to see your mistakes and what you learned. But it helps you plan for the future. Also, a lot of times with our art we think were going nowhere and it can be frustrating. But if you really look at each month or each year side by side, there's almost always tons more improvement than you realized. So for the new year, make an improvement calendar. If you make one, link it here, I'd like to see it!

This was a good year for art. Lot's of epiphanies with my art, process, portfolio, and the way I was going about breaking into the industry. 2012 is gonna be great.


January- Inspired by Feng Zhu. wanted to start the new year off with some mattepainting practice. Somewhat successful for a real first attempt.

Febrary- Attempting realism with zero reference. Discovering that realism lies within lighting more than anything.

March- Trial and error with painting realism.

April- Decided that I needed to go back to traditional. I was getting much better at painting than I was with ink and I didn't like it so I put digital aside for a couple months.

May- Took a comic art class with Robert Atkins. Learned a lot.

June- Decided to take my career seriously and hit up my first convention without the Hell Paso crew. Master Inker Ben Jones helped me a lot at my first con as an independent artist.

July- Got some good freelance work and did a couple of tryouts on books.

August- Started painting again. Somehow improved even though I took a break from painting. I started realizing more that my painting and use of color was much better than my inking and I shouldn't try to avoid it. It's my niche and it's something I have that's unique and rare. So I made a decision to rebuild my portfolio from scratch and showcase my painting and color use and try to break into comics as a digital painter.

September- Reworking my painting process. Trying to find something that works best for me. If I'm gonna paint sequentials, production paintings, covers, etc. I want to have a process that's not trial and error so I never get stuck and I'm comfortable with what I'm doing. Used the upcoming EPCON and the Gears of War contest to help me with that.

October- I got a 21UX Cintiq for my birthday! I'm able to paint much more accurately and with much more detail now. Spent this month testing the level of detail I could get with this Cintiq. I had been using a Wacom Graphire since 2006. I'm much more comfortable with the Cintiq. No wrist cramps. Comfortable posture. Accurate lines. Etc. I'd recommend it to anyone serious with digital art. Though you don't need it to be good.

November- Trying multiple painting processes. Finally figuring out one that could work best for anything I do and is very comfortable.

December- Finally testing the new process on a sequential comic page for The Darkness contest. I now have belief that I can paint sequentials. I used to never thing I'd be able to do it very well.

 2009 and 2010 Calendars

And to that I say Happy New Year to everyone! Let's make 2012 a great year for art!
-ZhouRules (Chris Shehan)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Digital Art Is Not Art!! (Part 2)

For those that think digital art is not art, tell me this. Is your favorite writer/novelist/screenwriter not really a writer at all because they typed the whole book/screenplay on a computer? Think about how ridiculous that sounds. And make sure not to comment here, instead write me a letter and send it to me through the postal service. Or I wont take you seriously for typing your comment. Doesn't that sound silly? Then why is it so easy to say digital art is not art. Hell, I use a tablet and hold my pen the same way I would a pencil or brush. I pick and mix colors the same way I would traditionally. I sketch things out the way I would traditionally. If anything, the people who paint beautiful digital works with a mouse should be given an award! But oh they used a mouse? Not art..

One intelligent response I did get was that with oil paint the light reveals the brushstrokes and textures of the painting, and you can't light a digital piece. This is true. But if I'm displaying artwork online, the only light on the art is coming from inside your computer monitor. So an oil painting, watercolor, or digital painting make no difference. You say you can "undo" in digital art, but not in traditional. Ever paint with oils before? That stuff takes hours to dry. You make a mistake and you can very easily wipe it away. Is that a cheat? No. It's just a tool. In digital art you can color pick from photos. You know where that came from? Gouache painters back before digital art used to match colors from photos to make interesting photo-esque color palettes. It's faster in digital. But is that a cheat? No. It's a tool. Before paintbrushes were invented we used sticks to paint and scratched artwork onto cave walls. Are paintbrushes a cheat?! They're a tool. What makes a tablet any different?

And for those who think digital art is easy.

My very first digital painting. 2008. Crap. 

 Recent digital painting.

If it was easy, that first one would look much nicer. Right? I actually had to practice, learn about color, learn about lighting, etc. The same exact stuff you learn with any kind of art. It actually takes skill and practice. And learning oil painting actually caused me to improve drastically with my digital painting. And knowing digital painting made learning oil painting easily. Different tools. End results are still art.

My first traditional painting

My first oil painting

My second oil painting

I hope this helped those of you digital artists who have gotten ignorant comments like this before. And I hope for all the ignorant digital art haters, I hope you learned something about this art form. :)

-ZhouRules (Chris Shehan)

Digital Art Is Not Art!! (Part 1)

For all my digital artists out there, do you ever get this? And for everyone else, are you one of the ones that agrees with this? I seem to see this a lot and I was finally pushed over the edge when one of my favorite artists, Ryan Ottley, posted on Twitter "What's worse, burning original art or drawing digitally?! Haha!". For those who know, Ryan has been doing his layouts digitally lately. Which I assume is why he asked that. It's the response from fans that got to me. Most of them replied saying that drawing digitally was WORSE than burning original art. Being primarily a digital artist as of late, I was a little offended at how many people don't consider digital art to be art.

I've gotten this multiple times, "This would look great as a real painting.". Uh.. So does it not look great as a digital painting? If I painted the exact same thing with oil paints and it looked exactly the same, how would it look better?! It'd look the same. The difference: I didn't make a mess and I didn't waste my time or money. I've also gotten "What medium is that?", I'd say Photoshop. Then silence. "I'd be much more impressed if you used real paint." WHY?! Most people can't answer why. And the ones who do usually say "it's harder to paint with real paint". Is it? It takes longer yes, but is it harder? Are you not using the exact same skills? Ok so some people, a lot of people, will cheat when doing digital art. It's just a fact. Cuz they don't want to take the long hours it takes to really learn. But for the real artists out there, most of us learned to draw with pencil before ever even knowing what a tablet is.

Tell me this. Is watercolor not art? It can't be. Because oil painting is much harder than watercolor. And oil painting is real art. So watercolor can't be. Doesn't that sound stupid? A tablet is a tool! Just like watercolors, crayons, colored pencils, charcoal, ink, oil paints, acrylics, clay, etc. Some are easier than others. Some are harder. THAT is all based on opinion. Doesn't dismiss it from being art. It's just another medium. My too favorite mediums are ink and digital. Though I've tried almost every medium there is. And because I have the skill, I can produce decent work with each. Give me some oil paints and I'll paint something and make you think it's digital. Give me Photoshop and I'll fool you into thinking its traditional. Because it's the end product that matters. Not what you used to get there. It's art. The end product is art. Whether it's a logo design, a photomanipulation, a painting, a sculpture, a 3D rendering. It takes skill and creativity. And the end result is enjoyed by people. Anyone who questions the process used to make the final product needs to reteach themselves what art really is. It's creating. That's it.
Continued in Part 2