Tumblr has a rich community of artists and art enthusiasts. Most of what I have been exposed to concerned various fandoms; fans of shows and books posting amazing digital fanarts, colorful interpretations of characters, and character ask blogs which answer purely with drawn out scenes. It’s amazing how creative people could get in regards to stories and characters they love.
It was March of 2015 when I decided to start dabbling in digital art. I had Photoshop Elements already installed months prior, originally hoping to make gifs with it and miserably failing. Naturally, I then tried to edit photos with it, and promptly got bored. At this point, I was just trying not to regret splurging on an expensive computer program that I apparently had no use for, and then I thought, hey, I can draw a little bit on paper back when I was a teenager. Why not try doing some digital art?
It was that same month when I bought my first (and current) drawing tablet, a Huion H610 Pro. It was a decision that I’ve never come to regret and made my expensive Photoshop purchase worth every penny.
Drawing has always been a hobby of mine that had been neglected for the past years in favor of other hobbies (which, come to think of it, I’ve been neglecting now in turn). And so my first foray into digital art was a different but fun experience, mainly composed of drawing my own characters and trying to learn the basics of this new medium.
“Meiah” was my very first attempt. I traced an old drawing I had on paper and tried using layers and coloring the whole thing.”Aliciel” was the first thing I actually drew on the program and was more about experimenting with opacity changes, shading and highlights.”Too Early for This” was a lesson in the use of more opacity and shading practice and lessening the visibility of outlines. The last one, “Self Portrait,” was bout trying out a more realistic style, combining what I’ve learned in the first three pieces together to create a… uhm, vaguely recognizable rendition of my face.
I was having so much fun in those first few pieces, and felt like I was improving with every piece of art I did. I watched dozens of Youtube tutorials and speed paintings. And then of course I drew this next piece and thus experienced the first of the many frustrations that I would bang my skull into during this whole venture.
It was supposed to be an exercise in drawing hair. Well, hair is not the only thing that was wrong with this; I don’t know what the hell is going on with the face, nor the improperly proportioned eyes, or the whole “dead fish” look of the thing; and what the hell was I thinking when I chose to color that tank top purple?
Thanks to this, I learned one of the most important lessons that made my life easier and have saved my newly bought tablet from being flung across the room in frustration.
And that lesson is using references, which thanks to Tumblr I now know is not considered cheating. Phew.
With that hurdle out of the way, I turned to the real actual reason I decided to dabble in digital art; A very deep reason why I picked up a tablet and started drawing again– A reason that I am not at all ashamed to reveal.
That reason is fan art.
Being a fangirl is valid motivation as far as I’m concerned.
First off, I tried to draw Jensen Ackles’ eyes, because there just isn’t enough reason not to draw Jensen’s eyes.
…Actually, I tried to draw his whole face but was failing, and so I just drew one eye.
This is where I started using a lot of pink in the tone of the skin, instead of just yellow.
So of course, Jared Padalecki was next.
I experienced a lot of frustration with this one because I just couldn’t capture his face. There is so much uncanny valley all over, and the proportions just do not work. There was practically no depth or value. The only vaguely salvageabble feature in the is the hair and the nose .
It was a big mistake adding yellow blotches in an effort to add some dynamics in the skin tone. I blame the Youtube tutorial that made me think this is okay.
My next victim was Misha Collins. I had to draw those pretty blue eyes staring into the depths of my soul. The eyes were bright blue when I colored them, but using the adjustment options brought out this deep blue color that I was very pleased with. I added some subtle wing-shaped negative spaces shaped with m favorite Castiel lines. Also, the fact that I was able to draw the trenchcoat like that came as a surprise. The stubble was my main frustration. I used the radial blur feature as per a tutorial suggestion, which kind of but also did not really work. The whole thing resembled Misha somewhat, and the shading and highlights brought some depth. It’s not perfect, but I was pretty proud of this one.
AKA I tried a different style of drawing and it didn’t come out half as bad as I would have thought. I love Kathryn Newton’s portrayal of Claire who is kickass and do not take crap from anybody, and so I had to draw her. I liked how the leather jacket came out, and also the blade and the handle. The hands could use some improvements, though. The background is rough as it is tacked on last minute.
These next two are a joint-piece meant as a tribute to Supernatural’s season 10 finale. This was the first time I tried incorporating an actual light source into painting. There is so much I can say about facial proportions and my awkward execution of angles that I won’t waste my time typing out. I started using large canvases for ease. The stubble was still a source of frustration.
The next two is another joint-piece, but this time I attempted to paint in grayscale. Because as much as I loved colors, making a palette was one of the most frustrating things for me. Still is, actually. Painting in grayscale (or in this case, slightly reddish gray) was a different challenge that I enjoyed tackling.
I was very frustrated when I started this next one because in the beginning, I could not get it right from sketching to outlining to coloring. No matter how I tried, it ended up looking like an old hag, and the colors and shading would just not work with me. Thankfully, my stubbornness (born from despair at the thought that I wasted hours on something that I was going to scrap) paid off. This remains as one of my favorite pieces.
The facial expression and the background and the surprisingly decently drawn hand… I learned a lot in drawing this piece. The blending is a bit rough and the hair needs some refining, but I am happy with it as it is.
Also I got Ruth Connell’s autograph last year at Chicon 2015 (which I will be writing about soon… probably) and she remembered me tweeting it to her. It was awesome.
This next one was made when I joined a Supernatural fans online gift exchange on tumblr. For the very first time, I was drawing something that is not exclusively for me. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but the season 11 hiatus gave me a great idea on what my gift receiver wanted. The major difference in this is that I used the trial version of Photoshop CC instead of sticking to Elements, and it took a while to get used to the differences between the two programs. I ended up buying Photoshop CC because of the more elaborate tools and features. The fancy sch-mancy fire was fun to make. I’m proud of the knife and the hand. Wish I had more time with the clothes.
Injured BAMF!Sam for leahlisabeth for BSGC Secret Santa Gift Exchange.
And this next one was four months in the making. I started drawing it even before Chicon 2015, in a vague hope of having Jensen sign his autograph on it (no dice, didn’t even get Jensen’s autograph on anything). It’s more of a study in value and contrast. This was when I received a very good advice of “Draw what you see, not what you think you see.” The clothes took the most work and I’m pleased with how it turned out. The hair could use some work, and the hand needs to be smoothed out somewhat. It’s the last piece I did on Photoshop Elements before switching over completely to Photoshop CC.
To mark the one year anniversary of me getting my digital tablet and to see how I’ve improved throughout the year, I drew this piece again for comparison, which from now on will be called Violet.
I’ve learned more techniques from drawing this than the past three months prior to it. I was very determined to be better this year than last year so I pored over the areas that I’m weakest with, which was drawing hair and facial proportions. This was the first time I started using the Andrew Loomis method to make the face more proportional. In the process, I also fixed the posture, the abnormally large head, jaundice-y skin color, screwy left eye, and bath towel-esque dress. This was the culmination of one year’s worth of learning, of hours worth of watching and repeating tutorials and using tools that I’ve never used and never even known before.
In my subsequent pieces, I noticed that blending colors got smoother and my edges finer. My skills sometimes fluctuate, but my improvements are noticeable and personally gratifying for me to see.
(On a side note, it’s been seven years but I am not yet completely over with DBSK splitting up. I still cannot listen to Love in the Ice without feeling stabbing pains in my chest. Friggin’ jerks.)
And then…. AND THEN… After more than a year of owning and using my tablet… I DISCOVERED AND MANAGED TO ACTIVATE THE PRESSURE SENSITIVITY FEATURE.
It was such a revelation. I couldn’t believe how much difference it made. This was a new level of control that I could not achieve no matter how much I mess with brush and layer opacity levers. I literally did not know what I was missing. It also gave me the ability to do some digital calligraphy.
I never thought I would find so much fun in digital painting. My sixteen-year-old self would be appalled at how much I’ve neglected my writing skills, but I think she would be mollified with this.
To be honest, I don’t consider myself an artist (and no, I am not fishing for compliments whatsoever), but I am proud of the progress I’ve made over the last year and a half. The whole purpose of this post is to show that talent is something that is acquired overtime. Research, practice and patience are the three things that has helped me tremendously. Being passionate about my favorite show has lead me to discover this wonderful hobby, and it keeps me motivated to continue improving.
I still haven’t given up writing. Although now, I have vague ambitions of writing novels and drawing my own illustrations, or maybe just doing graphic novels.
Hm, graphic novels.
Excuse me, I have some research to do.