Category: art education

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WIP Astronomy Walkers Sketchbook Prop – 3

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At this stage, this image is half-finished. The carriage is done (I think). I sprayed it down with hairspray to keep it from smudging while I rub charcoal into the paper and begin sketching in trees.

I strongly prefer to use high-quality hair spray for sealing my dry medium artwork over the supposedly “professional” stuff you can buy at the art store. Unlike that stuff, the hair spray doesn’t go yellow and is actually significantly more effective. It also smells nice. I did my tests a while ago when I was more into conté. In my artwork that has been sealed with hairspray for years, I haven’t noticed any deterioration or discolouring either.

My Perspective on The NSCAD Problem as Alumni

So I feel like I really need to say something, as an alumni of NSCAD who was on the inside when things started to really fall apart with my school. It is my school: I invested a good part of money and my life to be there, it is where I met some amazing friends and my partner who I’ve been with for 4 years, and it is where I graduated and really decided to commit to my creative career. To see NSCAD suffer and to hear constant bashing and criticism is like listening to a close friend get trashed and manipulated.

If you’re unaware of what is happening at this small but important Canadian university, a TL;DR: NSCAD is $19+ million in debt, the school in near a state of permanent collapse, and the heritage of being one of the best art schools in Canada is undergoing self-destruction.
There are many articles about this situation, but I feel like this one, by the local Halifax culture rag, The Coast, is a great summary. Many universities are threatened by low profit and outstanding debt’s in today’s economy, but NSCAD is in absolute peril. NSCAD is one of 4 art universities, not a college, in Canada. Its programs are different because they are far more open and focused more on concept than technical skill; you can take different types of courses simultaneously (such as I took ceramics, film, and drawing all within the same degree), you study art history, and you work on coming up with big ideas. What I mean is your classes go beyond just your technical skill and teachers will put in the extra work to really examine your work and offer a thoughtful critique of your ideas. The school is open 24/7 and people work their ass off on their projects. Your profs. will stay after class or go for beers with you quite frequently to talk about your work, the school, art in general. This is what made me come to NSCAD, on top of it being a very small, cozy university that lets you be a focus for instructors instead of just a student number. I wasn’t attracted to school’s like OCAD because I was already fairly well off in the technical realm and OCAD seemed to let anything pass as a thesis project – lots of decorative art and sometimes with very weak fundamentals at the end of a degree? What I found with NSCAD is that completely inexperienced students would enter the painting program, for example, and come out with very strong rendering skills but also with skills in using colour theory, composition, perspective, and generally with a bigger idea to their images.

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Weird…comic

So I posted a little screen shot of this a while back… Let this demonstrate the learning curve I went through the past 6 months in terms of digital art with this image. This is before I took any classes and I was generally really frustrated with digital painting because I had no clue how to approach it.

When I made this, I shaded it in gray and separated absolutely everything. I planned on applying an overlaying colour, but I soon discovered how difficult it is to get that to mix right. I thought it would be a quick solution… but the values are very light, and the shirt there has some patterning….ended up being a bad idea. I should’ve just straight up tried to colour this instead of being scared, because trying to overlay colours after proved to be as much guesswork as I would’ve done if I had just coloured it. Back then, I had no idea how to read the colour picker and make a smart choice on colour.

Anyway….the colour I did on this originally was so hideous I deleted it, and just threw on this stylized gradient map to apply colour. It looks pretty funky…the “idea” is that the desert is so scorching hot, it has bleached out all visible colour. Whatever…

I wouldn’t put this in my portfolio for a large array of reasons.

1. It’s not my style. How do I know that? It’s a complete fluke and looks awkward. When I throw it into my artwork folder, it stands out because it’s weird, not because it’s unique or a step up from what I’ve been doing.

2. This colouring is a sad excuse for colouring. I mean, some of the values are gross…you don’t exactly have a lot of control with a gradient map unless you want to drive yourself totally insane.

3. The scale is wonky – it looks like a tiny comic strip because of the font and proportions of the picture elements, but the details are very small. If this was printed on a page as a spot, it would look off because the details would become hard to read. In comparison to some of my recent comic work (the SFX collab I am doing), this looks very poorly thought out, even though I was more fighting with my inexperience with digital art.

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My biggest hurdle with digital art has been dealing with the layering and the whole…mathematical side to it. Gradients are math, all the layer blending modes are math, colour picking is a math. The process is very inorganic. There’s just something about doing it with your hands and watching the pigment of whatever medium you’re using react, and learning what it’s doing… it’s probably the same for making music on a real instrument versus a digital instrument. Something real gives you the whole process from A to Z, digital is like straight from A to Z without anything in between. You apply a blending mode and BAM! there it is – no way to observe how it happened.

Anyway, this was to let off some steam on job searching.

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Newest Concept Art

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Well, I’d be lying once again to pretend this is not finished. It’s up on the News in website, & there isn’t too many shots for WIP. This is a piece of concept art based on a 3D base provided to me by Daniel Kvasznicza. Some of you may be hearing his name a lot because of the new Batman game. I am taking a technical course with him at Syn Studio, and this is one of my projects.

Also, if my readers would be so kind – here is a link to my current Concept Art Porfolio. Please share it for me! I know it’s still not much, but I’d really like to get some solid projects started, hopefully paid because I’m really broke. (UPDATE: If this link is not working, it means it has been taken down or moved to my website: www.artkarolina.com)

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Concept Art – First Sketch from Thumbnail

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Scaling up my selected thumbnail and combining features and sketches to get to a final idea. I had to look up saddles to get the shape of mine right. I changed the proportions to fit better with the body. I imagine such a mid-heavy creature needs a balanced front and back, so he/she needs a sturdy tail and heavy skull. I decided not to draw the human character in because I don’t have a design ready for it – it would just be a bunch of BS and I feel like the saddle already dictates scale.

One thing I’m super anal about is dragon wings. It’s ALWAYS bothered – always – since I was a small child – that most dragon wings are drawn as thin, flimsy bat wings. Nobody stops to think that such a heavy creature needs a little more than that? How do they get it off the ground if they don’t have the strength to move that much air? I feel like thinking of such things is a duty of the character designer. Your character can look cool, but if it looks unbelievable (not necessarily that it needs to make sense or look realistic, just feel believable), then your design is garbage.

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Concept Art – Silhouettes & Vampire Myth

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I should stop lying and saying I’m not up to “that much” when people ask me about my creative work. I don’t rush myself, but I definitely have a lot going on and a lot of projects rotating from the back burner. Here are some silhouettes from my Digital Painting class. These are to generate some ideas for a concept, and are meant to be quick. Jeevan, my teacher, says what’s most important is that they shape has a good composition. If it looks good like this, it will look great enlarge with full detail. So here I have some different character ideas – a previous character I am working on up-top, the weird fuckin’.. George Bush thing, and some concepts for a harpy or a dragon.

Let me tell you about the floating mask with a spine at least – I was reading a great Asian period comic (if my memory for titles and names existed, I’d love to tell you what it was), and I learned through the story about these vampire creates. They are basically floating heads that have become disembodied, and to survive, they must capture a person, steal their body, and consume their blood. The monsters in the story were ritualistic and powerful – they would lure beautiful woman, kill them, steal the corpse. Because one body doesn’t last forever, this was a continuous process. I’m guessing it’s implied that either through magic or some creepy process, the brain in the head has the ability to consume.

Cylinders and Floating Cast Shadows

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Some really thrilling stuff I’ve been working on in my Digital Painting class. Learning lots about lighting. Probably the most I’ve learnt about lighting in my whole academic art career.

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I want to post this video along with this image because it really helped me and it explains what is happening beautifully. Perspective and light are mighty complex.