Monday, November 9, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Inktober, Day 28

I drew these with ballpoint pen during the debate,
and then added ink wash later.

Inktober, Day 27

I drew these with ballpoint pen during the debate, and then
added ink wash later.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inktober, Day 26

Another Halloween-inspired theme for Inktober.
Brush, ink, wash.

Inktober, Day 25

Halloween theme for Inktober. Brush, ink, wash.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Inktober, Day 24

The Headless Horseman trying to carve a new head.
Dip pen and ink wash.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Inktober, Day 23

Here's a creepy little guy for Halloween, done in brush pen.

Inktober, Day 22

Halloween-themed brush pen doodles.

Inktober, Day 21

TV doodles done in brush pen.

Inktober, Day 20

TV doodles done in brush pen.

Inktober, Day 19

TV doodles done with brush pen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Inktober, Day 16

Brush, ink, ink wash.

Inktober, Day 15

Brush, ink, tech pen, ink wash.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Inktober, Day 14

A selection of ballpoint pen drawings done during
Democratic debate. Please click to enlarge.

Inktober, Day 13

Brush pen, tech pen.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Inktober, Day 12

It's fun drawing Halloween-themed stuff! Brush, ink, ink wash.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Inktober, Day 11

Left to right: Brush Pen, ballpoint, brush/ink/wash

Inktober, Day 10

Brush pen, tech pen

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Inktober, Day 7

Brush, ink, ink wash.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Inktober, Day 6

Brush, ink, tech pen in Moleskine pad.

Inktober, Day 5

Brush, ink, tech pen

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Inktober, Day 4

Brush, ink, Microns, in a Moleskine pad.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inktober, Day 3

TV doodles in Moleskine sketchbook. Pentel Pocket
Brush and fountain pen.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Inktober, Day 2

Pentel Pocket Brush, fountain pen in Moleskine.

Inktober, Day 1

Pentel Pocket Brush, fountain pen in Moleskine pad.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Optimizing a Scan, Part 1: Levels

In this post I’m going to cover my process for tweaking a color scan of an illustration. I’ll be making my editing decisions based on the file’s Histogram and by my monitor. In order to “trust” the image on my monitor, I make sure to keep it calibrated. I use the Spyder Pro for my monitor calibration, but there are other good systems out there.

My scanner is the Epson Expression 10000XL, which I highly recommend. It’s easy to use, captures lots of detail, and can scan up to 12 by 17 inches.

I start off by selecting “Professional Mode” with “No Color Corrections” (please see Figure A). I want to make all my adjustments in Photoshop—I don’t want the scanning software to make any of the decisions for me.

Figure A: The Epson interface.

I open up the scan in Photoshop and compare it to the original, which I prop up on an easel right next to my monitor as I tweak the file. I know from experience that my scanner tends to scan a little too light and the colors a little too flat. The first thing I do is open up a Levels Adjustment Layer (see screenshot B below), which is the non-destructive and more flexible alternative to using a Levels adjustment (cmd-L) directly on the pixel Layer.

B: Levels Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

As a side note, I tend to use Levels for scanned artwork and Curves for photographs. Curves will give you more control over the tonal adjustment because you can add points, but I’ve found that Levels is generally fine for scans.

When you open up a Levels Adjustment Layer, you’ll see the Histogram under the Properties Panel. The Histogram plots on a graph all the pixels in the image based on their tonal value (see screenshot C below). The illustration in this example shows a dark figure against a fairly large, light background. I used black ink for the line, so I want to make sure that the lines are dark black.

C: You can see the gap in the shadow area of the
original scan and the adjustment made by sliding the Black Point
over to close the gap. You can also see that most of the pixels
on the graph fall toward the lighter side, which is what
you'd expect with this image. 

When I look at the Histogram, I see that there’s a gap between the actual pixels in the scan and the Black Point (or darkest black), which is normal for my scanner. That ensures that I don’t lose detail in the darkest areas of my scan. I also see that my highlight areas extend all the way to the lightest tone, so I won’t need to adjust my highlights for this scan. I also notice that most of the pixels fall toward the highlights, which I’d expect with an image that has so much light background in it.

To correct for the shadows, I slide the Black Point (or Shadow) to the place where the pixels in the Histogram start (see C above). Whenever I make an adjustment, I always click on and off the Eyeball (to show and hide) for the Layer Adjustment to evaluate the change.

By moving the Black Point over to make up for the gap in the Histogram, I am making sure that my image will contain the full tonal range and not look washed-out (see D below). This will also make the colors a little more saturated.

D: Before Levels adjustment on the left, and after on the right.
Notice that the red is richer after the adjustment. Click to enlarge.

Next up: Optimizing a Scan, Part 2: Adjusting Color Balance and Hue/Saturation (to come).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Exotic Animal Farm Location Drawings

I recently drew some animals from an exotic animal farm on Block Island, RI. I used pencil, water-soluble colored pencil, Pentel Pocket Brush, and a Kuretake Water Brush.

Top left, that's Justice the yak. Below left is Cindy, a zedonk, which is a
zebra hybrid. Click to enlarge.

More studies of Justice, plus some seagulls. Click to enlarge.

Emus at the top, Tank the turtle on the left, and studies of llamas.
Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Photoshop's Photomerge: Pt. 2

In my previous post, I demonstrated using Photomerge to create a panorama. Nowadays, if I want a panorama, I'll probably just use my iPhone, but I still use Photomerge to piece together parts of an illustration that I scanned in sections. I used to accomplish this the old-fashioned way: Using the Difference Layer Blending Mode and painstakingly rotating and tapping the image over pixel-by-pixel, but now I let Photoshop's Photomerge do all the work.

Click here to see my previous post, Photomerge Pt. 1.

There are a few things I do to prepare to use Photomerge in this way. First, I am careful that my illustration's edges are at right angles. To do this, when I trim the edges of my illustration, I use a transparent gridded rectangle against a cutting board with a grid on it. Then, in my scanner, I make sure to push an edge flush against the frame of the scanner glass. Although Photoshop can rotate the image a few degrees in Auto Blend, you'll get better image quality by avoiding this (Photoshop uses "interpolation" on images that aren't rotated at 90 degree increments, which will cause slight image degradation).

It's also important to give your image a couple inches of overlap. This gives Photoshop a margin to use in computing how to align the sections and gives room to create the Layer Mask.

I make sure that my paper edges are square and I include a
generous overlap. Click any image to enlarge.

Now, File > Automate > Photomerge. I use the default settings: Layout > Auto and I make sure the box is checked for Blend Images Together.

These are the default settings, and I use them to piece
together scans.

This screen shot shows the Layer Masks. 
I turned off one of the Layers to show the effect of the Layer Mask that
Photoshop generated.

I always check to make sure that Photomerge blended the section seamlessly. To do that, I hit cmd-1 (View > Actual Pixels) and then scroll around the seam. Once I'm satisfied with the merged sections, I'll flatten the image and start correcting the scan for color and tone, and that will be the topic of my next Photoshop Tips blog post.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Photoshop's Photomerge, Pt. 1

Photoshop has a great feature, called Photomerge, that was originally designed to stitch together photos to make panoramic images.

In this first part, I'll show how to use this feature to create a panorama from three photos. In a following post, I'll demonstrate how I usually use Photomerge: To piece together an illustration that I had to scan in sections.

To get started, I took three photos of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL (this building was part of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893). I didn't use a tripod and I left the camera on "auto exposure," so the exposure shifted a little bit for each shot. I left some overlap between the shots.

I opened the photos in Photoshop and went to File > Automate > Photomerge.

I'm going to show the effects of three different settings. For the first one, I'm not going to use any of the blending features to contrast with the next two in which I let Photomerge work its magic. See A below for the settings and B for the result.

A I'm going to choose Reposition Only, uncheck Blend Images Together,
and Add Open Files.

B This shows the result of merging the three photos, using Reposition Only and
none of the blending features. Click to enlarge.

Now, let's use Layout > Auto and check the Blend Images Together option:

The blending looks good, but Photoshop has distorted the image to
correct for the perspective. Click to enlarge.

This Layer Panel screen shot shows how Photoshop is skewing
the individual photos and using Layer Masks to help in the
merging of the photos.

This last one shows the Blending, but I've also checked the box for Geometric Distortion Correction (found under the Blend Images Together option):

I used Layout > Auto, checked Blend Images Together and
Geometric Distortion Correction.

So, there you have it. After some cropping you'll have a blended panoramic image. Next up: Using Photomerge for piecing together scans.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tugboat Breaking the Ice

Watercolor in a Moleskine pad, 5 by 8 inches. Done from a photo that
I took over the weekend. Click to enlarge.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Folding Mailers

Here are examples of mailers that I make to send to publishers. When folded up they fit in a standard envelope.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sketchbook: Doggies

Here are some doggies from my sketchbook. Done in ink, watercolor,
and colored pencil. Click to enlarge.