Rebecca Vadnie

Art and More

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Super Bendy Flexy Baxter

The best part about taking classes like this is watching, and trying out, another artist's process. It's a great opportunity to break out of my normal style of drawing and push hard in a different direction. I usually draw in an abstracted,cartoon style, but wanted to try different ways of adding color, texture, and details.

While I have tons of pictures of my cats, I ended up picking this one of my giant orange tabby Baxter.

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I did several different sketches, but settled on this one and scanned it in. I adjusted the Levels and Curves in Photoshop to get as close to black and white as possible without losing too much detail. 

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I cleaned up the sketch by erasing any of the paper still visible from the scan. I then used a selection from color range, chose the color white, and deleted that color to get a transparent sketch to work from. I also edited the sketch slightly (and continued to do so as I worked; I kept the original sketch on a hidden layer so I could keep referring back to it).

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From here, I adapted some of Anne's techniques since I found that, even though I have and use a tablet, a fine motor tremor in my drawing hand makes it difficult to do the trace-and-select method. So instead of using the tablet to draw an outline over my sketch, I used the polygon lasso tool and a mouse to select the areas I wanted to color. It takes a little practice, but you can make smooth curves by clicking in small increments. I continued like this until I had my base colors finished.

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I initially erased any areas of color that went outside my sketch lines, but went back to this because I really liked the messy, papercut kind of look. Another decision I made was to keep my original sketch lines; I do this a lot with other art projects, but in this case I cleaned up the original sketch some more with one of Kyle Webster's sketch brushes. I then made a second copy of the sketch layer, and used Multiply to darken the lines.

For details, I though about overlaying a pattern of some kind, either to the background, or to the background and Baxter's orange spots. I want to say that this was some kind of super brilliant design decision, but it was sheer luck that I pulled in a halftone pattern and liked the look. It fit with the sort of "off register print" look I had going with the base colors.

Finally, I took one of the sketch layers I had and changed the setting to Color Dodge, then moved the sketch just a little off-center, which again added a little touch to the old-time comic style.

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And there is my super bendy flexy Baxter.

The written process is a lot more logicial sounding than it actually was. I started out with Anne's videos and example illustration and used that to direct my work. I didn't have any solid idea how the final piece would turn out --- I tend to see where things take me (particularly when trying a new technique). There was a lot of Ctrl-Z, and turning layers off and on, and trying this layer style, then that, then deleting. Then freaking out because something wonky happened and hitting Ctrl-Z furiously again. But that whole "try it and see" aspect of Photoshop is why I always loved using it for photo manipulations and comps.

I'm really glad I took this class; like Anne said in her video, it can be really helpful to just watch another artist work (not to mention really interesting). I learned some great illustration techniques that I know I'll incorporate in my work in the future!

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