June 8, 2016
Sore Hands and the Space to Create
I'm not the type of person to vent about the challenges I'm facing but lately...
In the spring I broke down and admitted I needed a full fledged laptop for client meetings. I also admitted I’d like a tablet for certain games (don’t judge me). And that I should get back into sketching after my flurry of renovations was complete (like they ever are). So after much humming, no hawing, I don’t haw well, I researched the state of convertible laptops with pressure sensitivity high enough to do drawing on.
Eventually, I settled on the Surface Pro 4 and took off running with it. Ok, a slow crawl. habits built over 25 years as a Mac user doesn’t go away overnight. And trust me, I’ve been getting the gears from my Mac friends about my choice. I wanted one thing that the iPad Pro doesn’t offer, and that’s a full on operating system. I do site development after all and occasionally I need things like command lines so the iOS just wasn’t going to cut it. And work considerations came first here for the investment I was talking about.
So the learning crawl happened slowly. The kids and I played with Cortana. I used the built-in drawing program. I connected to my network. Etc. Then a mysterious thing happened, I had four days to myself on a train. Suddenly I had time to really try it out! I wrote a comic script, I drew, I DELVED into it. And you know what? I sorta, cautiously, fell in love with it.
I love the weight and feel of it. I love the stand. Even the expensive absolutely mandatory detachable keyboard/cover got into my heart a little ($200 for a keyboard, really??? WTF?). The pen has an eraser on the end that actually FEELS like you’re dragging an eraser across paper. It feels like it’s drawing onto the screen. It’s hard to describe, but it “grabs” the Surface Pro 4’s screen just enough. You’ll have to try it. And apparently, there are different tips for it that drag differently. I haven’t seen those yet but would love to try them out. Also, the powerful magnet on the side of the Surface holds the pen securely for when it’s not in use.
BUT, here’s what threw the Surface Pro 4 over the edge for me, Autodesk Sketchbook. At the suggestion of fellow and better artist, Anthony Hary, I installed Sketchbook and have been burning through the paper. err, screen? Whatever. Drawing is fun again! This program has so many thoughtful artist featues to it that you wonder how any drawing program doesn’t have them. From the perspective tool to the mirror tool, and now the recent flipbook tool (don’t know if I’ll ever get there), it’s a joy to wander through.
Bad points? The power cord isn’t a generic USB like other tablets. I would like it charging over a standard USB plug for the times I forget the charging cable, but, having said that, the battery life is pretty darn respectable on a full charge. Also bad, did I mention the price tag on the keyboard? That’s about it for bad. I can’t even diss Windows 10 much, it feels like it’s a modern operating system, like it’s finally shed some of the baggage that’s always dragged it down, and is ok to use and operate. And because it is a full operating system, there’s many programs and years of tutorials out there. Only occasionally does it remind you that lurking below are years of Windows hubris still there. Occasionally.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some recent drawing efforts with you. First up, a purple pencil sketch of my oldest daughter based on a photo outside of Laura Secord school.
In this one, I was playing with the recently added perspective tool. No excuses for lazy background drawings now. There’s one, two, and three-point perspective grids you can manipulate and then it helps you draw to them. Also a fisheye one, but haven’t found a use for that yet. And the Copic marker brushes that look like actual markers hitting the paper, soaking in and overlapping quite well. And a whole Copic colour library to choose from. That’s what I used on the Catwoman drawing. While talking brushes, Sketchbook has a whole bunch of free brushes developed by artists, not programmers, that can satisfy everyone’s artistic urges. Such as inking quill brushes that taper and can pull off close to real style inking (with undo’s and no mess afterwards). Looks like a pencil on paper sketch of Warrant from S17, but it’s not, it’s with the pencil “brush” tool.
Look for more from me, Surface, and Sketchbook, as we explore each others limits and worlds in upcoming posts.
Toothless is one of the coolest dragons ever. EVER.
And is an absolute joy to draw. He can be serious, silly, or downright dangerous, however you want him to depict him, he’s been that for the cartoons. For these client ordered pieces, we went for a silly moments peeking onto a notebook cover with a map of Berk and another, more serious take, with the bold landscape of Berk as his background image. Both of these turned out spectacular, with BaldTraveller (of altguild.com fame) adding his incredible leather finishing skills to each piece. In particular, the depth he attained on the wings of Toothless are remarkable and give this leather a sculpted feel.
Each year, provided we get enough snow, I pile it up and carve it up for the kids. Ok, two lies right there. We ALWAYS have enough snow, this being Winnipeg and all, and it’s more for me as I don’t let the kids touch/play/near the sculptures till the melt happens. Scroll down to see the sculptures I did this year.
You may have seen these around the province summer 2014. MTS launched a new campaign that year touting their phone coverage to cottage country. As in many campaigns handled remotely they needed someone to get some shots for a management presentation.
Did I mention these were spread around Manitoba? And they needed them THAT DAY for tomorrow’s presentation? No? I must have forgot that in my hustle to drive to various parts of Manitoba. Luckily, weather cooperated and the photos turned out great. While not advertising quality, they are beyond the quality typical of presentations of this kind which are typically done with a phone camera.
A day of fine weather produced some nice photos of this almost antique luxury liner for the client. The projects challenges were in finding locations large enough to park a bus and the lighting challenges of the interior. (more…)
Despite (or probably because of) the rain in the morning, this tournament turned into one of the most fun events that I’ve photographed. The people were just great, the lighting wasn’t harsh, and emotions were on display which I was able to capture throughout the day. In high speed sports, golf in particular, the REACTION is more important to capture than the action and in the many shots I took that day I believe I lived up to that mantra. (more…)