i haven't posted for ages. and i guess it would be wise to open a new sketchbook on CA, where i'll be able to gather some of the latest stuff, as well as having a new spot to 2011.
the initial reason why i want to open that new sketchbook is because of several techniques i've found out and started using within photoshop, and that some of you could benefit in various ways. if i can use that sketchbook as a repository for all the findings, it will be all good, and i'll be able to come back to it easily.
we've been talking a lot with thom scholes about it, and we're still experimenting and pushing this thing forward.
also, kekai, as well as other artists and friends, have started messing with the technique. it's super exciting seeing stuff pop up that way.
i have no idea if people will all find it valuable, but i do, so i'll just share it.
so here's a bit of an explanation of that "new" process thing i have been developing these last weeks. call it "template paintings" or whatever you like
last year, while messing around in photoshop, i happened to fall on the custom shapes tool menu. and despite the fact i had trouble seeing anything useful in there, i still had that thought in mind: i could paint with my own shapes, if there was an easy way to vectorise my shapes.
for some reason, i did not go further and it remained an idea, mostly because i was too lazy trying to figure out how i could have one of my shapes transformed into vectors in a fast way.
then around two months ago i went back into that custom shapes menu. this time i went the other way around, i tried to find online if there were any fun and interesting shape packs that could have been valuable for anything concept design oriented. and i was shocked (well sort of). tons of templates, big and small, of animals, trees, walls, textures, bad stuff, patterns, water drops, logotypes. good stuff sometimes, bad stuff often. the thing is, these weren't particularly "concept art oriented", hence why i never figured out it could have been valuable to give it a try at a working pipeline based on these shapes.
so i went in photoshop, and found out that vectorizing a shape was STUPID TO MAKE. it just took two buttons. what a moron. (well it took me one hour the very first time though).
so i started vectorizing tons of shapes, and got the hang of it. slowly but surely. integrating the brush shape thing in my workflow. to the point now where there's not a single image not using custom shapes in a way or another.
i will add some tips later on. and i'll also upload shapes in order for you to understand better how powerful that thing is. i'm going to update it today so the sketchbook in itself is WIP.
for now, here's a bunch of artworks done with shapes.
i'll develop further on in another post.
so let me continue with that whole custom shape thing.
i'm actually cut and pasting extracts of conversation i have been having elsewhere, so i hope it still makes sense
a few notes:
- custom shapes being vertex based when applied, you never have size issues. you just apply them and it will always look good. true, it has never been a major issue with brushes except for tiny ones, but the end result with custom shapes is just "different". there's a different feel to it. i personally think it's extremely useful to compose, to start an image fast, without going straight into the photo bashing part.
- more important, it's the way you can tweak each shape horizontally and vertically, that makes the whole thing so fun. the way you apply custom brushes makes each stroke a random act that can look good, or bad. for custom shapes, the abstract factor remains whenever you play with superpositions, but the whole workflow just makes more sense. at least to me.
- since the end result, once applied, is either black or white with no shades of grey, you can go back to all the layers and select each elements super fast.
- you gotta give it a try yourself, but no matter the shape you use, the human eye tends to forget the seams as well as any repeating element. it's fascinating.
here's a brief 3 minutes description with an image, literally done in 3 minutes too. only 4 shapes used, with the horizontal flip. it's amazing how you could belive the whole thing has been done with a lot of time, and with a lot of tools/brushes.
the other thing i love is that shapes tend to create patterns that are graphically pleasing. they're not true rhythms, more like similar areas, but the eye, i think, is attracted by that type of visual philosophy. for example if you sketch a mountain with custom shapes, you will have a general pattern of shapes that will "look alike" without falling into repetition. i just think it makes a lot of sense design wise.
concerning custom shapes, i thought it was mainly an illustrator thing at first. when i created a first shape at the very beginning i was a bit doubtful i could ever use it smartly. but the more you investigate into it, the more you see the potential. and the fun!
in order to create a custom shape in cs4 or cs5:
1 - create any b&w shape with a brush on a canvas.
2 - select it with the magic wand or whatever the method you prefer
3 - open the "path" window
4 - click on the "make work path from selection" button at the bottom
5 - go to the "edit" menu
6 - select "define custom shape"
it took me two hours to do it the very first time. lol
other important notes:
- i actually do NOT apply the shape as a vector. it's called "shape layer" in the upper left side. this will create a new layer for each new stroke and it would be impossible to use. you have to click on the "fill pixels" feature in order to use the shape like you would use a custom brush. it's the most useful way, and the only one. and no need to rasterize the layer as a result.
- in order to better select some of these shapes, i often use the "cutout" filter. it works great and you can mess around and find tons of new shapes in a single image.
- it is not useful to have the same shape flipped horizontally in order to benefit from both sides. the best way is to have a keyboard shortcut for your flip horizontal, but i suppose all of you already did this right?
- when creating a new shape, the larger the pixel image, the better and more accurate your shape will b. it's often usefule to resize the image before creating the path.
- the "clear" layer mode allows you to erase things out of the layer afterwards. it makes a lot of sense with custom shapes. (thanks thom!!!)
Cool idea. I was playing a bit with custom shapes too and they are really powerful in vector form beacause can be warped into perspective without loosing quality. I never managed to organize it into smooth workflow though.
In case of blending super tight shapes with hand drawn stuff it was several times helpful to use Filter>Distort>Ripple to add some noise to the contours so that it's not so rough. You got it all very graphical so it works together well .
I like to call them Sparpes or Spapes.
I'm really enjoying the ease of which you can have hard edged textures throughout the painting, something custom brushes aren't nearly as successful with.
Nic, I'm inspired. I suppose this snow day should be spent with some quality wacom time.
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