Sketchbook: sparth - depot - custom shapes
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  1. #1
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    sparth - depot - custom shapes

    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.

    s

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  3. #2
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    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.

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  5. #3
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    YESSSS - you are awesome, monsieur. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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    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"

    and voila!
    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!!!)

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    awesome!! nothing more to say right now, thanks a lot for sharing the info too!
    keep posting please!

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    Thanks for coming back and explaining your technique. This technique is like gold! Very exciting.

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    yay!!

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    This?
    Is awesome.
    Thank you for sharing!

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    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 .

    Hope to see more. They're all impressive.

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    you are all very welcome!
    i'll update as much as i can.
    there's a lot to talk about.

    i'll also try to post a tutorial if i can squeeze the time.

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    I like to call them Sparpes or Spapes.
    (Sparth+Custom Shapes)

    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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  17. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparth View Post
    you are all very welcome!
    i'll update as much as i can.
    there's a lot to talk about.

    i'll also try to post a tutorial if i can squeeze the time.

    Whats there to talk about? Make some Halo stuff and creatures with your spacecrafts n stuff
    plasma guns you know. explosions etc.

    These paints are all very nice and flattering. Id like to see more combat

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    Oh shit, he back!!!!!!!!!!

    Does anyone smell awesomeness!

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    Stunning environment work, great composition and very strong use of light... Makes for some kick ass imagery! Keep it up!

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    Wow pretty damn impressive stuff man. What program do you most work in? if you don't mind me askin

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    If I had to.. Rawfully Critique. Id say way too many paintings with Back engine Auuxilary of space craft

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    thanks all!

    i actually pushed another one today, based around rock structures.
    custom shapes done for most of it.

    it is always fairly easy to built a landscape with this system: it's all about benefiting from custom shapes to built things straight away, without losing time. by stretching and placing each shape, your organize your canvas compo.
    using custom shapes is not meant to finalize or polish things, but on the contrary to organize the skeleton of an image. there's always time to reshape and repaint afterwards.

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    This is a really helpful thread. I really like your technique and amazed by the effects it creates!

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    kewl i will give it a go sometime

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    Excellent SB and insight. Thank you!

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    I love your art!

    Your technique sounds really interesting, I'll definitely give it a go. Thanks for taking the time to share that with us.

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    the technique sounds like it would save a lot of time if you construct your drawings that way and thank you very much for sharing it. I do think it would help everyone greatly if there was a video of how you use that technique, it doesn't have to be long, or even have a voiceover or anything, but I think just seeing how you work would help us understand what you mean.
    BTW: great art!!

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...86#post2864086 sketchbook<-- my sketchbook check it out
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    Why so awesome?
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    thanks guys!

    drey101: i'll do my best.
    but once again, i think this technique requires knowledge of how to built images, how to organize the visual direction of your subject, etc etc.
    some will instantly understand how this thing can be valuable to them and others will not see the point. i'm not saying you need to be competent to enjoy it etc, far from it. but there's a building philosophy that probably goes with that type of process and graphic mecanism.

    here's an extract of the previous one.
    and that second image is a simple sketch i did some weeks ago. very simple horizontal compo. the only good thing about it is that it must not have taken more than 3 or 4 minutes.

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  31. #24
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    Lovely stuff! Keep it up!

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    Awesome!
    I would love to see the whole process of an image. Like how you add color and and all that stuff.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    amazing new artwork as usual and thanks a lot for sharing!
    great to see you post again!

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    5 stars! Most useful post i've read all month. Can't wait to play with some custom shapes

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    Awesome - you are truly a god among men . Will definitely be giving this a try in photoshop.

    "Never regret thy fall from grace, O' spirit of Icarian flight, for the greatest tragedy of them all to face, is to never feel the burning bright"
    Believe my lies, for I tell the truth about them. Or would you rather me lie about telling the truth?

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    god sparth, youre like a scientist of concept arts lol thanks for sharing!

    Last edited by Majora; November 24th, 2010 at 12:45 PM.
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    woah this is seriously cool. This is so much fun. It would be great if there was some more functionality in the shape tool but even still I'm having a blast

    Thanks Sparth!

    Oh hey the [] keys scroll between the custom shapes

    Last edited by Toastage; November 24th, 2010 at 04:41 PM.
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