Creative Habit: Portraits

Hello! Gosh, it’s been a while. I’ve been in the whirlwind of school and have neglected this blog. Now that I’m getting my bearings together, however, I’d like to start making another creative habit! This time I’m going to do two hour digital portraits. So here is my first one from last night. It took me approximately an hour and a half and it was done in Photoshop CS5 on a Yiynova MSP19u


This is Gena Rowlands one of my favorite actresses. This was based off an image of her in her leading role in the movie Gloria (1980). She reminds me a lot of of my late aunt Melissa who I miss dearly. 

For my technique I used brushes that I sampled myself from textures of mountains and rocks to sort of underlay her strength and solidity. I think I might try making my own brushes for these portraits using textures from photographs of things that are reminiscent of the person I’m painting. It wont show much and will be very subtle, but it reminds me of the spells of health and good feeling that my mother weaves into her food as she’s cooking. No one sees the symbols of protection and love that she stirs in with the spoon, but the feelings of warmth and hospitality are as real as ever.

This is one of my first attempts using color after my first creative habit as well as the start of my portrait painting class. I really wanted to approach this like I would a traditional painting. First, I made an evenly toned background with an umber-like color. I then took a dark umber and drew in the basic structure. Then I went ahead and put in a very basic value structure with the same color and followed with layers of color.



Sadly, when I was done with the painting, I realized that it was done in a resolution of 72. So the print will not be good. But it’s alright~! This is a practice piece. I am happy to have made as much progress as I have and would like to set a goal of completing one of these every weekend. 

Hope you stay tuned!



Creative Habit: Best Work

Here’s a quick review of (what I thought was) my best work from these four weeks!

Week 2


For this one, I’m actually thrilled with the atmosphere I captured in this and this is one of my better value scales for sure. It’s got a soft look to it–I tend to go very sharp with my digital paintings because my general traditional medium of choice are graphite and colored pencil. I remember wanting do do all of these tightly rendered leaves and plants. I started to and then realized how distracting that would be. I think that keeping them blurry and placing them where I did helped draw the viewer’s eye around the composition. Also–the reversal effect of a light and dark plant. I wish I could have figured out a better texture for the ground so that the back ground’s blurriness could send it back farther, but it’s not too bad!

Week 3


This was a close second. For this piece I definitely could have incorporated darker values in the water a well as a reflection, but overall I’m happy with the pose and proportions of the wolf. I also like the texture I captured in the fur as well as the way I completed the face. I think the only complaint I have about this one is that the limbs and face look a little flat. I needed to find a way to contour shade them so that they successfully look like cylindrical objects rather than cut paper, but I remember really enjoying the process of this piece as well as the final result.

Week 4


This one might be the least favorite of my best. I’m not particularly happy with my rendering of the snow, but I appreciate the value scale I used as well as the background simplicity. Normally I respect back ground with more detail, but I think for this piece it might take away from the strong silhouette of the wolf’s action. I do like the effect I did around the wolf’s feet as the snow kicks up in a powdery fashion. I originally tried using the dissolve tool, but that got a little too close to drawings of snowmen I did in Microsoft paint when I was 5 years old. There’s a quick touch of the dissolve brush setting–nothing more. Snow just might be a thing I’ll need to study in the future! It’s a bizarre surface to render.

I really feel that I’ve improved greatly in the realm of digital painting. I chose to go black and white with these to not overwhelm myself, but to get some good practice pieces in. I think that next time I do a digital painting habit it will be in color–probably limited palates at first and then a larger range. Baby steps!

I can’t wait to do another habit soon. Stay tuned!

Take Care and Happy Holidays!


Creative Habit: Week 4 (Final)

After much delay and a crazy week, I bring you to the conclusion of my four week creative habit!

The beginning of the week consisted of digital sketches of wolves from photographs and videos. They were quick and rough. I included a couple of cubs in this group as well!



I proceeded to do some longer, traditional sketches. A couple of these were drawn from photos I took about 4 year ago of wolves at the Hershey Park Zoo. I had almost forgotten about them, but I’m glad I found them. It makes me a bit uncomfortable to draw from photographs I didn’t take (unless I’m taking small aspects from several photos. Maybe that was instilled with me in high school by my art teacher. Either way, it was a relief to have my own sources to work from and I was much happier with the results of these drawings.


I decided to develop one of the sketches I did in this series to a short 1 hour speed painting. This is the first development For the final I took the second wolf out since his proportions were a bit wonky. I gave it a wide canvas for a sort of cinematic look.



I then did a longer piece which took me about two hours time.



Overall I learned a lot about my own abilities as well a creating for the sake of creating. I often go into things with a grand idea or expectation about how I want the end result to be. Honestly, it’s been the biggest enemy of my ability to produce work. I have countless, unfinished digital drawings and paintings in my computer. They depress me every time I see them. I had such big hopes and vision and then nothing was doing it justice. What I instead need to do is go “Hey, I’m gonna do a 2 hour self portrait.” That’s it. That’s all. Not, “I’m going to do a self portrait featuring symbolism of feminist struggle and it will make people cry with it supreme beauty.” Sure, that piece might come some day, but for god’s sake I’d go days without drawing and honestly, I feel that no one in this school (especially me) knows my artistic abilities because I think I have nothing to show for myself because the pieces don’t reflect my perfect vision of them–and I’m right. What I need to do, however, i loosen the hell up and toss those illusions of grandeur in the cupboard for another time.  What I need is practice. What I need is to get all of the bad work out of me. I need humility and critique and to keep pushing myself to create, create, create! This destructive cycle of constantly disappointing myself for no reason is making me crazy and quite frankly, it made me not want to create almost at all this semester. It was a struggle of epic, frustrating proportions.

Then along came a little project called the Creative Habit; and I finally feel like I can breath a little again. Little by little I have to keep making. It’s the only way I’m going to learn. I want to thank my instructors and peers for their encouragement throughout my process. I’d also like the thank myself for following through. It may sound silly, but I don’t remember the last time I thanked myself for anything.

Hope to share more creative habits with you all in the future, but it’s almost time for the holidays and to eat some better meals then Cheez-Its and ramen.

Next I’ll be posting and reflecting on my improvement and best work!


Creative Habit: Week 3

I started off this week’s sketches by drawing from live streams of wolf facilities that I found on the internet. The first sketches are terribly rough because the subjects were moving….a lot.




Then, things got better when I discovered that I could take screen captures on the mac I was using at the time (command+shift+3!) and they would automatically save to the desktop! Okay, I’m nerding out pretty hard here, but sometimes macs are like magic to me. By capturing the screen it was like taking photos if I’d been there physically. That made it a lot easier to draw their poses. The wolves were adorable and very active Tuesday morning. A group of them would run and play, one carried a large deer leg in its jaws while a crow eagerly bounced behind it, trying to get a piece. There was a couple of wolves that would take turns looking particularly majestic and important while posing on top of  a rock. It was a joy to watch these animals. I’m so glad live streams like this are available.

By the way, here’s a link to that particular couple of streams

One is partially visible at night, but it’s best to catch these in the daylight.




Here are a few of the week’s digital sketches. Each of these digital value studies were between 15-30 minutes long. They may be quick and rough, but they’re great warm ups for the week’s final painting.  I really feel that I’ve improved a lot in these first several weeks. I’ve gained a lot more confidence in the digital media, which has been much needed and long overdue. I can’t wait to do all sorts of digital paintings over the winter break. Feeling limited and unable to express yourself through mediums you desperately love is very difficult.


This is my final piece for the week. I gave myself two hours for it. This time I tried to experiment with flat brushes to add a variation in texture. I could use some suggestions when it comes to simulating the look of water, but I’m pretty happy with the wolf. His anatomy is working well in this and I’m happy with the result of the flat brushes, it adds interest to the fur.

Well, until next week!


Creative Habit: Week 3 (Wolf Walking animation)

As a variation on my daily sketches, I made a quick animation of a wolf’s walk cycle. I figured it would be a good opportunity to not only sketch, but to do a quick locomotion study.

Creative Habit: Week 2 (part II)

With the Thanksgiving holiday here, I’ve had to go home to be with my family. I have done some more wolf sketches, but do not have access to a scanner or camera at the moment. So more visual developments are on the way and will definitely be here by the end of the weekend. I also am close to the Akron zoo so I would like to go to their facilities and draw their red wolves. I think that having live models is very beneficial. When you’re viewing an object in reality–in three dimensional space, you’re able to really perceive the volume of the object or organism on a much more advanced level then when viewing a photograph. Animals can be difficult to work from because they move unexpectedly, but I’m looking forward to that challenge.


Here’s my second digital painting of the week that I completed in 2.5 hours in photoshop. Again I used a photo reference because of my lack of live resources.

The creative habit project has been wonderful for me so far. Allowing myself a constrained time limit to complete digital paintings has increased my ability significantly in these few weeks. I would really like to incorporate this habitual process for other things I would like to learn. I would definitely like to continue to do digital painting each week (one painting at least). By allowing myself only a small amount of time, it allows me to really complete a piece, release, and then actually move on. Before, I’ve found myself starting a digital painting and saying “oh I’ll finish and post that later.” I never do. So now I’ll allow myself two hours for a painting. Whatever is done is done and it will be shared and posted. As someone who works best under pressure, this is getting some good quality work out of me.

It’s also very satisfying. I can’t tell you how strong my urge is to paint in photoshop whenever I sit in front of a cintiq. I find myself trying to paint in the middle of my animation class. It’s something I’ve needed to make time for and exercise–not having time and sneaking it into my class time has been disrupting my learning, and has been frustrating. Sometimes I forget how important it is to allow myself time to purely create.

So by the end of this weekend, I would like to present two more completed digital paintings. I think that next week, I will move on to color work, starting with limited palates and then moving on to completely local color. Color is difficult for me in digital painting, but with more practice I should be able to get a better handle on it than before.

Until next time,


Creative Habit: Week 2


My first few sketches this week were digital. I wanted to capture more movement with the wolves I drew. Gesture drawing these figures on a Wacom Cintiq was beneficial in loosening up my handling of the medium for when I’m completing rough animated segments. I tend to stay very stiff with my digital work because my mind separates it so far from actual drawing at times. I then continued on that day to do an hour long digital painting of a wolf in Adobe Photoshop (CS5)


I used a sort of cut-out method for this one, I first sketched out the wolf and used a sort of planar analysis to outline the different areas of value. Then, using the lasso tool to select areas and shade them accordingly. It’s a quick way to do value studies…and it’s sort of like Paint-by-Number….but I actually drew it. Regrettably, I used only one layer for this painting, so the preliminary sketch has been erased as I painted. I will definitely correct that in my next pieces.

Speaking of which, here is the sketch for my next piece. This will probably be a shorter one, one hour or so and then I’ll try to do a 2-3 hour piece at the end of the week.


I have more images in my sketchbook to scan. I’ll have those up and another digital painting or two up in this post by the end of the week.

Creative Habit Project: Week 1

I started off my week by doing daily sketches of wolves to understand anatomy as well as get a handle on drawing them again. I drew from photos and video footage due to my lack of access to live specimen.

wolfsketch004   wolfsketch005wolfsketch006    wolfsketch007


I did a couple of studies of the skull, since I had a challenging time making an educated guess on the angle of the top of the head and brow ridge without proper anatomical knowledge. I plan to do more anatomical studies next week, starting with the skeletal structure, overlaying the musculature, then finally the surface of the wolf. I’ll probably use tracing paper and colored pencils to complete this. If not–I’ll go digital. That would be an extra challenge.

I, somewhere down the line, decided I would do one digital painting a week. I would limit my time on it to 2 hours. However, I feel like that’s not enough. So I may do two one hour paintings and one two hour painting each week. But for the first week, I’ve gotten to test the waters.

I used a total of 3 layers in my painting, two of which are showing. The background, a sketch, and a rough value study that I progressed to a finish stage. This was the initial sketch.Image

For the final I used a monochromatic value scale. I want to make sure I do a couple of black and white paintings to solidify my range of value before I move on to color. Maybe the short paintings for the weeks following will be monochromatic and the final will be in color.


I have already definitely improved my digital painting skills as well as my anatomical understanding of the wolf. Allowing myself a limited time period for a painting is actually great. I would complete so many more digital paintings if I only allowed myself a certain amount of time. When the time is up–it’s finished. No exceptions. I would then have to post it. This is definitely key.

I can’t wait to get working on next week’s work! I contacted Ironwood Wolves and I will probably be setting up a time with one of their animal ambassadors the week after Thanksgiving. During the week of Thanksgiving, while I’m home, I’m going to try to get to the Akron Zoo to do some life drawing of the wolves in their facilities. Between photographing and drawing those two live sources, I will have plenty of material for the week following.

I’m off to get some sleep. I will also be posting more frequently next week! There’ll be some daily sketches spread out through the week.

Take Care!


The Creative Habit


Digital painting has been an interest of mine for a long time. Ever since my 5 year old self discovered Microsoft paint, I’ve been trying to make digital drawings and paintings. However, I’ve noticed that despite my amount of practice, I’m nowhere near the level of my peers. It’s horribly frustrating. I don’t use the right techniques and I feel that everyone else knows them. Every time I sit at a cintiq to animate, I end up taking some amount of break to do a quick digital drawing or painting. I’m always itching to whip out my tablet monitor and start painting, but I usually go look on blogging sites such as Tumblr, see the amazingly proficient digital artists, and tell myself to go eat a sandwich, take a nap, and give up. It still, however, doesn’t scratch the itch.

I would like to use this chance of the “Creative Habit” assignment for my class to build my skills. I would be doing two to four short speed paintings a week. I spoke with Charlotte Belland about this. I was at first unsure of a subject. I figured I would draw myself or another person, but then Charlotte asked me to tell her my favorite animal. It’s the wolf, of course. So then, I guess it was decided. I’m going to do at least an hour long speed painting of a wolf at least twice a week. The other days, I will be sketching a few wolves a day. When I was very small, I drew wolves constantly until I was about 13. Since then I’ve been drawing mainly humans and objects. I’ve always complained that traditional art classes don’t stress the drawing or painting of animals at all or as much as they should. I’ve come to find that plenty of animation and illustration classes in college require you to go to the zoo, observe animals, and sketch them. I have not, however, had the privilege of taking a class like that yet. I think it will be very fun and interesting to visit my root interests that got me into drawing as well as attempt to catch up with this digital age of painting!

Charlotte also informed me of Ironwood Wolves, an agency providing animal ambassadors for art, film, photography, and education. They care for wolfdogs of different hybrid levels. One of the wolfdogs was brought to CCAD to a cafe-sketch class, to allow animation and illustration students to have a live subject for drawing. Here is thir page on Facebook
I have gone ahead and liked it. Charlotte also said that their canine friends may come back for another drawing session. I will try and contact the head of this page, Rachel Lauren, to see if I can schedule appointments with the wolves. I will also try to go to the Columbus zoo, but my funds are low, so I’ll have to see what I can do. Other than that, I will probably find documentary footage of wolves to paint from when I can’t get to these places.

It’s been a lot of work and also a great time as we wrap up the pipeline project. I still have a couple of scenes to do clean up animation on before I can be officially finished with my roles. Overall it’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve been really nervous recently because I don’t know if my major is my be-all-end-all career. I’m not terribly good at character animation. It’s been hard to deal with, but I just have to realize that not everything about animation is for me. I’m very glad I was assigned to clean-up because I’m finding that I actually like it! I have a hard time cleaning up my own animation because I lack size consistency and the movement isn’t always as thorough as I would like. My peers in this project are really nice animators so the clean-up process is coming smoothly.

I don’t have much in the realm of clean-up work on me at the moment, however, here’s a quick illustration I did to establish the look of the character I was assigned; Scott.


Wrapping Up