Monday, April 26, 2010

Digital Painting: Phoenix Rising

I finally finished my first 100% digital painting! "Phoenix Rising" as I call it was done following a tutorial by Kirk Nelson. The tutorial titled "Beginner's guide to digital painting" was to take about 5 hours and have 14 layers. I, however, took three times as long to complete my painting and had about ten more layers! I left steps out and added my own steps in which truly resulted in a final image unique to me. Although I have done digital painting before in small amounts on several of my digital creations, this was the first time the entire image was created by painting digitally with just my Wacom tablet, pen and Photoshop CS3.  From this tutorial, I learned how to use the Dynamic Brush engine to create the fire, which, was probably the hardest part of the image for me.  Here are the basic steps that I took to get to this final piece of art:
Sketching and Blocking in the color:

Starting with a grey background, the first step is just laying in different colors from the palette which ranged from black for the shadows, reddish brown and orange all the way to white for the highlights. I used just a regular brush in various sizes to block in the color and outline the Phoenix. I still applied my traditional art technique of painting light over works for both oil and digital!
Next I will begin to give the Phoenix more shape by using white for highlights and black for the shadows. I used the smudge tool to blend in the hard lines:

I created a custom feather brush and began to paint in the feathers.  This was just a little time consuming!
Next, I created a Gradient layer just above the background layer and set the colors to purple and black and dragged the gradient across the canvas:

I created a custom brush in the brushes palette for the sparks as well as using a glitter photoshop brush by RedheadStock from DeviantArt and added them around the Phoenix:

Now it was time to paint the flames. I created a layer just beneath the sparks layer and using the Layer Styles control box, enabled the Outer Glow style and the Inner Glow style.  Using a bright orange I began to create general shapes of the flames surrounding the Phoenix and then switched to the Smudge tool to pull the flames out of the orange paint:

Repeating the same steps above, I change the Inner Glow color to red and the paint color to black and begin creating the dark red flames:

I added a fire "glow" to parts of the flames by selecting different sections, filling with red and then using Gaussian Blur filter to turn the hard-edged shape into a soft glow.  Adding the light trails was done by repeating the steps for the flames but just changing the color of the glow and the strength of the smudge tool:

Finally, I added a warming filter to really pump up the oranges and used the sharpening filter to bring out the details of the feathers and Viola! A mythical creature comes to life!

Now that I have learned the basics of digital painting from sketch, I think I would like to take the Mythical Beasts encyclopedia that I have and pick another creature of legend to paint on my own without a tutorial.  It will be interesting to see if I can remember everything I learned from creating the Phoenix. Perhaps at the next Digital Art Day at Lita's I will attempt to do a Pegasus! Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Wildflower Thicket

I was able to spend the entire day of Friday outside working in the garden and the yard.  The weather was gorgeous and nature was in abundance.  Of course there are always things outside that distract me from the task at hand and I soon found myself down at my wildflower thicket with camera in hand:
Part of my wildflower thicket.  It's about 40 feet long by 5 feet wide
and here are some of the things I love about it:

Bee on the Pea

Dragonfly in the Light of Day

Ladybug Hugs

Old Field Toadflax

Yellow Vigna, also known as Cowpea

Of course I did manage to make it to my garden and do some work.
Spring in full bloom:
Cuban Buttercup

Munching Monarch Caterpillar

The Marigolds I planted are now blooming in yellow and orange

One of my three Passion Vines

Pink Pentas...I also have white and red blooming.

One of my Plumeria plants 


 I planted red, yellow, pink and white Plumeria.

I love my Powder Puff bush.  Every year it gets bigger!

My Strawflower bloomed a twin!
 Two flower heads fused together on one stem.

And finally, a Bachelor Button ready to bloom with a little texture added:

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful weekend full of floral delights and maybe even some ladybug hugs!
Mulch Love,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring in the Garden

I spent all day gardening. I hadn't been able to get out into the yard all week, partly due to several days of rain and partly due to other commitments. I really miss it when I don't get to spend time amongst the beauty of mother nature. Today I planted out the Grandpa Ott Morning Glories which will be a deep purple.

My Heavenly Blue Morning Glories have bloomed and frame my window along with Mexican Flame Vine:
I have one hybrid which bloomed on the same vine although it's not entirely blue but fringed along the edges with a lovely purple:
I also planted wildflowers and lavender along the edge of the yard. I already have a natural wildflower/plant border along the lake. I just let it grow naturally through the grass and now it's a natural habitat for dragonflies, butterflies and a place for turtles to lay their eggs or for the ducks to hide their babies from the ospries, hawks and otters. I thought more wildflowers would be a great addition and some will self seed for next year. I planted out Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper today. And, I got my first bloom on my Mister Lincoln Tea Rose bush:
It's a bit battered from the storms this week but the deep scent of traditional rose is still heavenly. With all the rain, my fern that sits in a corner of the butterfly garden has really greened up and has become much fuller.

The butterflies have started showing up. I've seen Monarchs and Sulphurs. This guy has eaten his share of leaves off the cassia tree:
I've not seen any Julias, Zebra Longwings or Gulf Frittilaries but I've got a few Passionvines all ready for them:
I've got my nectar plants growing strong including the Pentas and the Porterweed. I've seen the little thumbsized hummingbird enjoying nectar from both:
While I was gardening today, a female bluejay sat above me in the garden and sang the whole time. It was so beautiful and calming. Some people garden while listening to the iPod...I feel like that would be a disconnect from the whole purpose of being out in nature and letting all your senses experience it. My sense of hearing caught the sounds of the wild green parrots and I followed them to my bottlebrush tree where they were munching away on the blooms. I knew I wouldn't be able to sneak in, get my camera, sneak back out and take a picture without disturbing them so I just let the moment be and felt blessed to be graced by their presence. Here is the tree they were eating from which is in full, glorious bloom:
Next up in the garden is finally getting some catnip planted so Sami stops eating all my patio plants!
Til next time,
Mulch Love,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Digital Doodling and Lots of Leaves

When I was a child, I would doodle while on the phone, as I was watching TV and, yes, even in school classes when I should have been paying attention. I'm still doodling, but mostly on my Wacom Tablet which is the digital equivalent of pen and paper. Here's what can happen when you have a couple of hours in front of the tv, a Wacom on your lap, a computer file full of unused images and a bevy of Photoshop brushes:
My digital doodling becomes a piece of art called "Spirit Dream".

I only used two images to create this, one of a vintage Florida sign and the side of a painted building:

The rest of the elements in the image came from doodling with Photoshop brushes.

This past weekend, Lita and I were together for one of our Creative Saturdays. This time is was a Digital Art day at her house. I brought her some fresh cut Bird of Paradise from my garden:
I can't display them in my house because they are poisonous to cats and it seems a shame to not let their beauty grace an interior so Lita is the lucky recipient!

Lita had chosen a photo of a sailboat to turn into a digital watercolor. It turned out great but I'm still waiting on her to blog about it (Lita...get busy blogging girl!) and when she does I will post a link to it.
I had chosen to work on dividing a tree into all four seasons. I wasn't fully aware when I started just how much work would be involved. As with my previous digital painting of the Phoenix, I'm still working on it.
Here is a little taste of the Autumn section of the tree:

I had to create the leaves brush from scratch and using different sizes, add leaves all over the bare tree. I used about five different tones ranging from dark reddish-brown to light orange to give it contrast and depth.
No free time to continue to work on it this week, but next week I hope to get the Summer section of the tree done which will mean even more leaves in thick, dark rich tones of green!
Until then, try some digital just might end up with a work of art!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Collectible Photographic Note Cards

I've just added a new gallery to my website: Collectible Note Cards!  These collectible note cards feature some of my most popular images!  Each set of 12 includes envelopes and letter seals and come in a variety of sizes including 4"x5", 4"x6" and 5"x5".  Each set of 12 sells for $12.00 each...that's only $1.00 a card!  And, when you send it to someone, you are giving them a unique piece of art instead of a mass produced greeting card and you support an artist which is always a great thing!
The images are also available for the same price at my Etsy store if you prefer to order through there.
Take a look at the newest additions to the gallery:
Exploration, featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Digital Studio Magazine

Transitory Dreams

Whisper, one of my personal favorites!

Bicycle at Rest, Notting Hill

Bird in Hand

These note cards make a great gift!  I'll be adding more to the gallery in the near future so keep an eye out!