The Graphics Blog

September 29, 2011 in Graphics

Hello and welcome to the Graphics Blog! You may have noticed I have moved from the World 43 Blog to the Graphics Blog. Well… I suppose that says it all actually. I’ve moved from the World 43 Blog to the Graphics Blog. Take a look to find out what goodies we have in here!

So! What’s this blog about?

This blog is a place of both entertainment and learning. It is always great to see new artists and designers entering the “graphics scene”, and existing ones developing their abilities even more. You can find the graphics section of our forums here:¬†The Graphics Forum which is the place for the competitions, “CnC” (Comments and Critique), showrooms, tutorials, requests and general discussions.

To start things off, let’s take a look at the “sotw” (Sig of the Week) competition. This is a weekly competition in which competitors create a “sig” (signature) to fit the theme, so for example a “smudge” sig, or “freestyle”. This weeks theme was “defaults”, so using nothing but the tools that came with the program used (photoshop, GIMP, etc). This takes a completely different approach to the traditional sig creation, of which you will usually find a series of “stock” (existing images to be further edited or manipulated) images and use them with various effects to create the piece. The defaults theme requires 100% original content, drawn or created by yourself, so really steps up the level of personal creativity involved. We had some really nice entries in, it was good to see everyone having a go and even the ones who don’t have any experience with defaults themes did really well at creating their own personal pieces. You can find the defaults competition here: SOTW 25 – Defaults to view all the entries and comments.

The winners were:


- harbinger297




- -FreakOnALeash-

I thought it might be a good idea to show people exactly what I did when creating my piece, (Hopefully we can get all the future winners of the sotw to do a little piece on this) it was really very simple. I have been doing alot of tutorials and reading alot of advice on digital drawing, it’s kind of become my main interest of late though I am not very good at it (it’s still early days for me learning it). I then thought the defaults competition was the perfect chance to try and apply what I’ve learned so far in a practical way, and given that I have been focusing on the human body in my drawing attempts, I went for the eye, which I always loved personally and I find it can be the surest expression of art and personality in the way people draw eyes. I tried to capture how I was feeling at the time, but beyond the simple “sad” look of the piece I did try and create a bit more depth to it. It didn’t come off as well as I had hoped, but the intention was there anyway. For the piece I used photoshop CS5.1, and a mouse. This piece was heavily influenced by a variety of tutorials and learning references, I am still learning so just about everything I do is influenced from somewhere, there is alot of good tips and advice around the place on digital drawing and I found it really helpful while doing this, and really handy to have when I got stuck on what to do next. So if you are interested in how I went about drawing it, this is what I did:

So, the first thing I did was to draw the basis of the eye. This was actually the hardest part for me, and I spent quite some time looking at various learning resources and actual eyes to try and get used to drawing the basic figure of it in lines. I have found every great artist starts with these kind of lines or “stick figure” type of drawings and build from there, and having tried it myself I can see why, it really helps to keep the proportions of everything as you go along.

Then I added soft-brushing. I did not use a set size or hardness for the brush, but changed it quite frequently. As you can see there are some area’s that are darker than the others, this is because I changed the opacity (transparency) of the brush as I went, to create a “gray” rather than a “black” in most places, except for the areas where the black will be shadowing.

Then I blurred it, and began adding the white to the pupil and the rest of the eye, as-well as around the edges. The black shadowing across the pupil was a technique I learned from a tutorial, and it really does help to create reflection. I tried just having the white alone to try and create the depth and reflection (as eyes are naturally reflective) but it just didn’t seem natural.

This is where I started to attempt the “detailing” so used stronger and smaller brushes to outline the edge of the eyelid, the pupil and the shadows.

I’m not particularly good at eye-lashes, and that will be the next thing I focus on learning (much of the focus with this was on the pupil itself). Still, I think they manage to pass it off without being too distracting, the bottom ones are the most stand-out and I probably should have used a smaller brush and longer strokes, looking back at it.

I added a simple photo-filter to create the colour, rather than brushing it. I think it added a better colour and texture than brushing it would have, plus it was an easy way to keep the shadows in place without being “botched” by brushing. I originally did intend a black and white drawing when I started, but decided to attempt the colour and was happy with the result in the end.

I added a few blue layers over the eye, on “soft-light”, “colour-burn” and “hue” (If you don’t know, they are “layer settings” which work to blend the colour and content of the layer into the one below it) to create the colour.

Followed by another blue layer on “hue” around the rest of the eye, and some additional white in the middle on “soft-light”. I also attempted to smudge the eye brow a bit more to make it less “blocky”.

And finally I added the shadow in the top right, and the tear which was brushed in blue and set to “pin-light”.

I found the whole thing to be a great learning experience, and it really helped to teach me more about using shadows and building up a piece from the bottom upwards. The shadows in particular are very helpful to any piece, and I often neglect them in my work but they are pivotal for a realistic looking piece. I hope you found something helpful or interesting in that anyway, I think eyes are a great place to start digital-drawing with personally, they are both simple yet complex, and any half-decent artist will be able to create a far better piece than my attempt in next to no time at all. Something to look into practicing if you are interested in drawing anyway. Hopefully each week I can grab (probably not so in-depth) but a general review from the winner on how they went about creating that piece.

So what else is happening?

We have had quite a few good creations recently, so here are just a few of my personal recent favourites from our lovely designers:


- daiZdesign

This is from a new member on our forums (amongst many good works he posted) but this was my personal favourite. I really liked the texture and use of colour, it has that “seemingly simple” look about it even though it’s not simple at all but I find it very effective.

The acceptance that thou has paint on thy face. Or the acceptance of being in a different in a world full of greys and a lack of embarrassment and a semblance of pride at being different from the norm… or something like that. – Zenron.

I really like the “explosion of colour” in this piece. There is alot of colour flying around everywhere, but it’s not so much that it becomes distracting and hard to look at. The smudging is, of course, very good and it just has a nice over-all “feel” to the piece I find.

- A collabarorion by Returned. BeIntelligent and Platina.

I find the use of lighting and specific colour here to be very effective. The c4d usage is prominent without being over-bearing and I like the subtle depth of the background.

- Insane in the Brain.

The “oil painting” type of smudging here I think is very well done and a good way to think “outside the box” of the standard methods you see around the place. What I like most about this piece is the creativity behind it, and I find that as an “art” piece that it is quite thought-provoking.

A few words from our new mod!

harbinger297: So welcome and thank you for agreeing to this interview. You’ve recently taken over moderation of the graphics section of the forum, as the former mod Genetic Engineer has “retired”. How do feel about what you have seen in the graphics forum so far?

Matt | Syntex: Well, I can see that there is a thriving and enthusiastic community already in place. I’ve felt welcomed into that community, and I feel that together we can foster a mutually enjoying experience.

harbinger297: Do you have much experience with forums of this kind (graphics forums in general)?

Matt | Syntex: Nope, I can’t say that I’ve had any experience moderating a graphics board before. That means I’ll have a lot to learn.

harbinger297: We of course have many moderators on our forums with different styles and opinions, do you feel a “case by case” type of moderation is the most effective, or a “by the book” moderation? Or do you have your own methods of moderation?

Matt | Syntex: I think you summed up two main different styles of moderation quite well. I wouldn’t say that I take a Tea Party-esque approach to interpreting the rules: I would consider myself more of one to practice “case by case” moderation. That being said, I will of course try to remain consistent in any decisions that affect more than one party.

harbinger297: What about your policies on the aspects of the forum which tend to appear on a graphics forum, for example copyright infringement, legality of things, “cheating”, people requesting work such as homework completion or work completion, things such as that to name a few?

Matt | Syntex: Hmm, good question, I would certainly frown upon any copyright infringement or other illegalities including passing others’ work off as you own, and would make sure that would be appropriately dealt with. I’d have to check with my elder to see what a suitable punishment for someone convicted of that would be. On the subject of asking others to complete work on your behalf, I’m going to take what might be a somewhat controversial stance on that. I would protect the asker’s right to request, and probably wouldn’t interfere with the request directly. It’s up to the members of the forum if they consider it just to be assisting someone in what they know to be a shady activity. Obviously it is a different story if the person asking isn’t upfront about wanting the work done as something they would submit as their own.

harbinger297: What about your own personal interests, what are your favourite types of “graphics” such as art, design, photography, etc?

Matt | Syntex: Well, I love photography, but I don’t have a camera or really practice it at all myself. I still like looking at others’ photos, though. For more traditional graphic design, I guess I would say I am partial to a smudging style of artwork. Vector sigs are awesome, too, but not my fort√©.

harbinger297: Do you plan on participating in the sotw’s, botg’s, or any other competitions people come up with?

Matt | Syntex: Sure, definitely the SOTWs at least.

harbinger297: I certainly look forward to it. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, do you have any final thoughts you would like to share with the graphics community?

Matt | Syntex: I am truly looking forward to this and hope that everything goes smoothly :) Also, I’ll be able to brush up on my graphics skills hopefully :P

A few words from our old mod!

harbinger297: Hello, and thanks for taking part in the interview. You recently “retired” from the moderation position of the graphics forum. Could you explain a little about why you decided to quit?

Genetic Engineer: Well I decided that I needed to put my education as a priority over the internet. But also since I had been doing it for 7 months, I needed a bit of a break from it. So I decided to resign.

harbinger297: You have alot of popular support from many members for your modding, what kind of approach did you take towards the modding, for example a “case by case” approach, or “by the book”, or etc?

Genetic Engineer: Well yeah I think the main reason for that is because I knew everybody in the community before I got the job. My modding style was really a case by case view, but to be honest I never really handed out infractions or warnings, it was a rare event :P

harbinger297: How do you think the new moderator will fare with the graphics community, given that they are largely used to your style of modding after 7 months or so?

Genetic Engineer: Well I think it will be a struggle to start with if I am being honest, the guy is largely unknown in the community with little graphics experience. But I think if he persists, actively participates in things happening and the skype chat, I believe he could become a good mod. I think the main worry for the community is that they go from my active modding style, being involved and introducing new things, to having a shadow mod. I think aslong as he doesn’t become a shadow mod, life will be good for the graphics community.

harbinger297: Have you enjoyed your time as moderator? Do you have any particularly fond memories or events during your time?

Genetic Engineer: I can honestly say it has been a great time, the guys have been (mostly) supportive and its been a great and pretty easy job to do. I can’t really think of moments that stand out, but the off-topica raid was pretty awesome with the guys at the time. Thats the first thing that came to mind :P

harbinger297: What are your plans now, for the future?

Genetic Engineer: My plans are to still actively participate in the forum. I hope to advance my logo design skills as well as whatever comes in my graphics projects. I don’t think I will ever mod again … unless the opportunity arises in a few years.

harbinger297: Well thank for you taking the time to both be interviewed and moderate our forum, good luck with your projects and anything else that you do in the future.

Genetic Engineer: Thank you very much Harb :)

Illuminating Visions by Zenron!

Invader by Dyst(Strangeprogram)
(Link to the DA page)

Zenron: I had a conversation the other day about abstract art with a friend. They didn’t believe that anybody was creating any truly good abstract art. She was wrong, you want to know why? Dyst. Pretty much him on his own was enough to win the debate. Looking at his work from a compositional perspective, you’ll find it is pretty much flawless, but the thing which captures me to Dysts work is the fact that they’re actually interesting to look at. He makes an over-reliance on circles actually work.

Soul Slavery by peter jaworowski(he1z)
(Link to the DA page)

Zenron: I’d suggest looking through he1z’s DA account. He really is a great artist, and he’s done a lot of professional work for a lot of big name companies. This is just one of many examples of pure aesthetic glory. It also has a really awesome theme to it as well. Of course there is the obvious one of child slavery in there, but I took that on a more metaphorical sense of a child being forced to conform and constricted by societal constraints. The fact that the child is asleep is also a big factor to me. Becoming a mindless drone afterwards.

Iroshi by Jonas De Ro(Jenovah-Art)
(Link to the DA page)

Zenron: Another person that I suggest people should look. This guy is probably one of my favourite artists. The colours, the texture, the depth, the detail. All perfect, and it’s interesting to look at. This is one of his more colourful pieces, and it really stands out to me among his other pieces.

Desert City by Jamie Jasso(JJaso)
(Link to the DA page. How awesome is DA by the way?)

Zenron: The realization that what you’re looking at isn’t actually a photo. When it comes to photorealism I think this is one of the best guys I’ve seen in awhile. The depth in this is really great I think. Jamie has done a lot of professional work as well. In particular a lot of art games such as Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, Halo Wars, Fable II and Star wars: The Old Republic. Guy has been around.

This weeks featured tutorial:

Is a piece by lawpaok. As it’s quite large I will simply link to it, you can find it here:

Lawpaok’s IronMan Tutorial.

I find this tutorial very enlightening not only from a designers point of view, but from an observers as-well. It’s interesting to see how he made the final piece and also helpful to learn new techniques. I really like the final product, the colour-tone, lighting, effects, it is a good example of how these things can produce a really eye-pleasing piece. I hope you find this tutorial helpful and interesting, I certainly did.

Harb’s section.

I’m going to hijack the blog as I usually do for some ramblings of my own. Feel free to switch off at this point, but my blog; my rules, and I feel like rambling (it’s what blogs are for, of course).

As I mentioned earlier recently I’ve really been into digital drawing. I have been making sigs and the like for quite some time, but it has always bugged me that I can’t make them myself from scratch. I doubt I will ever reach the level of the artist’s work I use in sigs, the creators of the renders and stocks, but I hope one day I can achieve something near that. It’s a long, long road however and I am perfectly aware of how much work these guys put in to get to that point, and I feel I would be willing to go those hard yards to persue that dream.

The question though is where to begin. My “natural” talent with drawing is minimal at best. I believe I have what it takes, the creativity and “eye” for it, however the execution is where I am lacking. Anyone can create the image in their mind but where it counts is transferring that to the canvas. I have been looking at a few various design and art courses to get started with, but I am at the point in my life where I seem to be looking at a cross-road.

On the one hand I have a dream. A dream to create the art I can see in my mind, to apply it to the canvas and to show the world what I am capable of. On the other however, I have life and she is a cruel mistress. I am 18, I have a wonderful family and a girlfriend who I would like to live with, but she has dreams of her own as-well, she is going to university soon and we will find it hard to get by, the courses alone aren’t cheap let alone the rest of lifes costs. I have had a few offers of full-time work and study in crane-operating and construction, quite well paid jobs but not an area that interests me, I have too much creativity in me to want to simply sit and operate a crane all day, but the chances of me making any money to support myself and my girlfriend with the graphics is extremely minimal, and won’t be an option for several years probably. It will cost money for things such as the courses, resources and supplies, the time spent doing the hours or work, etc. So I suppose the cross-roads to me that I’m looking at now are the dream vs reality. Is the dream simply that? People always say you should fight for your dreams and things like “if you can make a living doing what you love, you are succesful”, but I fear the cost if I pursue this dream may be too high to consider. However, doing manual labour or some such for the rest of my life isn’t my idea of a happy life, and I’m sure that could also end up being just as bad, there’s only so long anyone can do things they don’t enjoy before it really affects them.

It seems a fairly common sentiment though amongst artists and designers. Only the best can suceed in this field, and to get to that level you have to spend a long time working very hard, if it was only my life in the equation I wouldn’t hesitate however I need to think about those I care about as-well, and how it could affect them. Ultimately I really should “man up” and take the more reliable path, get an apprenticeship or go into the most stable industry I can find to support her through her course and things, but… Still, I can’t help but think: “What if…?”.

The dream vs reality. Ah life, your complications always confuse and belittle me at every turn. I have some time to decide, however it is rapidly running out. The tick of the clock is absolute, and breaking it’s face isn’t really much of a solution. I guess in the end I will just have to try my hardest whatever happens, what more can be done than that.


I won’t bore you with too much of my rambling. Feel free to post any comments below or on the forums, and I hope you had an enjoyable read. I look forward to the next blog, so until then, ciao!

– harb.