Tuesday, May 31, 2011

381 - Triangle Shaped Scar

Dull, scary, wierd, you get to choose.  A few days ago, I discovered a small scar shaped like an equilateral triangle on my body.  The picture above is an illustration of what it looked like.  I made this picture using Photoshop, since I didn't bother snapping a photo and the scar healed fairly quickly.

Google™ search engine results regarding triangle shaped scars trend towards UFO conspiracy theories.  For a story about a UFO that reportedly landed in my neighbourhood (albeit in the 1970's, long before we moved here) please click here. 

Was my skin abrasion caused by extraterrestrials?  Keep watching the scars!

Monday, May 30, 2011

380 - Carcassone Catapult

Yesterday, we trotted out of our favourite board games, "Carcassone".  Pictured is our artistically-rendered catapult, one of many add-ons for the game.

Carcassone is a tile-laying game that resembles a jigsaw puzzle.  Players build a map of the Carcassone region, which in reality is a large fortified city in southern France.  Although many gamers don't at all like the catapult, we think it adds some interesting spin to the game.  At least, we had fun decorating the unpainted wooden contraption with colourful paint. 

Legend has it that the citizens of Carcassone were surrounded by the forces of King Pippin.  Starving, they decided to feed the last of their grain into the last of their pigs and shoot the beast over the walls using a catapult.  Pippin's forces decided that if the besieged people could afford to feed their animals so well, they couldn't be starving, and that the siege was a dud.  Discouraged, Pippin retreated his forces and Carcassone won.  At least that's the story, and the game has pigs, grain, walls, and of course, catapults. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

379 - Why Pay The Weatherman?

A recent forecast called for, and I quote, "Cloudy periods with sun, followed by sunny periods with clouds."  Honestly, why even bother?

I like drawing clouds, because if you know how to do them it's hard to do them wrong.  On the other hand, if you know how to do them, they are really difficult to do perfectly.  Today, I am setting the bar as high as the weatherman would. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

378 - Blue Rodeo

Drawing practise again, with the Cloverdale Rodeo snapshots as the theme.  I picked a blue palette so I could reference Blue Rodeo, the Canadian musicians.  And I only did that in a shameless attempt to lure Google search engine users here to JSVB. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

377 - Jeff, The Human Dire Wolf

Well, here's a new low for me on JSVB.  This is too stupid even for Ungood Art. 

The other day, we came home with enough toilet paper to cover the Moon.  I carried the packages under my arms like you see here.  All I could think of was that I looked a bit like one of those giant Japanese fighting robots from BattleTech. 

I discovered that if I stuffed a roll by my neck to simulate a small shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, then I would have the load-out appropriate to a Daishi Mech, otherwise known as the Dire Wolf.  And then I figured I had to take a picture of that and share it online.  No doubt the sort of decision that will come back to haunt me, or at least precipitate the downfall of civilization as we know it. 

I don't even like BattleTech, although I find the associated "Mech Warrior" videogames to be a guilty pleasure.  BattleTech purists will note that the Dire Wolf has retrograde knees (they bend backwards), while my knees bend forward.  I actually spent an hour out of my life creating a convincing retrograde knee bend in Painter, but it just made the picture too geeky.  At more than enough nerd factor as it is, this will have to do for earning my Badge Of Perpetual Geekdom.  Can anybody surpass this?  (Please??)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

375 - Cloverdale Sketch

On the long weekend (Canadians enjoy the Victoria Day holiday), we went to the Cloverdale Rodeo.  Of course I didn't take my sketchbook, but I did bring a camera and then today I thrashed out some sketchwork based on the photos. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

374 - The Jesus Incident

Today, I had to think fast to come up with an entry: I loaned away the Mary icon for a week to prepare her for more gilding, and so I will not be able to scan her. 

This icon was not painted by me, but I did photograph it, or more precisely, them.  These are the icons the rest of my class have been writing, all of them Jesus Pankrator, which translates very loosely to Lord Jesus Christ.  Although each artist follows the Byzantine form, individual style creates subtle differences.  Using a similar technique to HDR photography, I created a tone map by layering all of the paintings into one photograph, thereby "averaging" them out. 

Thanks to Steve, Tim, Lou-Anne, Sashi, Richard, and Cecilia for providing their paintings! 

The JSVB post title "The Jesus Incident" is taken from the title of the influential science-fiction novel of the same name, released in 1979 by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom.

If you want an explanation of HDR, please see JSVB post #373 by clicking here. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

373 - Strong With The Dark Side

I may have walked past this tree a hundred times in our forest.  I have no idea why I have never taken notice of it until now.

I saw the opportunity to try an HDR photograph.  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  The idea is that the photo will employ a complete, balanced set of values ranging from pure black to pure white.  Traditional photography usually does not portray a full gamut of values, due to limitations of the camera and the visual medium (i.e. a photo print).  Until recently, the artist had to post-process the photograph to achieve a high dynamic range.  Masters like Ansel Adams used careful metering, exotic film and paper stock, and laborious darkroom technique to bring out a full gamut.  Now, there are cameras that process in HDR mode  automatically. 

I took this photo using semi-traditional means.  I got semi-traditional results, meaning that this is a poor example of what HDR can really do.  Shooting directly into the sky probably did not help. 

What I did was take three pictures of the same tree.  One picture was on a normal aperture, one had the aperture make the picture too dark, and the last was overexposed.  I used Photoshop to superimpose the pictures and create a tone map.  More recent versions of Photoshop can do this automatically, but my Photoshop is too primitive.  Besides, I wanted to create HDR manually. 

I wish I had brought my tripod, or at least used the camera's "bracket" mode, which would have created the shots in quick succession.  Small jiggles in the camera created problems when I superimposed the images.  Although the tree in the middle looked correct, the trees in the background looked blurry from multiple exposures.  Carefully, I erased as many of the mistakes as I could.  After all that, I realized I liked the blurry look as it gave the central tree some gravitas.  So, I re-created much of the blur. 

I think that in its formative years, this tree may have been infested with a fungus which caused it to grow cankers and twist its limbs.  The tree seems to have outgrown the infestation, since the tall trunk above seems healthy and normal. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

372 - The Game's Two Stars

Today's JSVB post features cartoon breasts.  If the sight of naked knockers is offensive to you, or if you are too young to be looking at lovey-bumpers, then please do not scroll down.


Alternate titles for today's JSVB post:

Hooray for Hockey Night On The CBC!
Why Watching Hockey Is So Good
The Canuck's Other Hockey Twins
Ah-Ooo-Gah!  Ah-Ooo-Gah!

Vancouver has the hard-earned distinction of having the most annoying fans in professional hockey.  The recent addition of the "Green Men" amateur heckling team seems to have cemented our reputation for seriously ticking off all visitors to GM Place  Canada Hockey Place  Rogers Arena.   Yet at Wednesday's playoff tilt against the San Jose Sharks, the Green Men were relegated to box seats far out of heckling range. 

So, with 2:28 remaining on the clock, the Canucks fans celebrated our famous West Coast Hospitality, embodied in the very hospitable body of one currently anonymous, then inebriated spectator.  The nation beheld the legendary wonder of naked hooters in a full-frontal press on glass, while the CBC broadcaster seemed oblivious to the event (although the cameraman discretely avoided her face).  Left-winger Ben Eager, who was in the penalty box for the Sharks at the time, did give Vancouver's newest most celebrated twins a quick glance.  I imagine the offical in charge of the penalty box may have felt a lot of sudden heat on the back of his neck, but he missed the show. 

The young lady, notorious in a flash, was quietly escorted out of the game.  Reportedly, she admitted she did not realize that showing her hooters on national television was an offense.  Honestly, although I enjoy the antics of the Green Men, if it's a choice between masculine spandex versus the fan with obvious feminine charms, I choose the latter without apology. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

371 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. XII

Week twelve for my icon, not counting a couple of breaks.  I've been fighting the paint, especially on the clothing.  However, I can't keep fiddling with it forever, there is a point of diminishing returns.  So, I have been working on preparing the background, and also there will be more gilding. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

370 - Cheesed Off

On May 12-13, Blogger, the outfit that supplies the server and software that I use to run JSVB, encountered a major fault and was shut down.  Many Bloggers were affected.  Some folks completely lost ther blogs, while JSVB suffered a clock malfunction that caused a couple of posts to go out of order.   In the big scheme of things, my repair was an easy one, and so I have no reason to get cheesed off with Blogger.  I wish to thank in particular DannyVile, who almost instantly came up with the proper fix for JSVB. 

On the same day that I was wrestling with Blogger and its issues, the doorbell rang.  As is my custom, I ignored the bell completely.  It rang again, and wearily I leaned away from the computer.  I weighed in my mind the difficulty of regaining the thread of my thoughts versus how heavily bored I would become conversing with someone who had the temerity to ring twice.  Shuffling towards the door, I concluded Blogger would bring me less joy than any visitor standing on my unwelcome mat.  Yes, I have an unwelcome mat, in fact two of them.  One reads BUZZ OFF, the other GO AWAY.  Nobody pays them any attention. 

In this day of GPS navigation, I was surprised to see at the door a lost girl delivering a pizza to the wrong address.  She had simply travelled one street too far, so I redirected her easily enough.  Then I thought, dang, I could have gotten out of cooking tonight if I had thought to buy the pizza.  As it turns out, though, it had toppings I do not like. 

What would you have done in my place?  It's not like you are stealing the pizza, since you would certainly pay for it and leave a good tip for the driver. 

On the other hand, it did happen to us one time that the delivery driver got lost and sold our pizza to someone else.  It took the restaurant an hour and a half to resolve the problem, at the end of which time we were ravenously tearing into a very cold pizza delivered to us by an equally aloof driver. 

This time around, the pizza, I presume, found its ultimate address, and I ended up producing a decent chicken cacciatore for supper.  Win-win, especially with wine left over for us. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

369 - Crappy-Bear-A

Ungood Art Day seems like it was just exactly one month ago today, which makes this yet another Ungood Art Day. 

Here, I've enlarged a bit of art from a previous post.  This is the detail of my rendering of the Canadian two-dollar coin, affectionately nicknamed the "toonie".  The animal is supposed to be a polar bear.  My wife thought it was a capybara (the world's largest rodent).  Either way, it's stinkeroo enough to earn a spot in my monthly Ungood Art presentation. 

I was attempting to use a technique called "digital impasto".  It's a form of dynamic bump-mapping, likely as not using a Blinn-Phong interpolation.  Duh, duh?  The idea of digital impasto is to simulate real impasto, which is a thick-paint art technique.  The paint is applied so thickly that light reflects off of the bumpy parts of the paint.  A computer can simulate the effect by creating a height map for individual pixels.  The higher off of the surface the pixel is apparently to be, the more of the virtual incidental light source it will reflect.  The effect looks kind of like embossing.   When done properly, digital impasto looks like it is three-dimensionally coming off of the page.  When done like I did for the toonie bear, it looks like amateur hour at the improv. 

I did look at pictures of polar bears and even had a toonie as a visual reference, and the animal still came out looking like a capybara.  This wasn't even my first try, although I did not keep any earlier versions.  I guess I need more practise with the digital impasto, but as you might guess, I just don't use that art tool very much. 

See the capy-bear-a in his original habitat by clicking here.

EDIT: The remote Blogger software has suffered a major problem over the past 24 hours.  This has affected JSVB.  You may notice things like improper post ordering or editorial gaffes.  Hopefully, the Blogger people will work these issues out soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

368 - Skinmaster Palette

EDIT: The recent Blogger outage has mixed up the dates on this post and the previous one. If you were expecting to see Ungood Art, please click here to see the true May 13 JSVB post.

I've picked up a book that discusses the techniques of the great painting Masters.  It also has exercises so that the rest of us who are not Masters can attempt to follow as best as we can.  Here, I've hand-mixed a palette of colours that can be used to render skin tones.

The original hues (the colours right out of the tube) are in the leftmost column.  Variations on those hues appear from left to right. 

The big problem is that the Masters  had their own chemical formulas for creating their palette.  Not only do modern paints tend to miss portraying the exact Master hues, they also reproduce poorly on a computer screen without a lot of colour correction. 

Thanks to art-paints.com for suggesting RGB equivalents to the hues.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

367 - Ursula Sketch

Why not make today an Ursula day?  Here's Ursula Andress in my sketchbook:

Ian Fleming seemed to like her enough.

Monday, May 9, 2011

366 - Mary, Queen Of Heaven, Pt. XI

Here's today's progress on the Mary icon.  Today, I dealt with geometric shading, a stylized version of rendering clothing in the Byzantine tradition.  It was a lot harder to do than I thought it would be, and humbling as well. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

365 - A Year Of JSVB Posts

If I had kept to my original desire to post every single day to JSVB, this 365th post should have been uploaded into the Internet on December 31, 2010.  As it is, the current date happens to be Mother's Day, May 8, 2011.  So I missed my mark by a little.  At least I can say "hi" to all the Moms out there today.  We love  you!

I have finally completed a year's worth of posts in 493 days, making me roughly only 35% overdue.  I basically churn out two pieces every three days.  Some are just photos, re-uses or the occasional quick sketch, but enough seem to be pieces that take up at least four hours out of every day. 

I decided that it's time to change my little JSVB picture, after looking at the Shepard Fairey-inspired avatar 365 times in a row:

My wife  took a tremendous snapshot of me out in the wilderness of British Columbia.  I used that photo as the reference to paint the picture above.  However, I used too many fine brush strokes.  When I reduced the image down to its proper postage stamp size, I ended up with a painting that looked like a tiny photograph.  I ended up taking out the fine strokes and adding broader brushwork to make the thing look more painterly. 

If you want to see the previous avatar picture, you should find that it remains way back on my first ever JSVB post, which you can see by clicking here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

364 - B.J. The Baby

No, this is not our kid:

He's Benjamin, and he's with some friends of ours.  The reason he's on JSVB is that I am happy with the picture.  I chose to take it under very low light conditions with a slow shutter and no tripod.  Fortunately, the child was fast asleep, so he didn't move much.  I was able to get close to the dynamic range of values I wanted in the picture, but even so, a little creative goosing with the pixels in Photoshop finishes the image nicely. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

363 - Tronica Sketchwork

In both of my previous Tronica posts on JSVB, I mention the difficulty of rendering the glow effects by hand.  Although the glow is becoming very pretty, it also distracts from the line work, I am thinking.

So, I decided today to present the original pencil ruffs from my sketchbook so that the designs appear less cluttered and more linear. 

The glowing Tronica images can be seen by clicking here and here.   You will see JSVB Posts #349 and #362 respectively.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

362 - Tronica Resurrection

A few weeks ago, my friend Earl was having problems making his computer run properly.  I decided to draw an illustration of his technical issues, which you can see in JSVB Post #351 by clicking here.  My wife and I even wrote a special tribute to Earl's computer, which we called  "The Story Of Earl, His Computer, Prince Protonius, and The Mayor's Daughter Tronica".  Although the story is on Earl's blog, mention of it and the illustration can be viewed on JSVB Post #349 by please clicking here.

Over Easter, my own computer went awry, which explains why there is such a large gap in time between this post and the previous one.  A routine Windows download did not work properly, and caused an error that made a larger subesquent fix act even worse.  Before I could do anything useful, the Windows registry was corrupted beyond repair, which compelled me to re-install my system.  Fortunately, I did not lose any data, but it did take a long time to restore my applications and files over the holidays.  Worse still, there were many memorable, bloggable moments I missed because I had no easy way of scanning them into cyberspace.  I guess I will post them after the fact.

So here is a return to the story of Prince Protonius and Lady Tronica, the anthropomorphic, electronic way I see how all of the stuff is controlled in my scomputer ystem.  Here, Prince Protonius rushes to the side of Lady Tronica, who's hibernating SLI is in sleep mode.  She waits peacefully, her power-saver configuration resting upon a data pad.  A romantic to his multicore, Prince Protonius reboots Tronica's system with the Spark Of True System Restore:

Saved from fading into a Gaussian blur, the intrepid thermocouple lives happily ever after!

I based this artwork on the famous scene from the Snow White story, where Snow White is rescued with a kiss.  That's a story which never gets old.  Computer repair, on the other hand, gets old quickly.  I decided to make a fun illustration to liven up the chore.  I am still experimenting with the look of the glow and I think the results are improving.  It's still a cluttered design, though.  I really should study how the Disney artists solved their composition issues in "Tron".  All of these bright colours make it difficult for the eye to find a focus, I think.