Saturday, June 27, 2015

Digital buried treasure, as promised

When I was desperately searching for workable art for the "rejacket half of Keegan" project last week, I stumbled over a cache of digital art going back to 2007-2009, with the most recent pieces being some of the last work I did right before discovering the world of 3D rendering.

Many of these pieces were produced for a kind of "value added" progam intended to make the Mel Keegan website "sticky" -- that is, to get people onto it, and make them stick around and/or return. And in fact, it worked. A couple of years running we actually did a digital desktop calendar ... basically, a set of (free) guycandy wallpapers, part of which was a calendar. You just set them as wallpaper, month by month ... and each month you revisited, and got your new art. And this did actually work -- bumped the traffic to the site, gave book sales a nice little bump, too. At about the same time we also uploaded some stuff to Zazzle, which was interesting ... before Real Life became a right royal pain for everyone involved, and we ... drifted away from all this.

(Hmm. Gotta wonder about using the best new art for cards, prints, etc. I'm hesitant: the cost of Zazzle is so high. For example, mug blanks are US$20 before you add art and ask folks for $21, so ye artist gets a whole buck! Lemme think on it.)

So, this is what I was doing prior to 3D work, and even now it's rather attractive.

Interestingly, each of the models in the above images was sourced from photos ... but it took three images to make any one of our digital guys, and even then a whale of a lot of painting was done on them. The faces were completely painted, to begin with, to create a new face. A different body was used -- often reduced to line art and repainted, before "face replacement;" hair was entirely hand-painted (check out "Jungle Book," for instance, at full size); a third photograph was used to provide the color pallet for the model; the whole thing was recompiled into a new figure/face combination, then the fun began with a new background, new foreground, overpainting and photographic effects.

Say... check out the Poseidon image. That's a composite guy added over a photo of the ocean off Brighton Beach! (That's the Brighton in South Australia ... not the one in the UK, of course.) The horse was a color sketch, working from a couple of photo references. There's a HELL of a lot of work involved in this kind of art. It's very different from the current technique of adding Photoshop effects to an image bank picture --

In fact, the main reason I gravitated to 3D work so fast was that when you get the hang of it, it's soooo easy by comparison with the painting techniques you see above! Still ... the more you work in 3D, the more you come right back to painting. Like the broody, moody Home from the Sea cover. That's 75% painting, though it started life as a couple of renders. And this one:

The "figure in a garden" dates back about two-and-a-half years, but I can still remember the sheer volume of painting on this one! I painted the figure. the weeds. The bricks. The walls...!

All of the work done on the pure-digital-painting shots above was done in Micrographx Picture Publisher. I didn't get Photoshop until after I upgraded to a 64-big PC and discovered (to my horror) that Picture Publisher only worked on the 32-bit system, and GIMP only wanted to crash!! to the desktop, causing me to rip out my hair ... causing Dave to track down a third-party retailer for Photoshop that offered the product an attractive price. The rest is more or less history. (The matting and text-as-art effects in these shots is all done in Serif, incidentally.)

All I need to do now is start (!) posting here regularly, sharing some of the rafts and rafts of art that have been done in the last year and more!
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