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Taking Baby Strokes

Ok so right from the start of this whole blog-thing I’ve been doing, I’ve been talking about my art. Now I’ve made good on some of my pen-to-paper scribbles, but what I haven’t yet done is share any digital…anything. Well, that’s because I wanted something decent to show for it and for a while I most definitely didn’t have that. There’s a fair few reasons for that.

Reason one: Technical Difficulties. Two-Fold.

The set up seemed easy enough at first. My intuos seemed easy enough to set up. I picked out some features for the buttons (the quick keys as they’re called). The ones on the stylus themselves weren’t really working, mostly because I kept bumping them at first, so I just disabled those and had my quick keys set to do the things I’d tried to set the stylus-buttons to do. That was fine. (At first.)

No no, the first problem came, apparently, with my choice of program. I admit I hadn’t looked too much into my options. I knew Photoshop was a thing, and I knew Gimp was your free semi-equivalent program. It…is not. Equivalent that is. It will do the job if you need a free photomanipulator and you learn how things work with it, and I have used it as such for a while. I don’t manipulate many photos extensively mind you, but I can tell you most pictures I’ve posted on this blog have been lightened. And anything on white paper was ‘whitened’ because all of the lights in my home have a yellow hue to them so it made all those drawings look weird. However as for making actual art, I very quickly ran into extensive and obnoxious glitches that had very long and complicated ‘solutions’ online. Since I can’t afford Photoshop I assumed that this was what I was stuck with and settled down for hours of troubleshooting.

Luckily that didn’t happen. In the first thirty minutes I stumbled on someone mentioning this other program that was also 100% free by it’s very design – Krita. It also, apparently, fairly recently released a very much improved version 3. It’s been fully created by kicksterter backing since the beginning, and it was specifically designed so that anyone and everyone can make digital art if they so choose.

Well there we go! A free program designed for drawing tablets and aspiring (and professional) digital artists. And it has not disappointed. But it has had a learning curve of its own. Which I will address in reason two (the learning curve).

Ok, I know this section has been long so I’ll keep the rest short: I’ve had a few problems with the tablet itself. Specifically I had to uninstall all components and re-install the drivers once in the first few days because it hadn’t installed correctly. After I did that, though, my ‘back’ option (essentially ‘undo’) no longer worked. So I uninstalled and re-installed again, among other various troubleshoots. It still doesn’t work. I’ve tried it on all the buttons on both the tablet and the stylus. Every other potential setting works. So uhm, if anyone has a solution for this, please tell me. Thank you!

Reason Two: The Learning Curve

Hooooo boy. There is a learning curve. It took me a while just to be able to make lines in a way that resembled my current skill level – which I’m well aware isn’t particularly high, but it’s not as bad as it was looking for a minute there. Basically the first couple sketches I tried to make – including my first attempts at just drawing basic shapes – looked like grade school scribbles. I mean regular kid grade school, not pro artist grade school. I’ve seen some pros put up their grade school ‘scribblings’ and even that looks great. It looks like the kind of stuff you see in movies that you just know was drawn by an adult trying to make it look like it was drawn by the kid because of how unfairly good it is. (So unfair guys.)

Then there’s learning Krita. Some things are obvious and easy if you have any knowledge of these kinds of programs. Layers work similarly to how you’d expect them to, though you might have to learn some of the more advanced options. The color selector is there, brush options, etc. But there’s so much more. But we’ll get there in a minute. First – my first attempt!

Yeah, I cannot draw a proper circle on a good day, and this was while I was still struggling with straight lines. So please for give my lumpy sphere. And just…everything. I gave up on the shapes fairly quickly, considering they never really work out well for me anyway. I know that’s not a good sign artistically, but I do know to use my shapes to build bigger pictures and…well, I have a lot of work to do as far as shading goes.

So I hope it’s fairly obvious but I started in on that without looking up any tutorials beyond basic troubleshooting. I wanted to see what I already knew and what I still needed to figure out. Turns out…I need to figure out a lot. Especially because a lot of things in Krita are significantly different from Photoshop. Like blending and, to an extent, shading. (There’s still options like ‘burn’ but, one, I had no idea where to find it at first and two, there’s better options than burn, as I found out.)

So let me give a mega shout-out to all the artists on YouTube, especially ones who uploaded how-to’s with programs other than Photoshop. There are a fair few programs out there, too, and it’s nice to get a chance to see others looked at.

Specifically there’s a channel called GDquest (and they have a Twitter too) which had a great blending tutorial which I copied a little bit on my own to create this magnificent beast:

I originally had a bright yellow sphere but that was horrible so I turned it orange and then I actually liked the outcome, even if some of my edges are a bit weird on all of them. I wasn’t too concerned about completely cleaning the edges up since this was more focused on shade/highlight/blending. These spheres give me hope.

I also found a lot of help from Jazza(Draw with Jazza)’s YouTube channel in general, though I can’t tell you specifically what videos as there’s so many and I think I’ve had them on non-stop for the last couple weeks. Well, when I’m not watching Good Mythical Morning that is. That latter one is unrelated. But it is on YouTube so kinda related? Anyway Jazza has a lot of tutorials too, but he mostly sticks to Photoshop. He also has the highest level drawing tablet (Cintriq) so sometimes some of his tutorials are a bit, well, geared towards not me. But that’s fine. There’s still plenty to learn outside the technical realm too, and watching all the different challenge videos he’s done has also been rather inspiring.

Anyway, one of the other tutorials I found was one discussing various brushes available in Krita – at least, that particular person’s favorites. While I did play through with all the different ones he suggested, I also took that time to test out literally every single brush. Which was fun, but unfortunately I don’t have anything to show for it because I didn’t change canvases as I was doing so and as such as I ran out of space I just colored over the canvass and switched colors and kept on going with the next batch until I’d done every one of them. I can easily say that I verily agree with Mart(‘s Struggling with Drawing)’s suggestions. But then, I’m also super newb so maybe I’ll eventually branch out to others. Right now, though, this feels like a good solid start point which I didn’t have with the initial attempts.

Also later in the video he made a jellyfish which I sort copied but also made my own:

One thing I very quickly noticed was how easy it can be to make things look nice. Like, if I’d had to draw this out without the options in Krita…..well, you can see my most recent efforts at drawing in previous posts. (As for how accurate that jelly is, I know it’s not at all accurate. But I’m not sharing it because it’s a super accurate realistic jellyfish. I’m sharing it because it actually looks kind of nice just as it is.)

So that’s where I am as of now, and there was some procrastination involved since I didn’t want to go and read all the long articles or watch all the 30 videos I had open (yes – I had 30 video tabs opened alone, some pertinent to beginning with Krita or as an artist, others more advanced but I was really curious, but it was 30 all the same). But when I buckled down and did it I noticed marked improvements right away. Which in turn got me really excited to make more.

And since my next effort is a bit more ambitious than my last few, I do admit I have some concern that I might get frustrated again. But I’m also immensely excited. Plus so far it doesn’t look horrid. If I stick to what I’ve learned and keep learning new things as I go, I’m certain it’ll turn out fairly decent.

I think the mock up I was making for myself up in that corner looks better than the actual picture I was trying to make. I’ll probably take it and make it it’s own picture after I finish the first one.

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