Our second monthly coloring contest has come to an end! Once again we received so many beautiful entries. Thank you to all the participants and to our wonderful judge, Nikki Hodges. We loved looking through all of your lovely owls!Read More
It's the Month of Love! Did you know that the barn owl is a solitary creature until it pairs with its mate? Once they find one another, they will remain together for the rest of their lives. This month let's celebrate these feathery companions with a coloring contest!Read More
Wow! Our first monthly coloring contest has concluded, and we can't believe how many amazing entries were submitted. Thank you to all the participants. We loved looking through all of your beautiful images <3 It was a difficult task to choose a winner...Read More
Today, I am wading back into the Silmarillion to bring you widespread panic, epic conflict, devastation on a cosmic scale, and hopefully some interesting Photoshop tips.
The scene I am working on for this two-part series is of Melkor (now named Morgoth by a furiously angry Feanor) and the taking of the Silmarils. This is a global catastrophe for pretty much everybody in Middle Earth, except perhaps for Balrog real-estate agents. And we see all of this against the backdrop of the specific anguish of Beren, who has returned to see his homeland of Doriath burned in the battle of Sudden Flame. The goal of this composition is to collapse both these small and large concepts into a single image.
I always start these images as scrappy little ink drawings, which I have enlarged here, but really, they are just scraps of barely legible lines. From these I pick the one that strikes me the most and wrestle it into a photoshop file.
Quick tip: When making your early conceptual file, it helps to know what size you want it to eventually be. Going for a 16x20 painting? Go ahead and drop this composition into a file size of that dimension. It will save you headaches later.
Now that I know generally what my composition will be, I do some exploring. First, a quick monochrome pass in Photoshop to clean up and enhance my scrappy little ink drawing. This is very important as it establishes the lighting effect for the image. Line and value is the intellectual statement of an image, while color is the emotional. So for the feels I lay in some basic colors (in Photoshop) as my target for the final image.
After arriving at a color comp I am happy with I do studies to really flesh out some of the key elements in the image. I am not very rigorous about how I do these. I just start grabbing whatever paper or cats are around to draw these on. In this case I wanted to try out a new Daler Rowney drawing paper with a few Caran D'ache Pabo pencils.
Morgoth's design proved initially very tricky. I liked him as a shadowy menace with only eyes in the color comp and this seemed to serve the narrative of the scene the best. But I also really want to draw an ancient, seared, withered, angel-elf, demi-god face. (It would just be fun! I shouldn't need more of an excuse! And you're not the boss of me, I can do what I want!) ... After trying several versions with his face clearly visible in the composition and even giving the image the overnight test I realize that I just have to murder my darlings ... and went back to the shadowy figure. (I'm still going to do an image with that face in it at some point though and you can't stop me!)
Now that I've finished with all this over-wrought, preliminary procrastination, I finally begin the tight drawing. For this drawing I use lightweight bristol paper. For pencils I am using Prismacolor Turquoise pencils (an old favorite of mine) for the murky shadows, and a mechanical pencil for the detail-work. I use a small tablet light table to do the transfer.
In Part 2, I will be covering the digital painting of the image. For colorizing this image I will be doing something a little different than I usually do. First, I will be using more opaque layers and Photoshop's blender brushes. Also, instead of working from a neutral mid-tone towards a fully saturated image, I am going to be starting with a dark and highly saturated base and painting in grays and complimentary colors to slowly work the image towards the color comp. It's a bold move. Tune in next time to see how it plays out.
Announcing 2018s first monthly Coloring Contest! Color "In the Waning Light" with a free downloadable pdfRead More
We are headed to GenCon in Indianapolis for their 50th anniversary show! It should be a super fun event, so if you are in the area be sure to drop by to say hello! Here is a preview of some of the brand new original paintings and drawings we will be bringing to the show.
By Justin Gerard
In a recent post I was asked if I'd go into more detail about how I apply and saturate color when I work digitally. Today, I'll be giving a brief overview of this.
Please note that this post is geared toward people who are familiar with Photoshop, but still searching for how to best use it to colorize their illustrations. Photoshop Geniuses may find the following a little basic. (Digital ninjas, yetis, warriors, and Kevin Sorbos will find this utterly beneath them)
For the purposes of this post, I created the above monochrome watercolor to colorize. I usually work over full color watercolors, but this should help keep things a bit simpler. (Just know that you can use all these same principles when working over full color work!)
NOW, FIRST OF ALL:
Painting digitally over drawing or a monochrome painting has 2 major pitfalls to avoid:
#1 The Pernicious Photo-tint Look. (Think: old colozied photographs) We don't want this.
#2 The Vile Plastic Over-painted Look. (Think: purple wolf baying the moon airbrushed onto the side of a mobile home) We don't want this either.
The first pitfall suffers from too much information from the original image, while the second suffers from not enough. We want somewhere in between. And thankfully, Photoshop has been built specifically for this. All we have to do is use the right combination of tools within it.
SO LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE BASICS:
To apply color in Photoshop I begin by making a new layer and then selecting a mode for it. In the example below of Little Red "Gonna-Ruin-Your-Day" Riding Hood, I have applied a flat red color to a selected area of her cloak. As I change the layer mode we see how the effect dramatically changes.
As you can see, most of these when used alone, will leave our image looking photo-tinted. (Pitfall #1)
That is where a process of applying a combination of several different layer modes in sequence can be extremely helpful. Consider the following combinations:
Notice how the final effect in all of these offers a more natural looking saturation of colors. Here's why this works:
A surfaces true color is only revealed in the area between the direct light and the shadow.
For this reason, we are only used to seeing "true" red in limited areas. When we see an object painted in a single shade of red, it looks wrong and somehow flattened. This is because where the object receives direct light, the red will take on the color cast of that light, and where it is in shadow, it will take on the color cast of the environment's ambient light. Furthermore as objects recede from the viewer the color is further altered by atmospheric perspective.
Certain layer modes saturate more heavily than others. Some darken as they saturate, others lighten.
OKAY JUSTIN, THIS IS STUPID AND YOU'RE STUPID. WHY NOT JUST PAINT WITH NORMAL LAYERS?
Normal layers are great! If you are just getting started, you should work with just these until you feel you understand them. They behave the most predictably and are extremely versatile if you are using brushes with low flow or opacity.
However, if you are adding digital layers over top of a traditionally painted image you will find that eventually you obliterate portions of your original, and the that the final effect is plastic and uneven. (Pitfall #2) To truly take advantage of Photoshop's power, you need to use transparent layer modes.
Photoshop has a dizzying array of options for colorization. What is important is finding what works for you. There is no real right or wrong. It is just whatever you can use to get what's in your head onto the screen.
For me, the majority of my transparent layers are made up of Multiply, Color, Soft Light and Screen. You can do essentially anything with just these four and end up with a solid image.
Multiply Layers tend to darken and add chroma in a very dull application. This is great for slowly building up colors and adding texture and tone to your image. It is very much like working with traditional watercolor. Great for building shadows and toning your image.
Screen layers are essentially the opposite of multiply, these also add color slowly, but they lighten instead of darken. I use these to add direct lighting over the dark layers below. By picking a warm yellow color here I am able to slowly work up a nice natural looking lighting effect to my figure.
Soft Light Layers are bonkers. They have no master, and obey no man. The math that governs them is not fully known to science. What I do know is that when a bright color is used on a soft light layer, it will allow for a very bright saturation of color which does not affect the details beneath it. For instance, I used a bright green color on a soft light layer to really pop the bright greens out from the rest of the image.
Color Dodge Layers scorch out highlights. They are extremely brutal and should be used VERY sparingly. Too much and you are lighting your birthday cake candles with a flamethrower. But when used sparingly, they can help to intensify your brightly lit areas as well as any glints of detail light. I use Color Dodge layers to sharpen highlight areas, add rimlights, and sharpen object profiles against their backgrounds. When alternated with multiply layers it will help push the value range of the image.
Color Layers. Not shown here because I use them so sparingly, but I do use basic color layers to push and pull color in limited areas. The Color layer mode is the classic means of photo-tinting, (and I need not badger you any further with warnings there). Just know that you shouldn't overuse them, but that in limited doses they are excellent. For instance, killing chroma: If an area is too red, I can select a blue color and lightly apply it on a Color Layer and it will pull the red back into check.
Normal Layers. Finally, there is just no escaping at least some opaque work for me when I work like this. But now that we have already established our value range and our colors are fully laid out, we can add details and opaque work that blends rather seamlessly with the rest of our image. I also use it very transparently and often set the layer opacity to less than 50%.
This general sequence offers me solutions to the problems I generally face as I work through an image. Everyone's artistic temperament is a little different, so play around with the different modes in different sequences and see what works best for you.
I hope this was helpful! As always, I take post requests, so if there is something you'd like me to cover please let me know in the comments!
Disney and Gallery Nucleus are collaborating on a "Beauty and the Beast" inspired art show in anticipation of the new film. We are very excited to be participating in such a monumental event!
BE OUR GUEST: AN ART TRIBUTE TO DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
March 11, 2017 - April 2, 2017
Opening Reception / Mar 11, 7:00PM - 10:00PM
I am so honored to be participating in Spoke Art's Miyazaki Tribute Show in their San Francisco gallery. I decided to illustrate My Neighbor Totoro, because it was the first Studio Ghibli movie I saw when I was a child.
I will have the framed original available at the show, as well as a limited run of 50 canvas prints.
Thursday, February 2 - 25, 2017
Opening night reception:
Thursday, February 2nd, 6pm - 9pm
816 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Hey guys! I wanted to share some images from "Masters of Sketching" by 3DTotal. The book is available for preorder. The book is 272 pages long and includes tutorials from myself along with some pretty amazing artists! All preorders come with a free sketching bundle. The book will be available on December 5th <. arti. dfgdfgdfgdfgd. werwerwerwerwerwerwerwerwrwerwersdfsdfsdfsdfsfdsfsfdsfdsfsfssdfsdfsdfsdfsdfsfsf.
Featured Artists Include:
Patrick Ballesteros, Paride Bertolin, Mike Corriero, Tom Fox, Eliza Ivanova
Zoe Keller, Kikyz1313, Abigail Larson, Sean Layh, Larry MacDougall, Jeremy Mann, Christina Mrozik, Jim Pavelec, Bobby Rebholz, Kirill Semenov, Annie Stegg Gerard, Ania Tomicka, Eduardo Vieira, Colie Wertz, and Sam Wolfe Connelly
By Justin Gerard
HAPPY AMERICAN ELECTION DAY. Let's not talk about it. Instead, I have a garbage review of some cheap paper for you!
I've found that sometimes, the cheapest materials out there are all you need. Like hot dogs. You don't need Châteaubriand and caviar every day. (Maybe I don't need hotdogs everyday either but let's stay on topic) In a world of spectacular art materials, a sheet of basic copy paper and a Bic pen, which together cost less than pocket lint, are still fantastic tools. Perhaps you can't paint the Sistine Chapel with them, but they are more than sufficient enough to sketch out the idea with. Being cheap doesn't always mean being bad.
Recently, like a plague of Kudzu overtaking the interstates of eastern America, I've seen more and more of these Canson XL pads cropping up anywhere that sells art supplies. And like most other aspiring artists out there, I still hold out hope that there is a secret set of materials that, if found, will do all the hard work of painting for me.
All I have to do is find it and the fountain of youth, a comfy chair, and I am set!
To this end, I often try out a lot of the new stuff, regardless of wether or not it is being marketed towards students, weekend watercolorists, or panda bears.
Canson's student grade XL series offers a variety of paper types, Bristol, Drawing, Mixed Media, Watercolor, Sketching, and so on. All of which are priced amazingly low compared to other similar papers on the market. They are also all recycled and made using sustainable means and whatnot. So you can feel smug and superior to everyone else while you draw.
I gave each of the papers a try (since they are basically free). They all feel surprisingly okay to work on and do a serviceable job at what they are marketed for. I was most impressed with the Mixed Media paper. While it has not done anything for me as far as mixed media goes, it was wonderful to draw on.
(It just seems to be poorly branded. It should probably be called, "VERY Dry Media Paper" or "Use Pencils Only Media," or "Only Self-loathing Masochists Use Watercolor On Paper Like This." I leave the exact phrasing up to Canson's Branding division.)
One of the more interesting aspects of the XL paper, is that each page offers 2 separate drawing experiences on the front and back. One side is smooth and the other offers more texture.
For testing out their wet media I picked up a pad of the XL Cold Press Watercolor Paper. I'll be honest: I usually hate cold press paper. It is often absurdly textured, as if painters only ever wanted to paint on cinder blocks or tree bark but were duped into using smooth papers by the Illuminati and Lizard people. However, Canson's XL paper is a very lightly-textured cold press, and actually feels a bit like something in between a Fabriano hot press and a more Strathmore cold press. So it works great for someone who prefers something in between.
So how does it handle?
I like how it takes pencil and I love how laying in initial colors feel on the paper. Paint goes on smooth and can be pushed and pulled rather easily. It allows a little bit of lifting out of light colors, and dark colors can be pulled out all together if you like. This is great if you don't care too much about using very wet washes and you prefer to noodle the colors around as you paint. (As someone who probably applies too many washes this is annoying, but that is why I tend to work on vellum bristol over cold press papers in general anyway). Bottom line: if you like watercolor paper that behaves like watercolor paper, it does the job.
As far as a purely watercolor paper goes, Canson's XL cold press paper is a lot fun and I would recommend the paper if you are looking for something basic and affordable to work with every now and then.
If you plan on painting the Sistine Chapel, I might recommend some of the heavy hitters of the watercolor world, but at a tenth of the price, this is a great alternative.
If you do want to try some of the more expensive papers with similar feels to them, try out Fabriano's 300g Hot Press paper, Strathmore's 500 series illustration board for wet media, and Canson's own Montval Cold Press.
Note 1: In closing, I should note here: Materials are important, but they aren't THAT important. A good artist could work on anything, even tree bark and it would still be impressive. But what materials can do is make your life easier and may allow you to better play to your strengths as an artist. However, there is no silver bullet or secret formula that can make up for lack of practice and technical ability.
Mission Blue is a project developed by Sylvia Earle to create "Hope Spots" around the globe within our oceans. These areas act as nature reserves, letting them heal and regenerate. The intention of this show is to bring awareness and to raise funds for this charity.
My contribution is "Red Deep". A piece inspired by the endangered Deepwater Redfish, an amazing creature that can live up to 75 years in the wild. Fisheries are the main threat to the survival and recovery of the species.
If you are interested in the original painting, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Haven Gallery is located 155 Main Street, Northport, NY and theMission Blue show runs from October 29-November 27th. Details are up at
The opening will be October 29th from 6-8pm.
Gallery Gerard will be in Reading, PA at the Goggleworks center for IlluXCon 9. Here are the brand new pieces we will be debuting at the show this year.
Hey guys! "The Gryphon Hunters" and "Fairy Tales and Folklore" shipped out on Friday. Thank you all SO MUCH for making this such a successful 2016 sketchbook release. While all of the limited edition books have been sold, we still have some of the standard edition books in our shop!