Finding Direction

It’s a big crazy world.  The more experience in the world that I have, the bigger and stranger the world gets.  We live in an age of technological magic where the lines between science-fiction and reality are mostly just a matter of time.  One thousand years ago the human world was much simpler.  It wasn’t a very fun time to live, by our modern day measures of fun.  Children of the distant past were not burdened with silly day to day choices like “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  That was an easy one, “I want to live that long.”

Identity crisis is a sign of the times.  The huge number of possibilities that people can chase for life fulfillment is staggering.  Each and every year new occupations and hobbies are created or reinvented, new paths on the trail of life that already seems to have infinite paths.  It seems rare that someone actually knows what they want to do, what would fulfill them. Our modern lives are becoming a hunt for that one path, that one that is best suited to our skills, interests, and desires. What signs people are looking for on these paths differ greatly, but we all really want the same thing.  We all want to be on the path that makes us happier to walk down.  Limited by our short-sighted human wiring, not many people can really see more than a few years down a path, and even what we can see before we start on the path is not the same as feeling the path under your feet.

Most people don’t just try one path in life. They start a few paths and take a few turns, and often end up back where they started, with the wisdom and experience they collected walking in their circle.  A mile walked should never be thought of as a mile wasted.  We are the sum of our experiences. Each day we are forging ourselves, or allowing ourselves to be forged, into the person we will be tomorrow.  Ultimately it is up to us to weigh our experiences and glean what we can from our failures and successes.  The golden path that promises easy riches is probably a trap. People that don’t see that the first time, will usually recognize it the second time, but dang if it doesn’t look shiny still.

I often marvel at the amazing things that technology has given us.  Humanity has created a second world, a digital world. Children of today are growing up in two worlds, and inherently accept the digital world as just as real as the real physical world.  In many ways, it is just as real as the real world, and is becoming increasingly indistinguishable. People have “friends” they’ve never actually met and “followers” that live on the other side of the world.  People seldom have a firm grasp on who they are themselves and the confusion of multiple identities only compounds this.  This whole new world is full of brand new paths that are ever changing, and you need a digital identity to walk those paths.

Finding direction is the most important part of doing anything. Without direction, you’re left to be carried down whatever path the wind blows you down.  Direction sounds easy, just pick a path that you want to walk before one is picked for you.  It’s so easy, just look as far as you can see down these infinity paths and choose the one with the cheese at the end, but hurry up the timer is ticking. The paths people take tend to be following someone they trust or admire, watching the back of their mentor and not seeing the path ahead of them. Some team up to walk a path together side by side sharing the difficulties and rewards, good company can make a difficult trail seem easy.  Some stomp forward with enough determination that it destroys any obstacles in their path. Most of us don’t have that super power, but the path behind those people can seem pretty clear.  The best of us forge a path and plant flowers in our wake, making the path more pleasant for those that follow.

Obviously none of this applies to me as I have everything figured out and am walking the gem encrusted trail of happy warm times, with unicorns prancing by my sides, the sun on my face, and the wind at my back.

The Honeybee Stakes

Horseracing is an interesting industry.  Without going too much into that specifically, I can say that some of the horses have very interesting names. Some of them I am convinces are a joke against the race callers.  “Arrrrrrrrgh” is a horses name. Often a horse is remembered by having a race named after them. I’ve gathered a number of these races – one for each month – and I am going to do an illustration for them.  This is my illustration for the Honeybee Stakes.  I’m going to walk through the process, and there’s also a speedpaint video as well.HoneyBee_Clipped.00_00_39_08.Still002

Once I had my rough draft done, I traced the sketch onto better paper using my light box.  After that, I used masking fluid to cover up the little bees and the letters.  Then onto a water wash for what will be the grassy area.  I get a much smoother wash when I use wet on wet.

A little dry time, and then I do the water wash for the track area. I enjoy the way you can just build on top of water color to make the painting as rich as you want.  I did a few layers of darkening the brown of the track before moving onto the sky.  Having the bees and the letters masked made it quite easy to do a nice sky wash.

HoneyBee_Clipped.00_02_29_07.Still004Dabbing at the wet blue paint with a paper towel makes for nice little impressions of clouds.

I didn’t mask the big bee, so I was careful around him, as well as my runner and the rail. Once the blue and green were dry I rubbed the masking fluid off of there.

 

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Next onto the horse, and starting on the jockey and the bees. I used a photo reference of the horse to make sure the shadows were in the right places.

 

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Lots of Tiny bees. No wonder the horse looks worried.

I finished the details at the end with colored pencils and a white gel pen.

The original lapsed time for the video after chopping out all of the pauses was 4 hours and 11 minutes.  I also chopped out the time to mask the bees and letters.

 

What’s So Bad About Bad-Guys?

The seeming majority of plots in pretty much all stories, movies or video games can be summarized by the sentence “The good guys get the bad guys.” Sometimes this is just a partial narrative to a different plot, but it seems it’s almost always included.  There’s an interesting mental quirk that almost everyone has, people like to see a bad character “get what’s coming to them.”

The flip side to this is what I’ve started calling “Bad-Guy Anxiety,” which is the anxiety that accompanies the perception of the bad guys “Being Bad.”  In movies, these are the cringe-worthy scenes when an innocent person is about to be snuffed out, and the audience knows it’s coming. People have trouble staying still, even just keeping their butts planted in their seats.  Some people can’t help but yell “WATCH OUT!” when watching horror movies.

My 6 year old has a crippling case of bad-guy anxiety when playing video games. She’s working on it, and for a kindergartner I am in no way surprised. Bad guys can be scary, particularly when someone is not accustomed to the experience. She freaks out every time she sees a bad guy, but that doesn’t stop her from playing the game. If anything it seems to make the experience more fun for her, although she would deny that.

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So scary. Image courtesy of lightfiretech.com

Back in the dark ages when I was a child, the archaic video games that we had still had the power to induce bad-guy anxiety.  If you have ever seen a young kid playing a NES, it’s a whole body exercise, well before waggling was expected and promoted by more recent games.  It was just a natural reaction to the anxiety that goes with “not wanting to die.”  As silly as the comparison from a game to real life is, ask almost anyone playing a video game, and they will wholeheartedly agree that they’re actively trying “not to die.”  After all, they may only have “2 guys left”, you don’t know!

Illustrator’s note: The author of this post was totally whooshing his head back and forth yesterday while playing a car racing game.

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Fun Fact:  this helps you jump farther

This anxiety is paired with people’s depth of immersion.  The more zoned-in to the game, the more real it feels.  More realistic graphics automatically make a game universally more immersive.  I had no trouble immersing myself in games like Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda on the NES and even more ancient relics like Number Munchers.  But not once, did I ever care when I was greeted with “You have died of dysentery” on ye olde Oregon Trail.  There’s no anxiety or buildup involved with that one, it’s just “Bam, dysentery”, time to think up something clever for the gravestone.

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Lava, the ultimate immobile bad-guy.

Bad-guy anxiety is a great thing.  It’s a sign that the game is working, that the real world is at least not wholly consuming your emotional state.  Without the emotional ride, games are too easy or boring.  It’s an important part of the experience that make the plot an enjoyable thing.  It’s part of the emotional roller coaster that makes the whole of an experience worthwhile.  If a movie only ever had happy moments, what would be the point?  If there’s nothing to overcome, there is no winning.  Bad guys are one of the more direct obstacles that are used as plot devices.

So don’t hate on bad guys in games and movies, they’re there for your sake.  They’re doing just what they’re supposed do.  They’re not bad, just misunderstood… and sometimes hungry :).

Just don’t go being a bad-guy in the real world!

 

The Beginning Artist

I’m really enjoying the journaly feeling of blogging.  I’ve never really been good at keeping a journal, but I will crank out a few pages when I need to.  I want to continue to share these feelings with the world of people who find me interesting, because I find these things from other people helpful.  I usually walk away with a feeling a belonging, because of something I resonated with, or I get a new perspective I hadn’t considered before.  So, thank you for being here, and feel free to comment if anything here speaks to you!

I used to think I was an aspiring artist.  I don’t know what I thought the line was for whether or not one was a “real” artist.  I’m certainly aspiring to be a professional artist, but I’m definitely an artist.

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So fancy.

A chef is a person who went to culinary school.  You can be a darn fine cook without having gone to school (talking to you, husband.) But without the education, you don’t get the title.  Artist doesn’t work that way. It’s more of a who you are thing than a line you cross with education.  An artist can’t not art.  If they don’t do it actively, the people around them will still see their creativity in everything else they do. And in my case, I see it looking back now.

20131012_013209For about 5 years I didn’t draw anything. Not even doodling in my margins on work notes. I can’t say much about why other than to say I filled my time with other things. I created 2 children within that time, but I’d quit drawing before my oldest was born.  The most artistic things I did in this time were custom birthday cakes for the kids in my life.  There were a lot of artistic challenges in some of those cakes.  My mom used to do them, but I sort of took over one year in my zeal to be helpful.

My husband got to tinkering in his garage and making little electronic gadgets.  Laser lights and LED lights.  He made a really awesome wand, too.  One night while I was hanging out with him while he was tinkering, I thought to grab a sketchbook.  I don’t remember what I drew.  That summer I drew a really sweet sketch of my daughter, and the car, and a tree, and just a bunch of random stuff.  Between summer and winter I filled a couple of sketchbooks and was on a roll. I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 for Christmas, and did a goodly handful of digital drawings. Before my break, I did sketching, but my final pieces were all digital.

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So cool.

Then I pulled out my colored pencils for something.  Don’t remember what.  They are Prismacolor pencils, and I had so badly given up on art that I’d been letting my children use them.  I must have really enjoyed whatever I colored, because I went nuts going back to traditional media.  So much so, that I have done only one digital art piece in the last year.  If I got that assignment now, I’d probably use watercolor :).  In fact, Husband told me last night that I should redo that one in watercolor because it would awesome.  I got an Artsnacks subscription for my birthday last year, and it has been AWESOME.  A few art supplies every month to tinker with, and then a challenge to do a piece with just what’s in the box each month.  Some of my challenges were rather uninspired, but I really enjoyed some of the other ones I did.  And lots of the supplies have been adopted into my stash of usual suspects.

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I love this thing!

It must have been around February of last year that I pulled out a student travel watercolor set that my mother in law gave me.  I pulled it out after I painted a rainbow with my daughter and her Crayola watercolors. Watercolor is a great fast way to add some color to a sketch to make it just a little more.  I’ve since pretty much gone nuts with watercolor.  It helped that I won a drawing  from The Artist’s Network to get a huge pile of watercolor things, including a travel watercolor palette, and a great big porcelain Stephen Quiller palette.

It was also in February that someone said something to me that sank in really deep, and I didn’t realize until now, over a year later.  I was coloring with my niece (who was 7), and she was dictating where I would color, and
what color it would be.  She handed me a blue crayon, and I also grabbed a slightly darker crayon.  She gave me a look, and then said “You’re an artist, so I’ll trust you.” I had wanted to add shadow to 20160217_184259the area I was coloring, and she loved it when I was done, and did her section similarly.

“You’re an artist, so I’ll trust you.” I realized today (today being the day I’m working on the first draft of this post) that she is the first person who called me “artist” that I actually believed.  My neighbor had called me that earlier in the same month and I shrugged it off with an “I’m trying.” Trying is all it takes to be an artist.

And I AM an artist.  When I was a kid, I was a beginning artist, not an aspiring artist.  Now I’m probably square in the grey middle of Intermediate.  I thought I had quit, but now I understand better that there are seasons in life, and even an artist has seasons where they might not art much.  But it’s still there, and you might find it in a funny place. Just do yourself a huge favor and don’t deny it when it comes to visit again.

Where to begin…

So there I was, planting apple seeds throughout the frontier, and out of nowhere comes this funny guy named John Jacob Jingle-Heimer Schmidt.  He’s going around singing his name like some kind of idiot, so I seized the opportunity to copyright his song, just so I could collect the royalties from him.

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doot-dee-doo

Seeing as how the song was only five seconds long, I could charge him quite often.  Then inspiration hit me, so I strolled down to the local tavern and listened carefully to the drunken renditions of different songs, and I realized that they were different enough to copyright without infringing on the original copyright.  So I go about copyright’n all of these slurred songs, and as it turns out, each drunk slurs a little bit differently. So here I am, tryin’ my hardest to write every possible drunken rendition of every song.  That’s when it hit me:  I need a huge blue ox. I can’t quite remember why it hit me; it might’ve been the booze.  I was trying to write drunken renditions after all.

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That’s a big ox.

And so I find this huge ox, and I realize that I am easily no match for it.  This is when I turned around and began running. Luckily for me, a crowd of innocent bystanders meandered into the ox’s path. The next thing I know, the ox is lying on the ground whimpering like some kind of baby.  So I approached the mighty beast, only to realize the reason for the ox’s pain:  It had a farmer stuck in its hoof.  So I kindly help the poor ox out.  I took a 2×4 and pried the poor farmer loose (what was left of him, anyway) and the next thing you know, this ox is my best friend.

 

 

 dead_farmer

That’s when the $’s sprung up in my eyes:  I realized this ox could easily feed a whole town for a year.  “Now to find a town with a big enough gun to put this creature down with,” I thought to myself, “seein as ordinary bullets just bounced off of it.”.  Well after tryin a few dozen cannons to no avail, I realized I needed someone with tremendous strength, and not much brains, so I started auditioning.  I finally end up with this meat-head named Hercules, and when I say meat-head, I mean it. This guy didn’t even know which end of a tree you’re supposed to chop.  This kid kept telling these crazy tales about his dad being some kind of omnipotent being and whatnot, that’s when I pegged him as a loony, I convinced him that he had to help me slay this giant beast, in order to get a golden fleece, I couldn’t believe he fell for it.  Eventually I got the basic plan into his head, all he had to do, is chop the head off the big ox, this is when the trouble began.

I never really considered how much blood a huge ox like Babe (the pet name I’d given him) could hold, and well, the nearby towns didn’t much appreciate my lack of foresight, especially when the tsunami of blood was headed their way.  Quickly I blew a breath of frozen air at it, a trait passed down through the Frost family, and froze this giant wave of blood solid.

 

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He was nice.

While, I’m not really a member of the Frost family, But Jack used to deliver the milk when I was a child, so I figured the ice breath sort of rubbed off on me.  Once again, my lack of foresight was my downfall.  Now, instead of demolishing the nearby towns, I ended up nearly encasing them in ice. The three survivors were very angry about this:  You know “you killed my family” this, and “you’ve ruined my life” that.  I ended up settling the score with ox meat.  Now, I had planned to sell this meat to the nearby towns, but since we were in the middle of a “population crisis”, they didn’t exactly have much interest, besides the original bribe, er, tribute.

So I convinced Hercules that we needed to bring the beast’s carcass to the nearest “populated” town to collect the fleece.  He kept trying to convince me that proof of its demise should be enough, but I kindly reminded him that he was an idiot.  Now this guy was a tough guy, but no matter how tough he was, there was no way to avoid half-dragging this giant, blue, headless ox.  This wouldn’t have been a problem, if the nearest town was within 50 miles.  Now lets pretend the ground is sand paper, and Babe’s headless corpse was a piece of balsa wood; yeah, it wasn’t pretty.  When we got to the nearest town, only about half of babe was left, and there was a huge red path behind us.  Ordinarily this wouldn’t have been a problem, but it seems this town had some odd organization protecting the endangered giant blue oxen, and seeing as how Babe was, well, the only giant blue ox, there was hell to pay.

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Now normally in this situation, I’d high-tail it outta there, but seeing as how I was in the middle of town, and surrounded by angry citizens carrying torches and pitchforks, that didn’t seem like it’d work.  Now the second idea that came to me seemed a little more likely to work.  I decided to play blind, color blind that is.  I fell to my knees and covered my face in my hands, I hadn’t intended to use the waterworks, but the sharp rock I just slammed my knee down on changed my mind.  “I didn’t know he was blue!” I let out between sobs, “I thought he was an ordinary giant brown ox!” This seemed to take them aback for a moment:  Now all I had to do is convince them I was the victim.  This wasn’t as hard as you’d have thought.

So there I was surrounded by angry villagers that didn’t seem to be buying my “colorblind” excuse.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, the pygmy cannibals arrived. Sure, they couldn’t have been more than 3 ft tall at the best, but when a people eats human flesh, other people tend to fear them. I on the other hand, found this to be the perfect diversion:  Now was my chance to escape, or so I would have thought, if the entire town wasn’t surrounded by half-pint human-eaters

But, I remembered something about common enemies, and friends and stuff, so I realized, all I have to do is kill a few innocent people, and that should scare the little people away…  I quickly grabbed a pitchfork from the nearest civilian, who happened to be frozen with fear, then I stabbed him with it.  Hercules seemed to think that everyone was waiting to be saved by him or something, and rushed out into the middle of the pygmies’ group and started stomping like crazy. I pretty much ignored him from this point out, trying to make like I didn’t know him and such.  

pitchfork

Now, generally you’d expect people to attempt to defend themselves, especially when charging them with a pitchfork in your hands, these people must’ve been as dumb as rocks.  The biggest effort I saw of self-defense was one guy who yelled at me when I was charging him; everyone else just stood there with their backs turned to me, like they wanted to be killed or something.  Now, in the fray I spotted the leader of the pygmies.  He had a patch over one of his eyes, and one of his ears looks as though his wife gnawed it off. I assumed he was the leader, at least:  He was nearly 3ft 2in, so among them he was a giant.  And everyone knows that the one guy that you can tell apart from the rest of the crowd has to be the leader.

This is when my plan came to me:  All I have to do is take out this guy, and the rest of the pygmies will worship me as a god. Unfortunately, my pitchfork was a little too inbedded in my last victim, and it was not coming out. So I turned to “plan B.” Plan B was to trick him into killing himself, all I needed was a raw human heart, and I had no trouble finding one of those…  After I cleaned off my pocket knife, I began stomping my way through the pygmies towards their leader. Now, I probably could have just kept stomping and went right on by, but once I make a plan, I got to see the results of it.

pygmy_bossI stopped my stomping right in front of the leader of the pygmies, and as he opened his mouth to bite me, I stuffed the whole heart down his throat.  The whole crowd went silent and looked at me and the one-eyed, one-eared, pint-sized, purple, people-eater.  He grabbed at his throat for a few minutes as I stood there patiently waiting for him to keel over.  He kept giving me this weird look with his eye that intrigued me at the same time as it disgusted me.  Now, I was expecting the pygmies to bow down and grovel, or at the very least retreat, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Almost at the second he finally croaked, the entire horde of pygmies came rushing at me with their teeth bared.  It kinda looked like an ant hill after being stepped on, from my angle at least.  Now, one of my faults is my complete and utter lack of “correct” foresight, which you may have noticed; my other major fault is my bad habit of blaming others when I make a mistake.  The latter came in quite handy as I pointed at Hercules and yelled “He Made Me Do It!”   Now, I was unable to pull a fast one on the villagers, but these pygmies were something else, even though they all just witnessed me laughing at their leaders last moments of life, for some reason they actually believed me.

The horde turned around almost in one fluid motion and began charging directly at Hercules. I almost felt sorry for the guy, when I realized he was just a waste of good meat anyway, at least he could feed some pygmy children for a few days. A little too late I realized my folly, for Hercules was carrying my backpack, and in my backpack was my wallet…

So there I was, knee deep in pygmies, not a dime to my name….

 

Video Games and Me

I know of no other medium that is as powerful as interactive video games can be.  A person can fly to the farthest reaches of the universe, throughout the expanses of time, see things that never have and never will exist, based only on the limits of technology and human imagination. All while building thumb and butt callouses and not even standing up.  As with all new media, it’s had a rough start, and rough acceptance in society, but video games have grown into a billion dollar industry.

I started coding when I was 8 years old.  Inspired by the archaic video games of the early 1980’s, playing on an antique computer with a radiation spewing amber-monochrome monitor. It’s been my desire since that time to create games of my own.  Some of my earliest inspirations were games such as Willy the Worm, Space War, Jump Man, and who could forget Lode Runner.  All are quite simple by today’s standards, but once upon a time it was not such a crazy idea for *one* person to be making a game.

I’m not even sure how many times I’ve started working on a game for my own learning and enjoyment.  In my youth I would enjoy making the concepts, basic rules, and game engine bits, but never followed through to complete an *entire* game.  I once created a DOS sprite editor, it even had mouse support.  Not such a trivial thing in the dark ages.  It’s not until adulthood that I’ve come to realize that I was having so much more fun coding than I would have had playing any game I myself made.  To be realistic here, as a child I thought I wanted to build an awesome game because I wanted to play an awesome game, a notion that seems outright silly to me now.

Fast forward to the future, where we’re all living now, the number of video games available is mind boggling.  There’s more video game content being created each year than any one person could possibly complete in their lifetime.  What was once just for us nerds has been thrust into the mainstream.  Movie stars have admitted to playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games.  Even among early video games, role-playing games were shunned as ultra-nerdy.  Television networks devoted to sports are showing video game tournaments, what has this world come to?  Aren’t those guys supposed to be beating up nerds?

There’s a gaming platform in the pocket of most people in the modern world.  I wouldn’t go as far to say that everyone with a phone is a gamer, but I’m not sure I know anyone that doesn’t play a video game now and then.  Jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, and match-3 galore.

Here I am now, an adult by most measures, with a nostalgia based love of video games.  I’m a software developer, but not even remotely in the direction of games.  Every now and then I get an itch to make a game, but the itch never lasts long enough for a completed vision to take form.  Unlike many types of art, video games are not timeless. Technology progresses and old video games die.  Someone building a game is fighting a battle against technological advancement.  If technology  progresses too far, a game that is being made might be left behind before it’s even completed, a potentially disastrous consequence for developers.

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My most recent prototype, space-game-alpha

When dabbling on my own, I’ve not worked on any of these projects with thought to marketability or even with the thought to sell them.  In that respect I’ve avoided the battle against technology.  In recent years this trend seems to have gone weird, with retro pixel games having a resurgence of sorts.  Games like Shovel Knight and Terraria are showing the world a thing or two about pixels in the modern day. Sandbox games like MineCraft and Creativerse are somehow seeming to bring pixels into 3d and it’s working.

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Creativese

These recent games are quite inspiring.  Maybe there’s more people out there than I think that want to see what I can make, what WE can make.  As it turns out I’m no artist, I’m a nart. We’ve rolled around a few ideas recently, but have not yet found the one, the one that must be made.  We will find it and it will be awesome, and more importantly it will be fun to make.

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Possible future game sprite

Colored Pencil Blending Techniques

Welcome the Legion of Teddy Bears

I don’t mind admitting that quite some time ago I believed more in the supplies I bought than I believed in myself.  I also believed more in the supplies than the idea of techniques, I guess.  Techniques are actually something I’ve recently come to respect, and learn for all sorts of things.

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Green blue, and blue green

Colored pencil was my thing in high school.  I didn’t have any supplies for digital coloring, and Copics were WAY out of my price range.  It’s a good thing, too, because I’d have killed those beautiful markers *cringe*.  I used layering back in the day, but it was more in the form of “smash a color into an area, and then smash a 2nd done to make a new color”.  Blending is not a word I would use here, LOL.  I remember coloring quite hard back in the day.

After high school I went more digital with  my coloring and quit ruining my colored pencils.  About a year or so ago, I dug them back up again and really learned to appreciate them!  I now have a few different kinds of colored pencils that I love for different reasons, which always seems to be the way of art supplies.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite colored pencil techniques.  Many of these can be used on coloring books, though you’ll need to check the quality of your paper first for some of them!  There are a couple of specific products that I have linked in here to Amazon through their affiliates program.

Blending with Colors

 

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toothy paper

The different techniques all have to do with blending, so we’ll start with the one that doesn’t require anything extra.   Blending just with your colored pencils :).  It’s really more like layering than blending.  Try to remember to use a light touch with your colored pencils.  If you need more/brighter color, color longer, not harder!  As far as blending effects go, it doesn’t much give you one, because you’re not smashing your pigment into the tooth of the paper.  This works better on smoother paper so that you have less area without color in it.  I should have remembered that when I did my first bear.

 

 

Blending with the Colorless Blender

My main colored pencils are my Prismacolors.  Prismacolor makes a colorless blending pencil that is pretty nifty.  I find that blending in any way other than the color layering mentioned above does something to make the color pop a bit.  It can also smush your color around to cover a large area, or maybe the strokes weren’t even when you initially laid own the color.  The core is waxy, and softer than a normal colored pencil.  They are sold for finishing your piece, which makes the colors pop and makes the drawing shiny/glossy.

So smooth and pretty when it’s done.

Blending with Paper

Blending stumps (or stomps, depending on who’s talking)  and tortillons are a fun way to mash around your pigments.  Basically that is what you are doing, smushing your pigments into each other, and into the tooth of the paper.  Blending this way seems to work best when you layer your colors, and then use the stump or the tortillon last, or almost last.  Each time you blend this way it works less well with the next layer of color.  The next color doesn’t lay on as well, in addition to not blending as well.

Blending with Solvents

I’ve tried a few different methods of solvent blending.  I experimented with these more before I got my colorless blender for Christmas, but I still go to them. I have used rubbing alcohol, baby oil, and mineral oil.  Fun fact for folks like me who don’t pay much attention: baby oil is scented mineral oil.

Blending with Mineral/Baby Oil

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The back of my oil bear

To do this I get my colors down on the paper.  You can lay color on top of the oil, but you should do that on scrap paper first to see if it’s going to give you the texture and effect that you want. I did do that here with the shadows.  After I am done coloring the area I want to work on, I barely tap my blending stump into the mineral oil.  The blending effect is very quick and doesn’t require too much pressure.  I push a bit hard with this blending method.  I find the oil spreads farther this way and and I don’t need to use quite as much.  Using less is good, because the oil makes the paper greasy.

The bear below got pretty smudgy, but if I paint a background around her it won’t be a problem at all.

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol is quite a bit different than the oil.  It evaporates away, which is always nice, no splotches.  I want to practice this more myself, because I’ve seen some folks do some very cool things with it.  In additional to blending the colors the way I’ve been doing, you can also put down just a bit of color in the shady areas of your picture, and pull it toward the lighter areas.  I will do a video of this at some point, because it’s a pretty neat subtle color effect.  Oh, and I use a cotton swab for this one.  I tried my blending stump but it didn’t work any better than the stump with no alcohol on it.

I think one of the most amazing things with all of these methods, is that I used the same pencils of all of the above bears.  There’s a pretty wide range of end results, considering that.

Bonus Bear: Watercolor Pencilswaterccolorbear

I mentioned multiple kinds of colored pencils earlier.  These are my watercolor pencils, blended with a water brush.

I enjoyed sharing my bears with you today!