Aug 30, 2016

New Christmas Birds Digital Painting - WIP2

In my previous post on this topic I started out showing you the general composition changes I'm making for this painting, and the modifications to the male cardinal. In this post I'm showing changes I've made to the female cardinal.

Here she was originally.

Now in this image you can see the changes I'm making to this bird. I'm rotating the body to face the viewer more. This means showing more belly and less wing. It also means changing the angle of the tail to show the underside instead of the top. I've blocked in the basic colors here.

I sketched a black outline on a separate layer in Photoshop to help me out. If you're modifying an actual oil painting you can draw this out right over the dried paint with a pencil. I like to draw the sketch on a piece of graphite paper or double-siding a piece of tracing paper (To double-side tracing paper, draw on one side, then trace it on the other side. Flip it back over and put it over your painting. Then retrace the first side and it will leave a graphite imprint on your painting.) I like to do the graphite tracing so that I can use it again and again. This is good for creating a painting from scratch as well as modifying. Often, when you are painting over your graphite lines, you lose track of where you're going. Being able to place the tracing over your painting again to remark the areas can be helpful for getting back on track.

After blocking in the shape I start fixing the details. Here's a closeup of the body feathers.

Body feathers have a texture similar to fur so I'm using my fur brush for this part of the bird. My fur brush is a regular teardrop image I created added to the brush presets with the following settings.

For wing and tail features I use a regular round hard PS brush to block in the basic colors and shading. Next I switch to the Mixer Brush and use a soft round brush to add more transition shades.

After you have enough shades of color turn off "Load the brush after each stroke" at the top menu and just spend some time blending the colors. Switch to a 50% hardness and turn on "Tablet pressure controls size" to give the feathers some texture. Move your brush strokes in the direction of the feather's natural texture which is outward from the center at an angle downward toward the edges. Do an image search of bird wing feathers if you're not sure what the feather detail looks like.

Here I'm done with the female cardinal for the most part other than some minor touch-ups.

I'll be moving on to the chickadee in my next post.

Aug 25, 2016

My Book Collection - Wildlife Artists

I thought some of you might be interested in learning what's on my art studio bookshelf so I decided share some of what's there with you. I have a lot of books so I'm going to break posts down by category. Today's post will start with what every art lover has on their bookshelf, the art of artists they admire, or whose work inspires them. These art books are just of the artists' works. They are not instruction books but wonderful to have for inspiration, for studying the artist's technique, and reading about the artist's life and the history of his work.

I'll start with the well known of wildlife artists, Robert Bateman. What wildlife artist doesn't have at least one book of art by Robert Bateman? I have three of his books. I'll start with one of his earliest books, The Art of Robert Bateman.

Next up we have Robert Bateman, An Artist in Nature.

And last, but not least, Robert Bateman's Natural Worlds.

All of these Bateman books are full of wonderful images of his paintings and sketches. Because he's such a well-known artist, lots of these books were printed, and you can find many used copies for a very good price, sometimes for just pennies to a few dollars. At those prices there's no good reason not to have one or more of these books in your collection!

Next up is the Nature Paintings of Carl Brenders.

The amount of detail in this artist's work is truly amazing. I don't know how he has the patience! Truly inspiring.

Another oldie but goodie is The Big Cats by Guy Coheleach.

This is a huge book with beautiful images of his paintings and drawings of big cats but it's also full of lots of text talking about each of the cat species in his artwork. So if you want beautiful images of big cat paintings as well as lots of information about the animals, this is a great book to have on in your collection.

While we're on the subject of cats, another really nice art book featuring big cats is Great Cats by Simon Combes.

This book also has lots of beautiful cat images and information about the animals but, just as interesting, if not more so, are all the stories about Simon's travels around the world to observe all these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. It is unfortunate that his adventures into the wild led to his early demise.

Another amazing art book in my Collection is Beast by John Banovich.

I think this book deserves its title for more than just its contents. This book is huge and weighs a ton! But it is because of the quality of the printing that it weighs so much. Spectacular images of mostly African wildlife paintings, beautifully printed on thick, high quality paper, make this an excellent coffee table book and conversation peace.

Next up in my collection is a book of Stephen Lyman's work, Into The Wilderness.

Though Stephen painted more landscapes than wildlife, this book has special meaning to me. I had the opportunity to meet the artist in person, where he signed my copy of his book, just about a month before his tragic death from a fall in Yosemite National Park. Every time I look at his signature, signed with a gold paint marker, I can't help but feel sad that the world lots this talented artist at such a young age, when he had so many productive years ahead of him. He was only 38. How many hundreds more of his paintings might we have to enjoy today if he were still alive?

Here is an artist every wildlife art lover should be familiar with, Carl Rungius.

Though born in Germany he was considered one of the great masters of North American wildlife art. Being a hunter and outdoorsman, he particularly enjoyed painting big game animals such as moose, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Another artist whose work is of similar style and subject matter to Carl Rungius is Ken Carlson.

As well as other North American big game animals he paints a lot of deer and, because deer are one of my favorite animals, I really enjoy looking at his work.

And, to finish up my collection of inspiring artists books I have to include an artist who is not a wildlife art but whose work I really admire, Howard Terpning.

He is an artist best known for his paintings of Native Americans and the Old West. I admire his work because of his expertise at texture, color, and lighting. I've seen no other artist who has mastered all three so well. If I could even master one so well I'd be happy! Even if you're not into Native American and Western art, you should check out his work just to study and admire his technique and skill.

Well, that's it for now. I'll move on to my instructional art books in my next post.

Aug 22, 2016

New Christmas Birds Digital Painting - WIP1

Since the holiday season is not all that far off now, I'm starting a new digital painting of birds in a Christmas themed setting. To save myself some time I'm going to use some elements from one of last year's holiday themed bird painting, my Christmas Cardinals Feast painting shown here:

I like the idea of the birds on the fence strung with xmas garland. But for this year's painting I want to simplify the background and add more birds. Last year's painting was a nice, overall wintry scene. But this time I want to make the background less important and focus more attention on the birds and garland.

Here's my first work-in-progress (WIP1) post. Starting out I've removed all the background, including the bird feeder. I'll add a more subtle snowy background in later. I've also removed the big red ribbon and moved the jingle bells from the bird feeder down to the fence. On this smaller canvas the big red bow was competing for attention with the male cardinal.

As you can see I also added the outlines for a couple more birds. Next I modified the male cardinal a bit. I don't want the birds to be exactly the same in different paintings. So I rotated his body a bit so you see more of his back and wing feathers, and I turned his head so he's looking more to the right.

Next up I'm going to modify the female so she's not exactly as she was in the previous painting either. Stay tuned for WIP2.

Aug 21, 2016

Zazzle Sunday Steal - Coasters, Can Coolers, and Back To School Supplies

Today's Sunday Steal on Zazzle includes 50% off drink coasters, can/bottle coolers, bottle openers, and mason jars. On separate sale today they have 30% off select school supplies. Be sure to use the promo code (scroll down to the bottom of this post) at checkout to get your discounts!

I don't have much in the way of mason jars or bottle openers in my Zazzle store so I'm only going to share some of my coasters and can coolers today for the Sunday Steal.

I'm always sharing lots of horses, deer, and birds on products. Today I'm going to start with something a little different, a new butterflies and flowers design I recently added.

And a matching cork-backed coaster below. Other coaster style products are also available, including sandstone, paper, glass, and other stone including marble, limestone, and travertine.

Both the can cooler and the coaster are customizable so you can change the text or remove it entirely if you prefer.

I haven't posted much of my non-animal subjects but I did create some southwest design patterns that go well with some of the horses on my products. Here is a southwest pattern can cooler and matching coaster.

These go well with my Native American pinto horse products.

You can see all the products with my southwest patterns here.

Of course I have my usual artwork featuring birds, deer, horses, wolves, and other animals on these products as well. Check out all my can coolers here, and coasters here.

For coasters, can coolers, mason jars, and bottle openers be sure to use promo code ZSUNSTEAL145 at checkout to get your discount!

Now to the back-to-school sale. This sale is 30% off a wide range of products your kids might need for school such as notebooks, binders, tote bags, backpacks, lunch boxes, and apparel, as well as things your child might need at home for studying, such as desk lamps and wall clocks.

Check out this matching tote bag and lunchbox featuring my hummingbirds line art that your child can color in herself. Wouldn't that be fun? :)

For coasters, can coolers, mason jars, and bottle openers be sure to use promo code ZSUNSTEAL145 at checkout to get your discount.

For back-to-school supplies be sure to use promo code ZBIGDEALFORU at checkout to get your discount.

Sale ends at midnight tonight!

Aug 20, 2016

Things To Color Besides Books

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now as many have found they are therapeutic. They help you relax and relieve stress after your busy day, and give the pleasure of creativity. But after you've filled your 10th coloring book, what's next? Book #11? And what do you do with all those pages you've colored? You've probably already framed and hung a few of your favorites, but there isn't enough wall space for any more!

So how about moving away from the paper coloring pages and wall pictures? Consider coloring on something besides paper. Just like when you were a kid, you colored on everything, including the walls, much to your mother's dismay. But we won't color the walls here! There are more practical and useful items to color on, anyway. I've added some of my coloring page images to items other than paper that are fun to color and will add unique accents to your home decor or personal attire.

I'll start with some fabric items. Here is my hummingbirds line art image on a shirt. Color this in your favorite colors, or something to match your favorite pants or skirt. There are dozens of shirt styles and colors to choose from, including tank tops and sweatshirts.

Or how about a throw pillow? These pillows come in both indoor and outdoor options. Wouldn't your own uniquely colored hummingbird pillow look great on your flower garden patio furniture? Paint these fuchsias to match the ones in your own yard.

These drawstring backpacks are a popular seller on Zazzle being of good quality and an affordable price. Great for kids to use for carrying books to school. They'll never get their backpack mixed up with anyone else's with this unique image they can color in themselves!

Zazzle also has these really nice full-print tote bags for the adults to carry around their own work or personal belongings.

I know, but you're thinking, I can't color a shirt or pillow with my colored pencils (or crayons, or watercolors, or whatever you like to use on paper)! Maybe not. But there are other options designed specifically for coloring on fabric. Here are some fabric paints, for example.

And there are also felt markers made specifically for coloring on fabric.

Of course, there are other products you can color on that aren't fabric. For these you can probably use regular felt markers you may already have. Beverage coasters, for example. Probably any permanent marker would work on these.

OK, I won't just use hummingbirds here. I have some other images available on products to color. How about a the California state bird and flower, the quail and poppy, on a coffee mug, colored in with your own unique style and color choices? You'd be the only one at the office with that!

Or here's a 3-ring binder with the North Carolina state bird and flower, the cardinal and dogwood.

Don't have a set of permanent felt markers for coloring? Here's a nice set by BIC. They work on glass, metal, plastic, and coated papers. Perfect for these items!

This is just a small sampling of the items you can find my line art drawings on for coloring. There's a lot more in my Zazzle store including ... but not limited to ... iPad covers, gift bags, wallets, and even lunch boxes for the kids to color!

Find more hummingbird items to color here. More California state bird items here. And more North Carolina state bird products here.

If you color any of these products, let me know. I'd love to share your finished products here in my blog!

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