Daily 30-minute drawings

I started drawing the Lovarian Adventures webcomics back in 2001 to keep myself from getting bored and lonely. I started drawing three full comic pages per week at the start but eventually slowed down to drawing one page per week by the time I stopped drawing comics altogether.

Still, over the five or so years I’ve been drawing the comics, the best thing I’ve gained from it was that doing it had improved my artwork considerably. It probably stemmed from my being forced to draw on a regular basis to keep up with my self-imposed page update schedule.

However, now that I haven’t been drawing comics in a while, I’m afraid that my skill would just continue to stagnate if I don’t practice. So, I decided to do something about it starting yesterday.

I know I probably don’t have the time nor the will to start doing webcomics again at this point in time so that’s out of the question. I needed to do something that I can stick to. It has to be fairly regular and doesn’t take too long to do.

What I eventually came up with was that I should draw something with the intention to post it on my DeviantArt gallery everyday (except weekends and holidays) that will only take a maximum of 30 minutes to draw. Mainly, it should look more finished that the typical doodles I draw in my drawing books. I should add colour to it if there’s time.

I’m hoping that by doing this daily exercise, I’m giving myself a chance not only to improve but to experiment a little. I’m also hoping that in a few weeks’ time, I’d be drawing faster and better than now.

Lastly, I also hope that I can keep on doing this self-imposed exercise.

Click on the thumbnail above to zoom in on my first drawing in this series of exercises.

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Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm  Comments (2)  

For the win… again!

Last October, I announced in this post [For the win] that I won in my company’s Melbourne Artist of the Year 2007 art competition held annually. Got myself a fragile glass trophy, an 80Gb iPod Classic and an iPod-compatible speaker system as a result.

Several days later, as I wrote this post [The drawing that keeps on giving], my department decided to reward me for “spectacular performance” for my achievement in winning the competition. I got awarded a $100 JB Hi-Fi gift card from the powers-that-be of our department.

Later on, I was informed by the organisers of the competition that this will be the first year that our company would launch a national version of the company’s annual artist competition where the winning works of the different branches get pitted against one another.

A few weeks ago, the organisers sent me invited the top three winners of the Melbourne art contest to a morning tea meeting to supposedly discuss the national competition. Today, was that day.

There, it was announced that I actually won the first ever National Artist of the Year competition. The judge who decided the winner was a curator of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Another curator! I was already very happy to have won (again!) but I was even happier that a curator thought that my work deserved to win.

I got another glass trophy and special gift voucher for a fancy Italian restaurant in Melbourne hand-signed by the owner of the establishment (my officemate pointed out that that was apparently such an honour). I couldn’t believe that my one sketch got me this much recognition and prizes. I should definitely join more competitions.

By the way, I was told that I should return the trophy for next year’s competition. Apparently, the trophy is just for rent. The next winner will get the same trophy with his or her name added at the bottom of mine. I guess it’s a good and a bad thing. Bad because I don’t get to keep it. Good because my name will be immortalised, sort of. At least while the trophy remains in one piece.

I’d like to end this post on a story that’s related to this day’s announcement. The email invitation I got didn’t mention anything about me winning the national competition. However, all my officemates got a totally different email.

One day, as I was walking into the office from the outside, an colleague yelled out to me. He said that I won the national competition. He pointed me to an email he got where he was being invited to the meeting where it was going to be officially announced. I started reading the email where it said that I did won and that I’d be getting a trophy.

My friend continued to read the same email where he left off then suddenly started blocking his monitor while saying, “Don’t read anymore!” Apparently, at the bottom of the email was a message in bold red letters saying that they should keep the fact that I won secret from me until the official announcement! Too late. He blew it.

We all had a laugh about it. The warning should have been at the top of the message. I guess if I had come in the office a little bit later, my friend would’ve had the time to completely finish reading the email along with the red bolded message.

So, early today, I had to pretend not to know that I would win when it was announced. It wasn’t difficult though. I was surprised that the national winner was decided by another big-time art gallery curator so I just carried that feeling up to the point where the winner was officially announced. I had to retell the story about the boo-boo to my other officemates though that were also pretending not to know because they thought I didn’t know.

I thank God for the gift of art He gave me. I hope that I’ll be able to win again next year. But I feel like that’s a long shot. Lightning never strikes twice and all that. I’ll still submit something of course because you never know.

Published in: on December 14, 2007 at 7:51 pm  Comments (5)  

Vintage Christmas art contest

You may be wondering why there hasn’t been any new posts in this blog for several days now. Well, I’m very busy with work during the day and I’m also very busy doing extra-curricular activities at night.

At first, my nightly activities mainly involved playing my newly bought Orange Box game from Valve (the creators of Half-Life 2 and Counterstrike). Actually, it’s not just one game but five games in one box: the original Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2. I actually already finished the original Half-Life 2 a while back so I didn’t need to play that again. I’ve been mostly addicted to playing Portal and Team Fortress 2. I have yet to play through Episode One and I still feel that I have already got the $50 worth I paid to buy the Orange Box online.

Anyway, later on, I decided to stop playing so that I can do some bit of artwork. I wanted to draw something Christmas-related. I have two reasons for wanting to draw this but I can only give you one right now.

There is a Christmas-theme contest currently going on at DeviantArt (the online art community I’m part of). The theme is “Vintage Christmas”. Here is a short description of the contest from the contest organiser: misskittyoooo.

Something that is Vintage is “Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.”. So for this contest you are to create an old, classic style Christmas postcard that is brimming with holiday spirit! This is not a contest for a grinch or a scrooge, this is a contest for those true young at heart that is filled with the holiday spirit, and keeps it all the year! This is a contest for people who love the rosy cheeked santas, ribbons and candles on Christmas trees.

With that, here is my entry for the contest:

I have no illusions of winning this one but I am hoping that this would get me a bit of exposure in the community. As for the second purpose of this art project, I’ll reveal that later.

Published in: on December 8, 2007 at 10:27 pm  Comments (6)  

Art meme

In the art community of DeviantArt, there is a popular art meme going around and for good reason. It is very fun to fill out. But being an art meme, there is a lot of drawing involved in answering it.

Below is my answer to the art meme, created by Nyu of DeviantArt. It is shrunk to fit in the blog though so some of my smaller writings may not be readable. To view it in its original view, click on the image below to go to my DeviantArt gallery where the full size version is. If you load that page and the image is still small, click on the Full View link on the left or the small image to enlarge it.


Click to open in DeviantArt then click on small image to enlarge

Whew. Took me a couple of hours over a few nights to finish this. I’m glad it’s finally done.

Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

Religious art

I started to draw when I was quite young. Some would say I was artistically-inclined. I believed even then that God had given me these skills for a reason and I felt that the very least I can do is to create art that could help strengthen and renew people’s faith in God. So, while I was still studying in a Catholic school, I volunteered to be one of the school-boy artists for our school’s parish church.

Our chruch had three main entrances and, if I recall correctly, there were at least two entrances with a big blackboard beside the entrance. Our job as volunteer church artists was to draw a biblical scene based on a relevant Bible verse for that week’s mass. We would letter the actual verse on one half of the board and draw the matching scene on the other half of the board using coloured chalk. We took turns at who gets to draw and letter on which board. I had to stay later after school to do this but I didn’t mind one bit. I believed that I was using my God-given artistic gift to good use and it felt good.

Studying in a Catholic school meant we have Religion classes. I didn’t mind. I liked the stories and the lessons I learnt during these classes. The other thing I like about these classes were the textbooks. They were very colourful and it had lots of art in it drawn in a particular style that I really liked. The style used was well suited for those Religion books, I thought. I even imitated the style when I drew on the Chruch boards.

Now that I’m grown up, I still feel that God is calling me to make religious-themed art. That’s why I had drawn a few artworks a few years ago that is related to the Passion of Christ. Sad to say, I haven’t drawn anything similar since.

After winning the Artist of the Year prize in our Company’s art competition, I start to feel God’s call again. And so, here I am again.

I already started to draw my version of The Annunciation thinking that it may be appropriate for this coming Christmas season. After thinking about it some more though, maybe a Holy Family portrait or scene in the manger work would be more appropriate. So I’m putting the Annunciation work on hold for now.

Coming back to the art style in those old Religion books, I was thinking that maybe I can imitate the style again for the thing I’m planning to draw for Christmas. However, I don’t have access to those very old textbooks so I have to rely on memory alone. Before anything else, I first wanted to try if I can pull of the style or at least come up with a style that has a similar feel to it. So, I drew this piece: The Tax Collector.

I originally drew this with a ballpoint pen on my notebook at work as a doodle to help me clear my mind during the large amount testing that needed to be done with the system. When I got home, I took a webcam photo of it then inked it in Painter IX.

The art style of those textbooks had strong lines, a bit angular and the people always faced straight towards the reader even when looking to the side (the artist just tilts the head and points the eyes in the direction of what the character is looking at).

Now that it’s done, I think it came out well. I’ll probably do some more trials before actually starting on the real piece I want to draw.

Published in: on November 14, 2007 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Digital Paintings

I’ve been doing a lot of art stuff with my tablet and Painter IX lately (and consequently, not a lot of writing). I’m still inspired by the digital fantasy art magazines I’ve been reading lately. Made me think, “yeah! I can do that, too!”

Here are a couple of pics I’ve worked on over the past few days. Although I feel like my art skills are improving, I think I still have a lot of things to work on before I can consider myself ready for commissions.

Lili in Voyager uniform
This was originally based off a very old sketch I have in my old drawing book. I thought the sketch looked good so I scanned it in and added a bit of colour using Painter IX.

Lili d’Quellara is one of the female lead characters in a fantasy webcomic I used to make, Lovarian Adventures. To make it a little bit more interesting for me, I decided to make her wear a science officer’s uniform as seen on Star Trek Voyager, one of my favourite Star Trek incarnations.

Me in Atlantis uniform
I decided I need to change the small 50×50 pixels avatar I use on my online art gallery at DeviantArt as it is getting a bit old. That and the avatar I was using was actually a drawing I made of Fr Sephriel, a character from my old fantasy webcomic, Lovarian Adventures. I also want to have my avatar in colour this time, as opposed to black & white.

While doing the face, I decided to draw part of the body as well. Having just finished the Lili pic above, I thought that maybe I can put myself in another sci-fi show’s uniform. And so, I drew myself wearing the uniform worn by the science people in Stargate Atlantis.

For those of you who know me well, you may notice that I don’t look exactly like this but I hope the resemblance is close enough.

Published in: on November 8, 2007 at 12:18 am  Comments (7)  

Head-hunting

I decided a few weeks ago to start drawing/digitally-painting faces more realistically as opposed to a more anime-ish style. That meant a non-flat face, smaller teardrop-shaped eyes, mouths with lips and noses with nostrils.

In a way, I already know how to do this but I want to be better at it. I figured that the best way to do this is to draw actual faces. Sure, I can use mine and Raquel’s faces as models for my work (and I already have) but that would always give my characters a more Asian appearance. I also want to be able to master drawing faces with a distinct caucasian appearance.

To that end, I’ve been head-hunting. Literally, hunting for heads I can use as art reference. I’ve been going to shops looking for toys, action figures, dolls and statuetes I can buy and use as art models. I also went on eBay and started looking for mannequin heads for sale.

I soon discovered that these things are a bit expensive. I wonder if there is anything cheaper I can use out there. I’ve even contemplated on going to the nearby Catholic shop and look for a good statue of a saint there that I can use instead. It’ll probably be cheaper there. I have yet to look.

Another option I thought of was to use a virtual head reference instead. I have games like Half Life 2, Sims 2 and Oblivion at home. Maybe I can use the characters on those games as my models, I thought. Well, I tried Oblivion and Sims 2 but I found that there are some limitations on how I can control the camera. I couldn’t get a worm’s-eye view of the characters at all.

Fortunately, Half Life 2 has this mod (modification) called Garry’s Mod which allows the “player” to play around with the characters and objects of the game and position them anyway the player wants. That actually worked quite well. The only downside was that I was limited to the characters already in the game. Maybe there is a way to add mod characters in there. I’ll have to look into that later.

Wanting a potentially better option, I searched the web for software that actually does what I really wanted. I found various 3D modelling software but those were more geared toward animators. I did find the software called Poser Figure Artist which looks like exactly what I’m looking for. It was made for artists wanting to use live models for art reference but was willing to settle for virtual models. There are various models to choose from, the models could be posed however you wish, and the environment (lighting and such) could be manipulated. It was great but, unfortunately, it costs US$99.

I guess that’s cheap compared to buying collectible action figures. For 99 bucks, I have more model variety at my disposal and I can pose it anyway I want. Although I’m very tempted to just purchase Poser Figure Artist, I also want to just have a model that’s tangible.

Published in: on November 4, 2007 at 12:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Halloween

I wanted to draw something for this year’s Halloween but I waited too long to start. All I was able to do is digitally paint a Jack-o-lantern and add the words “Happy Halloween” on top of it. I still have plans to finish it though.

Anyway, Happy Halloween to those who celebrate this day.

EDIT:
I was able to finish it just now. Hope you guys like it.

Click here to see the unfinished image

Published in: on October 31, 2007 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

The drawing that keeps on giving

I’m so glad I joined my Company’s Artist of the Year competition. I’m also glad that I started at the Company just a few weeks before the competition ended or I wouldn’t even have had the chance to join this year’s competition. As you may already know by now, I won the competition and I’m very thankful for the recognition, the award and prizes I got for winning.

However, just when I thought I have nothing left to be thankful for, I got this email from our division’s administrator (I’ve reworded the actual email, of course):

To: Gabriel
CC: Executive Director, HR Director, Executive Assistant
Subject: Melb (Department name) Recognition – Congratulations

Melbourne (Department name) Recognition Program

Rewarding you for your Spectacular Performance for your achievement in winning the Artist of the Year.

Congratulations on your award Gabriel! You have been nominated by the executive director and awarded a JB HI-FI voucher valued at $100.

Kind Regards,
(Department) Administrator

I couldn’t believe it! I’m very thankful to the executive director for nominating me for an additional award. A hundred bucks at JB Hi-Fi is nothing to sneeze at, too. I can buy more iPod accessories, CDs, DVDs or games with that money. I’ll most likely spend the voucher on more iPod gear though.

I told my friends at work that the drawing I submitted was like a drawing that kept on giving. And when I told Raquel about this, she said the exact same thing. Just goes to show how well we know each other, doesn’t it? I now wonder whether there will be any more future surprise prizes or awards for this one drawing. I highly doubt it but who knows?

Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

For the win!

After about a month of waiting anxiously for the outcome of my company’s Melbourne Artist of the Year 2007 art competition, the winners were finally revealed in the art exhibition launch at our offices last night. Some of my friends at work were there at the event to cheer me on. I was also able to get Raquel security clearance so that she could come up to our offices that evening.

I was feeling very nervous during the couple of hours leading to the official announcement of the winners. I had barely enough strength to grip anything with my hands and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Since, my friend Jo also went to last year’s event, she told us that the actual announcement would likely take place about 30 minutes into the event like last year. I wished that the organisers would just announce the winners and get it over with instead of just hanging around eating kebabs and drinking wine provided for by the company.

I got my wish. Fifteen minutes since the event started, the company Partner in charge of the event decided to announce the winners. My heart rate must’ve jumped a hundred and fifty percent. She asked everybody to gather near the podium. When everybody had settled, she informed us that there were three winners and two honourable mentions. I truly hoped I was at least third place partly because only the top three get iPods as prizes.

The Partner started with the name of the third place winner. It wasn’t my name. Whew. It was a guy who submitted something about being in the sea. Apparently, he had to catch a boat leaving for Tasmania that night so he was in a bit of a rush to leave. Maybe it was because of this that the organisers decided to announce the winners earlier than we expected.

I was now hoping that my name get called. Winning second place and the iPod Nano wasn’t such a bad deal, I thought. And maybe it was the new video iPod Nano and not the older version which I already have. But no. My name didn’t get called again.

It was now down to the announcement of the first place winner of the competition. I was more nervous than ever. And then the name of the first place winner was called out by the Partner. It was my name. I couldn’t believe it! It didn’t immediately sink in. Raquel and Jo who were near me at the time were telling me that I won.

I accepted the award which was made of glass (very heavy glass) with the name and logo of the company, the words “Artist of the Year” and the names of the winners for the two previous years and my name at the bottom. I was also handed a big paper bag that had the 80Gb iPod Classic and an Altec Lansing speaker system for the iPod. Cool! That must’ve been the most I ever got in exchange for doing an art-related thing. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been in a while. Winning the iPod was cool but I think getting the recognition for my art was even cooler.

Anyway, after I’ve accepted the award, my friends congratulated me. Some of them told me that they kept telling me I was going to win. I wanted to believe them, of course, but I just didn’t want to keep my hopes up too high just in case I failed to win anything. If any of them is reading this blog right now, I just want to thank them for all their support and encouragement.

I talked to the organisers of the event afterwards. They told me that they were really impressed with what I’ve done and so on. One of them told me she had a son who was also very into comics and would like me to take a look at her son’s work. They told me that there might be a charity auction in the future and if I was interested in offering my work up for it. Sure, it’d be my pleasure.

They also told me that the judge of the competition left wonderful comments about the winning entries. I felt honoured to have had a curator provide a positive comment about a piece of art that I did. Here’s the curator’s comments for my work:

Principally this is a really terrific rendering. It’s informed by both perspective and the direction of light, and yet loose enough to give a sense of the artists hand and their quality of exactness, but also a quality of personal inexactness in this work. I appreciate how the artists mark sometimes comes through — it makes it a very personal rendering.

It absolutely addresses the topic. You can immediately feel the passion from the depiction. I get a sense of exactly what this person is passionate about, and the overwhelming sense of drive that encourages their passion, and that level of obsession, it’s clearly depicted in all the little objects that make living this passionate existence possible.

Out of curiosity though, I also asked the organiser whether only the winners got the email saying that we were short-listed as finalists for the competition. She said yes. She wanted to make sure that we were there to accept the prizes. So, that means, if I join next year’s art competition and I got short listed, I would know that I would at least win third place.

When all was said and done, I’m glad I joined the competition. I thank Raquel for urging me to join up even when I thought of not doing so due to time constraints (I found out about the contest pretty late). I also thank Raquel for helping me with naming the piece. The organisers loved the name “Geeky Pursuits”, which was her idea.

Thanks to yesterday’s win, I have more confidence in my art work than ever before. It certainly encourages me to work on my art some more.

To view the photos Raquel took of the event, go here:

Published in: on October 13, 2007 at 9:34 pm  Comments (10)