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Sky Boy, 2012. Recent painting mixed with inket canvas print. Made and rendered the backdrop image in Maya/V-Ray with post tweaks done in Nuke.
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Just looking through my Goya book and noticed the ultra-sharp details of this gorgeous still life, Three Slices of Salmon. If you look closely, you can see that he covers it with a darkened glaze that picks up the valleys of the brush strokes, much like an unsharp mask or ambient occlusion effect (click for full size):
I apologize for cropping it but I couldn’t fit it all in my scanner. Unsharp Masking works by increasing the contrast of surrounding pixels, so this is a lot like what you’d get if you over-sharpened an image in Photoshop. You see this in a lot of Rembrandt paintings as well. Anyway, it’s an interesting technique to see how painters devised ways of making things seem hyper-realistic despite their loose brushwork.
Just-finished painting. Yes, that’s Starcraft in the giclée print background.
New painting: Diablo (III)
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New Painting: The Faker
I haven’t been blogging much over the last three weeks because I was hard at work renovating my painting studio in the back of our place. It was pretty rough in there before as it was just an unfinished workshop with little wall-space and a mix of insulated and uninsulated walls:
My dad came in and helped me finish it up, since he’s built our old home in Old Chelsea, Quebec and renovates places and rents them out. All credit for the quality of the finished work owed to him:
Every summer he gets one of those phenomenal Al Jolson tans. It’s a good contrast to the pasty Irishman skin I got from my mother’s side of the family. Anyway, after much drilling and complaining about how crooked and nonstandard my 1905-made Montreal apartment is, we got it finished and now I have a pretty sweet-ass painting studio, complete with even 6500K lighting:
Probably easier to get an idea of the finished work with pics:
That’s a 4.5’ x 6’ canvas with plenty of room for larger work.
That’s a black VMWare T-shirt/paint rag. Thanks, VMWare.
Needs a few more things (a redone floor) but I’m really happy with the way it all turned out. That four-bulb fluorescent light we bought from Home Depot is so perfectly diffuse and even that it makes mixing colours so much easier than when I had a mish-mash of terrible (and hot) spotlights. Imagine being able to see the colour you’re painting with – not just a bit of colour and mostly shadow and highlight. What a world.
Recently finished painting.
So people following me on Twitter know that I just got a rather large printer the other day. I drove to Vistek in Ottawa to pick it up and unfortunately ran over a beaver on the highway en route, so it’s got a Canadian curse on it now. Nevertheless, I plan to put it to good use printing canvases for my paintings. It might surprise some people who follow this blog but my Concordia university Bachelor’s degree is actually in Studio Art (mostly painting and drawing) and I’m completely self-taught in 3D/desktop publishing/Photoshop. I gained a lot of experience working my way up through a photo retouching job during summers in school and then doing art direction for magazines like Vice and learning 3D as personal love that whole time. I started 3D on some pretty bad Mac 3D apps, some better ones, and then bought an Athlon for Maya when it was at version 3. So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to spend a ton of money on a degree to be good at something and get work in your field; you can learn from these new things called “books” and from blogs like this one (I just pulled a muscle patting myself on the back). Most of my publishing learning was done before the internet, so students now are even better equipped to learn on their own.
Anyway, a few years ago, I bought a place in the plateau Montreal with my girlfriend and have a small-ish painting studio in the back. After getting tired of paying retail price for canvas prints from the admittedly awesome Elco Color service bureau in New Jersey (who will still do my larger canvas prints), I decided to buy my own canvas-capable printer for the smaller pieces since this has become a staple of my painting work (combining printed images with painting). It fits well into my ghetto-looking studio:
It’s cleaner than it looks, the printer is covered when not in use and I’m vacuuming constantly to keep dust to a minimum. The printer itself is pretty great but be warned: it’s not cheap if you’re considering one of these yourself. Even with the $750 rebate currently offered, the unit itself was $2800 with taxes for the Epson 7890 Designer Edition (which includes an Efi software RIP) and inks, as you might have guessed, are expensive. I just got a set of nine 350ml inks for the low low price of $1000, and that’s $600 lower than retail. Since I worked in service bureaus during my university years, I have plenty of experience with hardware colour calibration, software RIPs (raster image processors for printing PostScript on inkjets that don’t have PostScript in hardware) and ICC profiles, so I wasn’t intimidated by the finicky world of colour matching and I know I can keep costs and waste to a minimum. During school, I even worked at a place hilariously named “Big Photo” that did large format inkjet prints for signage and, uh, big photos. It helps having a direct line to Epson’s support manager (being an Adobe beta tester has its benefits), but Epson’s Mac drivers have always been great in my opinion, so I didn’t even bother comparing it to HP or Canon printers in the same price range. I really like my HP 5100tn laser for proofing typesetting of layouts or LP covers but the HP inkjet software I had sucked pretty hard when I had it and my mom’s HP all-in-one has 20 (!) apps for one bloody device. This is a woman who plugs the USB jack into the ethernet port and wonders why stuff doesn’t work and HP is giving her 20 applications for her all-in-one consumer thingy. Anyway, with something like large format inkjet printing, the base cost quickly becomes irrelevant as media and software combined largely outweigh money saved in the short term (place Mac/PC flamewar here). “The miser pays twice,” as the saying goes. So, after a few false starts on crappy matte paper (tip: you can only use borderless mode with presets, not custom sizes) my first canvas print was a success with colour exactly as I wanted it:
Above: my stretched canvas with extra UV treatment and the base grisaille for my painting (the hands were done in Maya, ZBrush and Mudbox).
That’s not really pushing the gamut, resolution or length (24” wide by X’ height) of the printer but I have plenty of time to go bananas pushing its boundaries. My painting style might be too freaky for some but my painting tastes lean more towards contemporary German painting, and not traditional portraiture or landscape. Some samples of my recent series that combine canvas prints from sim games with painted figures or elements:
I plan on properly documenting those, so forgive the crappy photography. One of the workflow things I discovered was to not print ink where I’ll be painting – this saves ink and also gives me a clear spot where I put my gesso primer since painting directly on the canvas with oils doesn’t work well (the linseed oil bleeds out and the paint looks very dry and dull).
Anyway, I’m done doing my 3D/Nuke work for today - I’m off to finish that painting.
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