Bruno’s Helmet

I’ve never been so worried about messing up a project as I was with this one. But guess what? It turned out okay!
So honored to do this custom painting for my friend and her son Bruno. Big brother and Dad also got in on the design which makes this extra special.
With just one night to work and a 7 month old of my own to take care of, the stakes were high and the sleep was minimal. But this is a project I feel lucky to have been asked to do.
I hope I have more opportunities for special projects like this one in the future. 

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Printables

Fairly soon I will be focusing on creative income and as such I am in the midst of creating a number of printables and reactivating my etsy shop. 

My first 'lyric' printable went up today and I'm pretty excited about doing more. I've got some brainstorming ahead of me and digital drawing - which I love. 

I'm also working on some tangible items that I am very excited to show you soon. 
Please be sure to have a look! 

Your Face

I want to photograph it. I want to draw it. I want to pixel it. I want to paint it. 
You have such an interesting face, it tells so many stories. 


 

A few quick portraits I did in September of some wonderfully talented and inspiring ladies I know on social media or in person. Each of these ladies rocks the profession they work in and make for some great personal role models. 

Inktober

Inktober has begun! I'm doing my best to keep up this year.  If you follow me on instagram (@myasharona) you'll see them update there first. If you're not sure what #inktober is, well give it a google. If you're an artist yourself, it's never too late to join in. Grab some ink and don't forget to hashtag so other artists can find your work. 

MOOCS - Art & Concepts

I've been taking an online course about Art & Concepts in Game Design (because I enjoy games and art) and after my first program I had two assignments geared towards demonstrating my understanding of the lessons.  As you can tell from the assignments I created, while simplistic in concept, I had lots of fun putting together the visuals. 

Assignment for week 1 and 2

Assignment for week 1 and 2

Assignment for Week 3 and 4

Assignment for Week 3 and 4

Sketching Every Day

I unpacked my tablet tonight and got my work station set up. Took it for a spin with a quick sketch while watching some Sliders. 
Kept it loose and quick. 



Channeling Creativity with SCBWI North Texas

One of the first organizations I connected with upon moving to Texas was the local chapter of the SCBWI - Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In addition to regular newsletters, resources, information sharing, and local meetups, they offer some great opportunities to connect with other members. 

On May 30th I attended a workshop hosted by the SCBWI and presented by local illustrator AG Ford.  

My synopsis  of the day has been posted on the SCBWI North Texas blog and I'd love for you to take a look. 
http://northtexas.scbwi.org/category/blog/

You'll find my SCBWI profile page here: https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/sharon-ross1

And finally, while I didn't take many photos that day I did manage to take a snap (meaning low quality photos with my camera phone) of my workspace, and demo piece progress for the day. 

I had a lot of fun talking and conversing with other illustrators and AG's workshop was a great source of inspiration and re-ignition. I look forward to the next SCBWI event that I am able to attend. 

Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch

Workshop workspace

Workshop workspace

Work in Progress after the day's end. 

Work in Progress after the day's end. 

Block Print

Today I thought I'd experiment a little with block prints. It's a very tactile and fun way to think about positive and negative space, consider simplicity and complexity, and ultimately (if you do it correctly) have a way to reproduce a single image in multiplication. 

I started by opening illustrator and making a nice simple design that I could print onto paper, tshirt, or wherever. I made sure that the design was roughly the same size as the carving block I had. 

Because my design had lettering in it, it was important to reverse the image so that the final print would read correctly. 

After finishing the design I printed it and then cut it to size. I applied a layer of charcoal to the back of the print out and then drew over the design with a pen so that the charcoal would transfer to the carving block. 

With the design successfully transferred, the negative space was carved away.  

Ink was then applied block. The block was carefully placed on the paper and even pressure was applied to the back. 
Once lifted from the surface of the material, in this case paper, the print was done!  

I had fun with this exercise and would love to do something a little more complicated next time. 

I'm not real sure what to do with this block but I'm sure I'll think of something. 

Let's make a T-Shirt

Recently I had the chance to work with my SIL Becky to come up with a TShirt to mark her participation in the Walk To End Lupus in NYC on Saturday May 2nd. 
While lupus related nonsense has forced her to sit this one out (THANKS OBAMA), the shirt was still a blast to work on and I hope we get the chance to work on a new one for next year. 

If you're in the mood to donate, please do so at http://lupus.donorpages.com/NewYorkWalk2015/RebeccaBalfe/

So firstly we came up with a few different approaches for the image. Did we want to do something illustrative, graphic, did we want to go unique design, playoff cultural icons, and other brainstorming like that. 
We started with these four concepts.  Immediately "Rosie the Riveter" was chosen  and developed. 

Some things we then had to work out included details like "hair up or down, wavy or straight, colour or not, etc. 

We were constantly visualizing what the final product might look like on a tshirt.  Details added and taken away, fonts changed, pops of colour on a B&W design. We also looked into various printing options. 

The final illustration was Black & White & Purple to be printed on a white T-Shirt. Once I have a picture of the shirt in action I will be sure to share it here.  But there you have it; the iterations of the 2015 Team Becky Tee. 

Gestures!

It's been quite some time since I've done gesture drawing as a practice. Oh how quickly the quickness fades away. Thankfully an artist from a sketchbook group I follow on FB suggested checking out The Croquis Cafe on youtube. This handy little tool has allowed me to practice gesture drawing even with no access to a live model. 
I've had to work smaller than I am used to in order to accommodate things like a sketchbook instead of a newsprint pad, a desk instead of and easel and so on, but the practice is just as important and the observational skills are coming back slowly. 
This is going to help in some planned urban sketching too. 

 

Some 2 minute and one 5 minute gestures  using  The Croquis Cafe for model reference.

Some 2 minute and one 5 minute gestures  using  The Croquis Cafe for model reference.

Practice, practice, practice.

A little bit of practice in observation. Simplifying and picking out the shapes and shadows is an exercise that I do not spend nearly enough time doing. 
SO here's a couple of entries into my sketchbook with watercolour and ink+watercolour. 
I'm hoping to get out and do a little bit of urban sketching in the next week or so and want to brush up a little before then. These aren't quick enough for that but at least are helping me remember the exercise. I look forward to doing more. 

That Patreon Thing

For a long while now, approximately 8 months or so, colleagues and pals have been encouraging me to set up a patreon account because 'you never know'. 


Patreon-in case you don't know-is a site designed to allow creators a way to crowd source ongoing projects and creative endeavors. Basically anyone who wants to throw a few bucks your way every month, can do so through this website. It encourages you to build a following and a community of support. You set the limit on what you want to contribute and as such you begin a dialogue or relationship with the artist about their work and they keep you in the loop as their projects develop.

I've been watching Patreon over the last year increase in popularity. Some people are having great success funding their artist life while others are simply finding a few extra bucks from friends and family to help buy extra tubes of paint. 
My current perception is that creators with an already established following benefit the most from this program, that launching without some sort of product and subscription backing is less 'successful'. 

None the less, I have some great ideas and projects and so I finally hit that "launch" button. after filling in my creation promises, mumbling my way through a 'please support me' video and essentially pouring over my trepidation about asking anyone for anything just because I happen to be an artist.  I ask that you take a moment and check out my patreon page and see some of the projects that I have been working on. BUT I also encourage you to have a look around patreon in general. 
There are a lot of artists, of all kinds, who are making really fun and exciting things and if you ever wanted to support an artist directly, this is a great way to do it. 

/commercial

Click the button below to see me patreon page. 

Painting on the Sculpt

The ZBrush-KeyShot-Photoshop experience continues today with a little painting practice. I selected a quick and dirty bust made from sphere in Zbrush and brought it into Keyshot. Unfortunately I had some hardware issues as it turns out keyshot is a beast and uses 100% of my CPU resources unless my render is set small. 
It was a struggle but I managed to get 3 renders of my sculpt out of light shot before I decided to bring it in to photoshop and get used to painting over a sculpt. 
I first layered all 3 of the renders as such: 
 

As you can see, there was something a little funky with my mesh in the front forehead area. Also, because this was a quick and dirty sculpt, it's fairly stylized with big disproportionate eyes, bulbous nose, and shortened cranium. 
For the purposes of this exercise I wanted it to be obvious that realism was not my end goal. 

So after getting these three renders in Keyshot for hair, skin, and shirt, I then took the image - which is now flat 2D image- and brought it into Photoshop. 
I layers all 3 of these images and removed, masked until I had beige skin, brown hair, and blue shirt. I then created a new layer and set it to overlay, and did the same with my brush and began painting. When the basic blending and colour blocking was done I created a new normal layer and put in some more opaque details. 

The end result is a little more 'soft' than I would like, it gets a little muddy in the nose area but I'm well on my way to figuring out the right balance to paint over my sculpts. 
 

More Floating Tree

Update to include some the extra work I did on it this afternoon.

Yesterday and today I took my model from ZBrush into Keyshot and immediately discovered something I had not considered when making my model. It turns out that in order to use keyshot to apply different materials to different areas of the model they each need to be a subtool in ZBrush and not all one part of the same mesh. Now, in hindsight that seems obvious but it's not outside the realm of possibility that I would have been able to mask off the different areas to apply textures, materials, and such to specific areas. BUT such is the game when learning something new. There may still be a way to do this masking but I believe I can make my modeling experience MUCH easier if I just ensure that my model includes subtools. 

So in familiarizing myself with this application I played around with the various materials that are in keyshot. I also have done some exploration of light source and texture but the big "GLAMOUR" change is easily the materials. I took some screen grabs to show you what I mean. You can easily see how this little change in materials on my sculpt can really trigger the possibilities and also force you to consider you materials when designing your sculpt. You've got to keep the end goal in mind right from the beginning. It's a fun was of working that take a bit more planning and forethought that I am going to thoroughly enjoy. 

Check out the screens. :) 

ZBrush - Floating Tree Progress

Being new to ZBrush I have created a number of exercises designed to help me discover the tools and navigate the UI. 
This project, my floating tree, is going to be an attempt at improving my 2D rendering. I plan to model this as best as I can, bring into KeyShot and the Photoshop to create a final illustration. 
I want to understand how light affects textures and how depth and composition are affected when working in this way. 
So here's my progress thus far on the floating tree. 
 

Character Silhouettes

I don't usually work in silhouettes however I've been searching around for development inspiration and after seeing some really great silhouettes I thought I'd give it a try. 
After spending about 15 minutes on this first attempt I will give this approach another try.
The third and fifth poses have some potential, the rest will be scrapped. 
Great exercise. I will be collecting some more reference before I do the next set.