December 30, 2009

3D Pitcher Bug

For the Polygon Assignment in my Maya class, we were given the task to create some kind of imaginary bug and place it in an environment.

I did a series of exploratory sketches to find some kind of unique shape for my bug. I found it easier to think of a function or an environment for it first -and then design the bug. I also tried simply crossing the bug with random objects or animals -doing a quick drawing as each idea would pop into my head.
As can be seen, I chose to do the version which crossed the bug with a pitcher.

While working on this assignment, I learned the invaluable ability of Maya to work with PSD files. Being able to keep all the color, bump, specular, UVs, etc information in one psd file was tremendous help.

I took the photo last fall in a park about a mile from where I live. Something I did which really helped when it came to lighting the bug, and matching it with the photo, was taking two photos of the same branch on the tree. I took one photo for compositing, and another photo with a red push pin stuck in the branch for reference.
The push pin was about the size of the bug and helped me to compose the environment -reserving enough space for the bug. The push pin also was a simple enough object to build a copy of in Maya and provided valuable lighting information. I lit the model of the push pin to match the one in the reference photo, swapped the photo with the actual photo to be used, hid the push pin model, and then placed the bug in the scene to be rendered.

I wanted to share what the bug looks like from other views as well. UV and textural information for the bug can be found in the Personal Work: 3D section of my portfolio.

I was sad when this class ended a couple weeks ago. I haven't really had a sit down, teacher guided class in Maya. Most of what I've learned so far has come through workshops and on the job training. It was nice to be guided from start to finish through a project, not to mention learn a little of the background of the program.

I'm probably most grateful I decided to sign up and shell out the cash for this class in the face of being in between jobs at the time. I learned so much more than if I would have tried to tackle the same projects on my own. With respect to my love of drawing and painting, I'd definitely like to get into this more.

December 18, 2009


Steve Savage maintains "A blog about jobs, careers, and economics for ambitious fans, progeeks, Otariimen, and other members of the Modern Literati." Click the link above for a few of my thoughts on pursuing an art career, dealing with assumptions about artists, and advice on dealing with our current economic situation, etc.

I first came in contact with Steve several years ago while visiting another site of his: Seventh Sanctum. I was looking for some random name generators for a project of mine. Since then, I have never found a bigger ". . . collection of 'generators' that make random characters, plots, ideas, and more to use in your writing, games, art and more."
I emailed him with a few questions, of which he answered promptly and kindly.

Zoom ahead to last summer. Steve found me in a list of old emails and sent out an invite to connect to him through LinkedIn. Offering to help with my job searching activities, he referred me to a couple of contacts of his. He also later congratulated me, when receiving an update through LinkedIn, on finding a new job a couple of months ago.

December 16, 2009

CMYK color swatch wheels

I did a couple of paintings last summer and discovered a major let-down with Corel Painter. There is no CMYK mode for PSD files!

Why?! Why?!

I love using Painter for my artwork. Why isn't there a mode compatible with Photoshop's CMYK documents?! I learned this the hard way after creating a painting -only to find that some of the most brilliant colors turned to mud when I converted it to be sent off to be printed.

Can I still use Painter to paint? Is this the end of my devotion to this beloved program?
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Last week, I had the idea pop into my head to look online for some swatch palettes constructed only of CMYK colors. At least this way, when I sample from them, it would help me stay within printable color ranges, I thought. (sigh, . . . it used to be 'stay within the lines,' now it's 'stay within the color gamut.' What's next?)

Fortunately, I found that someone (Glen Moyes) HAD made some CMYK swatch palettes and put a lot of work into them. These things are great! He's actually made both a version of CMYK and RBG swatch palettes for several applications including Photoshop and Painter.

You can find them here and here.

Using a screen capture of the color palettes he made, I created two more swatch libraries. Since I tend to jump too quickly into the saturated end of the spectrum (aww . . but it's so fun), I decided I would create a desaturated copy just for myself. This might be a big turning point in my artwork as it will actually force me to use desaturated colors longer during my painting process.

December 5, 2009


Real sketchbooks (the kind you buy from a store) intimidate me. I never grew up with them. Instead, I drew on reams and reams of plain ol’ paper. In school, I had a section in my binder with plain ol’ paper just for drawing. I have folders at home filled with drawings I did on plain ol’ paper.
Then I got into college where I needed to use sketchbooks as part of my grade. I filled them up, but it just never felt natural.
Even now, I still do my best thinking on plain ol’ paper.

So about 2 months ago, I came up with an idea that would combine the best of what I like about sketchbooks with the familiarity of plain ol’ paper.

So far, It’s been working out really well. It’s small and ring-bound (I like to be able to fold the cover around to the back of it). The thin masonite cover gives it a good solid feel that’s still pretty light. I can carry it around just about anywhere.
The book rings allow me to remove/add paper to it as I please. I can write/jot down ideas in it, paste extra notes in it, or throw away pages I don’t like.

Cover: roughly larger than 8.5x 5.5 inches, eighth inch masonite. (I made it slightly bigger than the pages to protect them.) The holes are drilled to match a regular paper punch in both size and spacing (see paper below).
Book-rings: ¾ inch rings
Paper: regular ol’ 8.5x11 inch paper cut in half. I punched the holes in a regular paper punch (punching two holes, then turning the paper over to punch two more). I also found that it holds 100 pages pretty cleanly, without bunching up, bending, tearing, etc.