Sunday, November 28, 2010

Horned Grouseback

This little thing was something I doodled in the corner of a random piece of paper, and the idea of an alien anteater took hold and got it done.

The whole drawing was done in Photoshop and Painter; Photoshop for the lineart and shading, Painter for the bulk of the rendering.

For those curious about the process, here are a few notes about it -

-Drew the lineart in with something close to 80-90% grey. Once it was done, I adjusted the hue/saturation on it to make it a dark red-orange color, which blends better than if it was just the grey line (got this little tidbit of information from watching a Carlo Arellano workshop.)

-In Painter, I didn't do a monochromatic underpainting (though on reflection I probably should.) Instead, I took the New Simple Watercolor brush and roughly laid in my colors that way (I also tried to place value in at the same time, and it didn't work out - more on that later.)

-From there, I took a new layer and started to render it out bit by bit. The bulk of this work was done with the oil round and the chunky oil pastel brush

-After I finished rendering, I realized that the drawing was overall very flat. So I took it into photoshop, and created a photofilter layer (under the same tab as levels, curves, hue/saturation, etc.) I gave it a warm overlay, and using a layer mask started to carve into the drawing, creating the shadows.

In the end I had to resort to cel-shading to take it away from looking flat - not my original intent, but it suites it fine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Building a Pochade Box, Part 4

Now it’s time to bring this project to a close and add all the hardware.

First, we need to attach the tee nut. The tee nut is what we'll be using to attach the pochade box to any standard camera tripod. I took a spare piece of wood I cut out, and after finding the center of it, drilled a hole that was just a bit bigger than a 1/4" in diameter. I then took my rubber mallet, and started to bang the tee nut down into the hole (For some reason, the nut was extremely difficult to get in there. But a tight fit will ensure it stays.)

Once you find the center of the bottom box, attach your tee nut piece with some wood glue and once it's dry you can continue assembling the rest of the box.

The next thing to do is to reinforce the boxes – you’ll put an L-bracket in each corner of both boxes, to reinforce the sides, as well as attach a few to the bottom and sides of the bottom box. Since the plywood can splinter easily and the screws I used were made some of ludicrously soft metal, I’d advise to pre-drill the holes a bit.

From there, I attached the hinges. My hinges are placed oddly because I thought two would suffice, when in fact I need a third to steady the open/close action. Again, pre-drill your holes.

(It should be noted that it’s quite likely that the screws may poke out on the other end by just a smidgen. If this happens, take a flat file and file them down so you don’t get snagged by them.)

Now it’s time to install the turnbuckles. Without these, the box would just flop open, and I wouldn’t be able to adjust the angle of the top half.

The construction is fairly simple. We’re going to drill ¼” holes about 2 ¼” in from the edge of the box on either side of both halves. Refer to the pictures to get a general idea of where this is going.

Once we’ve done that, it’s time to install the bolts, which the turnbuckles will hang off of. Since space is at a premium on the side, the bolts will face outwards. It’ll be a tight fit, so some elbow grease will be required, but you’ll soon have them in.

If you notice in the picture, the turnbuckles can be removed by simply unscrewing the nut off the bolt and slipping the turnbuckle off. To adjust the box, you don’t even need to do that – twisting the middle part of the turnbuckle left or right will lengthen or shorten it, affecting the angle of your box.

And with that, the construction is complete! I still haven’t found a suitable clasp to hold the two halves together while traveling, so at the moment I’m using an old woven belt.

For the trays, I’m using an old breathmint tin with a binder clip to hold it to the side. It won’t hold my brushes at the moment, but it’s the perfect size to hold my water cups.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Building a Pochade Box, Part 3

(Apologies for this going up later than I wanted. Wrapping up Border Crossings has taken up a bit of time lately, and this just kept being pushed to the side.)

In part 2 of this series, I went over gathering supplies and drawing out the plans. Now it’s time to cut and build those boxes!

There were two main goals I was after while cutting out the pieces: Straight cuts, and clean cuts. I thought at first I could use a hacksaw to get through them, but it was a lot of work with very little return.

Enter the jigsaw! Using a jigsaw, I was able to cut up the pieces quickly. A few words of caution when using the jigsaw to cut out your pieces:

-Always wear protective goggles (this should be extremely obvious.)

-Be sure to secure your wood to a worktable or whatever it is you’ll be cutting over. I used a stack of weighted milkcrates and clamps to secure the plywood while I was cutting.

-Don’t rush through your cuts! This can lead to rough and poor cuts, and you’ll end up with pieces you can’t use (as I found out a few times.) Take your time, and make sure you’re cutting along your measurements.

In the end, you’ll have all your pieces cut out and hopefully straight, like above. If you need to, sand the sides a bit to get rid of splinters.

Now, at the time I wasn’t able to seal my box with shellac or what-have-you. I would recommend it though, as it’ll help protect your box against the elements. Ideally, you would do this after you pre-drilled the holes for the screws, so you would probably have to test fit your box first, then remove all the hardware, seal the wood, then reassemble once dry.

Since I didn’t do this step though, I can’t provide much beyond that, so we’ll move on to the actual construction of the box.

The sides of the box are not going to be sitting on the bottom of the box – instead, we’ll be putting them on the edge of the box.

Also, the approach we’re taking to assemble the sides involves each side overlapping the previous one. Hopefully the diagram explains this better than words. Believe me when I say this is a stronger design than having two sides nestled between two other sides.

To start, I decided to assemble each side one at a time. We’ll need the brad nails and wood glue for this. Apply a layer (not too thick!) of wood glue to the edge of the box bottom, then butt the side of the box side up against it. You’ll have to hold it for a few minutes, and if you have a clamp system that can do this, great, you’ll need one less person down the road.

After about 2-3 minutes, the glue will have dried enough that you can hammer in the brad nails to firmly secure it the bottom and the side together. You’ll probably need another person to hold the pieces together while you hammer them, though. I used two brads for to attach each side to the bottom, and one to two brads to secure the sides to each other.

Be sure to not do this part hastily! The wood is thin enough that if you aren’t careful about the direction the brad nail is going in, you’ll easily end up splitting the wood or finding it sticking out one of the sides. So BE CAREFUL.

Once you have one side done, congratulations! You’ve pretty much figured out how to do the remainder of the two box halves. Just repeat you’re steps for the remaining sides.

After that, you’ll have two box halves assembled! In the final post, we’ll go over attaching all the hardware and assembling your box for outdoor painting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Building a Pochade Box, Part 2

My woodworking skills are crap, and my measuring skills are even crappier (hooray for poor math skills!) So I employed my girlfriend to help figure out the separate sizes and parts. The wood we got from Michaels was 1/4” thick, 12” x 24” birch plywood, so the plans were made to fit as many pieces as possible on as few boards as we can. In the end, 3 pieces were used.

Above are the plans for the box. You’ll notice some pieces marked trays; these were to eventually be trays I can clip to the side to hold water cans, tubes of paint, and possible brushes when not in use. I unfortunately didn’t get them done in time for the trip, but I did find a decent solution in time, which I’ll cover later. These aren't scaled up to 100% - I used the plans just as reference for drawing the lines on the wood. Each piece should butt up against another one to converse wood (in the event you muck up something and come out with a bad piece, like I did a few times.)

With wood and plans ready, all that was left was the hardware. I got everything from Home Depot, so hopefully finding these won’t be too hard for anyone else. Here’s a rundown of the supplies:

-3 pieces of Birch Plywood, 12” x 24”, quarter inch thick.

-Packet of small craft hinges (they’re brass colored, and are the sort of hinges that would go onto a jewelry box.

-4 packets of L-Shaped “Decorative Brackets”, to reinforce and strengthen the box.

- Bag of #10-24 x ¾” machine screws (Should contain both the screws and nuts)

- Bag of ¼” – 20 x 5/16” Tee Nuts (to attach the tripod to the box.)

- Box of ¾” brad nails (to reinforce the box while the glue dries.)

- Elmer’s Wood glue

- 2 3/16” x 5-1/2” Turnbuckle Eye/Hook (For holding the box open)

- Jigsaw or something else that can cut quickly and accurately

- Drill

- If possible, a Dremel tool with the small drill bits, or an equivalent type of tool (for pre-drilling screw holes.)

- Sandpaper

- A few hours of time

As I’m going over the construction, I’ll explain some of these supplies in more detail when we get around to using them.

In the next post, I’ll go over cutting and putting the two halves of the boxes together.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Building a Pochade Box, Part 1

There it is. My homemade pochade box. It’s probably the ugliest box in existence (not to mention slightly wonky, as my woodworking skills are lacking,) but it’s a terrific solution for someone that can’t or won’t* shell out the big bucks for a professional pochade box. I’m still trying to figure out the total cost (on account of a few mistakes and jigsaw that needed to be purchased,) but I think for the materials the cost rests somewhere between $20 to $30.

*(I should note that I DO eventually plan to get one of those wonderfully handcrafted pochade boxes…it’s just not in my budget at the time, unfortunately.)

For the unfamiliar, a pochade box is a portable outdoor painting kit - developed as a convenient way to carry supplies out into the field to perform plein air painting (French for “in the plain air”.) There’s a wide variety of pochade boxes in use today that fulfill different needs of an artist. It’d take a whole post to go into this, but fortunately Charlie Parker of the blog “Lines and Colors” covered this topic before when he was purchasing a pochade box. For the curious, here’s a link to the exact article: Lines and Colors' post about Pochade Boxes.

I would also recommend that if you haven’t seen his blog yet, I heartily recommend it – it’s easily in the top ten of art blogs on the internet.

So what made me decide to build a pochade box and try my hand at field painting? Vacation.

I went up to the Smokey Mountains this past week, and after looking at some photos of the area, I decided that it’d be a perfect place to give field painting a try (as a forewarning, I should mention the results were a bit atrocious, pretty much because of my lack of skill in traditional painting AND landscape painting. But it was a great learning experience!)

My budget wouldn’t allow me to actually get a nice pochade box, but I was able to construct one. In the end I think it’s design is somewhere trapped between an Open M box and an All-In-One (though if it had to be categorized, it’d fall into the latter.) And I decided to go over the construction in the next few blog posts to hopefully help some other people that are curious about how to go about it.

So, onto the first step: Figuring out my goals!

I made a short list of things I wanted out of my box – these were going to help me figure out the design and dimensions of it:

-Light, but sturdy

-Cost affordable (it should not be more expensive than $50, even that would be pushing it.)

-Able to hold a 9 x 12 watercolor block in portrait or landscape orientation

-Able to hold most, if not all, of my painting supplies

-Mounts on a camera tripod without modifying the tripod itself.

On Tuesday, I’ll go over the plans and supplies.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

World keeps on turning...with sketches!

As is often the case, life gets in the way, which can hold up something like blog posting. Fortunately it wasn't anything terrible, just the usual hustle and bustle of things.

Most of this stuff is digital this time around, and in color! There's a few things here and there that are observational paintings (a panel from Batman: Year One and a 10-minute still life study), and a few imaginary things.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


If you're wondering what's up with the mitten hands... It's based around an idea I heard in a Glenn Vilppu lecture figure out the hand, you need to treat it like any other thing - Simple ---> Complex.

Don't go at it worrying about all the little forms (even as cylinders,) that'll just muck it up and stiffen the gesture. Instead, work up to it with practice.

-A mitten with a thumb,

-A mitten with a forefinger and thumb,
-A cartoon (3 fingered) hand,

-A fully human hand.

By doing it this way, you're realizing the major forms that the hand takes on, and as you move up in complexity, you retain that information.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This is what happens when your day job gets too end up neglecting your favorite things! Fortunately things are winding down a little, so I'll be able to post more often.

Expect to see some more color work out of me soon, as I'm taking my first oil painting class this Thursday! Somehow, I slipped my way through art school without ever taking a painting class...and it's been the one thing I've seriously regretted. Now that'll be changing, and I'll get to learn that fine craft for the first time! I'm quite excited.

In the meantime, here are some new sketchbook doodles from the past few weeks.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Work was busy this past week, which meant not a lot of personal stuff to do...ah well, at least there's still something! It's a random smattering this week of life drawings and concept stuff.