Another World Forge

One of these days I will get down to doing a real tutorial again… possibly on how to use Photoshop to make planet and space art.  I am still working on resources for my resume and portfolio website, mainly the planets that will become the hover over links that will serve as main navigation icons.

The planets I made last month were… okay, but I wanted to push myself and see if I could get back into the swing of things and make planets that really make my jaw drop.  I will admit it has been a few years since I did Space-Art…

Here is the first of the newest set of planets I am working on, this one I am really happy with.

OrganicI tried to design it as a young planet, that is just beginning to develop basic organics, still mostly rocky, with the majority of its water still frozen.

More to come!



Oh Snap! Planets!

I have been trying to figure out how to finish  I need planets, in two sizes, I know that much… after that I will need to sit back and think once again.  This means I need to paint a few planets.  So I set out to paint 6 planets in total.  I figured this time around I would try to reach out with social media and poll some of the people that follow my art page, in order to pick which planets I was gonna use.

The six choices I have given my fan are: A Metal World, Ice World, Living World, Desert World, Volcanic World, and a Dead World.  I however don’t get off easy, I still have to paint all 6 before I can really ask anyone to vote!  So far I have finished three!  Check em’ out!


Head on over to my Facebook Artist page!  Throw me a Like, and vote for your favorite!


Miss a Sketch a Day, do a painting…

Sketching is the way I make sure I practice and get just a little bit better each day; at times however, like yesterday, I miss a day because I am working on a painting

A few weeks ago I released a series of sketches I was planning to turn into paintings, all involving mice.  I began with the wind mouse, mainly because this is the only painting in the set that has a tie to a season.  Here is what I have so far.


As I have mentioned before the Devil really does plague the details in my work, so I have a bit more I feel I need to do in order to call this guy done… then I think it is time to move on to Fire!

To see more of the art I am working on head over to my Facebook artist page! :

-TheGrav, progress and updates…

As revealed in my last post, I am currently hard at work fixing up, and turning it into my primary portfolio website., portfolio website design, Ryan Berry

This is my progress toward finishing the digital painting which will become my websites background, and eventually hover behind my website links.  This is the basic color step, where I am blending the colors and defining the values I will use to finalize the painting.

Follow along with the next few posts to see my progress.


A question of Texture

Yesterday I talked about modifying an image to meet specific needs.  This is what we ended up with.  An image that is useful to show a client as a draft and possibly only needs a little work.

Problem is the image is not finished enough(for me)… It lacks texture and in general could just use some more work.  However as mentioned in my last post, it is passable, it will give the client a good idea, and if they like it you can put in the extra time to make it perfect.

In some cases you have to play it safe.  Say you have spent 25 minutes on a banner image (Which is roughly how much time I spent) it is done enough to show, but you decide to put another 25 minutes into the project.  Then you meet with the client and hear them tell you about how much they hates sailing, boats, and sunsets.

That isn’t the case here.  I essentially have free reign to design whatever I think is going to be needed, I am developing 10-20 themes for my clients, clients to use.  My first 30 or so quick headers were reviewed, I picked the 15 I cared about and wanted to work on, and moved to the next step.

Well kinda…. first I am gonna refine all the headers images(or banners) I did photo-manipulation too.  This brings us back to the sail boats at sunset, arguably one of my favorites, and one of the ones that needs the most little tweaks.  With just a bit more cloning and painting I get to here:

Now honestly I could call it done, I tweaked it just enough to get rid of what I thought were the two big glaring issues.. but I have come this far so I can afford the extra 20 minutes to do a bit more.  I am gonna specifically target two areas and then deal with texturing.

Blending, PhotoshopThe clouds on the left are a bit of an eye sore.  They don’t look bad, but I also don’t really want to call that much attention to that area of the banner.  The other big area is the fade to the left of the smaller boats sail.

There are a few ways to deal with the first issue, since the concept and image are already approved, but not set in stone.  So I can really do whatever I want, in this case I am gonna cut in a new second boat, move it a bit, and clone the background back together.

You can see the image as I cut it and bring it in, I want to move it back a bit more, and I want to stretch it to fit the background.  You can see where the old image still “peaks” out, this is something I will have to fix once the image is flattened.

You can also see with this example how different the original color values are from my finished piece.  I often jump in and out of Hue/Saturation, Levels, and Curves as I work to get the image’s color where I want it.  From here I adjusted what I wanted, and then cut a bit more of the original photo into the piece.

Make a mess, then clean it upI made a mess, the image no longer looks anywhere closed to finished, in fact it looks like I just started!!  It’s okay, now I get to refine by cleaning it up, and since I made all the important decisions yesterday I already have a direction that I am gonna move in.

After some work, a few more cuts and a lot of smearing/painting here we are:

The smear tool is your friend when cloning and blending, it allows you to really get in and cover up the areas that are not blending easily.  There are a few issues with the smear tool however.  The biggest is texturing, as you can see above some of the banner now looks too smooth, the grain of the original photo is missing in a few areas.

Another issue with the smear tool is that it is too easy to over smear, so always make sure you are saving often and incrementally, and looking at the whole piece every few moves, crtl-alt-z only gets you so far.

marque selectionsHere are the areas I think are too smooth and need to have texture re-introduced, thankfully there is an easy way to add a bunch of grain all at once.

 Filter > Noise > Add Noise, when that windows comes up we are going to have to make a few changes before we move any further.

Filter Power!Time to use “FILTER POWER!”.  Once this menu comes up it is important to change a few things right off the bat.  First choose Gaussian distribution, this gives the noise, or grain in this case, a more “natural” and random look.

By default Noise in Photoshop is very colorful, this is not what we want, so next step is to check Monochromatic, removing the colors that aren’t already in the image.

At this point you may want to turn on the preview so you can see what it will look like once applied.  Lastly you can either enter your own percent value or play with the sliders to get a feel for what you want to do.  In my case, I set the amount to 5% and then only applied it to the marque areas.

Closer and CloserThere are still a few issues, for one the clouds don’t look organic enough, and some of the textures look to repeated, so I will do one last Filter > Noise > Add Noise.  This time however I will do it to the entire piece, to give it a unifying element.  As well as going back to the clone tool to touch up anything it seems I missed.

And here we are.. ready to ship.

Boats at Sunset


Working with images

One of the things I do often as a working graphics guru, is use found/purchased images in fun and different ways to get an end product my client is happy with.  Sometimes I can afford the time to go and get my own images.  But scouting a location, collecting the shoots I need and then going through them is a process that can be long and wasteful.  Which a lot of times is not in my clients budget, or doable based on my deadline schedule.

In these cases I have to fall back on a number of tricks and skills that can save me time, but deliver an awesome end product that fits my clients needs.  In this short tutorial I will go over creating “header” or “banner” style images, which can be used in many different web applications.  I work mostly in Photoshop and on a PC so keep that in mind as you follow along, the tools I will outline and mention normally have equivalents in most other graphic programs.

The image I am starting with is a couple of sail boats at dusk.  I am going to fit this image into a 940 x 198 pixel banner (compatible with WordPress headers), so I search for a big image.  It is important to also find a high DPI or high pixel count image when you are planning a project like this.  Make sure you save the file and don’t overwrite it, often I will save and image as “sailboats_src.jpg”  or something along those lines.

Doing both of these steps will help you out in the long run.  It is always easier to shrink and image than it is to blow it up.  The nifty “enhance” trick made fun of in Super Troopers and often seen in shows like CSI is complete bullshit.  Yes you can do it.. But it is massively time consuming and just a waste, plus your end product will look grainy or pixelated.

After a quick search on Google I have a 1024 x 768 image I want to use.  After dragging it into my template I end up with something like this:

Photoshop, sail boats, sunset

You will notice that it doesn’t quite fill my work-space, I have a big chunk of white to the left of the boats that is a bit out of place.

This is what I will focus on fixing to make the image which is not at the right ratio, look right.  There are a few ways to do this, painting new information in is more artistic but ultimately almost as involved as going and taking the shot it wanted in the first place.

I could drag another image in, to hide it, but that isn’t what I want, I could clone it, which works but can look to “doctored”.  So what am I gonna do?  Mix all three of those methods of course!

Transform, Sunset, Sail boatsFirst I will cut and paste the image in again.  It some in on-top and I have gone ahead and used ctrl-t to transform the image so you can see the outside bounding box.  You can see in this example how big the image is and why I couldn’t just shrink it down to get what I wanted.. the Ratio is just to far off.

This is the Layer box, or Layers Menu.  As you can see the image I dropped in is currently “on top” of the other image, so it displays as if it is physically on top of the other image.  A good way to look at layers is just like that, each one is a new “photo” that has been dropper onto the stack.

However “Layer 2” is not the layer I want on top, so I will simply use the drag and drop feature to place it below “Layer 1”.  This way the white space on the left is covered up, just as mentioned above this is one of the ways I could have fixed the banner…

This is not enough however it is only part of what I plan to do in the long run.  Simply covering the white space still leaves something to be desired.  And this is what we end up with..

Now I need to get it the way I want it.  There are a few different methods for getting this done, but what I will do is use the Transform tool or ctrl-t to move it, resize it, twist it and even distort it until it looks good and like something I can use.

Here what I mostly did was shrink it to almost the right size and then distort it by stretching it to get the mountains and water where I wanted them.  Again I left the transform tools bounding box up so you could get an idea of how much I tweaked the image.

From here we are getting pretty damn close.  In my lazier moments I will toss some text, or even just a thick black line over the image to disguise the “weld” line but that isn’t enough for this project, so I will get into using my skills as a painter and the clone tool to get rid of that line and make this header really work.

Below you can see what I have started to do, and as in most good art projects, I started by making a

Sunset, Boats, Banner

mess, that then needs to be refined and perfected into a finished piece.

From here I start to pull out all my tools, burn, dodge, smear, and even some digital painting will go into making a finished piece.  This is really where you have to decide how you want to work, with what tools and how fast.  Remember MAKE A MESS!  Then refine it, also make sure you are looking at the whole piece as much as you can.

It can be tempting to zoom in and get lost on details, but my warning is this: You will waste time, and you will lose what you are working on.  The zoom feature is awesome, but your audience won’t see it zoomed in… so you can make the corner perfect! But no one can see it and it doesn’t match…

Sunsets, Boats, BannersAnd there you have it, I will continue to weak it a little one way or another, but I am happy enough to show my client and move on to the next part of the process.  I would stress that this is however a small element and just a draft, a final may include a different picture or even more refining.

Create Away!



The Choice is Android, and it keeps getting better…

Sidekick, AIMI have to admit it, I have used pretty mush every style of Smartphone.  I started life with a Sidekick and although I am not sure it can really be classified as a Smartphone, it did have AIM

From there I moved through the ranks of Palm Devices, at least one Blackberry and finally to the Droid.  Now I am a huge Android fan, and as I have mentioned before this probably has to do with two huge factors.  1)Mac’s piss me off, I can’t get them to do what I want, when I want, stably enough to even try to find out if the are “better” now.  2)I like to build things, from Apps, to Programs, to Web-development, to my own computers..

However I need to come clean… When I founded Ravenhorde Studios with a buddy in 2007, we began life with a Palm Centro, and when it was available moved to the first generation iPhone.  Now it has been a few years and Ravenhorde Studios is no more, but a lot of the consulting I did then I still do.  A need I have always had is to be able to view PDFs on the fly, and a want I have always had is the ability to create or modify documents that I may be working with.

Autodesk, autodesk sketchbook, iphoneI do a lot of work in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks and up until now I have mainly relied on the AutoDesk Sketchbook app on both my phone and tablet for doing work on the go so my client at least has an idea of what I am working towards.  It also allows me an amazing platform to plan out future art projects or even do entire paintings when stuck on an airplane, train, or car ride(where I am not the driver!).

However I have always wanted to have photoshop at my fingertips.  Well it seems my wait is over!  A buddy messaged me a Gizmodo link that I just had to check out, it seems the Photoshop Touch is not only in the works, but ti will come out for Android platform devices first!  Not only that it is to come with a host of other products!  Finally the software I have been looking for!

A quick trip over to the Adobe site lets you look over what the have to offer.  Solutions for artists, photographers, and designers alike!


Playing with a girl…

The best way to get to know this girl, and make her a woman, is to jump right in.

I decided to take screenshots this time around so you could get a look at my colour palettes, tools, and brush.  Realistically it won’t help much unless you have some experience with Painter, but it is a good glimpse of how the program can be setup and used.

I started in charcoal, moved onto an oil brush, and then started to toss in some air-brush strokes as I moved.  This is all very rough at this point, I have thrown down some basic gesture work, as well as what I think the background elements may look like, and I have just generally made a huge mess.

However to me at this point the really important stuff is the gesture, the feel the composition of the piece.   I am going for a vulnerable but sexy feeling, she is nude, and only partially covered.  Her one hand almost reaching for a keyboard.

As you can see here, I have tweaked the gesture a bit, laid her back more on the floor(which will eventually be covered in water) and moved her leg about a few times.

It is important to note I have jumped back into Photoshop to do some of this, as you can see I have cut and moved/morphed several elements all ready.

A lot of digital artists seem to get to the end before they really move into a place where they use the morph tools to correct some piece of their art.  I like to remember that these tools are always at my finger tips, and it is often easier to fix and morph as you go, as it is to do all that as a last step.

It is important to note here, that unlike my normal method Lain (the adult) started life purely as a digital work.  There was no sketch, or refinement process.  I have even stuck away form photo reference up until this point, purely because I am going for that more anime/comic look.

That being the case you can really see the wide variety of colours I use to make the skin tone.  Skin is not just a pale pink, or a flesh colour.  It is a mix of as many colours as you can think of.  It has a richness that cannot really be captured without mixing a lot of colour as you work.

Of course as I move on her skin will continue to change colour even more, picking up traces of the environmental colours and later lighting/reflective lighting elements.

More to come soon!


And how do you hunt the wastes?

I have returned to the wacom tablet, and tapped into the slippery bitch that is my muse.  My #sketchaday practices have done me good and inspired me to finish what I started.

When last I had posted about my Wasteland Rider, he was just a mess of colour and tone.  Basic shapes and information that needed to be trimmed, nurtured and formed into a final product.

To do this I started quick and dirty, taking a bender brush and smearing the colours together to get what I wanted.  As I blend, I keep returning to a other brushes to add in bits of colour and tweak the final image.  I also move back and forth between normal brushes and textured brushes.

As this rider is not going to be the focal piece of my painting I am not really putting that much effort into texturing, in fact I will do it all with paintbrushes this time.  Marking out and maintaining my hard lines, splashing texture in and blending all at once.  This allows me a more fluid development process.

As I worked I also changed my mind on several features of the figure.  The goggles, and gas mask were scrapped and redesigned.  I also moved to a more untanned leather look with the colour, and added girt where I though it should be.

Lastly I cleaned up the edges that needed it, but kept the piece  a bit gritty on the edges.

I combine them, do a bit more clean up and use the dodge and burn tools to tweak the rider just a bit more.  Now it is time to save it as a proof and  set it aside for a few hours to see what I think with a fresh mind.

After a few hours of letting it stew I decided to change very little.  More grit on the rider, made him a bit smaller as well, added some highlights and environmental reflections to him.

Then I messed with my colour levels to get it set a bit more like I wanted.

I have a problem with never “finishing” anything I have painted, so at this point I will call it done, and move on to my next hat trick!