Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TECH: Folded Pen

First, I was looking for information on something totally different.
When I stumbled onto some vague information about a new kind of tool for me, I just had to search some more.
Luckily, somebody had been generous enough to contribute a tutorial!
I shall post a link to it at the end of this post.
But first, my impressions:

The lines can vary instantly from a hairline to a fat brush mark!
The ink "reservoir" has much more capacity than a regular pen nib, which means less dippings.

I made one in a few minutes, but it only took that long because I didn't have a soda can at home.
I first tried with a plastic lid (too hard to keep bent flat), then with the bottom of a cheap aluminum pie plate (works VERY well but fragile). I later tried with a soda can, it works, but still it will not last long before requiring re-cutting or replacing.
Then I sacrifieced my "steel" (flexible kidney-shaped steel sheet tool to smooth clay), and turned it into a better pen knib (for my purposes). Slightly stiffer, which is an advantage for me, and longer lasting than aluminum. I also narrowed the shape to make it easier to dip into my small 30ml ink bottles, and I offset the handle as well (no more knuckles touching the paper when holding the pen near-horizontal!)

Here is my modified version, with short offset handle and steel nib:

and here are the Links to the great tutorial that inspired me:

How to make and use a "Folded Pen".
Part one: making the pen:
Part two: using the pen:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Working from Stains

Inspired by the visual works of Victor Hugo (author of Les miserables), I started toplay with stains and patterns in 2000.

Recently, I've decided to work some more, and more often, on these approaches.
Here are a few images created from or with stains:

And here is a challenge!
Not for competition, but rather to share the fun!
Send me results if you want.

Click on, and download this large orange stain to your computer.

Look at it, rotate it, zoom it, travel inside it, and try to see something figurative in it. Maybe more than one thing! You may even decide to only use a part of the image. Then, draw on top of it until anybody can see (with a bit of focus) what you have seen in it. Keep it figurative (must look like something at least vaguely recognisable, or believable) but try to leave some of the original feeling of the stain. The easiest things to see are usually faces and heads. Some people have more ease seeing fantastical landscapes. My goal is to be able to see enough to create complete compositions which would include figures or animals in realistic poses, and believable landscapes. I'm halfway there.

You can do it digitally, using Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements, or The Gimp... or you can print the satin and draw directly on it. Scan it, so you can share it.
Don't be affraid to modify the color hue, if it improves the picture!
Other modifications are encouraged, but please keep it simple and efficient, while retaining enough of the stain quality.

Here (the wig-wearing furry creature) is a very basic example of what can be done. I used Photoshop, with the tool called Burn, and a bit of brush work, cloning tool (to remove an unwanted spot) and the eraser.

This is an exercise in observation and interpretation. You can get an infinite supply of inspiration and insight from it.
The more you do it, the more your learn. There is no telling where it can lead!

I learn a lot about composition, textures, colors, contrast, focus, and "reality". I even learn about unconscious ideas I have sometimes, from what keep popping up in the stains...

The next step is to make your own stains (such fun! make a huge pile of various kinds!) and to interpret them. I keep a stack of them always available.

Another fun thing to do is to go stain hunting. Bring your digital camera, and if possible, a tripod and some lights, to help you better capture, in high resolution, the stains and patterns in nature or in human habitats. Rock faces or stone walls provide a third dimension to the challenge. Take pictures of the same subject at various angles, distances and lighting conditions.