Moving to a new home…

Good morning everyone – this blog has now moved over to my Patreon site at http://www.patreon.com/dreamsofego where you will find work updates, reviews and process pieces, with extra posts visible only to Patrons. You can sign up for as little as $1 a month, so I hope you will come and support me on Patreon.

Merry Werewolfmas One and All

Merry Christmas everyone

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Procreate for iPad Review

I’ve tried plenty of digital painting and sketching apps over the last few years, with Autodesk’s Sketchbook, Wacom’s Bamboo and Inspire Pro by SnowCanoe all having spent time on my tablet or phone, but Procreate really stands out from the crowd.

Skull study

I’ve been using Procreate with the Wacom Creative Stylus for about six months and it continues to impress with version 3.1 which adds pressure curve adjustments for styluses, significant improvements to brush presets and capacity for larger canvas sizes, ready for the iPad Pro.

Interface

At first, Procreate’s interface looks awfully basic, with brush, smudge and eraser being the only tools immediately on display, alongside a few menu items. For an artist used to the wide array of tools on show in Adobe Photoshop
or Corel Painter, this is somewhat disappointing, but after a few hours of practice, this ‘basic’ UI is actually an ingenious minimalism.

Procreate-screenshot1

Each of the main tools (brush, smudge, eraser) can be double tapped to access Procreate’s brush library, with each brush being double tapped to alter a range of properties that you would from the aforementioned desktop programs. In addition, simple sliders on your left or right (you can choose which) let you set the tool’s size and opacity. After a few hours work, I realised that this nested menu system and three tool approach allowed me to perform most of my actions for roughing out or detailing a particular part of a painting using just one tap to switch between tools.

Procreate screenshot2

Features

Procreate keeps things simple, focussing on digital painting, so many of the filters and special fx functions that Photoshop users are used to are not present. In my opinion, this is no great loss, especially when the few functions that are present (including the new perspective blur and upcoming perspective grid functions) are all of use to the digital painter.

Keeping fancy filters to a minimum and limiting canvas size and layers means that Procreate is completely free from lag on the iPad Air 1 I am currently using, making the painting experience smooth and responsive.

Procreate’s most unusual feature is an automatic time lapse record of your painting process. It would be easy to dismiss this as a gimmick, as it really doesn’t add anything to your ability to create artwork, however, this would be rather unfair. The feature is tucked away behind a menu and doesn’t create any notable drain on system resources. Plus, with artists and illustrators increasingly needing to create social media and tutorial content, the ability to generate video footage of the painting process can be of great use.

Procreate also provides support for a number of pressure sensitive styluses; the <Adonit Jot, FiftyThree Pencil, Pogo Connect
and Wacom Creative Stylus. The recent addition of pressure curves for these devices is a welcome one, although the lack of palm support for the Wacom device is slightly irritating.

Compatibility/workflow

When considering any new piece of software or hardware in my practice, it’s ability to fit into my workflow is very important. This is where Procreate begins to fall short, although the blame can’t entirely rest with Savage Entertainment as the short comings tend to rest with Apple’s architecture.

As well as it own proprietary format, Procreate allows you to export your files as layered .psd or flat .jpg and .png. The lack of of a layered .tif option is a disappointment but not a serious problem. The real issue comes when trying to move a file from Procreate to the desktop system in my studio. While I have a NAS drive set up set up to facilitate this sort of thing, the only way to bring a painting from Procreate to Painter or vice versa is to export and import via a cloud system such as Google Drive.

While this has allowed Procreate to become a useful sketching device and a way to generate roughs outside of the studio, it does fall short of the potential to move artwork from desktop to tablet and back with ease. Mac users may have an easier time of course.

Conclusion

Procreate is by far the best digital painting application for the iPad, simple enough for beginners but with sufficient customisation to allow professional users to achieve a high quality of work.

For an app price-point, Procreate comes close to rivalling the quality of its desktop contemporaries. If you already have the hardware and are looking for a digital sketch pad then I strongly recommend you give Procreate a try.

However, Procreate is limited by its nature as a tablet application and if you are looking to expand your practice to a tablet solution you may want to look at investing in a Surface Pro or similar device to provide continuity between devices and tighter stylus control.

Newcastle Film and Comic-Con 2015

Last weekend I headed out for my very first comic-con a dealer and I have to say I had a great time.  Showmasters had already put on a fantastic event in March and I had been a attendee of similar events they had run in Peterborough and London, so I was excited to be able to get a table for their Newcastle Event in November.

NFCC2

I’d like to thank not only the organisers, but my fellow exhibitors and all of the great attendees for a fantastic event.  While I hear that the event was quieter than usual, the snow didn’t deter some amazing cosplayers (I now strongly believe that the next Captain America should be a woman)  or the dampen the enthusiasm of anyone I met.

My work was very well received and I am happy to say there are now a lot more people enjoying my art on their walls.  In particular I was pleased by the reaction of the YA age group, whose praise was both blunt and sincere and I am glad to see parents encouraging their sons and daughters to embrace darker art and fiction as well as the bright and fantastic.

NFCC 1

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I also got the chance to speak with several amateur and aspiring artists and I hope that I will one day be seeing their work in publication and on display.

If you missed out on the con, or were one of the people who ran out of room for my prints, you can head on over to my shop to buy prints and originals, but please order soon to make sure delivery can be arranged for Christmas.

I’ll be back again for NFCC in 2016 and I hope to see plenty of you there.  In the meantime, please go and check out the following brilliant people I met:

http://beyondthebunker.com/
When the Moon isn’t shining in the sky, he puts on a suit and comes down to Earth, investigating the most ridiculous crimes you can imagine

https://www.facebook.com/Scottartbeyond/
Scott Robinson is a fantastic artist with pencil, ink and needles.

http://www.gamefe.co.uk/
It may be early days for this startup, but they are full of enthusiasm to bring good food and good games together under one roof in Newcastle – go check them out and pitch some support at their kickstarter if you want to see more gaming in the Toon.

https://www.facebook.com/missjennyscustomartandphotgraphy/
Jennifer Richardson is a fantastic airbrush artist and photographer.  If you are looking for custom work on helmets or vehicles, I recommend you check her out.

https://www.facebook.com/ObsceneDream-Makeup-and-FX-1476244649366086/
While she may be working in her spare time, there is nothing amateur about the quality of this woman’s FX and body paint work.

 

Make a Splash

The Tynemouth Outdoor Pool project is a fantastic example of a community looking to restore a much-loved piece of history by transforming it into something new. Rather than dwelling on nostalgia, the project aims to create a viable, modern outdoor pool that will still capture the spirit of the sea-view attraction that captured the imagination of thousands of children.

The project’s latest fundraising effort is the ‘Make a Splash’ exhibition, currently on display at the Old Low Light on North Shield’s Fish Quay. A staggering range of artists donated work for the exhibition, with sales going directly toward funding the outdoor pool project.

The exhibition itself is a triumph, masterfully curated and hung with skill and care that stand alongside any professional gallery. The quality of the artwork is ranged from emerging to professional and in my opinion, many of the works have been under-priced for their quality, without the usual gallery percentages, offering the opportunity to pick up some incredible work at a bargain price.

Make a Splash 1

Make a Splash 2

 

For my part, I donated a new, original oil painting ‘The Nautilus Dreams of the Ocean’ and you can view a time-lapse of part of the painting process below.
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I highly recommend you check out the exhibition and if you want to contribute to the project, you can buy artwork from the project’s online store.

Great North Snow Dogs

I was lucky enough last night to be invited to the launch event for the Great North Snowdogs project, the latest in a line of hugely successful projects by Wild in Art.

It was great to hear about the past successes of projects like The Big Hoot and Gromit Unleashed, not only in the money raised for their respective charities, but also the positive impact these projects have had on local communities and businesses.  The astonishing increases in footfall and revenue that these projects have had was a little dry, but the sense of community involvement and love for public art that was on display was truly inspiring (Sutton Coldfield even bought back ‘their’ owl through community crowdfunding).

As an artist with an illustrative background, the strong emphasis placed on artwork that captures the imagination and interest of the public was a welcome change from focussing on the value of ‘big name’ art and I will certainly be putting together a proposal or two for my own take on the beloved pooch.

Whatever happens, the Great North Snowdogs are going to make for a fantastic event and raise plenty of support and funding for the fantastic St Oswald’s Hospice.

The Geek’s Alphabet

I recently decided to challenge myself to create an alphabet of illustrations to cover the geeky things in life and asked for suggestions on my Facebook page.  My excellent fans responded with a great selection of ideas and several weeks and 26 illustrations later, the series is complete.

Prints and products featuring the alphabet and individual letters are available from Society 6Redbubble and direct from my studio.

Custom word art using this alphabet can be ordered here.

Invisible Beasts

It’s a bit of a tradition for me to make a Halloween post and this year I have three pieces of new horror art to share.

A few months ago, I was invited to take part in a show titled ‘Invisible Beasts’, organised by Paul Thompson of Tales of the Hollow Earth.  Comprising an exhibition hosted by Creative Up North and an accompanying book, invited artists explored the idea of monsters in a range of mediums.

I took on a trio of Native American beasts; the Algonquian Wendigo, Navajo Skin Walker and the Inuit Tupilaq.  You can see these monsters, along with my accompanying text below the cut.

Invisible Beasts is running until 8th of November at the Creative Up North Hub, Northumberland Street, North Shields, NE30 1DS and features the work of Paul Thompson, Britt CoxonEllie Tarratt, Andrew Davy, Wip VernooijSerina ShekTerry Wiley and Oscillating Brow.

[Read more…]

Inktober 2015

Last year, I foolishly decided to join in with the excellent Inktober project run by Jake Parker while in the process of moving house with a baby.

This year, while fully settled into my new northern home, my workload for the month is astronomical. Between preparing work for the upcoming Invisible Beasts exhibition/publication, completing my A-Z, getting ready for Newcastle Comic-Con and completing one of my largest private commissions to date, October is a crazy month, even before you add my son’s second birthday into the mix.

As a result, it would be absolute madness to add another project into the mix, even one as simple as Inktober can be.  So, obviously I will be attempting the Inktober challenge.Ink pens, iphone and sketchbook

To try and preserve some level of sanity however, this year I will be imposing some strict regulations on myself – no underdrawing, no planning or prep work, no dip pens and .01 detailing. Every day, I will be doing an ink drawing with nothing but the tools shown above and a strict five minute time limit from the moment I sit down to work. This might be a great, relaxing daily exercise, it might be a cavalcade of rushed and half finished dodgy sketches. You can find out which by following me on any of my social media accounts over the next thirty days.

Wish me luck.

 

 

Competition Time

I am very pleased to be selling at Newcastle Comic-Con this November and to celebrate, I am compiling my very own Geek’s A-Z.  From Android to Zombie, I will be creating 26 unique artworks to celebrate all things Sci-Fi, Comics, Fantasy, Horror, Gaming or anything else that floats the collective sub-cultural boat.
A is for AndroidZ is for Zombie

As I have yet to decide what will be depicted for the letters B-Y, I am reaching out to all you fine people to make your suggestions.  Whoever suggests the best option for each letter (as decided by me) will win a print of that letter’s artwork* and anyone who shares my Facebook post will be entered into a prize draw to win an A3 Giclée print of the whole alphabet, just in time for Christmas.

For your chance to win head over to my Facebook post and get commenting and sharing.  I look forward to reading your suggestions.