ADN 481: Digital Painting and Drawing
Class Discussion of Drawing, Painting, Digital Imaging, and the Creative Process

January 2008
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Video Assignment List
Filed under: Light and Color
Posted by: mfreema @ 9:07 am

These are the videos that have been assigned so far:

•Ilustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials
Chapter 7
Due Monday 1/28/07

•Photoshop Channels and Masks: The Essentials
Chapter 2
Due Monday 2/4/08

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Project 2: Descriptive Environment
Filed under: Light and Color
Posted by: mfreema @ 8:40 am

assets, patterns, brushes, and alphas example #1

assets, patterns, brushes, and alphas example #2

Channels and Masks and Building with Assets

For our next assignment you will be creating an environment that is inspired by one of  the descriptions below. The environment will be created in black and white using primarily patterns, masks, and silhouetted shapes. You will be exploring alpha channels, vectors, custom brushes, selection tools and basic blending modes. Rather than beginning with sketches of the environment you will construct the environment from ready-made elements. Using and adjusting carefully selected pre-made components can help to create continuity in your designs as well as allow you to build very complex images in a short period of time. 

Environment Descriptions:
    •    Cute and Cuddly
    •    Eerie
    •    Graceful and Serene

For the initial part of the project you will you will develop several elements so that you have a library of assets. Do not worry as much about the final image yet. Work on creating assets that have characteristics that convey the description that you chose from above. Remember creating assets is a part of the design process. Try to create well designed assets since they will affect the outcome of your final image.

These are the assets that you will need. However, you are welcome to create and use more.

5 Texture brushes
5 Shape brushes
5 Photographic textures
5 Vector shapes
5 Compound Shapes/ and textures ( shapes and textures that are an intersection, subtraction, or addition of two or more elements)
5 Alpha channels of patterns that you create
5 Shape silhouettes saved as alpha channels

Create a tool preset that contains all of your brushes. Organize them with the shape brushes first and then the texture brushes. Create a folder for your original alphas.
Create a folder with your original photographs and your images that are prepared for black and white patterns.
All of your vector shapes should be on a single illustrator page.
Save your Compound Shapes as an alpha Channel along with the other channel images

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Modes of Seeing
Filed under: Draw/Paint, General
Posted by: mfreema @ 5:17 pm

Try standing inside a public place for a while and just listen. Try listening to a conversation. Then listen for the sounds of objects that are moved or dropped. Listen to see if you can hear a clock ticking in the background, the hum of the lights in the room, the air conditioner, or something outside. Of course all of these things were making noise before you chose to listen for them, but the moment you consciously began to listen you became more aware of sound. You were hearing, but you may not have been actively listening. Then, as you listened to the conversation, the ticking clock, or noise outside, you were able to focus selectively on them. You were listening for different things. We can’t be aware of all things at all times but we can shift our attention and change the types of things of which we are aware.

Seeing is no different. We can have our eyes open but not be in a state where we are actively seeing. Likewise we can choose to focus on particular things or a particular range of things.  Learning to draw is less about hand skills and more about actively seeing, or choosing what to see and what range of relationships to be aware of. The ability to shift one’s perceptual focus is a valuable asset in drawing and painting. Furthermore, drawing requires translating those relationships onto a 2-dimensional plane surface in the form points, lines, shapes, textures, value, and color.

Below is a list of 5 basic drawing approaches that are closely connected with a set of perceptual skills. We will be discussing these approaches throughout the course. In each approach the artist is primarily actively searching for and manipulating specific visual relationships:

(1) Evaluation of 2-Dimensional Linear Relationships: Primarily concerned with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal relationships between points, including relative measurements and proportion.

(2) Intuitive Linear Gesture: Primarily concerned with interrelated rhythmic movements and paths of action.

(3) Linear Perspective: Primarily concerned with conceptual aspects of three-dimensional forms as they recede in depth along lines of convergence.

(4) Mass Drawing: Primarily concerned with general shapes and thinking in terms of the area that something takes up in our field of vision or on the picture plane, as well as visualizing the negative spaces that surround them.

(5) Tonal Drawing: Primarily concerned with contrasts in value and how changes in light suggest changes in form.

A common way to handle a complex problem with varied parts and relationships is to break it down in to discrete manageable parts. By isolating these components of drawing, over time you can develop your ability to recognize these relationships and develop your perceptual skills.  Through continual practice you will soon easily shift from one mode of seeing to the next in a way that is intuitive, fluid, and natural.

In future posts, we will discuss these modes in more depth as well as related drawing techniques that help to develop perceptual skills.

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Generate and Cull
Filed under: Creative Process, General
Posted by: mfreema @ 5:15 pm

When I go shopping for something, I like to collect all of the versions of them in the store, lay them out and narrow them down. You might hear me quietly talking to myself with statements like these:

“This one is too expensive, this one is too cheap, I like the features on this one and this one, but this one kind of does both. Another may have a better warranty, but I trust this brand.”

The best choice isn’t always an obvious decision. Sometimes it is nuanced and requires that you are able to compare all of your choices at the same time. After going through that process, you will be more aware of your options and be able to make more informed decisions.

A basic design strategy is to generate-and-cull. In this process, to generate is to produce a set of solutions and to cull is to reduce their number through a process of selection. Simply put, it is a two-part process that you begin by creating or finding a broad range of ideas or solutions, and lay them out together to analyze and select the designs that work the best. This strategy is most effective at the beginning of the creative process. However, it can be used throughout your projects or on a continual basis.

Of course for practical reasons, you need to work in a way that allows you to quickly generate a large number of solutions. Thumbnail drawings are commonly used because they can quickly convey a sense of the whole design and it only takes a few minutes to produce several of them. It is not uncommon to produce anywhere between 100 and 200 thumbnail sketches to hash out ideas for a project. Some painters may create nearly 100 paintings to stimulate ideas for a single work, or instead select a few of the more successful pieces as final works and destroy or recycle the others. By generating more work and selecting the best of the bunch, these artists also take the pressure off of having to produce a masterpiece each time he or she steps up to the canvas.

There are several benefits to the production and analysis stages as well. You spend more time “thinking while making” rather than planning. Engaging in making and doing stimulates creativity, especially if you feel you have artist’s or designer’s block. The result is a visual record of your creative process. Consequently, you also open yourself up to more experimentation and new ways of approaching your work. In the analysis stage you aren’t as concerned with getting a shaky idea to work, but instead you can survey all of your ideas at once and weigh the strengths and weakness of one design against another, or mix and match elements of each. The creative process is both an analytical and intuitive process. Your first response is usually an intuitive response, at which point you can begin to articulate why one approach is more effective or suitable than another. As you clarify your creative goals by comparing and contrasting ideas, you will improve your understanding of your current creative decisions. In turn, it will help to improve your work, your ability to articulate both your concept and your creative choices.  Likewise, developing the habit of broadening the number of solutions that you produce in projects will greatly increase your creative range over time.

The advantages of generating and culling during your creative process is that helps you to:

(1) Work through a number of ideas fairly quickly
(2) Compare and contrast their strengths, weaknesses, and overall feel
(3) Develop a more nuanced perspective about what you want the work to accomplish
(4) Articulate your creative direction more effectively
(5) Take chances and make less predictable or safe choices
(6) Increase the range of ideas that you come up with
(6) Reduce the stress of putting all of your eggs in one basket

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Intro to Speculative Drawing
Filed under: Creative Process, Draw/Paint, General
Posted by: mfreema @ 5:10 pm

How do you draw what you have never seen before? Have you ever spent time staring into the clouds while naming objects, places, and things as the clouds form new configuration. Have you ever tried to make shadow puppets on the walls with your hands? I’m sure you have tried at least one of these as a kid. Looking at abstract forms and creating relationships between what is in front of you and what you have the ability to visualize is a core process in speculative drawing.

Speculative drawing is simply a process of finding, recognizing, or generating forms as you search for design possibilities. In most cases you don’t have everything worked out in an image before it is translated into a drawing or painting. You may have an impression of what you want but these visual impression are often fleeting and difficult to consider as a whole. However, your marks are certain and once they are recorded on paper (or by other means) they remain for you to consider, analyze, and revise  them. Chances are, unless it is some type of divine act, clouds are not really forming the objects that you interpret them to be. However, the variety and ambiguity of their shapes lend them to being interpreted in multiple ways. They are themselves physical things that we recognize and can name but through their abstract shapes they suggest other forms.  They also can be a mirror to the way that you resolve forms because it is you who essentially makes the forms and associations not them.

The human mind naturally tries to make sense of abstract form. Consequently, observing or manipulating abstract forms can lead to ideas for representational imagery. Exercise your creative ability to discover original design solutions and form ideas by beginning with abstract forms. You may find that it helps you to break out of cliches that you have developed over time. Anything can be valid approach to creating base forms such as blobs of ink,  a series of gestural lines, folded sheets of paper, irregularities in wood grain, or cracks in a sidewalk.

On some level, all drawings are both abstract and representational but when classifying works as representational or abstract this loose interpretation is not very helpful. Likewise, most drawings involve speculative drawing but some would be better specifically classified as speculative drawing than others. For our purposes, speculative drawing is the intentional search for or generation of abstract relationships in order to stimulate creative thinking, discover new design solutions, or invent new forms.

On one hand, speculative drawing is a natural component of the drawing process used in tandem with other ways of working to help you massage your elements into what you feel are the right relationships as you work. Even if you are drawing something in a fairly deliberate manner, your marks in the process of drawing and elements that are already laid down can and should actively influence your design decisions. On the other hand, when pushed, speculative drawing can be used as a separate method of working in order to generate forms as an initial part of the creative process.  It is a natural part of the drawing process but you can emphasize it in such a way that it enhances your ability to generate forms, design solutions, and increase your flexibility as an artist and designer.

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