This Morning I made one of my ASMR drawing videos. What is ASMR you ask? Basically it’s a tingling feeling some people get in their head that’s triggered by sound, sight, or some such. You can read about it on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_sensory_meridian_response.
Though I’ve had the sensation all my life I only discovered its name last year (the name is new anyway) at the same time I discovered that there were people who called themselves “ASMT Artists” and posted videos on YouTube that were designed to stimulate ASMR. Lot’s of sounds, skits, soft voices, and strange noises. Some of them work for me and some of them don’t but overall I enjoy the videos. They can be relaxing all on their own without the ASMR.
It was through watching some of these videos that I discovered that a trigger for some people was the sound of a pencil or marker on paper. Since I draw a lot I don’t even notice the sound very much so it never even occurred to me that it could be a trigger. But since I had wanted to make some videos of me drawing it encouraged me to figure out how to. Due to the ASMR angle I ended up deciding to make short videos of me drawing spontaneously with a marker or a pencil.
It’s not easy making a video of making art in general. At least it’s not easy making an interesting video. Making art isn’t a performance so it usually goes very slowly. It often takes me hours and hours to make a finished drawing. Even one that’s simple. Nobody is going to want to watch that. I find condensed time drawings pretty unwatchable too. Those are the ones where they speed up the film so that two hours passes in two minutes. I’m just not a fan of that technique. So I went with ten or fifteen minute drawings with no under drawing or erasing. I put marker to paper and just go.
I found markers pretty easy to use in that situation but pencils have always been a bit tricky. The marker makes a dark and bold line that the camera picks up well but the pencil is light and harder to make a definitive mark with. The whole key to the type of drawing that I’m doing in these videos is to make a line and don’t look back. But with a pencil looking back is the norm. A light line is the norm. It’s tough to make a dark never-gonna-erase-it line with a pencil. I found a Wolff’s Carbon pencil worked pretty well for that but I had to bear down fairly hard and that would make the pencil squeak rather unpleasantly. I switched over to a 6B graphite pencil for some of the drawings but had to bear down even harder. That make drawing a little fatiguing.
With this particular drawing, “Seconds in Seconds” I used a Pitt big brush pen. That’s not a marker I normally use for these videos. As I wrote before sound is a big part of the ASMR effect so that I prefer to use markers that make a good noise with the paper. I find that Sharpie markers are good for that. They get some good friction with the paper and therefore make a noise as I sweep it across but never squeak or anything like that. I don’t always like a Sharpie tip though as they can put down a little more ink than I want them to and give me too much ink spread. Still I’ve done a lot of ASMR drawings with them. For a finer tip marker I’ve gone to both a Copic and ShinHan marker. I prefer the ShinHan because the barrel fits my hand better but both tips are pretty much the same.
I normally draw in black marker but this morning decided on blue. No reason. Just a whim. Brush markers are quieter than regular markers so I knew I would have to draw a little differently to make some noise. Long sweeping lines and short parallel lines are good for noise in general. I like drawing faces. This one was almost one of my regular “Looking right at you” faces but after I put down the first line I decided to change it to a profile shot. I have no idea why except that I’ve drawn a few face lately and wasn’t in the mood to do that again. I made that first line with every intention of making a straight on shot but then veered off into a weird sideways chin shape that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with but knew I couldn’t make a straight on shot out of. That’s part of making these spontaneous drawings. I have to challenge myself with some things so I don’t make the same drawing over and over. That’s what would happen if I mindlessly followed my tendencies.
I kept the background to a minimum on this one. That’s also unusual. Often with these I fill up the background to the point that it’s tough to tell the positive space from the negative space. It’s all about flattening the space so that it’s in your face. But here I put most everything into the foreground face. It’s got lots of patterns and lines while the background is literal. The background has a sun, some water, and just a few design elements. Often I pack the background full of little faces and figures but here we have none. Sometimes picking an unusual tool, such as the brush pen for me, makes you not follow your usual tendencies. That can be a good thing if you’re looking to break out of a box.
I finished up the drawing with some hatching on the face and nose. I’m not sure if that gives him a bit of a shadow or a sunburn but I like the way it came out. Once again probably because it’s not something I usually do. The lines aren’t even particularly well executed but in this context they work just fine. Overall I like the blue and I like the profile. I also like the forest on top of his head. It’s weird. I like weird.
Have a look:
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got twelve new comics plus a trade paperback..
Check them all out here:
I finished making a print this week. I’ve finished a few in the last couple of weeks and they are the first ones I’ve done in a while. I stopped making them mainly because I was a bit tired of coloring them on the computer. For the past couple of years I’ve been mainly working with paint or marker and I really do prefer those real life mediums. But when making a print coloring on the computer is a real advantage. Mainly because it’s easier to control how the final print will look. If I paint something, scan it, and then print it out it’s a struggle to duplicate what I’ve painted. Colors change when switching between mediums. With computer coloring I’m using only colors that I know are going to print well because I’ve used them before. Takes the guessing out of matching color.
One of the things I have to say about computer coloring is that it’s not faster than painting by hand. I’d say it’s faster to learn on the computer since it’s easier to fix your mistakes but if you already know how to paint or use markers then it’s not faster to use them virtually. I always think it should be faster but it never is. It might even be slower for me because I can try more stuff. With real paint if I try something I have to think it through first and then after I start I have to change my mind immediately if it’s not working or stick with it to the end and make it work. With virtual tools I can go down many paths and if a path doesn’t work I can reset everything with the push of a button. Often that means I walk down paths on a whim and that takes time.
With this print, “Nine Nine Nine”, I had the drawing finished already. According to the date on the inked piece I made it back on May 14, 2014. It and a lot of other black and white ink pieces have been sitting around a while uncolored. The first thing I have to do is to decide if I want to color it in Photoshop or Illustrator. One is bitmapped coloring and the other is vector. I like vector for its easy use of shape and its resolution independence but I like bitmap for its easy use of textures. I could have gone either way with this one but chose bitmap and Photoshop.
I decided I wanted to try something new with the piece so I broke out my 12” Wacom Cintiq. I just checked and I bought the Cintiq (a computer screen you can draw on with a special pen) over six years ago. I call it new because I’ve barely ever used it. I have a regular 12”x12” Wacom tablet (it’s not a screen but a pressure sensitive tablet I use with a special pen) that I use all the time and usually that works fine for me. But I really want to try new things with the Cintiq. I never could quite set it up to my satisfaction so I took a couple of hours and really figure out what I wanted to have it set up. It took a while but I finally got it. And then it just slowed me down. Turns out I still have a hard time drawing on the thing. I put it away and went back to my other tablet.
There is some prep work on a file to get it ready for coloring. It’s short and not very interesting so I’ll ship to the first part of doing the actually coloring and that is deciding on the basic colors. I have a palette of colors that I know will print well to choose from and that helps when starting out. I began with the main background colors first and then move to the main foreground ones. That means I went with the blues and greens behind her first, There are four blues with the lightest one being in the middle of the print. It suggest the sky more than the blues at the top do. When I’m not using illustrative color I’ll often use colors that suggest things rather than literally show them. Thus part of the print becomes a substitute for the sky without actually being a sky. There are only two greens and the ones at the bottom suggest a fence and therefor the ground but there is nothing literal about the green behind her neck. That green does seem to turn and move sort of like a screw. Repeated diagonals can do that.
The next color I picked was the pink of her shirt. It was then prudent to make her skin tone pinkish. Often I don’t let reality get in the way of making some outrageous blue, purple, or whatever skin to but for this one a pinkish peach seemed to work fine. I went with the neutral brown forearm sleeves next and then it took me a surprisingly long time to pick just the right two reds for the rest of her dress. It looks effortless now but those two colors took a lot of trial and error. I dropped the neutral grey in behind her and her hair became yellow and orange and her eyes blue almost by default. Often that last color or two are easy because not much else will work.
Then comes the part that takes the longest. The textures, the shading, and the patterns. I decided on just a little shading. Some modeled shading in her face and some cut color in her dress and hair. This is where I have to fight off why I call “The DaVinci Effect”. That’s what I call the urge that every artist has to be like DaVinci. I want every bit of shading to be realistic and perfect. Clearly that’s not called for here and is completely impossible for me to do but still the urge is there. So at first I did a horrible job of it chasing an impossible goal and then scaled back and figure out what I wanted to do. I kept the shading subtle, minimal, and let the color do the talking.
I’ve been making textures in Photoshop lately for the express purpose of using them in prints. So I had a few laying around to choose from and they went pretty fast. But the dots and stripes in her dress took more time. At first I tried using Photoshop’s pattern tool but I didn’t like anything I did with it. So I changed over to making patterns in Illustrator and cutting and pasting them into a Photoshop layer. This worked well. I’m much better at making vector patterns than bitmapped ones.
The yellow brush stokes on the edges of her form were inspired by my trying to use the Cintiq. I couldn’t make the lines I wanted with the Cintiq but it reminded me of an old way I used to make lines but stroking paths with the pencil tool. I did that and I was good to go.
The shading on the lips was the very last thing I did.They’re still pretty flat looking but that have just a hint of roundness. That hint took a while to get right. Most things do. But in the end a hint was all I needed.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.
Check them all out here:
The actor Leonard Nimoy died this week. It was all over the news, of course, and many photos of him as Spock from Star Trek appeared all over my social media feeds. That was his most famous and beloved roll so that’s to be expected but I still like him best in his roll as the narrator of the classic 1970s TV show “In Search Of…”. So far I haven’t seen many references to that show but I did see one list of top ten episodes. I did not agree with that list at all and it seemed to me to be written by someone with only a passing knowledge of “In Search Of…”. So I thought I’d put together my own list.
As a child in the 1970s “In Search Of…” taught me many things. But first and foremost the voiceover they had at the beginning that said “This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture” was a real eye-opener. As a ten year old I couldn’t quite figure out what that meant. I’m still not sure exactly when I figured it out but the lesson I came away with was that it was up to me to figure out which parts of the story were bullshit. I know I had an ah-ha moment with that but I don’t remember exactly when. I was a youngster though and I have “In Search Of…” to thank for my rather finely tuned bullshit detector.
I didn’t quite make a top ten list because I don’t care much for top ten lists but I did pick out a bunch of them that are favorites. I broke them down into three categories. Historical – Mysteries that have a strong background in fact but we don’t know the answers. Speculation – Most of these are pretty unproven if not totally made up. Still there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. Bat-shit Crazy – Where do they come up with this stuff? In most cases “In Search Of…” was the first place I ever saw anything about these mysteries. As a kid I read a lot of history and biography books that were written for children but this was a whole different take on “History”.
In Search Of – s1e17 – The Easter Island Massacre – This one was cool. Giant sculptures and a civilization that fell. Sure they didn’t know a lot about the whys and wherefores but the statues were real and so were the people. I have a great interest in statues and art from ancient civilizations and it’s influenced my own art work and I bet it all started here.
In Search Of – s2e21 – Butch Cassidy – I’m pretty sure I knew about the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie before I ever saw this so it was really cool to think that a historical figure escaped his known death and went on to life out his life in obscurity. There is not a lot of excitement in this one besides that thought. Still that was enough as this was probably the first time I was confronted by that idea. Not every story we’re taught is true. Of course this one might not be true too. Turn on that B.S. Detector.
In Search Of – s3e07 – Siberian Fireball – Wow, a real life event that could have altered history if it happened in a slightly different place. A comet, meteor, asteroid, or whatever hits the Earth but far enough away from civilization that a scientist doesn’t even get there for fifteen years. What are the odds? Great and intriguing stuff.
In Search Of – s4e11 – D.B. Cooper – A true life crime story that happened within only a handful of years of the making of this episode. Mysteries were still happening even as we were in the modern age.
In Search Of – s4e06 – The Lost Colony of Roanoke – Lost people from a time when people shouldn’t have been able to get that lost. We learned about all sorts of colonists in social studies class but never these ones.
In Search Of – s1e10 – Atlantis – To this day I’m fascinated with Atlantis. No evidence for it but an old story but it leads to stories of all sorts of other civilizations that were lost and then found. I like those real stories too.
In Search Of – s2e13 – Anastasia – Take a historical figure or incident and build a whole myth around it. I knew the Russian princess didn’t live while the rest of the family died but that didn’t stop a lot of people from wanting it to be true. Taught me that a lot of people just plain want to believe.
In Search Of – s3e05 – Jack the Ripper – Historical true life crime. Except there isn’t a lot known about Saucy Jack. Still it doesn’t stop people from speculating. Since seeing this show I’ve see half a dozen shows that made good cases for half a dozen different suspects. Not much there but scary because it was real.
In Search Of – s3e16 – The Money Pit Mystery – Seems so real but is probably completely made up. This one taught me about the old “Tower of Speculation”. I mean it was tall tale after tall tale. Where is the real story in the story?
In Search Of – s1e01 – Other Voices – I never would have guessed this was the first episode ever. It’s all about if plants can really talk and communicate with us. Before episode guides were easily available I would have swore this was a late episode when they were running out of ideas.
In Search Of – s2e02 – The Man Who Would Not Die – Ahhh… The Count of St. Germain. Did he have super powers? Is he really immortal? This show introduced me to the 1970s phenomenon of people “Channeling” dead people. Cracks me up to this day.
In Search Of – s2e01 – The Lost Dutchman Mine – Tell people that there is gold in them thar’ hills and they’ll be people digging in those hills forever. The History Channel even has a new reality show about this.
In Search Of – s6e03 – Ghosts in Photography – An all-time favorite. To this day I wish I could get one of this old Polaroid Land cameras where you peel off the back of the picture. I’d be hanging out in graveyards and taking photos just like the guys in this episode. It looks like fun.
If you want a TV show that logically explores unknown mysteries and such then check out “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World” but if you want the soothing tones of Leonard Nimoy delivering such lines as “The Count of St. Germain… where was he actually from? Portugal? Egypt? … Atlantis?” then you need “In Search Of…”.