Arty Games Collage

A couple of years ago, Josiah Brooks (Jazza) released an app called Arty Games that generates random ideas for illustrators. I’ve used it for a few drawings in the past, which was a great way to battle creative block when I wanted to draw something, but couldn’t come up with any ideas.

Arty Games Character Idea from 2016: Drunk, Angry Clown with a Prosthetic Arm
Arty Games Character Idea from 2016: Drunk, Angry Clown with a Prosthetic Arm

I recently decided to do a daily art challenge that incorporates a new idea each day from the app using Procreate on the iPad Pro. Each day I drew a randomly generated character idea and then finally placed them in an environment as dictated from Arty Games.

Day 1: A grumpy goblin smoking a joint with a robot arm.

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Day 2: A jolly elf who has had too much coffee.

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Day 3: A murderous kindergartener with glasses who is afraid of their own shadow.

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Day 4: An evil robot from the future who can control time and is wearing large gloves.

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Day 5: A porcupine who is stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster who is holding a key.

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Day 6: A celestial cow who needs batteries to survive and is wearing leather shoes.

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Day 7: A sparkly dragon who is wearing an oversized shirt.

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Day 8: A pine tree forest filled with tombstones.

Day 9: Coloring the characters.

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This personal challenge was a lot of fun and pushed me to draw things that I would never normally draw on my own. Coloring was probably the biggest challenge for me as it’s not my strong suit. You can watch the entire process in this time lapse video:

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out and I’m glad I was able to finish it before I hand over my iPad Pro to get the screen replaced. The corner of the screen has a dead spot when using the Apple Pencil, which is incredibly annoying, so hopefully I’ll be back to drawing soon.

Digital Brushes and Assets

If you follow any of my social media, you’ll probably know that I love using Procreate and Affinity Designer on my iPad to draw.  Although they’re two of the best mobile drawing apps that currently exist, they have their limits in the number of drawing tools available in each app. Thankfully, there’s a great community of artists that make a wide assortment of brushes for Affinity Designer/Photo, Procreate, and Photoshop.

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Frankentoon is one of my favorite websites for aftermarket brush sets and assets for Procreate and Affinity software. They’re constantly releasing new packs and even provide tutorials how to use them. Their nature brush pack is a huge timesaver for anyone who needs to paint leaves, smoke, water, rocks, etc.

Procreate Community

The Procreate community of artists is a fantastic resource for artist-made brushes and tools. Whenever I’m looking for a very specific type of brush, I search the community and I’ve always been able to find one for free or at a nominal fee. iPadLettering.com is also a great source of very affordable brushes and shapes, especially if you’re looking to create lettering artwork. Script isn’t my strong suit, so I mostly use a variety of drawing and painting brushes instead.

Jazza’s Photoshop Brushes

Before Procreate, Affinity, and the iPad Pro existed, I did most of my digital illustrations in Photoshop. In those days, I used a brush pack created by YouTuber, Josiah Brooks, who is also known as “Jazza”.

Inktober & Procreate Inktober: Completed

Today is the final day of Inktober 2018 and Procreate Inktober. There were a couple times I questioned if I could do two drawings a day for 31 days, but I was able to complete it (some drawings were better than others). Thankfully, having the list of prompts allowed me to draw ahead of schedule for days I knew I would be too busy to complete two drawings.

 

Inktober gave me a chance to test out different styles of drawing as well as different software and media. I mostly used Procreate and Affinity Designer on the iPad Pro, but I also experimented with different types of pens, which you can watch on my YouTube Inktober Playlist.

 

As the name implies, I only used Procreate for the iPad to draw all of the Procreate Inktober drawings. I tried to include a lot of references to things I enjoy to see if any of my social media followers also liked the same things. A few references I used were Ducktales, Ghostbusters, Futurama, The Midnight, and a plethora of puns.

If you’re interested in seeing all of my drawings, check out my Twitter and Instagram accounts. How did you do? Were you able to complete all 31 days?

Luna Display Review

Last year, I backed the Luna Display on their Kickstarter campaign and I’ve had a couple months to use it. In case you’re unfamiliar with the Luna Display, it’s a dongle that allows you to wirelessly use your iPad as a second monitor for your MacBook. It’s available in USB-C and Mini Display Port models depending on your hardware needs. As of the time of this writing (10/17/2018), only MacBooks and iPads are supported.

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Since I have a 2012 MacBook Pro, I needed the Mini Display Port model. I typically use my Wacom Cintiq 21UX as a secondary display for my MacBook, but I recently took that into my office for a project, so the timing of receiving the Luna display was perfect since I no longer have a graphics tablet for my home office.

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In order to use the Luna Display, you’ll need the Luna Display, Astropad Standard, and/or Astropad Studio apps installed both on your iPad and MacBook. I have both the Luna Display and Astropad Standard apps and will cover the pros and cons of each.

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The Luna Display app is for anyone who doesn’t already own or want to buy Astropad Standard or Studio. It’s the standard app they suggest using with the Luna Display and you’ll need to run it on both your iPad and MacBook Pro at the same time. All you have to do is plug in the Luna Display, start the apps ,and everything auto connects. You’ll then be prompted to choose where you physically want the iPad to act as the second monitor (i.e. to the left, right, top, or bottom of the MacBook). It also asks if you’d like to use it as a retina display, but my MacBook Pro was released just before the retina MacBooks and doesn’t support this feature. Yes, my MacBook is that old.

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One benefit of using the Luna Display app is that you can use a 3rd party keyboard to control your apps. For instance, sometimes I want to go out on the porch to work on a project in Adobe Animate CC, but I don’t want to have to lug my MacBook around with me. This allows me to just grab my iPad, iPad Keyboard, and Apple Pencil, and I can control my MacBook from anywhere around the house. The keyboard is great for shortcut keys and full typing. The downside is that it doesn’t support pressure sensitivity while drawing. This can be problematic if that’s primarily what I’ll be doing.

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If I’m going to be relying heavily on pressure-sensitive drawing, I’ll boot up Astropad Standard instead. Astropad Standard is more geared for digital artists and supports full pressure sensitivity when used with an Apple Pencil. You’ll see the options for brush pressure-sensitivity and tilt appear in Adobe Animate CC when Astropad is running.

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The downside to using Astropad Standard with the Luna Display is that the 3rd-party iPad keyboard no longer works. Instead, you’ll need to use one paired to the MacBook if you want a physical keyboard. That being said, Astropad Standard does supply a soft button that brings up a list of customizable shortcut keys, which can eliminate the need for a physical keyboard.

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There is just a slight delay when using the Luna wirelessly, which you may not even notice if you’re not using your iPad to draw on and only want it as a second monitor. This seems to go away when it’s connected via lightning cable, which is my preferred method anyway so that way my iPad gets charged as I’m using it. It is something to consider, though if you’ll always being using your Luna wirelessly for drawing.

Overall, the Luna Display is a great addition to anyone with an iPad and MacBook Pro who wants a secondary monitor with which to travel. Also, any digital artists looking to use Photoshop, Animate, Toon Boom, etc. on a drawing tablet that can be taken with you will benefit from this. I like having it as a Cintiq substitute and I’m glad I was one of the first Kickstarter backers.

(Procreate) Inktober 2018: Day 1

It’s officially October 1, which is the first day of Inktober and Procreate Inktober. I’m not going to be making a blog post for each day just to display each drawing, but please follow me on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to stay updated.

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Inktober Day 1 – Poisonous (Affinity Designer for iPad)

Since I’m going to be attempting to participate in both Inktobers this year, my drawings will probably be more on the simplistic side in order to fit in 62 drawings around my daily life. That being said, I would like to experiment more this year and may try some different styles, or even different mediums. Maybe I’ll switch up between Procreate, Affinity Designer, pixel art, and pen and paper.

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Procreate Inktober Day 1 – Houseplant (Procreate for iPad Pro)

Will you also be participating in both or are you favoring one over the other?

Pixel Art

I’ve been experimenting with different software that allows you to draw pixel artwork easily. My first test was in Affinity Designer since I’ve been using it on a regular basis anyway. This was as easy as creating a grid and then using the rectangle tool to fill in the squares. It’s simple enough to complete as long as you have a good idea of the grid size you’ll want to use.

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I then tried a website called Piskel, which is free to use. One really nice feature of Piskel is that you can create animated gifs and export them.

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Creating an animated gif in Piskel

You can change the both the grid size and the exported frame size in Piskel depending in your needs and since free and available as a website, it’s definitely a very approachable way to create pixel art.

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Finally, I tried a free iOS app called Dottable. This app, much like Piskel, is pretty easy to learn and has a small learning curve. I’m not sure if it can easily produce animated gifs like Piskel, though. One big positive it has is that it allows you to convert any photo from your device into pixel art. This can be a big time-saver whether if you want to use the converted image as-is or even just as a starting point.

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What pixel art software do you like to use?

Procreate Inktober

Yesterday I wrote about Inktober and how last year I exclusively used the beta Procreate to participate. This year, I was considering alternating days between Procreate and Affinity Designer.

Coincidentally, hours after I published the Inktober blog post, Procreate announced that they’re going to be having their own version of Inktober this year.

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Procreate’s Inktober List differs from this year’s regular Inktober.

The rules are very similar, each day of October you’ll draw a black and white illustration based on a daily theme. The difference for Procreate’s version is that you’ll use Procreate for iOS and tag your drawings on social media using @Procreate and #ProcreateInktober.

In which Inktober will you be participating? I may try to do both and use Affinity Designer exclusively for Inktober since I’ll be using Procreate for the other.

Inktober 2018

October is quickly approaching, which means it’s almost time to begin Inktober 2018. Inktober was originally started by Jake Parker in 2009, and has gained more and more participants each year. This is when people all over the world ink one drawing each day in October to a daily theme. Most people use paper and ink, but if you’re like me and tend not to carry around pens, ink, brushes, and paper, you can also participate digitally, which is what I did for last year’s challenge.

Above are some of the drawings I did last year while beta-testing a new version of Procreate for iOS. In case you couldn’t tell, I like to draw a lot of nostalgic-based artwork. You can check out some of the retro t-shirts I’ve made at my home page if you’re also into that sort of thing.

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Inktober 2018 Prompt List

This year, I’ll probably alternate between Procreate and Affinity Designer for iOS since I always have my iPad Pro on me.

When you complete your daily drawing, be sure to tag it on social media using #inktober and #inktober2018 so everyone can check out each other’s work. There are a lot of very impressive pieces done each year, which can be pretty inspiring to see.

Let me know if you’ll be participating this year!

Quickly Creating a 2-D + 3-D Cartoon

Part of my day job is creating animated cartoons for online learning courses. For my latest project, it was decided to have it set in an apartment with two-dimensional cartoon characters superimposed. Given the time frame, I tried to find the easiest and fastest way to model the apartment in 3-D using inexpensive software with the smallest learning curve.  Planner 5D met all of my requirements, so I decided to give it a shot.

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Planner 5D on Windows 10

One thing I really liked about Planner 5D is that it’s available for Mac, PC, and mobile devices. This was handy because I could work in it anywhere and could easily show off different layouts to the team even if I wasn’t near my desktop computer.

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Planner 5D on an iPhone 8 Plus

It also has a lot of built-in models that you can quickly drop in and customize as needed, which was a huge time saver. I was able to learn the software, create an apartment for the project, revise as needed from team feedback, and render out all of the stills in about 2 business days.

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Some of the options of pre-built assets Planner 5D has available.

For the characters, I quickly sketched out some ideas in Procreate on my iPad Pro based on the descriptions given to me by the instructional designer during our meeting. In this case, the main characters were a college student and his anthropomorphic ostrich roommate.

I imported the sketches into Adobe Animate, traced them, and broke them into individual graphics so they could be easily animated.

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I then imported the background images that were created and rendered in Planner 5D and animated the characters on different layers. The Keyframe Caddy extension for Adobe Animate is a huge time-saver and cut down the amount of time it took to lip-sync the characters to the dialogue.

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If you’re looking to make an animation in a similar style, I hope you also find these tools useful. I know personally, it was very handy to have software like this to cut down on production time.

Affinity Designer

A few years ago, I was commissioned to create an online course about Affinity Designer. This was when Affinity Designer was still fairly new and not a ton of illustrators used it. Fast-forward three and a half years, and it’s become one of the best graphics applications for both desktop and iPads.

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Affinity Designer for Windows interface

Truth be told, just based on the work I had after creating the course, I stopped using Affinity Designer for awhile. When I heard they were debuting a version for the iPad, I quickly regained interest and bought it on its release day. It immediately became one of my favorite iOS apps that I own and I’ve used it almost every day since.

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Affinity Designer for iPad

The iPad version is full-featured and not just a watered down version. Also, sticking to Serif’s business plan, there are no subscription payments involved, everything is buy-once, keep forever. It’s definitely worth your time to watch their tutorial videos about using gestures to control the app, as they’ve done a great job translating mouse clicks into finger gestures.

Since the iPad version release, I’ve been drawing in Affinity Designer so much that I had to update my website to display all of the new illustrations I’ve completed. Everything from t-shirt designs, concept art, and final products that I’ve used for my day job have been done all on my iPad.

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http://www.GPAnimations.com

I love that if I’m on the go, I can just grab my iPad and take the project I had open on my PC or MacBook and open it in the iOS version of Designer. It’s really as simple as just opening the file from Dropbox or Google Drive and finishing your work on the go.

I also have the PC, MacOS, and iOS versions of Affinity Photo, but I haven’t had a chance to use them extensively yet. I did play around with some of the features for some quick photo editing and it seemed pretty intuitive just like Designer.

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Affinity Photo interface

Overall, if you haven’t tried Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo and you’re tired of paying for Adobe Creative Cloud, you really should check them out. If you’re an Adobe InDesign user, they’re also making Affinity Publisher, which is currently in Beta as of the time of this writing. Now if I could only get them to make an Adobe Animate CC replacement, I could completely drop all Adobe products…