The Opposite Of Speed Painting

Digital Painting – The Danger of Painting Silhouettes from matt kohr on Vimeo.

There’s more to read, if you’d really like, at the article featuring the above video. My rebuttal is largely to the video itself, so there’s no need to read it all first.

Now, I realize it’s in bad form to debate a poor metaphor, but it applies to both: so what?

The English bit: nearly every sentence we write is an encoding of something or other. The English language itself is just a way of putting every conceivable thought we could possible have and putting it in the form of 26 squiggly lines and a few configurations of dots. Right? We’re encoding thoughts. That’s where their logic doesn’t make sense to me. If we’re encoding thoughts, both of his forms are entirely adequate and as such, you could learn to speak exclusively in abbreviated language just fine. It’d be strange, maybe, but entirely workable. In fact, it might even be better to learn such an abbreviated form because the rules become so much easier. The clauses of sentences become very simple and efficient. You could argue that it’s not English per se, but it is a way of expressing thought in the form of letters. That’s the goal, after all, though. Right?

Okay, so metaphorically, speed painting is this text speak. But then the argument is the equivalent of saying “it’s not real English. You’re not using real English rules!”

Well, no. That’s sort of the entire point.

There is a good point in there, however. Perspective and the fundamentals are important. They are, metaphorically, the letters in both the English and the text speak. They are the fundamental building blocks from which both are built. The important thing to note is that their argument against speed painting is about people ignoring fundamentals, and those are two completely separate arguments.

But yeah, I guess. Everyone! Don’t try text speak unless you know the 26 English letters. It’s a nonsensical point. You can’t English without the letters and you can’t text without the letters. You can’t paint without the fundamentals and you can’t speed paint without the fundamentals. That doesn’t make any of those things wrong or better or worse. It doesn’t make speed painting wrong or worse. The speed of the performance isn’t linked to the skill behind the art.

The ultimate kicker here is even that doesn’t really matter. Did Picasso use perspective? No. He was his own style. It’s harder to apply that to concept art, which is largely environmental and semi-photorealistic but there is in art this potential to be good without being by the book. Things will look silly if you’re truly awful, but there are good examples of ignoring stead-fast rules in order to make something even better.

So no, speed painting isn’t ruining anything. Skills will improve with practice and observation regardless of the style you choose or the speed you do it at.

Dymaxion Map of the World on sale for Bitcoins

If you want to click a button and have a fully printed map shipped to your front door, there’s still the Society6 option. However! If you want to do a little legwork and go down to your favorite print shop to have one made for you, you could save some money.

Introducing my new sale:

Simply go here and exchange Bitcoins for the ability to download the file. The coins go to me (0.14 BTC), the high resolution lossless .jpg (2′ x 3′ @ 300 DPI) goes to you. Throw that on a flashdrive and have it printed however you want. Easy!

Now, I’m trusting you with this one. I’m giving you the printing resolution file itself and technically you have the ability to pirate it to the rest of the world, it’s true. I’m assuming you aren’t going to spit in the face of some kid who spent a lot of time making a map because, let’s face it, those are the sorts of kids who don’t have many friends. So. Don’t be a dick, and I’ll give you the ability to make derivative works for your personal printing (maybe you want it in a different colour or something? Go for it!) but tell you that it’s not cool to further sell or share it. Cool? Cool. Thank you.



The above is the first time I’ve ever tried to do that hard surface style. I think it came out well. Then I was busy with car stuff for a while and bought this:

She’s an ’06 Mini Cooper S with basically everything and front rally lights (which I then discovered weren’t legal to turn on in town…)

It coincides with my birthday, so although I wasn’t planning on it for that reason it worked out to be a self-birthday present. It’s been a week and a day since I drove her off the lot and Calgary’s endured basically the entire gamut of weather in that time so I’m excited for spring and dry roads.

Meanwhile, my evenings were spent between a few freelance gigs, so I was MIA on the blogging front.

Then I drew this:

Which would be my… fourth? try at that style. There’s a few in between and after but they aren’t nearly as coherent and one is ridiculous (by request: Ke$ha riding a robot-ized Nyan Cat with a lightsaber).

This weekend will be bloated with posts because I have lots of ideas and for once, the time to get them out.

Avengers Concept Art

One of my favorite parts of the movie would be when this behemoth takes off from the water, utterly ignoring all physical restrictions that have air turbines trying to push seawater would have. Nathan Schroeder has an impressive gallery of not only Marvel movies (yes, plural) but also pretty much everything. Ever. There’s a crazy amount of work there, which is really, really cool.

If you imagine that this is just an updated version of the Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow helicarrier it actually makes for a pretty cool universe crossover. It’d be sort of the original Captain America era, perhaps worked on by Stark’s older generations.


Human Speedpaint Practice

Reference – though I sort of roughed it in and promptly ignored it. I don’t often use references, so it’s a different workflow and old habits die hard. Yes, that’s the Starcraft 2 medic.

It does represent one of my first human paints. I’ve always been terrible at organic things, so it’s quite a step for me to be trying. I’m not entirely happy, but that’s the idea of practice, right?

And these are speedy paints. As in, under half an hour. That sounds like a lot of time, but it flies by.

Ideas in different mediums

Cutting down speed paints to being properly speedy seems to be the way to go – used as they should be, not finished works but concept generation and quick ideation.

The 3D model version took about as long as it would have to flesh out the paintings to a respectable level (with my current skills).

Every villain’s lair needs to have an unassuming topside front to conceal the sprawling underground complexes. Mine, of course, happens to be the innocent Snapstag Cider Flyers Brewery, complete with plywood cows that would pop up and play a pre-recorded “Mooo!” any time an investigator ventured too close.

White Rapids

I was riding the train back home today following a gorgeous longboard ride and couldn’t help but be drawn to this comic over some guy’s shoulder. It’s astounding!

Now, I can’t comment on the story having not actually read it, but the pictures review very highly on the Acrylo cool-o-meter.

It’s called White Rapids and was done up by a Pascal Blanchet five years ago. Also: it’s Canadian. Fortunately for us it’s a comic and not a film. The word comic is used – there is text and visuals on every page together – but there are no real panels, no grid, which makes it read more like a Dr. Suess picture book than anything. I’m entirely fine with that, actually, given that it’s more about the visual history of the town than a dialogue-based plot. It works.

It’s $25 on Amazon and just over 150 pages which makes it a pretty thin book for that price. Shame. If it were, say, $10 I’d be on that like white on rice.

Images via (and a review, it seems)

Best Movie Idea Ever

I was watching Thor last night while drawing and realized that it’s actually one of the worst movies ever made. So I drew what I assume to be much better: Aliens in the Tron universe.

There should be some reasons for my above statements, as an objective critic it’s unfair to throw out such slander without backing it up but overall it boils down to the root problem with all the recent Marvel movies:

It’s a recipe structure which I can’t really fault them for immediately, but we see it again and again. Iron Man and Thor are, for all intents and purposes, the same movie – the difference being that Tony Stark is likable and we actually start to enjoy his smarm after a while. Thor captured the female vote for his shirtless scenes, but is a flat character otherwise; he’s just relentless in his running around trying to do whatever he wants. Tony learns discipline and humility (at least, relatively speaking) when his actions start to hurt the people around him. They both had lame boss fights. It seems to be something that never translated over well from comics (and I say this to the Marvel movies as a whole) – there is no engagement. Like, you could stop the movie the moment just after the giant beast erupts from it’s hiding place and be entirely content already with the conclusion. You know what’s going to happen. I’m not saying the comics weren’t predictable, but they were clever enough to make it seem like the hero had a chance of danger. It’s not really the script itself, but the execution. I liked in the first Spider-Man the choice presented to save MJ (the love object) or the tramway (the pile of innocent civilians) and we see this stressful choice again in The Dark Knight. It stretches the hero too thin, the tension comes from the choice itself because it directly relates to the hero and what he’s learned throughout the movie but also how each choice is a small action towards a bigger outcome. Batman touches on this much better than Marvel has: reputation. Bruce Wayne’s and Batman’s reputation flux and flow throughout his actions and his emotions. Thor and friends are just people wearing ridiculous plastic cosplay armor and no one seems to care or notice. There’s no immersion into the universe.

Thor felt like, and this something that came to mind a few times throughout the movie, a fan film. Like some people found these costumes somewhere and decided to make their own. The townsfolk don’t want to interact with them because they look weird and they notice one of them is holding a camera. It’s like Super 8, except the whole movie is the kid’s version.

So anyway. That’s why I drew an Alien on a lightcycle.

Feng Zhu School of Design

I remember when they announced these and I watched the first few (because that’s all there were at the time) and was really inspired and excited.

Jump forward a few years and I’d all but completely forgotten about them, stumbling back on the path just recently.

With my recent forays into speed painting and concept art this seems like the perfect refresher course. Feng Zhu is, and I say this without hesitation, the master at so many different aspects of this medium. Characters and landscapes and robots and the subtleties of emotion and scene drama. It’s more than just drawing something, he knows and has a mind for creating an impacting image, which is that bridge between marks on a page and art.

Definitely inspiring and definitely a lot to learn. Exciting!

The Difference in Illustration styles

I’ve figured it out.

An anecdote: I took art all throughout school and it was always cool to walk around and see how a class of thirty people could come up with thirty different drawings of the same thing. You could call it individual style – and it was – but it always boils down into individual methodology. There were the people who were really good at drawing things, into which I fall, which we could call, I guess, technical illustration. Things had outlines and features were obviously drawn in a very binary system; line or no line. Shading was usually done with cross hatching, not by smudging smooth gradients. Medium choice was often pens and sharpies or hard, thin pencils. The shapes might be just as complicated, but defined by contour lines which are drawn but don’t actually exist. We draw what we rationalize the shape to be, not what we actually see. Like this:

Which is fine and good, especially for industrial designers who need to make quick jots of ideas – it’s faster, usually.

Then there were the kids in the class who I admired because they were “better” than me (although they admired my style, or so they insisted. I still don’t believe them) because they could draw what they saw, or what the object should look like instead of what they thought it was. These were softer mediums like charcoal and fat, soft pencils. Painters in either canvas or digital. These were people who could draw noses. I could never draw noses because I always wanted to draw a shape for it which unless you do it anime style rarely looked good. Certainly never realistic. These people didn’t draw a nose, they drew a gradient where the balled tip sits out in front of curved soft nostrils, where the bridge comes up and into the brow. They drew as if a photograph were taken with their minds. They drew things that looked real.

It was years ago, and the thought hasn’t really left me. Just now, I’ve figured it out. You’ll laugh at my revelation because it’s so obvious.

The latter group isn’t actually drawing anything. They’re making marks that make a picture.

Depending on how soft the image is, they might not actually draw any lines like I would. They add and subtract value, creating and destroying gradients of light and shadow until a recognizable image emerges.

That’s why I’m terrible at speed painting. That’s what I need to learn. It’s not about drawing lines and filling them in better than I usually do, it’s about drawing blobs upon blobs that mix together and create a picture. The video at the very top is exactly that. My approach is entirely wrong.

I tried years ago and they were all rubbish, which is probably the reason I never really got into this as an art form: I was dejected. It’s taken until much later to realize that it isn’t that I was a bad artist but it was that my methodology didn’t lend itself well to the kinds of outcomes I saw in other speed painters.

So, that’s something to learn from.

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