Welcome to he Independent Art series, Episode 3, Texture!
This episode covers all the different ways to create textures and the topic of artistic diversity.
Independent Art Project
Cottonseeds Issue 3, Page 4
Photoshop and Cottonseeds 3, Page 3
Faces in a stone texture that comes to life.
Page 4 Steps
Step 1 – Layout
I opened the page 3 Photoshop document, saved as page 4, and deleted everything except the black background and the roots. Then I moved the roots to the top, because we’re going underground now. Last, I gave the black background a linear gradient of black > black > 75% gray.
In order to go down, it has to go up.
Step 2 – Stone Texture Layer
Time to mess around with filters.
Created a new layer above the black to gray gradient background. Filled with white. Filter > noise > add noise, Gaussian Blur, 400%. Then Image > Adjustments > Desaturate, to give this noisy layer a grayscale color composition so it will blend better with other layers.
Created another new layer. Filled the new layer with black and white Render Clouds filter.
Created yet another layer. Filled the new layer with black and white Render Difference Clouds filter.
Now I have 3 different layers. Time to blend.
First layer, difference clouds, Blend > Multiply.
Second layer, clouds, Blend > Pin Light.
Grouped the three layers and gave them a blend mode of Overlay.
The underground stone layer looked almost right. I adjusted the background gradient layer to black > 75% gray > 25% gray.
Step 3 – Stone Faces
Everything is for a good sequential story-related reason.
Created a new group and 1 new layer in that group.
On the new layer, I lassoed the rough shapes for the face, then filled with light gray. Then many layers, lasso shape, each with a fill of various shades of gray, from lightest to darkest.
The image below is a series of screenshots that shows the layer progression, from lightest to darkest.
The face shapes have a rather sharp edges because I used the Polygon Lasso tool. So I went over the edges with the Eraser tool and gave the shapes a nice soft edge.
After that, merged all the face layers into one layer. (But I saved screenshots for this post before I merged everything).
This was the most tedious part for me. My coordination isn’t perfect due to sclerosis, so I often have to figure out a work around. However, I’m satisfied with the end result.
Time to blend this face with the stone texture. Blend mode > Overlay.
Step 4 – Smoothing the Texture
I’m happy with the stone face, but the Noise layer for the stone texture was distracting. So I went back to the stone group, selected the Noise layer, applied a Gaussian Blur, radius of 3 pixels. There, now it’s smooth.
Step 5 – Laying out the Faces and Adding Eyes
I’m going for surrealism here. I want the eyes to glow in the underground.
First, duplicated the face, total of 3, resized each, and arranged them on the page.
Then, I lassoed the shapes for the eyes and filled with white. Added a Gaussian blur of 5 pixels. Then applied a white to yellow radial gradient filter.
Step 6 – Stone Sound Effect
And now for the fun part. Trees whispers, stone eyes pop open.
I decided to use whiskers for this sound effect, but no speech balloon/caption. I imagine the stone faces talking would be muted. So, whiskers seem like the best one to use.
Step 6 – Fun with Text
After giving the final page 4 some thought, I realized some narration is needed to show where the story is going and to lead to page 5.
The trees whisper: …Murder…
I changed that to: Mmmurder… Down below…
Now it’s narration and sound effect on in one.
Page 5 Steps
Step 1 – Moving Down the Texture
Saved page 4 as, page 5. Deleted the roots. Moved the stone faces up and extended the gradient background.
Step 2 – Stone Dialogue
I opted for square speech captions and arranged them per face, then added the dialogue.
Step 3 – Adding Panel with Big Joe
Big Joe, leader of The Rattlesnakes, Sam’s thorn in the paw, listens to the stones from a distance, and responds.
With every project, I create a folder called Working Files, where I store all art that I decided not to use. The folder is like extras for a movie that didn’t go in the final production.
So, I grabbed Big Joe art that hasn’t been used yet from the Working Files folder, and pasted it in the page 5 document. Added Joe’s dialogue. Then, in one corner, I added an extension of the tree narration.
The two pages are now connected and finished.
Pages 4 and 5 are simple, uses most of the same art, and there isn’t much to show. So I’m using the end of this article to talk about a pet peeve of mine.
Nothing annoys me more than seeing the exact same European facial bone structure for every kind of character created. Sci-fi half reptile half-human? European facial bone structure. Teddy Bears from Mars? European bone structure. The list goes on. To me, especially for non-human characters, using a European facial bone structure as a default is lazy.
Someone on Facbook, a while ago, recommended a free 3D program for me to try. Well, the program is free, but all the models and textures are paid. Fair enough, it’s still a good deal if it’s something I can use for my art.
As I looked through all the 3D models, they all look exactly the same. Same shape, weight, and European facial bone structure. Even the models that were suppose to be a different race or species, look the same. All they have is two models, male and female, each with a different skin color: white, brown, green, blue, polka dots, etc.
I’m not impressed. Now, being fair, it’s not a top quality 3D program. More like, bottom of the barrel, so I’m not going to bother naming the program. I don’t recommend it.
However, I have worked with 3D art, and I know from experience it wouldn’t take that much effort to use different facial bone structures. I mean, the program basically eliminated at least 75% of potential customers.
Why We need Diversity in Art
We all have different faces. It’s supposed to be different. Difference is what brings all art to life, including the fantastical, such as Teddy Bears from Mars. Without difference, there’s no art.
Thanks for reading and I hope you join me next week for Episode 4.