It has been a busy week! Not as much actual drawing as I’d like, but I’ve made some good progress on some “business” goals. The biggest deal is that I finally got myself a proper YouTube channel (there should be a link in the sidebar…somewhere. Have I mentioned I’m not terribly competent with the ‘puter stuff? Just in case, this link should get you there…). It even has two whole videos on it! I spend a lot of time watching other artists draw whilst waxing eloquently about art and their process. It’s great inspiration and a good way to learn a few things about technique as well as various business aspects of being an artist. Somewhere along the way I thought maybe YouTube would be a good way to attract more eyeballs to what I’m doing here, which could lead to some actual shirt sales and a larger audience for some of the other projects I have in the pipeline. I don’t pretend to think that I’m all that exciting and interesting, but hey, with 7+ billion people on the planet and counting, there’s a decent statistical chance that a few people I don’t already know might like my stuff.

So anywhat, I filmed myself on two separate occasions recently, drawing two panels of IPMDT. I don’t have a proper tripod or filming set up, but fortunately I’m crafty. I found a 4″x4′ wide scrap of plywood from the recent flooring project. I slid that under a stack of books on the shelf right above my monitor so that it cantelevers out over my desk and tablet (which is where I plop my notebook to work on the panels). I put my phone on top of that, right above my drawing area with the lens hanging over the edge. It’s not pretty, but it actually works really well (and I have yet to smack my head on the plywood when standing up from my desk, which is a plus). I’ve got decent at editing video in Photoshop from all my years of American Ninja Warrior submissions, so it was pretty easy to edit those two videos. I even put together a custom intro and outro (i.e. ads) that I can easily pop into future videos. The hardest part was doing the voiceovers, but once I got going and got the nerves out of the way, I was barely squeezing in everything I wanted to say. It wasn’t a lengthy process (other than sitting and waiting for the videos to render, and then the time it takes to upload), so I plan to do them somewhat regularly. Eventually, I’ll even branch out and talk about some of my other, non-art Toby’s Brain stuff, like my wool jacket projects.

As part of all this, I decided I needed to have a custom logo for the channel, as well as a new avatar/icon thing to go with it. Because logos are fun. I did everything up until the actual circular border with text in Clip Studio Paint on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. It was the first time I’ve tried “painting” that way outside of Photoshop, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. CSP continues to blow me away. I might have a book cover project or two coming up soon, and I’m going to be using the iPad for as much of the process as possible (which means I could go work in the zen area or even outside…assuming we ever mow the lawn. The ticks have been horrendous…). I’m pretty excited about that. It’s been a while, so I figured I’d throw together another process post for y’all.

I worked up a detailed sketch based on a few reference photos. As I often do, I changed the background to a neutral grey color in anticipation of working tonally. I filled in a slightly lighter base tone silhouette to make sure the background didn’t show through weird later in the process, and to make it easier to clip tone and color layers to that general shape.

Once I was “happy” with the lineart, I began the tonal under painting. This was pretty fun, working with Clip Studio’s native oil brush and smudge/blend tool. It took a little bit to make some tweaks and adjustments (the customizable options for the tools in Clip Studio are vast and sometimes overwhelming), but once I got comfortable, it was a pretty natural way to work. The one challenge I haven’t overcome yet is that the hotkeys used for the tools are on the screen, so it’s tough to find them without taking your eyes of the work to look for them, and once your finger is on them, it’s very easy to slip off and have the tool perform a different function unexpectedly. I may attempt to 3D print (or make out of epoxy) a little registration strip for the iPad so I can readily find the hotkeys.

Before I went much further, I wanted to add some tone and texture to the background. I knew this logo/avatar was going to be circular due to the Google/YouTube contraints, so it was important to have some kind of boundary. I also wanted the lights and darks to pop more.

I ended up working on the eyes on a separate layer as I wanted them to be a bit sharper to draw focus. It was a little challenging to smudge some of the tones around in the other areas without accidentally affecting the eyes.

The rest of the image was leaning more realistic than cartoony, which I knew was going to give me problems when I got to the hair. I decided to just block it in as a solid black shape at first.

I wanted to create more directional light, but I was unwilling to mess with the progress I had made with the sculptural tonal work. This is one of the benefits of working digitally: I just added another layer (set to multiply at lower opacity) and slapped on a big chunk of black pixels. I softened the edges and lowered the opacity and it worked nicely.

After working for so long, I started feeling like something was off, so I imported one of my reference photos to overlay and compare proportions. Some of the features are off, but they work fine within the characatur-ish style. My head shape was bothersome, though. Again, another benefit of working digitally: I simply selected the folder with all the layers in it (lines, multiple layers of tone, the hair, etc) and used the transform tool to taper my head a bit. It’s subtle, but I notice it.

The next few steps went really fast: adding color. I just used 100% opacity local colors on a separate layer set to the “color” blend mode. It’s the same as glazing colors over a tonal under painting using traditional media. I softened the pure color edges in spots, added some reddish areas to my nose and cheeks, and scribbled in some hair “details”. I also decided to adjust the directional shadow color from black to a dark blue, which blended really well. I used a similar process to add color to the background.

Here’s the finished YouTube logo thingy. I was happy enough with the painting that I went and dropped it into the Toby’s Brain logo at the top of the website, as well as over on FB and my other social media spots.

Hopefully next week will be back to more drawing, with maybe even a new video or two posted. I have a few timelapse drawings from back when I was using Procreate that I could re-edit and talk over, I just have to track down the rough footage (so far all I’ve located are the one minute long files I put together in iMovie to post on Instagram). Stay tuned!