Creativity Lessons from 2018: Improve your values with Krita’s LUT feature

Art

Art is design.

One of the most important parts of design is VALUE.

Krita makes it amazingly easy to paint in color while keeping an eye on your greyscale values IN REAL TIME using this LUT thingie.

I can’t explain the feature too well, but here’s a short video that shows how to activate it. From there, you can keep an eye on your values even as you’re painting in color!

I started using it in my HEROES OF HOUNDSMOUTH piece and it CHANGED MY LIFE.

This tip isn’t exactly new, but I wanted to archive it here for posterity.

 

New short story collection! MIDWINTER MAGIC

Art, New from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

Cover for MIDWINTER MAGIC: A stylized glowing reindeer leaps against the blue Northern Lights

Once upon a time, magic left the world for a night. It sighed back in through the scullery door in the morning with the cat, but by then, the Queen of the Northern Elves had fallen into a deep sleep, and, greatly diminished, the returned magic could not wake her.

From the author who brought you The Purrfect Christmas and A Gingersnap Cat Christmas comes an enchanting collection of three original yuletide fairy tales, written in the tradition of Jane Yolen and Ursula Vernon.


A little Christmas present from me to you. If you like reindeer, Santa Claus, elves, and mythic origin stories, you’re probably gonna dig this.

Buy from your favorite eBook retailer here (includes Amazon)

More info and excerpt here on MIDWINTER MAGIC’s Pixelvania Publishing page.

Book Covers Behind-the-Scenes: The Making of MIDWINTER MAGIC

Art

Hi so I spent over two hours today painting a decent-looking stylized reindeer for my latest eBook Midwinter Magic (and that was just on one file, and doesn’t count all my OTHER painting and sketching and thumbnailing time) (honestly, it felt like 5 hours on just that last file, though), but I can’t reveal the cover yet so you’re going to now suffer through my thumbnail sketches and WIPs.

sufferrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

j/k I hope you enjoy!

More cover design thumbnails for MIDWINTER MAGIC in Crayola Marker (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)The ones above were done after researching what other fairy tale collections were doing. Blue was a very popular color, as was sticking huge typography in the center of a rectangle. I first did these in pencil and came back after the next batch of thumbs and colored ’em.

I did not have a title at this time.

 

Cover design thumbnails for MIDWINTER MAGIC, done in Crayola Marker (Book Cover Behind the Scenes) Still no title I liked. Playing with the idea of folk art patterns and reindeer. Attempts at folk art style reindeer and flowers (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)Trying my hand at Scandinavian folk art patterns (there’s multiple schools of Scandinavian folk art with cool fancy names but I’ve forgotten them all). Of course this was after some research, but I don’t think any of these were direct copies, just me fooling around on watercolor paper with markers.

Cute li'l folk art flower (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)

Oh, right, it’s called “Rosemaling”! I remember because I invented my first Krita brush to try and emulate the single-stroke style color changes and stuff for this fnower. You can totally YouTube it! There’s guilds and everything!Tiling folk art flower, doodads, and pine tree (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)

Messing around with Krita’s tiling function got me this fun little tiling pattern.     Penciled thumbnail designs for MIDWINTER MAGIC's cover(Book Covers Behind the Scenes)

I fell ill in the middle of this project (both the writing and the drawing). By the time I got some energy back I felt like I was running late. I got my act together and came up with a title that didn’t embarrass my ancestors, then came back to thumbnailing. My default book cover solution is “slap an animal on it” but at least this time it wouldn’t be a cat.Reindeer sihouettes in blue marker (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)Marker attempts at reindeer/caribou, done with reference, but still trying to keep a stylized feel. The top left one was used in a few mockups I won’t show here.

Armed with a title, I went into Inkscape and chose fonts I thought would work. Then, for good measure, I grabbed some reindeer product silhouettes and slapped ’em on in some sort of artistic way (thanks, Trace Bitmap tool!!)

MIDWINTER MAGIC mockup - dark blue bg, reindeer sihouettes, and typography (Book Cover Behind the Scenes)

I liked these poses, but…other than that….this was bad. Really bad. I wound up going back to my thumbnails page, picking one I liked, and just elaborating on it in Krita.

I thought the final image would be, like, folk art flower patterns on a blue background, with a reindeer shape cut out in the middle, revealing some cool winter snowflakey pattern beneath (very hand-drawn-looking, in other words), but, uh, I traced a deer in one of the thumbnails, slapped a background from Unsplash.com behind it, went, OH! and went in a totally different direction.

How’d it turn out? Stay tuned for the cover reveal tomorrow morning!

New Horror Story: THE GIRLFRIEND WHO WASN’T FROM DELAWARE

Art, News from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

Cover for THE GIRLFRIEND WHO WASN'T FROM DELAWARE - A giant hand made of blue static reaches down to pluck an apartment out of a building like a Jenga blockApartment walls are thin.

Reality may be thinner.

Ray Belga lives in the ugliest apartment building in town—but at least it’s quiet. Until a mystery neighbor’s fridge starts acting up.

At least…Ray thinks it’s a fridge. But he’ll soon learn you can’t trust everything you hear through apartment walls…


I hope you enjoy this (slightly twisted?) story about a guy with noisy neighbors. Just in time for Halloween!

Buy from your favorite eBook retailer here (includes Amazon)

More info and excerpt here on THE GIRLFRIEND’s Pixelvania Publishing page.

Grey-Gold (Golden-eyed Penguin)

Art

A golden-eyed penguin swims through an abstract sea of gold textureA very very very very very very very long overdue commission for Frank Villarreal, a wonderful artist, banjoist, and penguin enthusiast.

Before this commish, I didn’t even know this species of penguin existed! They are really rad. With their semi-intimidating gaze it was hard not to cartoon one as a hard-boiled detective.

I believe the digital watercolor brushes are by Mastodon.Art user PolloMostro??