November 21, 2008

The Curse of Dracula

This was my birthday gift for Rod this year. His birthday was in October, but I'd been working on this piece for the past few weeks to try and finish it up. Finally, after a few adjustments a couple nights ago, it was done.

We've been on a Hammer Horror marathon since last month and I think I have Matt Wieringo to thank for that-- he sent me a few links to some of the really nice Hammer DVD deals Amazon had going on, and that kind of snowballed into a "one Hammer film a night" marathon for Rod and myself. We've been watching them in order and it's been a lot of fun. (Thanks, Matt!)

I didn't grow up with Hammer films-- I was only ever really exposed to the Universal monsters growing up-- but when Rod and I started dating he introduced me to the world of Hammer Horror. It wasn't long before I grew to appreciate folks like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and the very classy feel Hammer films have. Going through them again recently has been great, and I've come to appreciate some of the supporting cast who regularly show up in Hammer as well. Being a fan of the classic Doctor Who series, it's also nice to see someone like Patrick Troughton (who went on to play the second incarnation of the Doctor) show up and deliver fantastic performances along with everyone else. I guess I should say I've been enjoying the hell out of these films (pun intended, muahaha).

So, this brings us back to Rod's birthday drawing. He requested something depicting Peter Cushing as Van Helsing from The Brides of Dracula (1960) and Yvonne Romain from Curse of the Werewolf (1961), hence the title of the piece. I'm always a little nervous when dealing with likenesses because let's face it, they can be tricky. I absolutely adore Peter Cushing, and I really wanted to get him looking as closely as possible to... well, himself. I think he and Ms. Romain turned out okay in the end, mostly.

I knew I wanted to give this a painterly feel, and initially I'd imagined myself coloring it in Corel Painter. But for some reason I felt intimidated when I started messing around in it. I guess because there is so much you can do and so many different settings and brushes you can use, it got to be a little overwhelming. So I turned back to a program I was more comfortable with: openCanvas.

I actually hadn't used openCanvas since the Blake's 7 Jenna painting I did back in 2006, but it didn't take me long to get back into the swing of things. OpenCanvas is a very basic Japanese painting program I became aware of a couple years back and only dabbled in (I think I only used it to color the Jenna piece, actually), but when I went back to it I felt comfortable almost instantly. The digital brush reacted the way I wanted it to and it was very easy to get back into a painter-ish mode. I used a watercolor brush setting, but it doesn't exactly give it the feeling of watercolors-- it looks more like oils or acrylics instead. But I'll take it.

I had a lot of fun working on this piece and I experimented with a few things that seem promising (for future works, perhaps?). I'd like to mess around with it again and really get a good handle on the program and just digital painting in general. I don't do enough coloring anymore so this was really refreshing to do. And Rod really liked it, and that was the most important thing to me.

And to follow up from my last post, our websites are back up and running. The transfer process went pretty smoothly. Cheers to that!

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