Who Knew? Boredom + Sick = Creativity!

I have been cooped up the past couple days with the flu. I try to lay down, but I’ll either start a coughing fit, or all the pressure will build up in my head, pounding and throbbing till I swear it’s going to blow. Or I start the cold chills and for some reason find myself restless. The rare few times I think I can settle in and rest, the kids get to me. So needless to say, I’ve spent a LOT of time curled up on the couch with the laptop, and haven’t gotten much sleep.

I have gotten a lot of cover work done while I neglected my day to day household duties in fear of the water balloon I call a head finally bursting. (There are a few I’m waiting on the back blurbs before sharing, not to mention the ones mid-progress. They’ll be on here…eventually) But over the past couple weeks I’ve been wanting to create something for me. Create my visions instead of someone else’s. Whether it be photography, photomanipulation, or any kind of digital art. Needless to say I’ve been too busy to take the extra time at the computer to do so. Not to mention ideas flit in one side of my head, and back out the other like an illusive butterfly. So when I do have a chance,  I can’t remember what they were!

Part of my job (can you really call this a job? man am I  lucky!) requires me to constantly learn new things and/or techniques in Photoshop. So I watch a LOT of tutorials. Some things I retain and use, some I don’t. I have had a particular interest in digitally painted hair lately and have watched/read numerous tutorials, trying several techniques over the past month or so.

Yesterday evening I was sitting here, bored, yet didn’t want to “work”. Husband still at work, kids watching a movie, and the dog sitting there staring at me. Creeps me out sometimes when she does that. Just sits there, a foot or so away, staring. I was looking at her, noting the shadows and highlights of her fur. Yes, I look at everything in terms of shadows first, highlights second, gets annoying at times. Sometimes I even imagine painting or “etchy penning” (don’t ask!) over things I’m looking at. Other times it’s camera angles. How would I move to get a better angle? Depends on which frame of mind I am in.  Suddenly the hair tutorials popped into my head. And I wondered….

I know from past trials and errors that I struggle with nose or muzzle proportions when I freehand. And I am WAY out of practice freehand drawing. So I grabbed the camera and took a picture of the dog. Loading the picture onto the computer and opened up photoshop. This is the image:

This was just for me for practice, I wanted to get the feel of the brush strokes using my tablet. I will freely admit I cheated. I cropped the image, cleaned it up and painting a black background around her. Then I used the Mixer Brush tool, set at very wet-heavy mix, with custom brushes I made and started painting directly on the photograph. In layman’s terms:  Imagine having the photograph in front of you. Now imagine all the ink created to print said photo magically turned into wet paint, still retaining the image. Now take a paint brush, going over the whole thing and mix and move that wet paint the way you want it to look. That’s basically what I did. Followed by painting over details such as the eyes and nose.

My husband came home just as I finished it. When I tried to explain what I did, he said “So basically it’s a digital paint by numbers?”

I enjoyed doing it. It was fun and relaxing, and I wanted to do another. I asked a friend to send me a picture of her dog so I could play some more. She sent me a few images to choose from and I chose this one.

Isn’t he cute? He’s just so white and fluffy. I don’t even like small dogs and I went “Aww..” While I was looking at it, I thought, why can’t I paint new instead of making the photograph “wet paint”?

Now some may say I still cheated because I started out basically “tracing” it. This time, I created new layers and did general paint blobs of the colors, using my custom brushes for the occasional stray hair sweep. Each color had it’s own layer, leaving the original as the bottom layer to go back and view for reference. Once I painted each color, I merged the layers and started adding in the details using both the regular paint brush (for added colors and details) and the mixer brush. Finishing touches again were painting the eyes, some highlights, and some extra stray hairs.

By this time, it’s just about bedtime for the kids. Hubby wants to watch some tv with me, and I am coming off of my cold & sinus meds. So I put the computer away. My stuffed uppededness gets awful again, so I wind up taking more meds, which in turn leaves me WIDE awake when it’s time to hit the hay. So instead of tossing and turning and keeping my husband up all night, I stay up and start yet ANOTHER painting.

I started with the background, completely freehand, no reference, no photos (the branches in the corner are a brush though). I decide I’m going to do a wolf next. I searched deviantart.com for stock images of wolves for reference. I came across this one from MoonsongStock , and figured it would work. I cropped the image to what I wanted and blew it up till it was barely recognizable from pixel bloat. Once again, I will admit, I used the photograph to trace the general outline so I didn’t have a misshaped  muzzle. After that I used it purely as eyeball reference (I looked at the original to see where to shade and highlight) and painted away.

So there you have it, what happens when you’re (we’ll for me at least) cooped up in the house sick with nothing better to do…er nothing better that you want to do at least. I might play more with full digital painting, if and when I have time.

[NOTE: This next one was added after this post originated. I just didn’t feel like doing another new post.]

Pretty much the same method as the wolf, but was trying out different brushes. The image I used for reference for the deer came from Stock by Kelesaii on deviantart.com, found here.


Author: kklawiter

Cover Artist and Photographer

4 thoughts on “Who Knew? Boredom + Sick = Creativity!”

  1. Hello, I know we have e-mailed before and if everything works out I believe I will be selling my ebook in November. But I need an ebook cover and I find your work marvelous. I was wondering when is a good time for you to start on this project since I know you probably have other clients. I was also wondering if the price includes image for a hardbook cover or if that was seperate. Thank you!


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