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26 August 2008 @ 11:51 pm
New toy syndrome - artsy fartsy edition  
The toy in question is a Wacom Intuos3 6"x8" graphics tablet. I'd had a Graphire years ago and buried it somewhere after switching to Linux and not wishing to bother with getting it up and running. I've been doing enough regular hobby work that a mouse isn't great for, like cutting character pictures out of their background, to justify the purchase. I also thought the tablet would help me get back into drawing practice.

Oh, did it ever.

I set up the buttons as fox-orian's awesome guide suggests. As a refresher, I finished extracting a picture that I'd been slaving over with the silly mouse. Then I got to sketching. Of course, Cao Ren has to have the squarest head on the planet and facial proportions different from the rules of thumb on tutorial websites, and he's always wearing a helmet. It took me at least two hours just to make the basic guidelines for his face. I went through the initial phases without using guides so I could get practice eyeballing. After dropping test guides that verified that my lines were straight and correctly marked, I figured I had enough practice and I'd earned Git-R-Done(tm) privilege. It was like getting to a new platform in the pirate ship in Gex and having the game put up a ladder for you so you don't have to start all over from the beginning if you die.

Sketching face structure on the computer is more encouraging than practicing in a sketchbook because it's easy to make an actual project out of the structure you worked so hard to get right. There's something to be said for quick repeated studies of shape and shadow and whatnot, and I've done some of those on pencil and paper as well. BUT I WANNA HAS PERTY PITCHERS

First I must has break and food. I've been staring at Photoshop all evening.
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: Tori Amos - Cloud on My Tongue
Iyori / Graffitiiyori on August 27th, 2008 09:02 am (UTC)
Ooooh that is an awesome guide, i shall pimp it.

Please show your Cao Ren artsies and if you don't i will come to your doorstep during the night and cry like a haunting ghoul ):

And i haven't commented on your AU fic yet because i am fangirly and will only make remarks like "Squee! Cao Cao is adorable in his badass'ness!", "Over-protective Xiahou Dun makes me happy in my pants!" etc etc but I LIKE WHAT I'M SEEING PLEASE DO MORE, ALSO, THE RESTAURANT SCENE MAKES ME HUNGRY sob
The Heavy Metal Matador: Short Ass Foolsrydain on August 27th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
Warning: written on little sleep and even less coffee.

FRICKING THANK YOU. I was hoping you'd like it. It's just a light-hearted fic, but I put just as much care into it as I do with all of my non-cracky writing. Any sort of "I like what I see" comment is always welcome, no matter how fangirly. It will definitely be continued. I've written some more, including the guys' first actual conversation, though the content after chapter 3 is a giant question mark right now. 2 is done aside from some poking, so it should be up in a few days. I hope it'll make you LOL.

Oh yeah, that sketch of Ren's face will be made into something presentable. It kept me up way later than I ought to admit. Some proportions are hard to see until I start sketching features, so I had to adjust a bunch of stuff later. I didn't get the final shape of his jaw until I blocked in facial hair and his eyes drove me apeshit. They kept turning out more like narrow Caucasian eyes than eyes that looked East Asian to me until I made a subtle change in shape. I took a fresh look at the sketch when I got up today, and I'm for reals happy with the general shapes and proportions. So tonight I can get to making a decent work in progress pic. I hope.

Holy crap do I love drawing on layers. If something looks off, I try again on a new layer and don't lose all my work if the first version was better. This tablet thingy really eases the learning curve.

Speaking of hair, I LOVE the way you drew it in my commission. It's downright sumptuous. Any tips you can share?
Iyori / Graffitiiyori on August 27th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)

Everything you said sounds mighty awesome, so i await to see it with grabby hands <333 I have the same trouble with Cao Ren's jawline too, thank goodness his beard makes things a lot easier. And GOD YES layers are why i prefer drawing digitally, there're just so many advantages to it.

I think the way i colour hair makes them look more anime than anything;;; But i'll try to explain. This may sound messy!

In the lineart i draw partitions (or chunks) of the hair, keeping in mind a rough idea of how it'd look if it were real hair. You don't want too many lines because you'll take care of detailing when painting. Basically i colour in the base colours and basic shading the same way i colour everything else, but the real detailing is done during the last stages of shading. My colouring process goes like this: base colour > basic shadow > basic highlights > 2nd shadow > 2nd highlights and so on (you can do more layers+colours for richer shading. I usually do 3 layers each for light/shadow). On my last shadow and highlight layers, i paint with a small brush, maybe 3px, to draw fine hairs and stuff that makes the whole thing look shiny i guess.

One tip i learnt is to do the final touches of highlights/shadows on a layer ON TOP OF the lineart. At this point you're not really colouring, but painting in individual hairs that overlap other parts of the hair to really give it a 3D feel (like what i did to Lu Meng. This tends to work better with long hair so i didn't fit any into Ren's hair lol.)
The Heavy Metal Matador: Whizzerrydain on August 28th, 2008 06:03 am (UTC)
New chapter is up. I'm so glad you're enjoying the story because it has zero reviews and not much readership. I mainly write for myself, and I understand there's not going to be much general interest in a rare pairing based on characters who aren't favorites among the ff.net crowd. (Lu Meng gets mentioned more often than Cao Ren does, but he's not commonly featured.) Still, it is discouraging to put time and effort into something and not hear one peep at all, especially when dull blather thrown together with minimal editing gets at least one "I liek ur story keep riting".

Your interest gave me the push to start this fic, and your praise encourages me to keep going. Thank you.
naralove on September 19th, 2008 09:31 am (UTC)
Hello, lurker present, don't know how you'll take this considering I completely bypassed your entry in hopes to shower you with love. When I spotted your Cao Ren / Lu Meng story on FF.net -lol lame of me considering that it was posted on warriorslash- ;D

Unfortunately, I suck terribly at commenting, but I just wanted to BOW AT YOUR FEET. I adore Cao Ren, and he never gets the love he rightfully deserves. You've made me love even the thought of this pairing. <3 And Cao Ren's cat, GAH. Mine does the same damned thing, if she can fit in it, she'll get in it.

It's a wonderful story, and I've re-read it an unhealthy amount of times, it's like brain-candy, I can't wait happens next! ;D

The Heavy Metal Matador: Kuribo's Shoerydain on September 19th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)

I kept meaning to reply to the kickass review you left me because it made my week. This story has been way fun for me to work on, and I'm thrilled that you are enjoying it so much. Plenty more brain candy is on the way. ^_^

Being that you're also a major Cao Ren fan, I'm glad you like the Ren / Meng pairing. With the key traits they have in common - prudence, level-headedness, good leadership skills, a history of self-improvement - I figured they would at least be friends if given the chance. Between that and general brainstorming about what different characters would be like in the modern era, the squeeing part of my brain went OMG CUTE and ran away like the gingerbread man. I love to write, and I can always dig the sort of happy romance story that you would expect from two intelligent and easygoing people. And there you have it.

I also started this fic to add some detailed character development to the collective fanon of my two favorite guys. As you said, Cao Ren is usually overlooked or poorly represented. I remember one fic in the historic timeline that characterized him well. Normally I'm not impressed with how people misinterpret Ren or make him generic. It's a pity because there's so much that can be done with the nuances of his character. Heck, he's great in humor as a straight-laced foil to those you would expect goofiness from. Lu Meng shows up more often, but he's not worked much with either.

I began a general historic fic with Cao Ren as one of the main characters, but it's going to be a while before I can even start posting it.

Cao Ren's cat is a cross between both of mine. The climbing into everything behavior is totally Cookie. He's going to be shy like Chester when Lu Meng comes to visit. (And later, when Shadow warms up to Meng, he will not leave him alone.)

BTW, I added you back. ^_^
naralove on September 21st, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
I posted way more in that stupid review thing on FF, but I spaced it to wide, and it cut off a bunch of it. D: That damned box has always hated me, and I didn't get to gush as much as I had wanted too, over how excited this story had made me.

Ren/Meng has most likely moved it's way up in my otp's, taking it's very own special spot, I never had considered the possibilities but I am always up for a different pairing, and there personalities are so intuitive, and they are amazing characters all on there own. The only regret being that I have fallen deeply in love with them now, and you are to blame. <3 I won't be getting much Ren/Meng fix. You drug lord you.

It's so hard to find writing that makes my brain feel none-mushy, and so focused, my art books can't keep me as in tune as your beautiful characterizations did.

Lu Meng gets a lot more 'screen time' then Ren, and it's such a shame, but I always take into account, they have to cover so many people, and give so much character development as they can in such a small amount of space. I think I much love how you perceived them, and your kitties sound so adorable. <3

My cat Bloo would probably love spending time with Cookie, she's a nut for small places. Cabinets, draws, underneath beds, and bookcases. She likes to get her white fur everywhere.

I hope everything I put made sense, it's nearly 12 at night here. xD

<3 Thank you for adding me, I'm glad you accepted!