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Site Overview

Welcome to my art space. This is a collection of my past and future art and data work. Below are the navigation links to parts of the site.

Earth PD Comics, Infosheets, and Other Material created from Public Domain characters.

eCards (tag) Public Domain images repurposed for satirical and ironic use.

Projects ( => sidebar on the right =>) Includes work in various genres of data and graphic design.

Posts in this space pertain to art, design, and creativity.

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What I Learned About Digital Art

In the past weeks, since beginning this venture of the Earth PD Comic, I've learned many things in design, drawing, and digital art. I will now keep a running log of those discoveries. These first few will be from memory which is not the best way. Future things I learned will be on the spot.

Making Brushes

Illustrator has a variety of built-in calligraphy and art brushes. It seemed like a good place to start. I soon found these were lacking for my needs. So I began searching for tutorials on brush making and found different methods from different people. I found the common thread that ran through these tutorials was they showed me exactly what I needed but somehow, it didn't turn out the way the tutorial told it would. There was always something just a little off in the end.

I concluded that being a complex program with many intricate settings, it's easy for one artist to have their program set up to their specifications and this leading to getting particular results when they make brush. Or some important detail is not mentioned in the tutorial that causes my brush to not give me the results I viewed in their video.

It was after much trying and failing that I got the brushes I wanted. It was necessary to view these tutorials, more than once, pulling out bits and pieces from each then combine all this accumulated knowledge to get the results I expected


Tutorials that show drawing a line, turning initiate a shape, then tweaking that shape all have one thing lacking - addressing the initial thickness of the line used and the size of the artboard. I watch them create a line. I duplicate the procedure exactly. My line is inherently much thicker than I see in the video. My conclusion was the artboard must be large to have that brush look perfect when they're drawing over their sketch.

Action Taken (or will be taking)

The action I will be taking is an experiment with doubling the size of my dartboard and fitting my template to match the new size. I will create the brushes as seen in the video and see if I do indeed, get the results as seen on the vide.


Quirks Of Illustrator Brushes

There's a lot to get used to when trying to work in Illustrator. There's also many unanswered questions to which I'm still researching. The one I'm working on right now is why are different 1-point calligraphic and art brushes different sizes?

Take for example the following four brushes I created for my comic book. They have different head and tail stylings for different effects. But that's not the odd part.

I created these four brushes for various effects to simulate what I could do with a traditional brush. After some trial and error, I got these four brushes to the general size I needed. Notice in the stroke palette, all of them are considered 1-point brushes. I then increase the stroke width to 10-points on all the strokes. Is it me or does that seem a little strange? How can all of these now be considered 10-point brushes

When I first began this project, I watched and read many tutorials on brush creation. And every time, my brushes never came out the same as the person in the tutorial. I thought, how can I follow all the instructions and still not have my end result come out the same? I suspect this is due to Illustrator having so many interconnected little fiddly-bits that if your settings are exactly like the teacher's, you won't get the same results.

So instead, I gathered everything I could from all the tutorials and began a regiment of experimentation (which seems to be normal operating procedure.) The result were these four brushes. Not exactly the results I expected but I finally have a handle on the situation. I will need to go back and recreated the last three brushes based on my first art brush style. From these brushes I can increase the point size to create the brush width I'll need.


For Good or Evil, Illustrator Is My Tool

When I decided to create my comic book, I knew it was going to be totally digital. Not completely my choice, but out of necessity. At this point, I have neither the dexterity or close-up vision to do what I did 30 years ago with traditional tools. But I knew that this could be accomplished with the drawing program, Illustrator.

There would be problems, I knew that for a fact. Digital doesn't react as cleanly as my pin, brush, and ink would. But after my last paint project showed me, keeping a hold of the paintbrush without dropping it was a chore. The only solution would be to go full on digital. After five pages, the frustrations are on slowly receding. Not disappearing, but making me less frustrated.

The main frustration is also the key to being able to do this digitally in the first place. The Bézier curve. A line doesn't have to be perfect when you initially lay it down (it rarely is) and can be fixed by adjusting the position of the point and curvature with the handles. And that's a good thing. Fixing lines after the fact is not very easy when working with real ink.

But the problem occurs with nearly every line drawn that when the stylus is lifted from the tablet, it's mostly a surprise where the end of the stroke will point. the slightest tilt of incorrect pressure on of the stylus affects that final point which can cause the entire line to become undesirable. It's then I make the decision to wither delete it and try again -or- start fiddling with the points and handles.

Tutorials for the Pen Tool

I mistakenly thought that I would quickly find a tutorial that would show me the error of my ways. I found lots and lots of tutorials but not once did the answer to my problem revealed. Most said, "Set this and this and this, and you will get perfect ink-like lines." After doing the settings as I was told, my lines looked nothing like theirs. Obviously, there was something else they had done which allowed their lines to work which was not in the video.

It wasn't until last week while watching yet another tutorial that the vidder/artist made an offhand remark when creating a shape with the pen tool. 1) Click a point making sure there are no handles visible. 2) place a second point just slightly past the next curve. 3) pull the handles until the line goes where you want it. 4) (and this is the important part) click the new point to remove the second handle. This way you begin with a static point for the next segment.

Ever since, creating shapes has become ten times quicker and much, much cleaner.

Alas, I am still searching for a tutorial to assist me making my brush strokes cleaner. After fiddling with the brush settings of Smoothness and Fidelity, my lines behave themselves much better but there's still the errant tail which I need to go fix.

So I solved my shape creation problem with the pen tool but still need to work on fixing the brush tool problem.



Took in the SteelCityCon last weekend and it was a breath of fresh air. My main aim was to talk to the various artist at the booths. Visiting the merchant booths and listening to the celebrity speakers was fun, but it was the artists which I needed to interact with the most.

Questions I had ranged from techniques for working with the Wacom tablet to getting a book printed. I got answers to all my questions, although one of the answers concerning the Wacom tablet was there is no good way to prevent those bezier handles from spiraling off in random directions.

I met up with Mike, an engineer whom I worked with at BCSI. Mike's secret identity is Steel Man. Mike has been going to cons for quite a few years and introduced me to many people he knew there including a few of the artists.

I will be getting in touch with a few of them in the days to come.