Sunday, May 10, 2009

Made of Might

Red Col-Erase pencil and black ball point pen ink on paper.
21.95 cm x 27.94 cm (8.50 in. x 11.00 in)

Digital ink and color.

detail from "Supergirl"
Digital ink and color.

I thought I'd take a break and scan and color something from my sketch book. Over 15 man-hours later and this is all I have to show.

The sketch is "finished" with a black ballpoint pen, and demonstrates the intentional omission of the her far left arm still visible in red pencil. Because ball point pens aren't very precise drawing instruments, I made the terrible mistake of doing a vector ink of the figure just to achieve cleaner lines.

Vector art is a way of creating images with lines and curves as defined by paths calculatedbetween points. The basic idea is thus, if you know the co-ordinates of each of two points on a plane (simulating your paper), and you know the angle and "speed" ("Speed" is my way of describing how strongly the path follows the angle at the point) that the path leaves point "A" and the angle and "speed" the path arrives point "B", then the computer can calculate the resulting path and draw it. In a dot-to-dot fashion the path can define a shape and that shape can be filled with a color. Vector art, is then comprised of lots of such paths and shapes. Adobe Illustrator® is the most popular commercial program for making vector art.

By contrast, the other popular method of creating digital images is as raster art. The basic idea of raster art is that the image is created with a fine grid of squares, each square filled with a different color. Your computer monitor is probably displaying a grid near 72 line-per-inch (lpi). All digital cameras, still and video necessarily record raster images.

The main problem for me with vector art is that I get lost in the details. A given point has its co-ordinates defined to the 1,000th of an inch, but at 6400% enlargement, there is still enough space between 0.000 and 0.001 to fit in at least ten more points. Regardless of the actual resolution possible with the program, 1,000th of an inch is close to 14 times finer than screen resolution and about 7 times the resolution of a 150 dot-per-inch (d.p.i.) image in a magazine.

So for some 12 hours, broken up here and there, I'm lost in this virtual mirco-space that possibly to which no other human is neither privy nor cares. Additionally, if I decide to play more with the image with added lighting effects of highlights and shading, I will mostly likely do so in Adobe Photoshop®, a raster program.

It wasn't a completely futile exercise, however. One day I will reap it's benefits in the same way that a DVD copy of "Mean Girls" is certain to... eventually.

Supergirl and "S" shield TM & © DC Comics.


  1. Is this THEE Bryan Mon? Hey Brian, how are you?!? How is Atlanta and Cartoon Network? By any chance do you know Saxton Moore? Originally from Atlanta and worked with Cartoon Network. He recently worked at American Greetings. Back in Atlanta...

  2. Yes, Jeff, that Bryan (but I'll respond to alternate spellings of my name too). I've been liking Atlanta for almost eight years. And you've got quite the nice blog ( Sorry, I don't know Mr. Moore.