Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Drawing Tutorial 9 - Color Correction

Let's continue with the almost too wide and open subject of colors which we have already explored a week ago. I would like to talk now about a way to create the exact color you need (for those of us who do not like rough approximations), a technique which helped me a lot when I worked in restoration and retouch.
What exactly is restoration about? It consists of integrating small missing pieces in frescoes and paintings through the use of new colors that are as close as possible to the ones used in the original work or at least the ones we believe to have been used. If the missing portion is too wide, you need a different technique though and generally you would choose the rigatino technique, but this is a quite off topic in this tutorial.
Also off topic would be answering to the question of why exactly I was working there in the first place, so let's just say that restoration is a valid branch of fine arts you can learn a whole lot from.
Anyways, our goal is to choose the color which most closely matches the original color. Often, the original colors do not have the same brightness as the colors you can prepare on your palette and obviously the way the original colors must have looked when they first used, due to the natural wear and tear caused by time and weather. Another issue could be that the colors' tone seem to be opaque in a way that we cannot exactly match with the colors we have. What should we do?
A quick solution is to add, for example, a small drop of a complementary color to our way to bright and shiny color. I happened to buy a green color which ended up being quite far from what I planned to buy. I wanted a "natural" green to paint leaves with and even though I went to the store with a neutral green in mind (not too yellow, not too blu), the green I bought is actually a very cold and artificial green, similar to the artificial color they use for mint flavored candies. It is a very bright green, but adding a little bit of amaranth red made toned it down just the way I wanted.
Of course, it needs a keen eye and a lot of practice to get it right, but this advice, which I received from my boss at that time, has always been useful.

Another little insider tip, useful to get the naturally pure yet very transparent watercolors to be more "candy"-like, consists of using "Giallo Napoli" (very light yellow, almost white, verging on pink).
If you add some "Giallo Napoli" to electric blue, you will end up with a cobalt blue with a warm yet light color tone thanks to the yellow component used. Do not worry about turning it into green: if you do not add too much of it, it will not turn the blue into green even though it is called Naples Yellow after all.
If you want to exercise yourself with re-creating a specific color, go ahead and experiment: take for example a color photograph from a magazine,

cut away or rip off some pieces of the picture and paste the picture onto a white sheet of paper (in this case I made some holes with my scissors and the ripped the page off),

and then I tried to paint the missing parts of the picture to make sure the holes are not visible anymore.

It is always best to check the color only after it is fully dry when dealing with gouache  because it could get lighter than you expect. Please forgive my practical example if the colors do not match the original color exactly: I did not have enough time and I did not wait for the paint to dry and you can see how this affected the results. Anyways, the basic points behind this technique are the ones I mentioned before, the challenge for the artist is to get as close as possible to the specific color we want or need to reproduce.
This week's video might not have much to do with this topic, but it served its purpose to show the various shades of green I was able to obtain by properly mixing some red (leaf on the right) to the "wrong" green (first leaf on the left).

To view the previous tutorials click HERE.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Man of Sound

Pocket Boy's got a voice now! Well, he does not say a word while sitting inside a pocket, but the world around him received a fresh coat of colorful sounds. This was possible thanks to the help of Kristian Johansson, a 31 year old Swedish sound designer, aka  The Man of Sound.
The Man of Sound, as you can guess from his name, has been working for quite a while on sound effects, music, and game interfaces, but he is also well known for co-creating and co-hosting the #1 Gaming podcast in Sweden.
With The Man of Sound taking care of Pocket Boy's audio presentation we knew we had received the help of a talented professional, but we did not expect he could get so into Pocket Boy and understand it as in depth as he did. He managed to compose music and sounds which were incredibly close to the idea we had in our mind but could not put down in musical notes.
To understand his work better and to take a glimpse at the behind the scenes of the new music inside this update, we decided to ask a few question about Pocket Boy and his profession in general.

Pocket Boy ha finalmente una voce, o meglio: continua a stare zitto nelle tasche, ma attorno a lui il mondo si è "colorato" di suoni. Tutto ciò è avvenuto grazie a Kristian Johansson, 31 anni svedese, in arte The Man of Sound. 
The Man of Sound, come si evince dal nome, si occupa ormai da tempo di effetti sonori, suoni d'ambiente e per interfacce nell'ambito dei videogiochi. Ma ha anche condotto per diversi anni il più popolare podcast svedese sui videogiochi.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drawing Tutorial 8 - Composing Colors

In the previous tutorial, I introduced some practical watercolor techniques.  
Before going ahead with more practical subjects, I wanted to stress that it is always important to keep in mind exactly what you want to create and the look you want to give it. 
Once in a while, I get stuck choosing colors, but I know it is a very common issue and I had to come up with a series of tricks that can help the chromatically undecided.
First of all, there are websites dedicated to color combinations such as COLOURlovers, a web community in which you can look for the perfect color combination, help other create their own, or just find some inspiration.
Another helpful color theory guide was published as a series of tutorials on "Le figure dei Libri" not too long ago: it is a very interesting look on everything about illustration and the world around it written by the illustrator Anna Castagnoli and with color theory lessons by Francesca Cheessa.

As far as my own advices for you are concerned, I would say that you should always start with the least amount of colors possible, no more than 3 colors. The concept is simple: with one color there can be no problem because your monochrome painting will only vary in its tone, saturation, and/or brightness.

The above illustration comes from a book by Rebecca Dautremer, you can see a dominating red in all its tone variations: from magenta to light cadmium red and to delicate pink ones.

If you have two colors, it is good to choose two complementary ones (red/green, yellow/violet, blue/orange), but pay attention not to create a "contrast of complementary colors": the unpleasant visual effect due to two colors with the same wavelength that makes everything almost unreadable (it is banned in advertising). If you work digitally and you want to prevent this nasty issue from happening to your drawings, you just need to lower the overall saturation and go back to grey-scale temporarily: if you are still able to make out shapes and see the overall image then you are good to go, but if everything starts to blend together then you have chosen colors that have a very similar wavelength and thus will be reduced to approximately the same grey tone. 

In the above illustration, by Rebecca Dautremer, you can see the artist playing around with essentially only red and green tones.
Now, if we have chosen three colors, we should take either the three primary colors (Red, Green, and Blue) or the three secondary ones (Green, Purple, and Orange). Obviously, three simple colors can only do so much, unless you are going for  a very minimalist look and are not trying to create a very particular atmosphere. 

Color tones come to our rescue once again though. We can use multiple tones for the first two colors mixed with the third chosen color. As you can see in the above illustration, once again by Rebecca Dautremer, red and blue/light blue are mixed with some yellow. Red is now almost orange, light blue is now aqua, and while yellow is surely the less saturated color it is also the most used. 

If you still have doubts on the color range to use, and most of all if you are unsure about the proportion between the chosen colors, you can use a very valid technique you can find at the following LINK where the harmonious tones can be selected covering the provided color wheel using a flat sheet of paper with a rectangular hole in the middle.

To view the previous tutorials, you can click HERE

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pocket Boy gets the sound

Pocket Boy has been really busy lately trying to collect a good sound library to make the interactive experience in each page even richer and inspiring. Thankfully, The Man of Sound (aka Kristian Johansson) came to his rescue.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sostenibilità (2° parte)

In campo digitale grandi e piccole aziende stanno pensando sempre di più alla produzione ecologica attraverso fonti rinnovabili e sistemi progettuali sostenibili. Ci sono però ancora molti luoghi comuni e informazioni non del tutto chiare sui prodotti definiti eco-sostenibili.
Mi viene in mente ad esempio QUESTO articolo a proposito di Google Black.
Mi pare che, anche per chi è veramente interessato a questi argomenti, ci sia ancora troppa poca informazione a riguardo.
Per questo la scorsa settimana abbiamo iniziato a parlare di “Sostenibilità” con Erika Vicaretti, Maria Isabella Reggio e Roberta Destefanis tre giovani designer che si occupano di grafica, comunicazione e organizzazione di eventi sostenibili.
AddictiveColors: Molti brand e prodotti, dai più noti ai meno, si propongono promotori di produzioni ecologiche e sostenibili. Sono sempre veritiere queste campagne di comunicazione?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drawing Tutorial 07- Watercolors

There are various water-painting techniques depending on the end result you are trying to achieve, but you need to make sure you have the proper equipment to exploit these techniques to their fullest.
(QUI la versione in Italiano)
The first item is the brush: it is important that you have a brush with a "steady head", that is a brush that has soft bristles, but reverts back to its original shape even after you pass your finger on it.
One brush, many sizes
I tend to use round synthetic brushes that are rather large (size between 8-20) because they allow me to pick up more water and color and I can change the lines' width (the brush has a pointy end) depending on how much pressure I apply to the paper sheet with my brush. Brushes maker "da Vinci" is a brand I feel confident to recommend: you can find it in your local art shops and it is not cheap, but if you want a decent enough result you really have to steer away from "el cheapo" ones where the tip of the brush has been covered with some glue to make it look more sturdy. You know the quality of a brush once you have tipped it in water and you see it loosing its pointy shape or not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sostenibilità (1° parte)

Usufruire al meglio del potenziale dei prodotti digitali, vuol dire anche avere un occhio di riguardo a progetti a ridotto impatto ambientale e sostenibili. Ma cosa significa davvero progettare in modo sostenibile?
Durante le 3 giornate di Faber meeting svoltesi a Novembre 2011, abbiamo avuto il piacere di conoscere altri partecipanti, tra cui Maria Isabella Reggio e Erika Vicaretti (il loro progetto è stato premiato al Faber con una Menzione speciale e una candidatura al premio internazionale ADI DESIGN INDEX 2012), che si occupano appunto di eventi e design eco-sostenibili assieme a Roberta Destefanis.
Da una piacevole chiacchierata sono sorti parecchi spunti interessanti, e abbiamo pensato di chiedere a loro di spiegarci qualche regola fondamentale per pensare e progettare in maniera quanto più sostenibile ed ecologica possibile.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Games as an art form

... just like movies and music, in which the dealer (aka the publisher) gets paid, gives the creator nothing, and cries over piracy and used sales as if they stifled creativity the most.

Enjoy the read, or not..

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Publishing to the Android Market or the Apple AppStore ?

Versione in Italiano pubblicata su

There is a lot of talk about the constant competition of the Android Market vs. the Apple App Store; today we would like to discuss our experience as developers.
We think it may be useful to highlight the problems we faced, and that also means a very broad discussion has to be developed specifically for the various issues.

To market our first App, “Pocket Boy”, we had to make a choice between two pathways: Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market.
For several reasons, our choice fell on the Apple’s App Store, due to what could be more appropriate for our specific needs. We did not mean to sponsor a market rather than another one, and now we would like to explain as objectively as possible the questions we set to make these choices.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Drawing Tutorial 06 - Tools

After talking about lights and shadows, I wanted to examine a natural pre-requisite of it all in more detail. (QUI la versione in Italiano)
It might seem to be an obvious excursion, but I feel it a necessary one to take before moving onto other subjects such as coloring. I am talking about how to handle a brush or a pencil.
Another reasons for this post is a comment someone made about the way I as a left-handed person hold the pencil not to blur my own drawing out when I pass over it.
Everyone has a personal style, no matter if your are right or left handed: I have seen great artists draw and said to myself "how can they do that?". Personal preferences aside, there are a few rules you should be following and of course break at will later on.

First, you should never rest your wrist on the table while you draw: it is not only good to avoid leaving smudges on your drawing if you are left-handed, but

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Paper Fox Project

Qualche tempo fa, attraverso Twitter scoprimmo un progetto meraviglioso per  cui sentimmo il bisogno di complimentarci immediatamente con l'autore: Jeremy Kool, un artista del 3D di Melbourne, Australia. In cosa consiste questo progetto? Si tratta di un libro interattivo per iPad, iPhone e piattaforme  Android sviluppato interamente da Jeremy.
A while ago, we discovered a wonderful project on Twitter and we contacted the artist right away to congratulate for his work. His name is Jeremy Kool,  he is a 3D artist and graphic designer, and he lives in Melbourne, Australia.
What about the project? It is an interactive book for iPad and Android tablets developed entirely by Jeremy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bologna children's Book Fair and Digital Award.

La Fiera dei Libri illustrati per Ragazzi di Bologna è una dei maggiori eventi nel panorama dell'illustrazione italiano e mondiale. E' un evento rigorosamente riservato ad operatori del settore come illustratori, editori, traduttori e autori di libri per ragazzi.
Quest'anno la manifestazione si svolgerà a Bologna dal 19 al 22 Marzo.
Una delle novità è che quest'anno  per il Premio BolognaRagazzi è stata aperta una nuova categoria dedicata al libro digitale.
Inutile dire la nostra contentezza nell'apprendere che in una manifestazione così importante, in cui vengono riuniti operatori del mercato globale e l'offerta espositiva di illustrazioni è davvero enorme, si stiano facendo strada anche le nuove tecnologie e i contenuti digitali.

Il Premio si rivolge a tutti gli editori e sviluppatori che abbiano creato applicazioni rivolte ad un target che va dai 2 ai 15 anni. La partecipazione è gratuita e ogni editore può partecipare con una o più opere edite per la prima volta nel periodo che va dal 1 giugno 2010 al 29 febbraio 2012.
Insieme alla domanda di partecipazione  che trovate sul SITO dovranno essere forniti 5 codici per il download gratuito del prodotto all'indirizzo che vi verrà indicato di posta elettronica inderogabilmente  entro il 29 febbraio 2012.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is one of the most important Italian and international events. It's an event rigorously reserved to professional operators like illustrators, literary agents, and authors of children books.
This years the Fair will from Monday 19th to Thursday 22nd March, in Bologna (Italy).
One of the news of 2012 edition is a new category of BolognaRagazzi Award about digital book. 
Obviously, we were very happy to learn that innovative digital technologies are finding a home at such an important event that brings the market leading companies together giving the illustration field such a nice exposure window.
The award is open to all publishers and developers of apps made for children between the ages of  2 and 15 years old.
Participation  is free and open to all developers and publishers of mobile applications for children. Every publisher can partecipate with one or more app published for the first time in the period 1st June 2010-29 February 2012. Enclosed with the application form 5 promocodes for free download of the product must be provided, and sent to the e-mail you can find on the Official Site of the Fair not later than 29th February 2012.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Drawing tutorial 05 - Light and Shadow (part2)

Last time we have seen how to sketch shadows in black and white or grayscale, but how do you deal with colors? (QUI la versione in Italiano)

I usually tend to draw very defined hard shadows, but I do not like completely black ones because they would produce an unnatural look. If you want to do good looking shadows when you draw with watercolors, you should outline them before coloring the rest of the picture.
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