Welcome to the “Mono” themed issue of your free Digital Art Live magazine!
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Welcome to the ‘Mono’ issue, celebrating imaginative art made in monochrome, silhouette, lineart or black & white.
Black and white still haunts artists with its possibilities, and the simple joy of creative restraint. The stylishness of film noir and expressionist cinema retain a deep allure, and even the emergence of a TV Dalek from the shadows can feel scarier in a crisp black and white. The woodcut work of Frans Masereel and the shadow-puppet films of Lotte Reiniger have inspired modern classics such as the videogame Limbo, and the animation Jasper Morello. In comics the simple line-art and dash shading of Moebius still holds thousands of comic artists in deep thrall. The engraving-like comics work of John Buscema (the b&w Savage Sword of Conan) or Bernie Wrightson is far less easy to emulate, but artists such as Frank Miller and Mike Mignola have found new elegant balances between monochrome/silhouette art and colour.
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PHOTOSHOP | COMICS
Logan is a superb pen & ink artist and maker of comics. He explains his unusual recent move from digital to physical art.
“It’s weird, I think I’m following the opposite trajectory of most artists. It’s more common to start out traditional before moving to digital. But I just have a lot of fun making marks on a paper. The permanence and unforgiving nature of it makes me strive harder.”
We visit South Moravia to talk with Michal about the joys of making pictures in a constrained style, and the value of preparation.
“I choose the synthwave style. But actually not because I like it — and I do love it — but because it’s easiest. I can’t draw characters. I wasn’t able to draw even a face. So silhouettes were the right choice to learn painting — easy, fast, effective, ready for stylization.”
We talk with Kooki99 in France about the joy of making hyper-realistic 3D portraits with relative ease, using DAZ Studio.
“At first I was reluctant to do black and white. I was like: ‘I have great shaders, great SSS, why should I lose all that detail!?’ But when I accidentally dialled a wrong button when postworking, I ended up with a highly contrasted b&w picture… that has so many details!”
POSER | SKETCHUP | CLIP STUDIO
A leading maker of horror comics talks about his methods and more.
“Even my coloured work starts life as black and white with grey tones — in fact, the colouring is generally the hardest bit for me and pleasing results are usually a bit of a happy accident. Work that I really like in the grey stage can become torturous when I start adding colour. It’s not as easy as it looks!”
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Excerpt from our interview with Logan Stahl
See the full interview in issue 49
We talk with Logan Stahl, aka ‘FoxyTomcat’, about the importance of daily skill training for lineart and colouring, his unusual move from digital toward traditional methods, and the limited options we have in online communities.
DAL: Logan, welcome to the Digital Art Live in-depth interview.
LS: Hi! Thanks for having me.
DAL: Looking at your DeviantArt Gallery, I see you keep the early work from 2011 online. As such, the Gallery forms an excellent and encouraging example of how an artist’s style and ability can evolve across about ten years. I assume you have had to consciously work hard at developing your talents. What specific ways did you go about doing that, and what worked best for you?
LS: It’s changed a lot over the years. When I was a kid I would just draw what I wanted to draw, sometimes looking at other artists, sometimes just trying my best to figure it out on my own. When I started really taking art seriously, I had a very rigid schedule that I would follow every day. Making sure to draw with a timer on, so I wouldn’t slack off. And every couple of weeks reworking the schedule, to meet new goals. I’m still like that now, when I can afford to take the time. I’ll do some warmup exercises and targeted studies for 45 minutes to an hour, and then work on something bigger — a finished piece or a big study aimed at hitting a couple of my weak points. The most important thing, I think, is making sure you’re practicing consistently, and constantly criticizing and re-evaluating yourself so that you don’t stagnate.
DAL: Great advice. Have you found any mentors or communities who helped and encouraged you, when you were starting out? Or was school useful for you?
LS: I was about 19 I think when I began to take art seriously. I started going on 4chan’s /ic/ board where people ripped my beginner art to shreds. But also gave me the resources and tools to improve, and that was exactly what I needed. Before that, I’d thought I was really good at drawing and I had just stagnated pretty much since middle school. Once I understood that I was bad, but I could improve, things began to finally progress for the first time in years.
I had some art classes as a kid, but I don’t think I retained much from them. I didn’t have any formal art education until about a year and a half ago when I started an oil painting class. That’s helped me a ton, even if I don’t post my paintings that much. I’ve been able to apply the concepts I’ve learned there to everything else I do. If you can find a reputable art class and can afford it, then I recommend going.
DAL: Yes, and of course there are also plenty of online training alternatives, now that face-to-face is not viable. How did you first find Moebius, and how did he fit in alongside your other early influences?
LS: Moebius was kind of a slow discovery for me. I’d sometimes see his stuff posted in the art forums I’d frequent. I thought they were cool and I’d save some for inspiration.
After a while when I started to recognize his style, I was seeing it in more and more places and I realized that I really REALLY liked it. So I started actively seeking his art out, bought a couple of his comics, and the rest is history.
My biggest influence before Moebius was definitely Wayne Barlowe, and he’s still a huge influence on me. Obviously I’m not primarily an oil painter, so my stuff looks nothing like his, but the way he designs creatures and environments — they just feel so real and I constantly go back to his art for inspiration. Looking at Barlowe’s work when I was in middle school is what introduced me to both speculative biology art communities, and 19th century Orientalist painters, and that’s all stuck with me. His Expedition (1990) is definitely in my top ten all-time favourite books.
Also I’ve had an enormous appreciation for the art of Katsuhiro Otomo since I was in high school and I think it’s interesting to note that Otomo and Moebius were both apparently fans of each other. Moebius did fanart of Tetsuo from Akira and Otomo did fanart of Arzach and I just think that’s so cool.
DAL: Have you read up on ‘the theory of Moebius’ — there’s a day or two of reading out there now, working out what his techniques and working methods where, and even analysing the styles of dash-shading and colouring. And there’s a whole book of interviews with him coming soon in English. Or have you just whipped out the magnifying glass each day and made a very close study of what’s on his printed pages?
LS: A little bit of both. William Stout at williamstout.com did a great, practical analysis of Moebius’ techniques that I should probably re-read at some point. I’ve also read his interviews, interviews of people that knew him, and talked with other fans to try and reverse-engineer some of his techniques. And of course I have done many studies of Moebius’ work — it helps a lot when I can’t think of how to draw something and I can find a piece where he had drawn the same thing already. It’s a great way to learn. I do that with other artists too, but Moebius is certainly one of my go-to’s.