andrew burke






Posted on: 2016-05-07

Star Ships Start Here began as a one-off gag, but now I actually make some money selling posters of the pictures I've made. In some ways, I guess this means that I'm an "artist". At least I'm hanging out with artists more often these days, with various con events and the monthly East Coast Creative meetups.

My "professional" medium so far has mostly been collage mash-ups of pre-existing images - I haven't used a paintbrush or charcoal since I was a teenager. I don't like the mess and clutter of real art supplies. I'm also a huge fan of layers, undo, and all the visual tricks and cheats one can do with modern graphics software. But working digitally has its own drawbacks: 'painting' with a mouse is awkward, even working with a Wacom-style tablet still feels disconnected from the image itself.

But I've really wanted to start making my own images rather than repurposing other ones. I enjoyed art classes when I was in school, and I was sometimes even pretty good at them (in a school sort of way).

So the other day, this happened:

My new iPad Pro and Pencil

Yes I will be using the big-screen iPad Pro for testing apps and other software-related things, but with the Pencil and software like Procreate, I can finally get into drawing and painting by hand while keeping all the powerful tools of software and avoiding spilling paint and ink all over my cats.

The thing is, there is a huge learning curve to climb with this - not just the lifelong one of getting good at art, but just the technical one of figuring out how to use all the new digital tools at my disposal. Starting with a blank canvas is daunting, and I'm still not very good at drawing things freehand. So I've decided to start my training just like the apprentices did back in the days of Michelangelo: by tracing and copying. I can import an original image into the software and paint in layers over top of it. That way I can focus on tools and technique without worrying about composition and colour - those can come later.

But what should I use for source images? I recently watched "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and kept thinking that almost every frame in this movie was like a gorgeously-composed painting. So I decided to take a bunch of stills more-or-less at random from the movie - just snapshots of my TV - and am aiming to make images from one every day or so.

I'm going to share these daily pictures here on my blog. You'll get to see me figure out this new medium, with all the awkwardness and mis-steps - as well as, I hope, the successes.

My first work in Procreate

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