Archive for the 'tools & tech' Category

Dec 03 2017

Holiday Newsletter 2017

Published by under appearances,tools & tech

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Happy Holidays, everyone! I have been neglecting the blog this year, as I’ve been all-out trying to finish The Iliad. I just sent out a new newsletter update, and if you’re not on that list, you can view it here. Highlights include delivering a keynote at the NCTE conference in St. Louis, holiday gift ideas, and being almost done with The Iliad. I hope you’ll check it out (and sign up using the “subscribe” button at the top).

Best,

Gareth

 

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Feb 03 2017

Folger Shakespeare Theatre’s “As You Like It”

Earlier this week, I want to see Folger Shakespeare’s production of As You Like It, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch. I really enjoyed the performance; the first half was slow in a couple of places (mostly because Shakespeare didn’t do a very good job of giving the characters motivations) but once things start to come together in the second half it’s a delightful romp, with excellent dramatic, comedic, and musical performances by the entire cast.

Here are my sketches (done digitally with iPad Pro & Procreate app) –

Cast: Lindsay Alexandra Carter, Kimberly Chatterjee, Michael Glenn, Will Hayes, Jeff Keogh, Aaron Krohn, Allen McCullough, Brian Reisman, Daven Ralston, Lorenzo Roberts, Antoinette Robinson, Dani Stoller, Tom Story, Cody Wilson.

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Sep 16 2016

Islesford Painting Workshops 2016

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I just got back from a fantastic week on Little Cranberry Island, Maine, helping to teach the Islesford Painting Workshops. As always, it was a complete blast. Look how much fun we are having!

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I’m up to my ears in catch-up tasks, so I won’t write too much about it, but once again it was great. I’m sad that this is (almost certainly) the last year it will be held, because the Dock Restaurant & Gallery which hosts it is being sold.

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Anyway, here are my paintings/sketches/studies. Some are digital this time — I continue to play with the iPad, and I’ve also been messing about with Kyle’s brushes for Photoshop. On one level it’s silly trying to get painterly effects on a digital device, because a real painting “in the flesh” is SO much more awesome than any print or purely 2-dimensional representation of it can capture. On the other hand, using tools that make different kinds of marks can help one understand more about the problems of painting, and in that respect it’s cool to have a really large toolbox in a small device to experiment with.

My favorite take-aways this year: First, the idea of “carving into” a painting, usually to simplify or define the space better. Second, the realization that I am usually willing to get quite experimental with color but not so much with forms/drawing. I want to play with that a bit more.

Previous year’s workshops: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 (2012 has the most theoretical/philosophical musing in it, if you like that sort of thing.)

So long, Islesford. The workshops may be over, but I’ll be back.

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May 16 2016

STC’s Taming of the Shrew

Last night I saw Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new production, The Taming of the Shrew. It features an all-male cast, a craft market in the lobby, a lot of music, and a bunch of other cool immersive touches. As with every Shrew production I’ve seen, it struggles to rise above the misogynist speech in the final scene, but in other respects I thought it was quite marvelous. The actors were all superb, and extremely consistent. The musicality was impressive. You could almost say they turned the play into a musical — which is a kind of an odd choice, and it didn’t work 100% of the time, but there were points later in the story where it really elevated what was going on. It did, however, make for a long show. It ran almost 3 and a half hours. During the intermission they had drinks and snacks in the theater, and allowed the audience onto the stage while the actors continued to do… well, a lot of things that aren’t in the actual play. That might sound odd or gimmicky, but actually I found the result was unique and powerful. In fact I’d say the treatment of the intermission, and some of the threads that emerged from that, might have been the coolest part of the show.

Of course I drew. Some of these I drew on paper, and others on a new iPad Pro I’m testing out. I turned the brightness all the way down and worked on a grey background so I wouldn’t distract my neighbors. You can probably tell which drawings are digital and which are traditional (especially since there are some glaring clues besides the line quality) but I’m pretty impressed with some of the tools, especially ProCreate’s pencil simulation, which uses the Apple Pencil’s tilt sensor quite effectively.

 

The show runs through June. Definitely recommended.

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Feb 21 2016

Samurai Rising – process post

When I was contacted by Charlesbridge about possibly illustrating a nonfiction book about the legendary samurai Yoshitsune Minamoto, I jumped at the chance. The timing was great, as I was in transition between Macbeth and Poe, I’d been wanting to work with the Charlesbridge crew, and the subject matter is an intense interest of mine. I had done some karate and aikido as a kid, studied Japanese culture and language during high school and college, and spent a summer in Japan in 1990. On that trip I met lots of great people, tried kendo, got to visit a famous Japanese swordmaker, watched hours and hours of anime and sumo wrestling on TV, and learned what real jet-lag feels like. Later I took up aikido in a more serious way, and I’ve been practicing that art for over 15 years now. I also did an illustration project in college about Yoshitsune, so I knew the basics of his story — though at the time I was focused more on the legends about his early life than the real details of his military exploits. Anyway, I was quite excited to illustrate this book, especially once I had read the manuscript, which I found vivid, compelling, and action-packed. The author, Pamela Turner, has written lots of excellent nonfiction, lived in Japan, and practices kendo, and she brings all of that background plus a clever modern sensibility to the story.

The scope of the assignment was a cover plus an illustration for each of the 15 chapters, plus a title page spread and 4 maps, all to be painted in a loose brush-and-ink style.

I started filling up a sketchbook with rough pencil sketches for each chapter. I tried to keep these loose and focus on interesting silhouettes and compositions. I wasn’t sure yet whether these would be half-page or full-page illustrations, or exactly what the page size would be. I did 4-8 sketches for each chapter, and maybe 15 or 20 for the cover.

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I discussed the sketches with my editor Alyssa Pusey and art director Susan Sherman. Once we narrowed down which ones we all liked the most, I did larger sketches digitally. We decided to go full-page, so many of the compositions had to be adjusted to fit the page size, and then tested opposite a chapter opening. Author Pam then checked the illustrations for historical accuracy. She researched this book so thoroughly, we all wanted to make sure I didn’t mess anything up.

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In order to do a loose brush painting, I actually needed to work out a fairly precise drawing, often with more information in it than the finished illustration would have. Then I put the drawing on a light table and painted over it, laying down the solid blacks first, then the grey tones. I used some carefully distressed, bristly brushes I’ve cultivated over the years (a good inking brush, as it ages, tends to lose its ability to keep a sharp point, but sometimes gains other magical qualities!).

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Layout 1

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We decided to do a wraparound cover, and Susan mocked up the type with our favorite sketch. I worked out the composition for the wraparound, then drew in more precise details. I tend to find horses a bit challenging to get right, so in addition to a lot of photo reference I also used a plastic horse that I bought on eBay and hung over my drawing table.

Layout 1Toy horse

Layout 1Samurai Cover finish grey

I did use digital techniques in a few places. Most notably, I replaced the ink wash sky in the original art with a color gradient and white clouds made by reversing black ink strokes I did separately. Then I added a layer of digital red and gold as accent colors.

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Samurai Rising Cover finish

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I also got to help pick out the colors of the endpapers, the red ink of the cover type, the stamp and the paper for the casewrap, and even the striped pattern for the headband and footband.

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Here’s one of the maps. It’s a brush painting with a grey wash digitally inserted behind it for the ocean. Labels added by the publisher.

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Charlesbridge has been wonderful to work with, and the book has been getting a great critical response. It’s on sale now, and I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks for reading!

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Dec 30 2014

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Macbeth is coming in just a month. The official release date is Feb 10th.  You can pre-order it with your local/favorite indy bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, etc. I will sign all pre-orders placed with Politics & Prose, and you can order signed copies directly from me starting a few days after the release. The eBook should also launch on Feb. 10th on most platforms.

To whet your appetite, I have set up an official product page (with interior preview) here. And now, I’m going to give you a look at the process I used to create this book…

 

This looping animation shows the different stages of drawing and coloring a page of Macbeth

 

As usual, I sketched the rough layouts using Adobe InDesign. This has the advantage of being super-easy to edit as I go along (as well as later, after I get feedback), being able to quickly move things from one page to another, use type and object styles to control document-wide formatting, and have a single master file. The main disadvantage is that the master file sometimes gets too big. I’ve learned various tricks to deal with that but it can still be a little tricky to manage.

After sketching and editing the rough layout, I printed each page in a light yellow and drew over it with pencil.

I scanned the drawings back in, used a b&w adjustment layer to get rid of the yellow lines, then did a greyscale value painting on a multiply layer over the pencil art.

I added textures I had created with ink washes on watercolor paper, then I added local colors and effects.

Sound effects go on their own layer so they can be removed or changed if the book gets translated into another language.

Finally, I dropped the art back into InDesign and drew clean borders and speech balloons.

– Artwork copyright 2014 by Gareth Hinds, shown by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville MA –

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Oct 19 2014

Two digital landscapes

Published by under landscape,tools & tech

I painted these in Artrage. The first is from memory of one of the beaches on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. The second is a sunset view from my porch (have I mentioned I love my porch?).

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Sep 14 2012

Literary Lights Video

Published by under appearances,tools & tech,video

This video is edited way down, so a lot of great stuff is on the cutting room floor, but what remains still gives a glimpse of a very fun event.

Pam Munoz Ryan, MT Anderson and Kate DiCamillo all gave wonderful speeches which are barely hinted at, and Annabell’s intro was also particularly good. Oh well. At least you get to see me draw.

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Nov 23 2011

Credit card apps follow-up: the stress-test!

Published by under reviews,tools & tech

This is an addendum to my lengthy review of the Square and Intuit GoPayment credit card processing apps. I have now used both apps and card readers under a heavy-use and, as it turns out, a poor-signal scenario. I processed over a hundred credit card sales on my phone at the NCTE annual convention last weekend, and here are the results.

In short: Intuit won, because Square choked on a weak signal.

I started out with Square, and the first two transactions worked fine, although they were a little slow because the exhibit hall was IN A BASEMENT (what were they thinking???). I had 1-2 bars of cell, and most of the time no 3G. So anyway, on the third transaction, the Square app froze at the receipt screen (wouldn’t allow any text input), and I had to cancel out the sale and do it on Intuit’s app. This happened again on the next transaction, and that was it for Square. In better signal conditions I expect Square works fine, but not in a basement. Intuit kept working like a champ, so Intuit got all my business last weekend.

Plus, as I mentioned, Intuit lets you set up item prices, so it does the math for you and generates an itemized receipt.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Nov 09 2011

Gifts From the Gods – process

Here’s the process post I promised for Gifts From the Gods. This process is an evolution of the techniques I used for The Odyssey.

First I read through the text a few times, then started doing some rough sketches on paper. At the same time, I was discussing the page dimensions, typography, and other design factors with my designer at Houghton — in this case, the extremely talented Scott Magoon. Once we nailed down some of that stuff, I scanned my sketches and started experimenting with the page layouts.

I also made sketches directly in InDesign, using the vector pencil tool, as you can see in the right-most panel.

When the rough layouts were edited and approved, I printed each page in very light blue on cheap drawing paper and did a pencil drawing over it. I scanned that back in and removed the blue lines (using the “black and white” filter in Photoshop), darkened the lines to a truer black, and made any necessary edits to the drawing.

In some cases, I “test-colored” the drawings in Photoshop, so that I could play around with the colors a bit before using watercolor.

I enlarged and printed out the darkened-and-corrected pencil drawings on a piece of 140lb. cold-press watercolor paper, using my Epson Stylus 2200 printer, which prints up to 13×19″ and uses ink that is waterproof under most conditions. Actually, it kind of repels water, so I often have to go over each stroke twice to get the paint to cover the linework. I painted the art with watercolors, scanned it back in, and made any additional corrections — for example, I decided later to remove Achilles’ helmet, since he was bare-headed in the previous battle scenes.

Lastly, I had lots of fun creating the decorative borders at the beginning of each story. The linework for these was drawn directly in InDesign and cloned for symmetry. Again I printed them out on watercolor paper, and I painted them with acrylic. I composited the faux-stone painted texture behind the borders using Photoshop, because I didn’t want to accidentally splatter paint over the border art.

That’s it! Sorry, I didn’t take any videos this time — but I AM taking videos of Romeo & Juliet as I go along, and I will start posting a few tidbits from that soon.

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