digital enhance-header

Digital Enhancements

Last week I boldly teased that I would probably be finished my current painting project.

Well, that did not happen. It’s not because I did something to break it, or got hung up on finishing touches. It was simply a case of me not doing anything with it. As is often the situation with me I got distracted.

What I did do was spend most of the week drawing — some good, some not so good. A bad drawing session was the distraction. It sent me down a path that I have been avoiding for a long time; digitally enhancing a drawing.

During the past month or two I have been producing ink renders with digital enhancements in mind. What this means for me is creating ink drawings with high contrast values, strong contours and minimal backgrounds.

At first, I thought importing into Procreate on the iPad would be the way to go. I tried it a few times but never really liked how it felt. I never seemed to create the perfect drawing to attempt this task (or was too lazy, or a coward).

For me, the iPad is probably best suited for drawing from scratch rather than attempting to spruce up a scanned image.

However, something unexpected happened this week.

I was working on a drawing where I was totally caught up rendering the foreground area and neglected the negative space. After working on this piece for a few hours I gave up. The drawing was tossed aside with great disgust and slated for the trash can.

Instead, I set it aside and a few days later I realized it was a perfect candidate for a digital enhancement experiment. The drawing had all the correct elements: high contrast, clearly defined contours and no background.

So I scanned it and imported it into Pixelmator Pro on my Mac Mini.

My goal was to see how quickly and simply I could make the ink render more interesting. I decided to rely mostly on layering and blending techniques. I used the mouse with various brush tools to do some simple darkening, lightening, blending etc.. By the way, painting/drawing with a mouse is like painting with a brick.

Yes, I could use the Apple Pencil on my iPad, but I just can’t “get into it”, maybe in the future. In the past I relied mostly on Photoshop for photo enhancements. Photoshop no longer fits my workflow (excessively overpriced) but that may change if digital enhancement becomes something I gravitate towards.

Below are the layers and techniques I used.

Imported original drawing
Using various brush tools and blending layers to colourize the drawing
Using the Generator tool to create some cloud effects
Copied cloud layer, flipped horizontally and moved to bottom to create reflection
placed sky and reflection layer underneath the colourized drawing
copied the drawing layer, created a copy, flipped it, blurred it and then added a layer mask to fade it toward the bottom
copied a section of the drawing, stretched and altered it, then placed it behind and at the top (forgot this in the original drawing)
some final touches, rope on the dock, colour adjustments of the windows, and a logo
Original drawing
Final image

And as usual below is the post header image for email readers

digital enhance-header
digital enhance-header

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