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How to draw fantasy elves!

Intro to Fantasy Elves 101

Fantasy elves have been around for thousands of years. Our ancestors told wonderful stories of elves. They etched and carved them in stone and surrounded cave walls to preserve this fantastical world they had imagined.There are a few basic characteristics of an elf. In myths, elves usually have feminine features and very pale, white skin as a representation of light. They are usually depicted as human-like supernatural beings or demons carrying arrow heads.¬†Illustrated as tiny people living in hills and boulders, elves are very skilled archers with pointy ears.¬†In modern times, elves are usually confused or considered the same as fairies with mere insect wings or a stocking cap to tell them apart.Pointy ears has become a hallmark for fantasy elves so as long as you incorporate that trait your elf will be recognizeable no matter how badly drawn it is. So, don’t be shy and let your imagination with paper and ink collide! (Or imagination with computer and mouse … or drawing tablet … whatever.)

Let’s start with the fundamentals
Scribble some lines by connecting a few dots. Add in some shapes. Build your composition.


Work with it.
Just keep building on to your drawing.

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Let your imagination take control.
Ah, there they are! The pointy ears! This elf is really starting to come together.You’re making important decisions by this point. Color or just ink? Demon elf or a close cousin of a fairy? Night, day, keep going or quit? All you really need are pointy ears and you can turn anything or anyone into an elf.

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You’re done. Congratulations! Your very first fantasy elf.
Share your fantasy elf in the comments. Whoop, whoop!


Original post from Everything Else on eBay. Check it out: How to Draw Fantasy Elves.

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Graphic Print Production

Graphic print production is the entire process of a printed product. It involves printing, finishing and binding, but also any steps taken to get that product print ready. From brainstorming sessions, designing, and prepress production, to the distribution process.


From the book, A Guide to Graphic Print Production by Kaj Johansson, Peter Lundberg, Robert Ryberg.
From the book, A Guide to Graphic Print Production by Kaj Johansson, Peter Lundberg, Robert Ryberg.


A better way to truly understand graphic print production is to break down the whole process into 8 steps in 4 phases:

IDEA AND CONCEPT PHASE should include strategic work and creative work such as brainstorming, asking and answering questions about your project as a whole. What will this product be used for? Do you really need a printed product? Also you start to develop the design and the message you are trying to send to your audience. What is your message? Do I need a booklet or just a poster?

CREATIVE PRODUCTION PHASE includes images, text and layout work. In this phase the original images, illustrations and typography are created. Experts such as photographers, illustrators, retouch specialists, authors, prepress and printing companies are usually a few of the professionals needed to produce your product. In this phase, the customer would receive any proofs and approves all work.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION includes prepress, printing, finishing and binding. Usually the printer will take care of the prepress process of getting the files and images print ready and the customer also approves the printer’s proof. The printing method usually depends on the type of printed product being created, the amount needed, the material on which the product will be printed and of course the quality needed. Just like printing, finishing and binding depend on what your printed product needs. It’s important to really think about the binding and finishing first since that might really tell what paper or material to be used for a certain binding. In this phase final approval is given by the customer on the finished printed product.

LOGISTICS PHASE marks the end of production of your printed product and deals with the distribution of it. The customer at this point also takes care of any packaging if needed. It’s usually common to work backwards in a sense as distribution can affect the printing, finishing and binding of the product to reduce costs. And of course, changing these might need you to adjust your layout and creative work.


This book. Totally recommended!

Read more

A book you should definitely check out is “A Guide to Graphic Print Production” by Kaj Johansson, Peter Lundberg and Robert Ryberg.

It is extremely helpful and has a ton of information on everything that has to do with graphic print production.


Original post from Printing and Graphic Arts on eBay. Check it out: Tips on Graphic Print Production

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Had my mind fogged with so many things to do in between taking care of my sweet little apple pie (my baby, not actual sweet, warm, delicious, fresh-out-the-oven little apple pie). Finally, had time to not only turn on the computer, but turn on the computer and ACTUALLY sit down and work on something. Awesome, I know. So I had an idea. I wasn’t sure what the idea was I just know I had one. I wrote it down quickly and it turned out okay, not creepy and confusing at all. It might need some artwork, let’s see where this goes.


What Happens When Dreams Die? (A Conversation with Another Self)

What happens when your dreams die?
Well, how did they die? Did your dreams die?

I’m not sure. I want to believe they haven’t, but I’m not sure anymore.
How are you not sure? What happened when your dreams died?

I’m not sure if that’s it for them yet. I can’t answer that question myself. So tell me.
When dreams die I assume they go to heaven. Like dogs and cats …

And fishes?
Yeah, just like fishes they swim up and keep swimming until they reach the heavens.

They don’t just disappear or die and go to heaven. They leave a legacy behind just like anyone would.
Yeah, they leave behind a body of work and ideas. Sometimes it’s they’re time to go though.

I wonder what legacy I will leave behind …
I do too.

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I just started working on some pretty cool tarot cards! I’ve always found them interesting so I’m giving it a shot. I will be creating the Major Arcana and still not sure if to work on the Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins as well, or to finish the deck as playing cards. We shall see …

So far I have The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess and Death. I wanted to work around the idea of a design-oriented collage for each card. The connection between the meaning of the card and the design should be subtle, but translates well. I am pretty sure this is going to be a kick-ass deck!

Since I am no expert on tarot it will take a lot of fun research on each section and card. Actually, I am nowhere near an expert, I am more like a fan that knows almost nothing about the subject, but admires the concept. So with that said I am totally looking forward learning about it as I design it. I’ll keep you posted and maybe you can soon come to me for some tarot readings … I’m kidding. OR AM I?

Check out what I have so far and let me know what you think!

0thefool 01themagician
02highpriestess 13death

Four down, 74 more to go!

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Turn your amazing photos into AMAZING sketches!

Step One. LAYER ONE.

  • Double-click on your Background layer to unlock it and then right-click and select “Duplicate Layer”¬†or¬†CTRL + J.
  • Select Layer 1 and link¬†the adjustment layer Invert or CTRL + I. Change the blend mode to Color Dodge. Your image should now be white.
  • Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.¬†For my radius¬†I chose 48 pixels. Slide the setting until you are happy with the amount of detail in your image. If your image is smaller than mine (1291 x 864 px), you will most likely need a smaller radius than 48 pixels.


1 2 3

Step Two. OIL PAINT. ¬†To make it look more like a sketch, I like using Oil Paint found under the Filters tab. Select Layer 0, your Background layer, go to Filter > Oil Paint … Oil Paint is completely optional so play around with the settings. For the sketch look we are trying to get, softer strokes would be better.

  • The settings I used for this image were:
    • Stylization¬†1.00
    • Cleanliness 7
    • Scale 0.5
    • Bristle Detail 10
    • Angular Direction 48
    • Shine 0.3
  • Click OK to apply the filter.

Step Three. DESATURATE.  For this step, you have two options:

1. The most common option is to desaturate your image using Hue/Saturation. Create the adjustment layer and slide the saturation all the way down to -100.


2. My favorite option is always Black & White because you can really control detail based on the colors in your image. Create the adjustment layer and slide each color to emphasize certain details. I really wanted to focus on the fur and the ball so I brought out more of the red and yellow in the image.


4 5

Step Four. CONTRAST. ¬†Create a Levels adjustment layer to brighten or darken the image. The small graph shows you how much black (left side) and white (right side) there is in your image. The lightness of my image is pretty good so I just want to add a little more black. A cool trick is to hold the Alt button while sliding each setting to see how much you’re adding to the image. Try it out!



Step Five. FINAL TOUCHES.  Depending on your image, create a layer mask to hide any details. In my case I wanted to get rid of most of the curtain detail in the background. I just duplicated Layer 0, changed the blend mode to Overlay to brighten the window/curtain area and created a layer mask to hide everything else.


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Basic color for your drawings

This is the easiest method to add color to any image! It is also one of the most basic techniques and building blocks in photo retouching, photo manipulation and illustration. The key is the layer blending mode “Multiply” and a kick-ass imagination.

But, before we begin coloring, I have a couple of commonsense tips for scanning an image. Sure, anything can be fixed with image editing software, but why go through the trouble when they can be easily avoided?

  1. Clean the scanner! You don’t want dust and other crap to scan on your beautiful drawing.
  2. Make sure the paper is straight.
  3. Don’t bump or move the table as it may cause your image to look blurry. No wrestling!
  4. If you will be scanning prints, dust or wipe those too.
  5. And, if you want your image to scan twice its original size you enter 600 in the Output settings. Or multiply the enlargement by 300. [2 x 300=600]

Ready? Let’s do this!

Step One. OUTLINE.¬†Open your drawing or photo and if the layer is locked, double-click to unlock it. Rename it “Outline” and set the layer’s blend¬†mode to Multiply.¬†You must keep this layer above any other layer you create after this step.

Step Two. COLOR.¬†Create a new layer below the outline. It’s always better to start with the base color or the background color. In my case, it was the face/skin color. So with a soft round brush paint in the layer adjusting brush opacity and hardness. You don’t have to worry so much about going over the line at this point since you’ll be covering that up with other details.


That is basically all! Just build your illustration¬†layer after layer keeping the outline at the top, your first color at the bottom and everything else in between. Make sure you keep each color/section separate in it’s own layer, in case you want to change the color later on.


Step Three. COLOR CHANGES.¬†Did you change your mind already? Well, at least it’s Photoshop! Color changes are actually pretty easy and there are many ways to change a color, but my favorites are the adjustment layers Solid Color and Hue/Saturation. Select the layer you wish to change the color for,¬†click the Alt key and while holding it click on the Adjustment Layer menu at the bottom of the layers palette and select Solid Color. Check the box that says “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” and click OK. This means any changes from the layer “Solid Color” will apply only to the layer you had selected. Select the color you want and you will notice instant results!


Step Four. EXTRAS. To darken your outline, duplicate your Outline layer and set the blend mode to Color Burn. Add a mask to the layer to hide or lighten any lines. You can also use Adjustments like Levels to lighten (remove details) or darken the Outline. Use the gradient tool to add some cool highlights and shadows to your image.


I hope I didn’t miss anything. If you have any questions, ask away and have fun!

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Want to be a zombie?

Become a freakin’ zombie!! All you need is a couple of photographs, photo editing software and time!


Let’s start off by gathering our¬†images. I did a search for hysterectomy and found the exact amount of gore and disgust I was looking for. We¬†will also be adding a bit of texture to the skin. You can use any texture you prefer of course, but for this project I used¬†a photograph of cracked dirt. Ready? Let’s do this!

Step One. COLOR CORRECT.¬†I will be using Adobe Photoshop¬†CS6, but for this tutorial we will be working with the basics so earlier versions should be just fine.¬†Open your portrait in Photoshop and color correct if you need to. My image is way too yellow so I’ll just simply add some red using the adjustment layer Hue/Saturation¬†and changing the layer mode to Saturation. This is a quick solution for¬†balancing¬†and lightening the colors.

Zombie Hue/Saturation

Step Two. SHARPEN.¬†Double-click on your background image to unlock it. Usually it is automatically renamed to Layer 0. Now duplicate Layer 0 (Ctrl + J) and rename it “Sharpened.” Make sure you are keeping the adjustment layer Hue/Saturation all the way at the top. Click on Sharpened and go to Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp Mask … I usually do 0 for Threshold, up to 3 for Radius and choose the Amount based on the image. Once you are done, click OK.

Step Three. BRAINS. Finally, we get to the fun stuff! Guts! Place all the disgusting and disturbing images you collected onto your document. Select an image and create a mask to eliminate any useless information. I recommend working with a medium-sized round brush with a Hardness of 0%, adjust the Hardness and Size for your needs, of course.

Zombie guts

Step Four. TEXTURE.¬†After you’ve disfigured the face of the person, destroy it even more by adding some cracked texture. Place the image of the texture you will be using and duplicate it three times. In my case, I used a layer for the head, neck and arms. I recommend you rename each layer to its corresponding body part. For each layer I changed their layer mode to Overlay and used a layer mask to hide any texture outside the needed areas, including areas like teeth and eyes.¬†Since I wanted softer cracks on the face I lowered the Opacity to 85%.


Zombie Texture

Step Five. EYES.¬†Now for the step that makes the biggest difference. Really, it’s all in the eyes. While there are a couple ways to do this the best result¬†is¬†with the gradient tool. Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N), rename it “Eyes White”, click the Gradient Tool (G) and select the Radial Gradient. Change your colors to the Default Foreground and Background Colors (D), which are black and white, and switch the colors making your Foreground color now white and background color black. Now make sure your Gradient Preset is set to Foreground to Background. Finally,¬†select¬†the layer Eyes White¬†and create a radial gradient the size of the whole eye area, you can do this by dragging the gradient from the pupil to the middle of the nose. Create a mask for Eyes White and fill the layer mask with black (Alt + Backspace). Using a small round brush with a hardness of 0% and an Opacity of 30%, go over¬†the whole eye once or twice and a couple more times near the pupil. We want a ghostly dab of white over the eyes not a white out. Once the eyes are done. We¬†want to emphasize the sleep deprivation and blindness susceptibility¬†when¬†becoming a zombie so create a new layer and name it “Eye Circles.” Using the Brush Tool (B) go over the whole eye area with black. Change the layer mode to Overlay and duplicate the layer. Click Ctrl on your keyboard and while holding it drag the¬†layer mask for Eyes White¬†to Eye Circles.

Zombie Eyes

Step Six. FINAL TOUCHES.¬†Let’s add a little kick to the image by adding some contrast. Contrast is like adding more salt before you finish cooking so let’s “spice” it up!¬†Select Black & White from the adjustment layer and change the layer mode to Overlay.¬†Adjust your colors more if you’d like, or not, either way you’re done!

Final Zombie