And From the Motherboard Ashes… (An Art Computer is Born!)

You may recall in my last post that my computer decided to give up the ghost.  It is still dead, and did not magically return from beyond the grave.

Remember, too, that pile of boxes containing computer parts…?

(Pictured: a cute case, the motherboard, the CPU, the power supply, a 120 SSD hard drive, 16 gigs of RAM, a box of speakers, and a keyboard and mouse.)

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That turned into this:

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(Pictured: a half-filled computer case, with the motherboard, CPU, and other fiddly bits still outside the case)

Which eventually turned into a computer!

Several friends and youtube videos were consulted as I started putting together a computer for the first time, and I would have been sunk without them. But other than the learning curve, once you get going it’s not bad. It’s shocking (or not, rather, as I went to great lengths to avoid static electricity that might fry the delicate components during this!) that you can put together a computer with nothing more than a screw driver!

Attempt #1 at building a computer… was a failure. Lights and fans were a go, but no life once plugged into a monitor, and I began wondering if I’d made a horrible mistake by undertaking this plan. Computers are fussy little things, and when they don’t work, it’s hard to tell if it’s because something’s unplugged somewhere, or because you fried the CPU!

So I put it away for the day and took it apart and tried again the next day.

Luckily, attempt #2 the following night (during, I might add, a thunderstorm*) was a home run. 🙂

Check it out!

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(Pictured: a computer with the sides and top of the case still pulled off, but fully functional)

That, right there, is a working computer. 🙂

As of this morning, said cute little box of wires and plastic and metal (and cords. So many cords) is running Windows 10 and has my CS6 version of Photoshop installed and running like a dream.

Despite some worries and concerns and a few minor hiccups, operation Build a New Art Computer has (so far) been a total success. I have a computer with 16 gigs of RAM, ready to take on any Photoshop file I throw at it.

I can’t wait to dig in again. I’ve been without an art computer for 2 weeks now, and have missed it.I love drawing by hand and painting with traditional media, but sometimes the answer is to have as many options at your disposal as possible.

PS,

There’s going to be a 3rd installation to this story, very likely in the next week or so, about a very cool piece of technology I’m planning on acquiring…

Curious?

Stay tuned!

PPS,

This entry wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the cat assistance I was rendered during this build. Curious Georgia loves new things to explore with her entire body, and this computer was no different. In addition to my quest to make sure I was safely discharging static electricity before touching any of the components, I also quested– endlessly and fruitlessly– to remove stray cat hairs. 😉

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(Pictured: A cat doing what cats do best: sitting on things you don’t really want them to be sitting on)

Footnote:

* Thunderstorm, new life… is it any surprise I named the computer Frankie? 😉

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Bad Luck Comes in Threes (Or, the Saga of the Fried Computer)

Know that saying, that bad luck comes in threes? I’ve decided it’s true. I had two car-related instances of bad luck (a tire needed replacing, and then while waiting to get that fixed, my car was broken into and a window smashed!) and then the real kicker– my trusty iMac of nearly 6 years went to sleep and didn’t wake up.

(If you are on my monthly newsletter, you already got that piece of information.)

Unlucky me, right?

Well, I’m an annoying optimist.

With the sad demise of one machine (and nearly 6 years for a computer isn’t a bad run) brings the opportunity for the birth of another. And because I’d semi-recently backed up my computer, I’m fairly certain I only lost around 2 weeks of work. (I’ll know for sure what the damage is when the new machine is up and running.)

I use a computer for art quite a lot, so I really feel the push to get a solution in place so I don’t fall behind on my commitments to people. In the interim, several extremely kind art friends are helping me format things so I can keep up with CC:Otherworlds.

The options were these: buy a refurbished iMac and be up and running with Photoshop within a few days. This option was tempting, because it was the low-risk solution. I know how to do art on Macs, and they’re the industry “standard” for artists. But they’re also extremely expensive, even refurbished. Yes it would be fast and easy, but sometimes that’s not the right long-term decision.

So I started looking at option #2… building a PC that meets my needs exactly. AKA I don’t need a crazy fancy graphics card, because I don’t play very many PC games (Yes, I know they’re great. Maybe someday when I have more time!) but I do need loads of RAM so I can open and run smoothly my enormous Photoshop files. Luckily I have several delightful friends who have built PCs of their own, and were able to hold my hand through the process of selecting parts.

Meanwhile, I’m about 80% confident I’ll be able to get my version of Photoshop running on a PC, and vaguely hopeful about some other software that might be able to carry over. But there is definitely a level of risk here. Things might not go the way I plan, and it’s not going to be an easy or smooth transition… and the hard part (actually building the computer) is yet to come…

😉

Stay tuned for the exciting next piece of this saga, as I turn this collection of boxes into (fingers crossed) a functioning art PC…

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A Game of 20 Questions…

Or maybe not 20. But some questions, nonetheless!

While I was talking about my most recent CC:Otherworlds illustration, and mentioning that I go about things a bit backwards from a lot of artists, starting in Photoshop and ending in traditional media, a friend recently asked me for an explanation of my typical art process. I thought I’d share some of the answers. 🙂

These examples are from my most recent CC:Otherworlds illustration. The prompt for that fortnight (#13) was “Unravel.”

  1. I typically start out with a really rough thumbnail sketch done in pencil or ink. And by rough, I mean *rough.* Things things ain’t pretty. Example: IMG_20170301_061620
  2. This little sketchy stage doesn’t last too long, though. Next, I bring the entire thing into Photoshop. I don’t usually even bother to scan my doodle– a cell phone pic works just fine, since I’m not interested in preserving any of its ~beauty~ just its rough content.
  3. Once in Photoshop, I rough-out a layout and composition. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but the ‘big ideas’ need to be hashed out. Where will the figures be? What is at the center? What aspects of “flow” are in place to make sure the viewer sees what I want them to see when they look at it? Also in this phase I do some color studies, and get a general feel for what direction I’ll take the painting once I do it for real. A thing that is sometimes confusing is that all of this? Just prep work. None of this will be in the final painting. Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 7.46.41 PM
  4. But now I have to get this entirely digital image… and make it into a traditional media painting! That means transferring it onto paper… It’s not as complicated as it seems. 🙂 I just print off the line drawing at the correct scale, and tape it to the back of my watercolor paper of choice (in this case, a hotpress 140lb paper that’s lovely and smooth) and trace over my computer sketch with pencil.
  5.  After that, it’s just a matter of painting. For this piece I used watercolors and colored pencils. IMG_20170309_061625
  6. And here’s the final painting! CCO13 - Unravel Final

Do you have any questions about my general process, or how I do things? Let me know! I LOVE answering questions and talking about art. 🙂

Thanks for reading!