Friday, September 26, 2014

My life as a drummer

Story time!

Once upon a time, I was recruited into a band called Isabella. The members were some of the best musicians I've ever played with. We were writing and rehearsing for our self-titled debut album when events directly related to Hurricane Katrina halted my participation. Although they completed the album with another drummer, I managed to record three songs with them that weren't released. They were 'Choppy Suite,' 'Unicorns' and 'All the Flies.'

As far as the song goes, 'All the Flies' was very tricky, being odd metered with a 9/8 signature. Other parts were in 6/8 so I focused on sub-divisions of three and triplet feels. I wanted an "up and down" feel to the song. It's very easy to get carried away in more technical pieces, so the key was trying to stay as musical as possible and just play for the song with no ego.

My playing, at that time, was some of the best I'd ever done, so I always lamented not being a part of the final product, but such is life. I've played with a lot of bands, some of which actually WENT somewhere, but for me this band was the most like that proverbial girl that got away.


It feels really good that this blog is growing. Today, I finally got my 'Links' page up and have info there on some really cool sites for people to check out. Some are really talented artists and friends of mine and some are sites that are the perfect place to get a good deal on art or music supplies. It's by no means finished and will be updated regularly, so check back. 

I also got my 'Contact' and 'About' pages up for a bit more background info on me, what I do, and how I can be reached. It's worth checking out if you have those kinds of questions.

So yea, this thing is growing! I'll FINALLY be throwing up more art (that moment you've all been waiting for!) in the new 'Gallery' page, coming soon. Look for it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's not ALL about me...

Today, I think I'll make a pledge to make every 10th post about one of my artistic influences. That way I can show samples of their work and talk about how important our influences are to our artistic and even personal development. That be all.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Colors from last post

A monochromatic coloring theme for the character from my last walk-thru post. I'll get to my coloring style sometime in the future.

Character designs Copyright © Enigma Resolve, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Workflow Walk-thru

Let’s look at my workflow. This changes a bit depending on my materials and style, client needs, etc. but for most of my line art, this will be my preferred workflow 90% of the time. Everyone does things differently so this ISN'T how you have to work but this offers new options. I work with a light-box and I got this technique from an artist by the name of Bart Sears and used it while studying animation in college.

Here, we are looking at a character that I designed to be used for a video game.

The main reason I work this way, is that I'm also a colorist and need my lines to be very precise and open. I don't use a lot of thick, black shading to allow the contrast and lighting to be determined in the coloring stage.  Let's check out the steps:

1. First, I start off with a doodle in my 4x6 Aquabee sketchbook, using my Pilot Precise V5 pen. The lines are unfinished, to focus on the pose. The idea is to be quick and such a small drawing in a small book adds to that. From here, I scan it and blow it up in Photoshop to print on regular 8.5x11 paper. Once printed, I trace the sketch on my light-box in step 2.

2. This breakdown step is usually done in pen- my Pilot Precise V5, but since the character's design was still unclear to me at this point, I used my Zebra M-402 pencil. I was still unsure about how I wanted him to look, so I would erase bits and start again, experimenting with different designs until I stumbled upon something I liked. Again, had I known the character's design beforehand, this step would have been done in pen.

3. Once I found a design I liked for the character, I slapped it on the light-box again with a new sheet of paper on top and ink my final lines. I would correct a few more mistakes and add more details. For this step, I use my Pigma Micron pens.

The PROS and CONS of this method?

PROS: It allows you to iron out the kinks as you go along. You can do damage and quality control and not rush the art. You can go back to a previous step, unlike doing it all in one go.

CONS: The back and forth extra steps can be time consuming. You also go through A LOT of paper!

Character designs Copyright © Enigma Resolve, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Tools, Pt. 2

Looking at the picture above, we start at the upper right, which is my sketchbook. To its lower left, is my Wacom tablet and under them all is my light-box. I’ll go through each one:

1. 4x6 Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketch Book – Yes, 4x6! I know it’s small but that is the point. The point is to SKETCH and sketching smaller decreases time. Sometimes I need to get an idea out very quickly before I lose it. Since it’s pocket sized, it can go a lot more places with you too. With today’s scanners, I can always just scan later and blow it up larger for final details.

2. Wireless Wacom Intuos4 Medium Pen Tablet – When I use Photoshop, I use my Intuos to do my coloring. The wireless version has a removable USB cord to connect with the computer through Bluetooth. In addition, I color with the mouse.

3. ArtGraph LightTracer II Light-box – When I scan and blow up my sketches, I print them out, slap a fresh sheet of paper over the blown up sketch on my light-box and I trace. Yes, I TRACE. This technique was learned as I studied animation in art school. You don’t mess up your art or paper by constantly erasing and redrawing. Just trace your corrections on top and you have clean final art. This is also why I only draw in pen, as it is easier to see through the paper than pencil.

In my next post, I’ll walk through a piece of art that I completed, explaining in better detail how I used these tools.

My Tools, Pt. 1

Considering I’ll be posting my art, I think this is a good time to look at what I use to make the art and describe my work process. Every artist is different and the tools we use can differ depending on our style and technique.

These days, my style focuses on clean, contour line art and digital coloring in Photoshop, so my tools, or LACK of tools, reflect this. This is what works best for me and I’m not saying that anyone should to go out and buy only what I use.

Shown in the picture, listed in no real order, are my weapons of choice:

1. Pigma Micron Set – Blah. Inking. I HATE it. My hand isn’t steady enough for it; too much drumming I suppose. When I do have to ink, I pull these puppies out. They are waterproof, have great line quality and come in lots of sizes.

2. Pentel Clic Eraser – I switched to this bad boy when I was in 7th grade. I was tired of using up my erasers on pencils and then you get all the way to the ferrule and it rips your paper. Also, I bet you didn’t know it was called a ferrule! I hardly use this thing anymore, because… well, see below.

3. Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball (extra fine) – Here is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of my tool set. Oddly, I NEVER draw in pencil anymore, so this is my No.1 drawing tool. Pencil just doesn’t give me the contrast that I like and I literally don’t feel comfortable with anything else. The line is thin and clean. It has very dark, almost watery ink and a fast response, so it requires good control. It gives me the contrast I need for scanning and light-boxing*. If this pen were a chick, I’d be on my honeymoon. Forever. Like, literally. You’d never see me again. Never. Ever.

4. Zebra M-402 Mechanical Pencil– Pencil connoisseurs know that the 402 is one of the greatest mech pencils ever made. The 402 is super durable with a stainless steel body and rubber grip that’s comfortable and isn’t too grippy. People are big on making custom mods to this pencil and I myself modified the end cap to seal off the eraser, since I’d use my Pentel Clic. I use this when I absolutely HAVE to draw in pencil.

5. Pentel Brush Pen – This pen is a bit of a legend. It has REAL bristles, not that lame felt-tip that is shaped into a point. Therefore, you get the real separation of a brush but it is refillable like a pen. Str8 genius.

6. Liquid Paper Correction Pen – This thing is not only used for correction, but it has a thin metal point so it can be used to draw thin white lines over black areas. Positive over negative.

7. Pentel Ain Stein 0.5 4B Lead – If you’re an artist you’re probably thinking, “4B??? You’re fuckin insane!” Well, let me explain! I know most artists work in HB to 2B but I do a lot of scan work and light- boxing* so I need a darker lead. Yes, 4B is soft and smudges more but the payoff is that it’s easier to see, erase and it scans better.

As you can see, a lot of this can take YEARS to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. Just think of the hundreds of things that I’ve used and discarded that DIDN’T end up on this list. I hope this is helpful for those starting out or even veteran artists looking for change. The only other things that I use exclusively for my art production, like Photoshop and my light-box*, I’ll discuss in a follow up post explaining my actual workflow.

*more on my light-box technique in the next post!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Welcome! This is the blog spot for your's truly, Kal Mebane- professional freelance designer, illustrator and musician. For now, I'm just testing things out but soon I'll be posting regularly; things like my pro and personal work- both artistic and musical, tutorials and ramblings. Please stick around a bit and check out my other pages for now until I catch up. Oh, and welcome to Enigma Resolve!