Thursday, March 13, 2014


I am always hesitant to say this because I fear that the art gods are going to take it away from me... but I've always been decent at drawing hands. Which I am so grateful for since I know many artists struggle with them. More than 6 inches up the forearm is a different story of course...

Here's some hands I drew for Figure Invention for Animation class.

© Gina Florio 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't Forget To Go Outside

Just a friendly reminder...

"Art of any kind, commercial or gallery, can't be created in a vacuum. For it to resonate and find an audience, artists have to be mentally sharp, constantly expanding their skill-sets, and, above all else, remain connected with people."

From Arnie Fenner's post "Unsolicited Advice #3 of 4: Blow the Stink Off" on the Muddy Colors blog.

I am definitely one of those people who is easily lured into being lazy, holing up in my apartment and finding any excuse not to leave and thus have to interact with the world. Which is silly, because I actually love to get out and see and experience new things. I just have to push myself to do it sometimes. Likewise, lately I have to push myself to be social, as it's harder to maintain relationships with people in adulthood - especially in Los Angeles where everyone can live in the same city but still be so far apart from one another. But it's always worth it. I highly recommend reading the above post for more inspiration!

© Gina Florio 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

NoHo Park - digital plein air

I've always liked North Hollywood park - it has lots of huge old trees and nice big swaths of green grass. I used to run there when I lived up in NoHo in my first apartment in L.A. This was done for week four of Digital Painting class, in which we were asked to do a digital painting of a landscape from observation. It's also my first painting done entirely in color from start to finish.

Process shots:

© Gina Florio 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Digital Painting work so far

Here's what I've been up to for my Intro to Digital Painting class with Jason Scheier!

We started out with some basic-shapes-from-observation-in-grayscale paintings... like ya do.

Then we moved on to a greyscale master study. The original is by Anders Zorn. I fell in love with it while creating my copy; it's a beautiful piece.

For our third assignment we did a master study in color from Mian Situ's "Chinatown Delivery". I wasn't feeling so confident in color yet, so I started in greyscale and then added color later using a layer on the 'color' blending mode. I saved some process shots from this one.

Overall I've really been enjoying and learning a lot from this class. I wasn't unfamiliar with Photoshop, I've used it to create art and even a few paintings before, but I haven't had an opportunity  - or a reason - to learn it this well until now. I have to say, I enjoy it more than traditional oil painting, for the sole reason that it's an extremely forgiving medium for a beginner. Also it doesn't involve 40 minutes plus of setup and breakdown (which went to waste all too often when I would make a single bad stroke that I couldn't undo). And thus I'm more motivated to sit down and, you know, actually make art than I was during my landscape painting class. Whatever gets me to do that is OK in my book.

© Gina Florio 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Flour sacks and such

Here's some of the stuff I've been working on for Figure Invention for Animation class with Toby Sheldon!

Simply put, Toby is a master. The emotions he can accomplish with just five or six lines is just... unreal. I leave his classes feeling like I can draw anything. He does draw-overs of our work on the class blog. Getting the chance to have your work drawn over by a Disney veteran is worth the price of admission in my opinion.

This is also hands-down the class that I've had the most fun in. I look forward to every single session.

I'll put up my work for Digital Painting class in a separate post.

© Gina Florio 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Humans of New York - "Two Selves"

Photographer Brandon Stanton runs a website called "Humans of New York," which may be my favorite place on the internet.

I save a lot of his photos to my personal reference files. They're great for character design inspiration.

His photos are wonderful, but the icing on the cake, for me, is in the captions. He asks each subject a few basic but profound questions, getting responses that run the gamut from hilarious to heartbreaking.

This one was posted today and sort of piggybacks off of an older post of mine concerning my cynicism of the phrase "be true to yourself."

"I wish I'd partied a little less. People always say 'be true to yourself.' But that's misleading, because there are two selves. There's your short term self, and there's your long term self. And if you're only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."

Very reminiscent to me of this quote, from "How To Do What You Love" by Paul Graham:

"The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn't mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month. Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something."

One commenter of the HONY post on Facebook added this thought:

I know these posts tend to get vague and philosophical and aren't directly related to making art most of the time. For me, this blog is a way to share not only my work, artists I love, and helpful tutorials etc., but also the things that keep me going. So much of making art is all about your attitude and your mindset. Quotes like the one above keep me powering through the slumps. Hopefully they help you too.

© Gina Florio 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Great Digital Painting resource

A few months ago, a wonderful artist named Lane Brown (seriously... you owe it to yourself to check out his beautiful work) commented on my blog and left a link to his page of art resources, which has come in extremely useful to me over the past few weeks. At the time I was looking for basic-to-intermediate digital painting tutorials to help fill in the gaps from my Intro to Digital Painting class (for while Jason Scheier is a great teacher and equally great artist, even the best teacher in the world couldn't make you a Photoshop whiz in just 3 hours a week).

Lane Brown's page led me to this site, Ctrl+Paint, which has been the answer to all of my Photoshop tutorial prayers. There are over 200 free videos in the site's video library, all concise, categorized and organized into an intelligent flow of information, as well as some paid video series that go more in-depth into certain techniques, all for $10 each. (I already bought the "Grayscale to Color" series and found it very helpful... for $10 it's hard not to justify the cost.) The videos range from traditional drawing practices, to composition basics, to more confident digital brushwork, even to things like art theory and mindset. But I wanted to share with you this one in particular which brought me a lot of comfort.

At the point I'm at right now, I think I can confidently say I'm not a total beginner any longer. I've been at this for a year and a half and I feel that I at least have a reasonable grasp of the very basics of drawing. But I remember when I had just started, and I felt like I was trying to find a needle in a haystack... in the dark. While it was raining. With a hungry tiger about to be set on me. You get the idea. I felt lost, like I had no idea what I was doing and like I would never get any better. But now I've been throwing graphite/ink/paint/pixels onto paper/canvas/computer screens for a while now, and I may not be lead character designer at Pixar, but I've had my own small victories, moments where I can look at what I've just drawn or painted and realize that it's better than it would've been a year ago, and that's enough. That's what keeps me going. Progress is its own reward.

PS: Another thing that's come in really handy from Lane's art resources page is a link to Houston Sharp's digital painting brushes. They're free and it's by far the best collection of Photoshop brushes I've ever come across in all of my digital painting time. I spent a very happy hour and a half just trying them all out.

© Gina Florio 2014