Artist Resources no 12: Proko

Proko, aka Stan Prokopenko, is now an online institutional resource for all things on learning to draw the fundamentals of anatomy. He studied and taught at Watts Atelier, a notable artist workshop located in Southern California established by the venerable Jeff Watts. It is here where he established himself as a portrait and caricature artist. Over the years, he produced a number of videos which can be found on YouTube, notably it is his very accessible videos on the Loomis method which helped kick off the Proko craze. You can also access additional videos at his site, http://www.proko.com, both free and for a premium.

Stan has a lot of personality, and it really shines in the videos he and his team post online. Stan has also done a number of interviews you can find online. More recently, Chris Oatley of the Oatley Academy interviewed Stan on his ArtCast episode 107 on the virtue of distractions can help you become a more focused artist.

On top of all the books, online library of tutorials, and generally sage advice that Proko dishes out in great volumes he has also created an iOS app Skelly, that provides you, the artist, with instantly poseable human figures. The app works as a compliment to Proko’s own tutorials on how to build the human anatomy without reference, freeing the artist to create believable, fluid poses of humans from any angle.

Artist Resources No 11: Andrew Loomis

You may not have heard of Andrew Loomis, but you’ve nevertheless been influenced by his approach to drawing. He crops up again and again in online communities discussing the fundamentals of learning to draw, having influenced a number of folks now teaching art. To wit, the Loomis method for drawing heads has continued to influence artists to this date, long past his sharing of it in Drawing the Head & Hands.

Andrew Loomis was an illustrator and author who wrote some of seminal books on how to draw for aspiring artists in the 20th century. While his books read as dated, having been written immediately following WWII, the material and methods he outline are entirely accessible to the modern reader. As I will share in a future post, Stan Prokopenko (aka Proko) first garnered a bit of a reputation for a YouTube post that showed the Loomis method in action, as it were.

For the longest time his books were out of print, and could only be found as excerpts from Walter Foster Publishing. Then, between 2011 and 2013, Titan Books reprinted facsimile editions of the originals which can now be found for purchase through Amazon.com. Alternately, you can download PDFs from sites such as Alexhays.com which has the mission of saving Andrew Loomis’ works for future generations. You can decide whether you want to pay for a printed version, or simply download the PDFs which can be added to Kindle, iBook or other computer reader app.

Artist Resources No 10: Austin Batchelor

Austin Batchelor is a working, professional artist who has create a number of online resources for the aspiring digital artist. What I appreciate about Austin’s contributions is the accessibility of his videos, whether you find his free content on YouTube, or paid courses on Udemy.com.

Austin leverages the excellent Procreate.app on iPad, further making his suggested workflows and processes very accessible to anyone on a budget. Aside: I would argue that the cost of an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate.app are likely the least expensive, complete digital studio solution you can purchase assuming you are starting from nothing.

Finally, if you happen to purchase his courses on Udemy, he also provides an invite-only Facebook group where you can share your progress and work with others. If you are not already, both receiving and providing critical feedback is an integral part of growing as an artist.

Artist Resources No 9: 2DArtist

2dartist is a magazine is dedicated to the craft of 2D illustrations, with an emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy.  Unlike Spectrum where I prefer a printed edition for my library, I love the fact that you can subscribe to this zone from your desktop or favorite tablet.  The iOS version has some weird zooming issues on my iPad Pro at start, but it’s otherwise serviceable once you get into reading an issue.

What is particularly great about the magazine is that every issue includes a handful of walkthroughs by professional artists in the industry, showcasing not only their work but also their process.  This is hugely instructive, especially as you see variations on theme emerge.  A lot of the guest authors take great pains to explain various decisions they made, something that is invaluable in growing your own pattern library of ways to solve different problems in your own work.  Not to mention, you also start to develop a list of your favorite artists; you can then search them out on the internet and “stalk” them on their Instragram and Artstation accounts.  And who does not love that?

Artist Resources No 8: Procreate.app

You might think that one of the first posts in this series of artist resources would be Procreate.app.  I’m absolutely in love with this app, and it along with Apple Pencil make iPad Pro a no-brainer for someone like myself who does not have the Franklins to justify the $2k to $3k price of a Cintiq, but who absolutely wants to have a Cintiq-like experience.

Depending on your perspective and history, the app is either a gutted or sublimely stripped down version of Photoshop.  From my perspective, it’s ideally suited for artists looking for enough power to due digital artwork without becoming overwhelmed by is arguably a byzantine and even archaic, morass of features in Photoshop.  However, I think it is a bit unfair to either Procreate or Photoshop to compare them too closely to each other, since both have their place and purpose.  For myself, the fact that Procreate has every thing that I need, and nothing I do not, makes it the perfect companion on my road to becoming a digital artist.

Aside: If you truly need every ounce of functionality and feature of Photoshop, then AstroPad is a great iOS app that allows you to turn your iPad into a graphics tablet (think Wacom) and run Photoshop from your laptop or desktop.

Procreate.app has a great set of brushes out of the box, and it is possible to create and share your own brushes.  Hint: Nikko’s online tutorials include links to download his own custom Procreate brushes.

Similar to Photoshop, it supports layers; albeit, there is a limit to the number of layers supported as a function of the total resolution of the image you are working on.  At least on the original iPad Pro where I often work in 4k by 3k resolution, I’ve not found this to be an issue with up to 30 layers.

There are a number of export formats supported, including JPEG, PNG, and even Photoshop.  On top of image export, another groovy feature of Procreate is the ability to export a time-lapse video of your artwork.  This is great for sharing with others, or even for yourself to see how a piece evolved.  Mike Henry uses this to great effect in his own tutorials, albeit he goes the extra mile and adds in post-production effects such as an audio of him explaining his work step-by-step.  And if that is not enough, in the latest edition of the app, there is even integration with third-party live-streaming services so you can live-stream your artwork.

While Nikko in his online courses will show you how to manually create your own 1-, 2- and 3-point perspective gridlines for use in Procreate, it is now possible to purchase this as a built-in feature through an in-app purchase.

There are a lot of great apps out there for the iOS for creating digital artwork.  Even Adobe has started introducing versions of its venerable fleet of products now specifically designed for the tablet/touch experience.  Nevertheless, if you are looking for an app that will fit you like a well-worn glove, will not deplete your wallet, nor make you feel like you need to take an online course just to use it then look no further than Procreate.