Busy! I’ve been painting nebulae lately–doing the cover for a Spider Robinson anthology, which means a space-scape, which means Ursula hunched over her keyboard using the airbrush to make cosmic dust.

I hate the airbrush.

It’s not that the airbrush tool isn’t Insanely Useful at times–really, some days it’s exactly what you want, and anything else would be a helluva lot more trouble–but I see so much CG art where the airbrush is used almost exclusively, making the end result mushy as all get out. I know exactly why it is, too–I went through this stage myself, all my early digital art is 100% airbrush–and for me it was because of lack of confidence. I was scared to make strong, bold lines, so I hedged and fiddled and used an airbrush at 5% opacity (for god’s sake!) to color everything so that there wouldn’t be an offensively crisp line in the place. I occasionally think that Adobe oughta issue the “Beginning Digital Artist” version of Photoshop, in which blur, dodge, burn, smear, smudge, gradient fill, and airbrush are disabled. And if you use a lens flare, it formats your hard drive or something.

Would’ve helped ME a lot a few years ago–so many fewer bad habits to break. And now on those rare occasions when I need the airbrush–and sometimes you do want burn and dodge and smear and so forth, too, although I’ve only seen it where I really liked it in digital-collaged-stuff, or those weird funky surrealist things, like G. A. Priest’s, and Harpold’s stuff, and then I think it’s usually a layer effect, but–um–what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Having broken myself forcibly of teeny fiddly 1% airbrush strokes, I get a bit neurotic now when I do things that absolutely must have an airbrush. I see mush everywhere. But it’s a nebulae! It’s inherently mushy!

These are the days when I realize that artists probably ARE mostly crazy…it’s just that most of us limit ourself to art-related insanities that don’t come up in casual conversation, rather than hacking off ears. Then again, by that criteria, everyone’s probably crazy–I remember corp zombies getting absolutely psychotic about the way spreadsheets were laid out and rationing us post-it notes like it was World War II. We just all manage to keep our insanities out of the spotlight.

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