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Ostrich Totem

Wait a minute, ostriches don’t live in the Rocky Mountains!  Yes, that’s true, so I guess this one kicks off my African series, something I hadn’t planned on starting for at least another year.  But when life hands you a smart ass ostrich reference photo, what’s a cartoonist to do?

Thanks to Pete Collins, one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys, who sent me some animal photos he’d taken, simply because he thought I might be able to use them.  Pete’s a great guy, but don’t tell him I said that, because his ego is inflated enough (just in case you read this, Pete!). When I saw the ostrich, I thought it looked kind of funny, and since I had a new iPad brush to try out, I decided to do an iPad painting of an ostrich.  Turned out quite well, and that was supposed to be the end of it.

But then my wife saw it, and really liked it.  Shonna doesn’t get excited about my work.  She’s happy I’m doing what I do for a living and she’s able to see things that are wrong in a painting that I might not (especially with likenesses of people), but she’s not a big fan of cartoons or my style of painting.  That’s OK, because she’s still very supportive.  So when she really liked the ostrich, I figured that now I had to REALLY finish it.

She just saw it a few minutes ago and wants a print for her office.  She doesn’t know why, she just really likes this ostrich, and that makes this here painter really happy.  When you’ve been with somebody for 20 years, it takes a lot more effort to impress them.

Here’s a comparison of the iPad painting with the finished painting in Photoshop.

On the iPad the size was 9″X13″ at 72 pixels per inch.  That’s pretty small and the print quality wouldn’t be great.  Can’t get much detail at that size.  The final image, painted in Photoshop is 18″X24″ at 300 pixels per inch.  That’s a nice large size, the detail is crisp and sharp and it will reproduce very nicely on canvas.  Actually, it’ll look even better because canvas adds a depth and richness to my paintings that I really like.

So what have I learned?  Well, painting on the iPad just became a lot more useful.  This painting took me a lot less time to paint in Photoshop because I’d already done the real work on structure and fleshing it out on the iPad.  Sort of like a really detailed sketch.  I will definitely do this again, paint first on the iPad, and use that as a base for a finished painting.

It’s unlikely I’ll be printing any limited editions for sale of this one quite yet, because it really doesn’t fit with the galleries here in Canmore and Banff.  Tourists here are looking for mountain wildlife, not African.  But eventually, I’ve no doubt this will get printed just like the others.  It was fun, I really enjoyed working on it, and best of all, my wife likes it.

2 thoughts on “Ostrich Totem

  1. When you say ‘base for a finished painting’ do you mean you import that actual file into Photoshop or do you recreate the painting from scratch in Photoshop?
    I’m with Shonna on this one – you’ve captured an element of the ostrich personality that I recognize from all the ostriches I’ve met. Well, both of them. I, too, really like this one and will buy a print if and when they become available.

    1. Well, normally, I would paint from scratch in Photoshop, but since the iPad painting is pretty much the same thing, I just imported it and painted right over top of it. So instead of starting at minute zero on a blank canvas, I started at a point that would have been four or five hours into the painting had I started it from scratch. It was like drawing over my sketches when I do a cartoon.

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