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Chain Brush

CHAIN BRUSH ASSEMBLY TUTORIAL

CHAINS CAN BE A PAIN TO DRAW. Here’s how I make it easy AF. Follow the directions below using your own art to develop your own brush.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Download includes ZIP file with one 200px Chain Brush with Presets for Photoshop.

TUTORIAL TIME!

Step One

DRAW A ROCKET. It’s two chain links. I put a gap in the bottom because that is where the pieces will link.

Rocket

Step Two

Rotate it to go left to right. From the Edit menu, Define Brush Preset.

Step Three

Open the Brush Panel and select the new brush (It’s probably at the end). Go to Shape Dynamics and set the Angle Jitter to Direction

Step Four

Set the Size Jitter to Off.

Step FIVE

Go back to the Brush Tip Shape panel and adjust the spacing until it looks right. In my case, 216% is what worked for me.

USE YER BRUSH

You can use it as is, or add Blending Layers to add ‘Lineart’ for a toonier look.

Shown: Chains on separate layer with Blending Layers – Color Overlay set to White, 100% opacity, and Stroke added.

Dia De Los Lobos

diadelosammy_wide_Final_websize

This piece started out as a random, 15 minute sketch during one of my Tuesday Sketch Streams. I really liked it and had been talking about a hankering for creating a Dia De Los Muertos themed piece for a while. I had created one just for funsies during a previous stream, as requested by TL.

2017AUG8_TL1

I wanted to revisit the idea in my own time. During one of the following streams, I doodled this up and decided this would be my base piece.

I also decided to make this an excersize in speedpainting, however after a certain point I got so caught up in it that the time didn’t matter to me so much. Some people may also recognize this as the piece I used for my Automatic WIP Script/Action tutorial for Photoshop.

I researched some Dia De Los Muertos themed cultural artwork and photos from festivals (i.e. googled it) and the diversity was both mesmerizing and intimidating. I was having trouble pin pointing the specifics design-wise, but I knew I’d get the hang of it if I pushed through so that’s just what I did.

I created each flower individually. I prepared 4 different designs and made various colorings on each. Each flower had 4 versions which I individually placed and scattered across the background.

I like playing with color so this piece was a really fun one to whip out for fun! TL even decided it would be a commission once I was done. ^^ I will be creating an Amaterasu-themed version of this later on and it will be added to this post when it is complete.

I offer this design on apparel over at FandomFashions.com so be sure to take a peek!

diadelosammy_tee_oval_mockup_Flat-Front_Black-Heather

DiaDeLosLobo_Tee_mockup_Flat-Front_White

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Misc. Updates

I’m moving next week so things are a bit messy now. I have a hard time focusing in mess, ugh! Just ugh! It’s been good though because due to the move, it’s forced me to really re-evaluate my priorities for myself and I’m finding myself getting rid of A LOT of stuff. How did I ever accumulate so much junk!? I blame capitalism. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Due to this transitioning period, I’m putting the brakes on my stream for a short period while I handle everything I need to take care of. I’d like to set up so that I can stream on the go and I hope to be back to streaming again in November.

Later potaters!
~Z

Amaterasu Aurora

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PROJECT DETAILS

Completed 9/29/17

MEDIUMS USED:

All Digital

TOOLS:

Wacom Intus 3 and Adobe Photoshop CC

TIME:

Approx. 8-9 hours.

wip08

PROJECT NOTES:

TL challenged me with a concept ~ Ammy wearing the Northern Lights as a dress. At first, I was a little perplexed, because his Ammy collection already had a number of pieces featuring that concept, which initially made it a tad difficult to find a way to present her without inadvertently copying any of the other pieces. TL assured me just to give it my take and to have fun with it, so I did!

wip09

I always start a piece by drawing out the characters figure, regardless of what might be covered up by clothing. This is a generally safe strategy for me when I am having trouble thinking of attire, because it forces me to break the process down and focus on the immediate phase. Clothes can’t be placed in midair so it’s better for me to flesh out the form first. After I fleshed out the form, I realized I was still struggling on how I wanted to design her clothing.

wip10

I casually mentioned to a friend that I was having trouble with the piece. I was initially going for a look similar to a toga, but since Amaterasu is a god from Japanese mythology, I thought that a kimono might be a better way to go. My friend and I bounced a few ideas back and forth and then she  surprised me by showing me her kimono collection! I had known her for a while and never realized she collected them! She gave me a little crash course in kimonos and together we came up with the idea of the kimono being part of the night itself.

wip11

I realized that the idea needed to be kept simple in order to execute it well, so I avoided added excessive markings to the kimono.

Near the end of the piece, I realized I had forgotten a major detail: The Solar Disk.

At first I was frustrated because I had no idea how to approach the idea of a Solar, flaming sun object in the night. Then I remembered about my friend Kurtt, who told me about his adventures in trying to see the northern lights. He had told me briefly about how they work off of solar flares… and I realized that it was perfect after all! The piece had seemed finished but missing something, but the addition of the solar disk really pulled it together in the end.

Ammy_Final_websize_marked

ABOUT THIS COMMISSION

TLD is a good friend of mine. He has been supportive of my work throughout the years and over that time, he has become more than just a familiar name on my screen.

One thing TLD loves, without a doubt, is the wolf goddess Amaterasu from the game Okami. I once thought he was obsessed (which may still be the case) and after years, I asked him about it. I’d never played the game myself, and I’ve enjoyed games in the past as well, but seemingly not to the same extent as TL.

“I guess because of how darn positive the game is, for the most part. I mean, flowers and green grass literally spring up everywhere you go, and the game is about making the world a better place. You know?

Adding onto that is the painting, it makes me sort of adopt her as a muse of painting, too.

God knows I’ve often wished I could clean up the world or my friends’ problems with just a few strokes of a paintbrush.”

It’s easy to find people who love their favorite game for the humor or the characters or the gameplay. I’m surrounded by people like that. Nothing is wrong with enjoying those things, but it has been a very long time indeed since I last heard an explanation founded that deeply.

TL’s positive attitude makes him a great person to have around and I’m happy to call him my friend. ^^

~ Your friendly neighborhood cat-bird,

Z

PS Script for Artists: Automatic WIP Maker

Script #1: Automatic WIP Maker

Here is how to create a one-click action that marks and sequentially saves every stage of your project without missing a beat!

The really nice thing about Photoshop is that you can program automatic processes to make your life easier.

Here is a short tutorial on how I make my life a little easier with Actions and Scripts!

These instructions are for Adobe Photoshop CC. If you don’t have it… well, I can’t force you to get it, but scripts like these make me urge you to try it out. You can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/mo and that’s a pretty cheap price to pay for the ability to automate things like this. There’s a 30 day free trial as well. I will not be making instructions on how to do this in any other programs because I don’t know how to use them!

GET PHOTOSHOP

DOWNLOAD THE ACTION

Download This Action

LIKE THE DOWNLOAD? CONSIDER SUPPORTING!

Please consider supporting me somehow if you like the pack! Every follow, pledge or subscription helps me make more of these!

For those of you who opted to go the analog route and DIY this sucker, onto the tutorial!

CREATING YOUR AUTOMATIC WIP MAKER

Preparation:

Since this is an automated process, you’ll need to set aside a directory where you will NEVER move these files.

I created a directory in my artwork drive that is dedicated to files that are made specifically for automation. That way they don’t get caught in the fray of any other files. Tucked away in a dark corner where they only speak when spoken to is exactly where you want them. Like enslaved podlings except digital files so there’s no ethical questions.

Automation Directory
Automation Directory

THE STAMP

Create a WIP Stamp you’d like to put on your artwork. It will need to be visible on both dark and light backgrounds. I made a black splash and added white text over it with my information. I’ve made this mark nice and big so that it can be used on any size image without a loss in quality. Really big. Like this sucker is 2283×1190 at 150 dpi big. I ain’t kiddin’ around.

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_Screenshot_0005

THE SCRIPT

Before you create your action, you’ll need your script ready to include in the action.

This script will make a JPG image of your file in the same directory as your working PSD file.

STEP ONE: Open up Notepad/Notepad II and paste the following code into a new document:

#target photoshop

main();

function main(){

if(!documents.length) return;

var Name = app.activeDocument.name.replace(/.[^.]+$/, '');

Name = Name.replace(/d+$/,'');

try{

var savePath = activeDocument.path;

}catch(e){

alert("You must save this document first!");

}

var fileList= savePath.getFiles(Name +"*.jpg").sort().reverse();

var Suffix = 0;

if(fileList.length){

Suffix = Number(fileList[0].name.replace(/.[^.]+$/, '').match(/d+$/));

}

Suffix= zeroPad(Suffix + 1, 4);

var saveFile = (savePath + "/" + Name + "_" + Suffix + ".jpg").replace("__","_");

SaveJPEG(File(saveFile), 8);

}

function SaveJPEG(saveFile, jpegQuality){

var doc = activeDocument;

if (doc.bitsPerChannel != BitsPerChannelType.EIGHT) doc.bitsPerChannel = BitsPerChannelType.EIGHT;

jpgSaveOptions = new JPEGSaveOptions();

jpgSaveOptions.embedColorProfile = true;

jpgSaveOptions.formatOptions = FormatOptions.STANDARDBASELINE;

jpgSaveOptions.matte = MatteType.NONE;

jpgSaveOptions.quality = jpegQuality;

activeDocument.saveAs(saveFile, jpgSaveOptions, true,Extension.LOWERCASE);

};

function zeroPad(n, s) {

n = n.toString();

while (n.length < s) n = '0' + n;

return n;

};

STEP TWO: Save it to your Scripts folder and call it something you’ll remember. Set the filetype to ‘All Files’ and give it a .jsx extention

Screenshot

Name your Script file and give it the correct extension

If you go into the folder later and realize that your file ends in .jsx.txt – It’s okay. Just edit it and take the .txt off. It won’t work if .txt is on there so just be sure to remove it.

You’re ready to record!

RECORD YOUR ACTION

Open up your Actions Panel. You can find it under Window > Actions or press Alt+F9

Actions Panel

Press record and here we go!

Step 1: Save

This is important because we will be using the revert command to undo everything at the end and we don’t want to accidentally revert to a phase where we lose work.

Flatten Image
Flatten Image

Step 2: Flatten Image

This makes the image easier for the computer to process during the action because the file size is smaller.

This is located in the Layer dropdown at the bottom.

Place Embedded

Step 3: Place Image, Press Enter to place.

This adds your watermark. I use ‘Place Embeded’ because it doesn’t matter and we’ll revert all our changes anyway.

Navigate to your watermark file. If you made it nice and big, it should appear as large as it can fit on the canvas in the current orientation, right in the center.

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_featimg-1

Press enter to accept the mark’s position. Do not move it or resize it yet.

RasterizeLayer

Step 4: Rasterize Layer

Pretty self explanatory. Right click the watermark layer to open the menu and select Rasterize Layer.

Now the mark has a new 100% size and we can resize it in proportion to the piece.

FreeTransformPercents

Step 5: Transform Layer

From the top menu, go to Edit > Free Transform or press Ctrl+T.

DO NOT resize using the corners of the selection box. You’ll want to use the percentages box up here so that the action can record it properly.

I set mine to 70%. I want my mark to be big in order to compensate for my shortcomings, like my height.

Step 6: Select All

Get the dancing ants! You should still be on the watermarks layer. From the top menu, click Select > Select All or press Ctrl+A to select the entire canvas.

Step 7: Align the Layer

Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Your Choice – I want it on the bottom.

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_Screenshot__alignbottom

Lather, rinse, repeat to move it to on side. My marks usually go on the right.

Step 8: Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Your Choice

Boop.

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_Screenshot__alignright

Step 9: Nudge it

Using the arrow keys, put it in the exact spot you want it in. DO NOT CLICK AND DRAG. This will not record correctly. This command won’t appear in the list until you move to the next step so don’t worry when it doesn’t show up immediately.

→→→→→→→↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_Screenshot__nudged

OPTIONAL: BE FANCY

If you like your mark as it is, then skip this part. I like to add an effect because I’m a tryhard.

OPTIONAL STEP: STOP RECORDING FIRST. Play with the layer effects to find one you like. When you make your choice, set the layer back to Normal before you click record again. I like Difference in this case because it applies my Black splash only when the background is light.

2017SEPT28_AutoWIP_Difference

Step 10: Revert

This resets the canvas back to whence you came.

STOP RECORDING.

That’s it! You now have an action that instantly saved a marked WIP for you!

If you’re having trouble, go through these instructions again with a fine toothed comb. Actions can be VERY picky and one wrong click can botch the whole thing so I’ve tried my best to make this as simple as possible.

Hope you were able to get it working! Now all of your WIP’s can be safely marked before you share them! Enjoy!

~Your friendly neighborhood cat-bird, Z

FREE REFERENCE SHEETS

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Five years of Free Reference Sheets

I have been offering these free ref sheets for a long time and now I’ve got them all in one place for your viewing, downloading and coloring pleasure. Newest Files are at the top – older ones are at the bottom. I will be adding a FAQ at the bottom.

Last Update 11/7/19

UFRS TUTORIAL VIDEO: TOUR & BASICS

boticon_telegramlogoRecieve A Free Base Via Telegram!

Do you use Telegram? You can obtain a free lineart when you hit up @CatBirdBot

RULES FOR USE

  • Do not remove the credit at the bottom or claim this as your art.
  • You may use this reference sheet in full or use parts of it with proper credit.
  • You may not resell this lineart in anyway. Personal use and gifts are ok.
  • You may trace the lineart if you want but you must credit and link back.
  • You may use these for adoptables for personal use and gifts only.

COMPATIBLE SOFTWARE

These reference sheets have been created and are best used using one of the versions of Adobe Photoshop. You can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/mo after you give their 30-day free trial a shot.

START YOUR FREE TRIAL OF PHOTOSHOP

That is the best program you can use because this is the program that was used to make these files.

Here are some other programs that have been reported to work, but I have no experience with them so try them at your own risk!

Reported Compatible Programs:

Known NON-COMPATIBLE Programs:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Paint Shop Pro

HOW DO I COLOR IT?

Tutorials for coloring with Photoshop are located inside each file – I recommend Photoshop. It has a 30 day free trial and you can subscribe to Creative Cloud for as little as $10/mo

GET PHOTOSHOP

2017 UFRS UPDATE

2017 UFRS Update
2017 UFRS Update

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

2015 ULTIMATE FREE REFERENCE SHEET (Multispecies Sheet)

2015 Ultimate Free Reference Sheet – Small Version

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

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2017 Version includes a navigational PDF which shows the location of all layers with a brief description.

Version Information

  • 20+ Species with over 30 feral options!
  • Male and Female bodies (Combinable!)
  • Pudgy, Average and Fit body types
  • Plantigrade and Digitigrade Leg Options
  • Hands/Feet Options (Claws, Hooves, Fingers…)
  • Customizable Faces!
  • Multiple Hair Styles!
  • Body Modifications!
  • Preset Markings!
  • Jewelry/Accessories!
  • Shading!

Species Information

This free ref sheet comes with the following species included: Badgers, Bears, Birds, Bovines, Canines, Caribou, Critters, Deer, Dragons, Felines (Big and Small inc. Lion), Gryphons, Horses, Hyenas, Otters, Rabbits, Raccoons, Red Pandas, Rodents, Sergals, Sharks, Skunks, Squirrels

Here are some additional species you can build using the parts in this reference sheet.

Coatimundi

Species: Hyena AND Red Panda. Delete the Hyena feral art. Delete the Red Panda Heads, erase the eye markings on the ferals. Ears: Otter/Critter Tail: Long Full

Fennec Fox

Species: Canine AND Critter. Delete the canine’s head art, delete the critter’s feral art. Ears: Sergal/Wide Long Tail: Rounded

Kangaroo (No feral art version)

Species: Hyena. Delete the clearly defined nose and draw in roo-like nostrils. Ears: Equine/Cervidae/Bovine Tail: Dragon Solid Furred or Otter

Lemur

Species: Hyena AND Red Panda. Delete the Hyena feral art, erase the nose and add a more lemur-like nose. Delete the Red Panda Heads. Ears: Otter/Critter Tail: Long Full

 

Will add this version soon

FREE REFERENCE SHEETS

CANINE – MALE

Free Reference Sheet - Canine, Male
Free Reference Sheet – Canine, Male
 

CANINE – FEMALE

Free Reference Sheet - Canine, Female
Free Reference Sheet – Canine, Female
 

FELINE – MALE

FreeRef_FelineMale

 

FELINE – FEMALE

FreeRef_FelineFemale

 

RABBIT – MALE

FreeRef_RabbitMale

 

RABBIT – FEMALE

FreeRef_RabbitFemale

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use this? Yes.

Can I give away designs I make with this? Yes.

Can I modify this? Yes.

Can I use the lineart for other projects? Yes, with proper credit.

Can I trace it? Yes, with proper credit.

Can I sell adoptables that I make with this? No.

Can I sell reference sheets I made with this? No.

Can I sell characters that I made with this? No, you must create/get other artwork of the character and sell it based on that.

Can I use this line-art for profit? No.

Can you color it for me? Nah.

What kind of software do I need? See the information in the Compatible Software section.

Can you make an MS Paint version? No xc

How do I make a __________? Due to the swappable nature of the reference sheet, there are no rules saying you have to choose the “right” species for everything. Tinker around with the combinations and see what you can get the reference to look like! You can check out the full species list including recipes for how to frankenstein together even more species here.

Can you add *species specific detail here*? Suggestions may be considered on a case by case basis. Common/recurring suggestions are more likely to be added than highly specific things.

How do I do _______ in Photoshop/SAI/etc? I am sorry but I cannot provide individual support. Please consult one of the many available learning resources for your chosen software.

OMG THIS FILE IS HUGE!!! The file is made at a high enough resolution that you can print your reference if needed. Download a smaller or flat version file if your computer or device has trouble using the file.

The Commission Process

Order Form Offers and Pricing

Printing & Shipping Terms of service

Schedule & Openings Current Commission Queue (Trello)

How to Order A Commission

Step One: Decide What you Want

You can view my offerings and pricing below. If you have something special in mind, ask and I can probably do it!

Offers and Pricing

Step Two: Place your Order

You can do one of the following:

  1. Book a timeslot
  2. Fill out the Commission Form

Schedule & Openings

Order Form

Step Three: I’ll get in contact!

I’ll handle the rest from there! Talk to you soon!

The Commission Process

 

A Guide for Clients on How to Navigate to the Commission Artist’s Work Process

This is how you should expect the commission process to work, what I need feedback on, what you can give feed back on, when I can use that feedback, and when payments are expected.

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments – This is just my personal workflow but feel free to use this as a reference!

  1. Quote Phase
  2. Invoicing (Payment Due)
  3. Thumbnail Phase – Thumbnail Approval Required
  4. Detail Phase (Payment Due, if not paid in full)
  5. Detail Phase – Round of Edits
  6. Final Illustration
  7. Final Round of Edits


1. Quote Phase:

You tell me what kind of project you want. You may select from my list of offerings or request something new.

If pricing is not available, I will prepare an estimate for you of how long the work will take, what material costs will be and what kind of deadline to expect.

Quotes are valid for 30 days. Pricing will vary.

2. Invoicing

I will generate an invoice for you. This invoice has estimated work dates.

Payment plans/financing can be negotiated for pieces over $250 USD.

This invoice will provide you a list of WIP deadlines for each step in the process.

These dates are estimated under the condition that payment will be received within 72 hours of the invoice.

Every day after 72 hours without payment will extend each deadline listed by 1.5 days.

*Payment Due*

Your first deposit will be due before work can be officially started – Max work done without payment will be thumbnails.

Payment Made

Your invoice will be applied. This can be one lump sum or payments can be negotiated.

3. Thumbnail Phase

I present a selection of thumbnails for your approval. Thumbnails are small sketches that are used to help plan posing and composition before moving onto a larger amount of detail. I will provide at least three, but no more than 5, thumbnail sketches for your consideration.

You may provide any and all feedback you may have. Props will be presented as blocks or blobs with no definition during this phase.

You must confirm your thumbnail selection before I can move forward.

If you do not like any options presented, I can do one additional set of thumbnails at no cost. Additional thumbnails after this will be $20/set of 5.

Thumbnail Selection Required

Select a thumbnail from the offering in order for me to proceed. Minor adjustments, such as moving an arm or hand, can be applied during a detail phase and a revised thumbnail will not be provided prior.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Pose Positioning
Composition
Prop Positioning


4. Detail Phase

 

I will prepare a sketch that acts as a more defined ‘framework’ for your piece. It will be messy, but it will determine the final position and sizes of various shapes. It contains more detail than the thumbnail phase, but still not complete detail.

5. Detail Phase – Round of Edits

 

You must provide any and all feedback you may have. You may submit edits via our original medium of contact or by e-mail to zhi@cat-bird.com.

You will be provided a maximum of two rounds of edits. Please review your piece entirely and submit all corrections at once. I am unable to work effectively if edits ‘trickle’ in.

Additional edits after two rounds may be requested at the standard rate, charged in 30 minute increments.
Edits will be made and the billable amount will be added to the next invoice based on the time taken to apply them.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Character Features
Character Pose
Facial Expressions
Props
Background
Character Clothing

Please be sure the placement of all items on this list are satisfactory to you. Some high detail items may not be fully fleshed out at this stage.

EXAMPLE: If your character is wearing lace, the lace will be shown as a detail-less band for placement. The individual decorative fibers of the lace are not defined until the full detail phase.

*Payment Due*

If you did not pay in full, the second half of your payment is now due. Any additional charges have been discussed with you prior to adding them into this invoice.


6. Final Illustration

 

After all edits are received and applied, the final construction begins. In this phase, I paint based off the detailed sketch.

Please note: I do not do lineart first. I do lineart last. Due to this, the phase between color and lineart is unable to effectively translate to others who do not understand the process, so I do not submit the artwork for review during this process. I may post WIPs to social media to share progress, but you may not request edits during this phase due to the nature of my work flow.


7. Final Illustration – Round of Edits and Final Approval

 

When I am satisfied with the piece, I will submit it to you for review. Since this is the proposed final, you will have one round of edits.

Additional edits after one round may be requested at the standard rate, charged in 30 minute increments.
Edits will be made and the billable amount will be added to the final invoice based on the time taken to apply them.

I can edit the following at this stage:

Minor adjustments
Add Small Details
Eyes
Remove Small Details
Expressions
Change colors

*Payment Due*

If any additional edits have exceeded the limits of the edit specifications, you will be invoiced for the additional time spent.

Final Artwork Approved

Your artwork is finished! If you ordered a print – I would add on the following step:

OPTIONAL: Printing & Shipping

If you have ordered a print or hard copy of your artwork, I print it and ship it!

PLEASE NOTE: Printing and shipping costs are not included with any project unless requested or specifically stated.

Editable


Cropping
Matting

Exploration

 

Exploration

Commission for Shizen

I met Kurtt through another friend of mine, Cloud. I had posted online that I was looking for roommates for Furry Weekend Atlanta 2017 and Cloud reached out to me. After some bad roommate experiences (I think we’ve all experienced those at some point…) I am VERY VERY skeptical of complete strangers and friends of friends. I had put out that ping intending to see if anyone I already knew needed space, but it was pretty close to the convention so many people I knew had already made plans (Like responsible adults!). Knowing what I know of Cloud, I decided that I’d take a leap of faith and trust his judgement in this case…
Continue reading Exploration