Creative Habit Final


During the first part of this final week, I continued with my habit as usual. However, for the last 3 I decided to take the feedback I got about what I should do for the final week and revisit previous drawings, inserting a character into them that fits the lighting and color palette of the environment.

Here’s every piece I’ve done for this project, so the evolution of my skills is more clearly visible:

I’m really shocked at how much I’ve improved in a little over a month. My rendering style has become more gestural, and I’ve been able to get small details in without going overboard; in short, I’ve found a really great balance of detail and simplification for my digital illustration style. My ability to guesstimate and exaggerate color has also improved dramatically, and I can pick colors that look really similar to a reference without color picking at all, and create more interesting and dynamic color schemes without making every color over-saturated. I’ve also really improved at contrasting dark and light in my color schemes, as before I would tend to stick closer to medium tones, and I feel like learning how to exaggerate light and dark has really given an extra amount of depth to my work.

I’m also really happy that I’ve been able to keep my habit at a consistent 5 drawings a week, as it’s really helped in my steady improvement over the past few weeks, and I don’t think I’ve ever drawn such a diverse amount of places and color schemes before.

But most of all, I was very pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback from my teacher and peers. I don’t have much confidence in my illustrations for personal reasons, so deciding to do this project was a really big leap of faith on my part. Every week, I would be really nervous to show the drawings I’d done to the class, and yet every week people would give me words of encouragement about my art. It feels like this project was not only a habit to improve my artistic skills, but also to be confident in myself as an artist and not be afraid to put my art out into the world for people to see.


(image of road at dusk surrounded by a misty pine forest: atmospherics, image of bonfire surrounded by trees: WAler)


Creative Habit Week 4


This week I focused on understanding and pushing color schemes, trying to improve on the color schemes of the photos. I also tried to add more detail and chose more texture rich environments to push myself.

I’m definitely starting to see significant improvement in my use of color, shading, and rendering detail, even from a couple of weeks ago. My skills have changed drastically from before this semester started, and I’m starting to understand how to stylize details without oversimplifying.

For reference, here are some pieces I’ve done on my own time in the past.

The first two images are from last year, Halloween and Christmas respectively. The last image is from early this past summer.

While I do still enjoy these pictures, I can very easily see the limitations of my artistic skills at the time by looking both at what I did and what I avoided. In terms of backgrounds, I kept them very cropped, and any organic detail such as leaves, rocks, or snow were oversimplified because I didn’t know how to deal with them.

This project, I recognized one of my major weak points as an artist was in creating environments that stand by themselves and pushed myself out of my comfort zone every step of the way. I thought about some of my weakest points within environments, things that involve intricate organic detail such as rocks, sand, pavement, and foliage, and tried to find photos that would make me deal with something I wasn’t confident with.

This project has also helped me improve my color schemes, as it’s really easy to fall into a rut when choosing palettes, not to mention that its something I struggle with in terms of backgrounds. Being forced to work with colors that I wouldn’t normally choose is expanding my horizons in terms of creating color schemes, and having to recognize the important colors in a photo and pushing them has really given me an improved sense of color.


(Sources: Image of road and trees: Hayden Scott, Image of farmhouse surrounded by hilly forests: Bjørg-Elise Tuppen, Image of house and truck on a misty road: Trish Vee, Image of sunset on a sandy path leading to water: Davy Kesey, Image of jagged rock formation in the water near a rocky beach: Alex Strohl.)

Creative Habit Week 3


This week I continued to experiment with both blending and style, trying to both step out of my comfort zone and find good ways to simplify the environments and “push” the colors without losing too much of the detail or nuance of the picture. I can tell that I’m already getting better at accurately choosing colors and blending, and I’m starting to figure out how to render quickly and what colors can be exaggerated for contrast.

The original image is on the right, while my speedpaints are on the left.

(Image 1 sourceImage 2 sourceImage 3 sourceImage 4 sourceImage 5 source)


A simplified rundown of my speedpainting process goes like this:


First, I make a color scheme by looking at the reference photo and figuring out the most prominent values. I then try to estimate the value by eye, and once I have a general color scheme picked out (as seen in the top left of the canvas), I tweak the values so they become a more cohesive color scheme.

step2     step9     steplayers

Next, starting with the the part of the image that would be farthest back physically, I sketch out the rough shapes of the landscape, making sure to separate the shapes on different layers according to where it is in the environment. I also start blending the background (and in this specific case, the water).

step3    step4   step5

After that, I clean up the shapes in the environment and add smaller details, then start shading (in the middle image, I disabled the water layer so I could see underneath)

step6        step7

I continue shading, working my way into the far background and tweaking colors and shapes that look off.

step8    dailyhabit8

Lastly, I go in for the small details, such as the reflection on the water or further defining the shapes of the trees before finally deciding the piece is finished.

Here is the process for another one of this week’s speedpaints to further illustrate how I work.


Creative Habit Week 2


When researching in the library, I remembered one type of landscape painting that was meant to quickly capture the feel of an environment and its color scheme: Impressionism.

(From the book “Impressionism: Origins, Practice, and Reception” by Belinda Thomson)

One of the most distinct gestrual elements of impressionism is how Impressionists don’t hide the roughness of the mediums they use, leaving the finished piece with more texture than other paintings of the period. This helps add visual intrest, giving simple lines and shapes the feeling of having more depth and detail than what is physically in the painting.Impressionists tend to blend a lot less than other artists from their time, leaving contrasts crisp.

I found this to be a really interesting effect, and I tried to incorporate this technique into my landscapes from then on, which was after the first landscape had been completed.

The speedpainted image is on the left, while the original is on the right.

(Image 1 sourceImage 2 sourceImage 3 sourceImage 4 sourceImage 5 source)

While I mentioned my speedpainting inspiration in the initial post for this project, A lot of my personal background and landscape inspiration comes from the art of Steven Sugar. Though these are typically backgrounds for shows, they stand on their own as pieces and have a great deal of finesse to them.

(image source)

Despite their sharp contrasts between light and shadow, his environments manage to have a beautiful and distinct atmospheric quality. He uses lineart sparingly compared to other artists for a very interesting effect. Because he often only uses lineart in the foreground, it gives his environments the feeling that the background is slightly out of focus, and combined with the lighting, draws the eye to the focal point of the piece.

Creative Habit: Initial ideas


The purpose of this project is to create a sort of “art exercise” that we will do several times a week, preferably an aspect of our art that we want to improve.

My first idea is to draw fashionable outfits several times a week, as I feel that simplifying folds while still having enough to give the person depth and creating interesting outfits are both concepts that I could improve in, and that working on them would greatly elevate and improve my art style.

(Left: image source, Right: example of what the fashion exercise would look like)

As the amount of realism and detail in my drawings can vary greatly depending on what best suits whatever project I’m working on, the people I look to for fashion inspiration in my art, Tiffany Ford and Lois van Baarle, have very different styles. van Baarle has a very unique blend of cartoon and realism in her style, and her folds are graceful and suprisingly detailed without taking away from the flow of the piece as a whole. On the other hand, Ford’s art focuses a lot on shape and is very cartoony, and yet her outfits are unique and detailed despite having minimal folds.

(Left and Middle: Tiffany Ford, Right: Lois van Baarle)

The second idea was to use photographs as reference for digital speed painting, specifically photos of calming landscapes that I’ve been collecting for a while. Backgrounds are very important in animation, especially in terms of composition, color scheme, and knowing how much detail to add; improving these aspects of how I draw and learning how to simplify something so detailed as a landscape will definitely help me evolve my personal art style. Additionally, the paintings would be made with the intention of giving the audience the calming feeling that the original photos brought me.

(Left: image source, Right: an example of what a landscape speed paint would look like)

In terms of speedpainting, I’ve really been inspired by Daryl Toh Liem Zhan, whose speedpaints are appealing to the eye and have an astonishing amount of detail despite their speed and roughness.


(image source)

My third idea was to have a simplistic character, find an appealing photograph and draw the character into the environment, paying attention to light, shadow, and color scheme. This would be a great exercise for both fitting a character with set colors into a different color scheme and rendering the many types of light and shadow. I would plan on the character being fairly simplistic not only because of time constraints, but also because a more cartoon-like character would allow for overexaggeration and simplification of color, light, and shadow.

(Left: image source, Right: the image with a character shaded to fit into the environment)

My inspiration for this premise was a photoshopped image by Emmy Cicerega that fascinated me when I was younger.

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 6.54.58 PM.png

(image source)

As an inexperienced young artist, I was astounded by how this strange character seemed to fit into the environment of the photo, and recreating this idea with my own method and style would be a very interesting exercise.

Pipeline Overview

PIPELINE FINAL: TRAVERSE from Riley Wagner on Vimeo.

This project was about creating a narrative using a variety of animation styles which spans 2d, 3d, and experimental mediums. The idea was that the whole group would brainstorm a concept and narrative, the sound team would then create audio based off of our ideas that the animators would then animate to. The main inspiration for the project was the collaborative animation known as “Scroobjam”, which used multiple animation styles and mediums to humorously re-imagine an episode of Scooby Doo.

For this project, I was both the Director and one of the animators, and as such I helped lead the group, doing my best to make sure that the project was following the desired path, giving direction when needed, and assisting the group at large towards our goal. As one of the animators, I did two “shots” for the project, one in 2d and one in paper cutout animation, as well as the intro and ending animations and the credits animation.


Top Left: drawing rough inbetweens. Top Right: cleanup and timing, with a good view of a typical toon boom workspace. Bottom left: a frame of the cleaned up and colored animation (click for larger view)

Here’s the Project blog with a more detailed description of what everyone else did:


Pipeline project week 3


Because the audio was finished last week, this week was dedicated to the animation team working on rough animation, while the documentary team interviewed and gathered more footage for the documentary.

I knew that my paper cutout scene would be the most time consuming and labor intensive out of all of my scenes, so most of my time this week went into creating all the pieces I would need and starting to animate that scene.

(click to enlarge)

I had an idea of how i wanted the background to look, so i started by very lightly sketching a full size blueprint of the background shapes and the main character. From there, I used the blueprint as a sort of template for the rough sizes of all the pieces of the character and environment. I cut out several hands, eyes, and hair for the main character because I wanted to use the technique of replacement animation, which is when a piece is switched out between frames to give the illusion of the piece itself has changed in some way. I find that the technique can create very pleasing and interesting paper cutout animation when used correctly.

Despite focusing on the paper cutout scene, I did also manage to complete the roughs for the intro scene this week.