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Wanna Play? by Stephanie Smith

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This lil’ guy is my sweet kitty Tony. He’s been very sick the past couple of months and we may be losing him soon, but he is the sweetest, biggest-hearted cat I’ve ever known, playful and with personality to spare.

His favorite game was playing fetch with the little hard-bodied mouse toys like the one in the picture… they had to be the kind with a rattle inside. On more than one occasion as I was drifting off to sleep I’d hear him calling, slightly muffled, as he stalked up the hallway to the bedroom door, ending in an all-too-familiar thud as he dropped the toy he was carrying in the doorway and was able to bellow at full volume “I WANNA PLAY NOW!”

(I’d usually ignore him in the hopes he’d get the hint. Those were the mornings when I’d roll out of bed and immediately step — in my bare feet, of course — on the two or three mice that had been left in strategic positions by the side of the bed.)

Tony is also infamous for devouring houseplants and flower arrangements, as documented here.

This is also, incidentally, my first attempt using Corel Painter. The RB Portrait challenge finally gave me the push I’d been looking for to try it out. I’d known about it for years but never had a chance to play with it. BOY it was fun! But it’ll take a while to really learn all the ins and outs.

UPDATE: Here’s a sort-of-work-in-progress… I didn’t actually save stages, so it’s sort of rebuilt from the layers in my working file.

And here’s the photo I was looking at, had it in a separate window while I was drawing. Whosa good kitty? Tony! (PS after my tablet and my scanner my favorite computer accessory is my second monitor!)

I may make a few more tweaks yet, there are some details I’m not quite happy with… I based the pose on one photo and the shading on another, and some of the inconsistencies are bothering me.

This is a digital painting produced in Corel Painter, with some final tweaking in Photoshop. Copyright 2010 Stephanie Smith, contact me for reuse!

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Stephanie Smith is an illustrator and graphic designer who loves to draw.

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  • Bobby Dar
    Bobby Darabout 4 years ago

    sweet idea

  • :) thanks Bobby… he’s my lil’ sweetie. :)

    – Stephanie Smith

  • Sturstein
    Stursteinabout 4 years ago

    Great job! But first attempt using Painter? Pfft! You’re such a liar.

    On the off chance that you’re not a liar, you’ve handled it really well. I’ve been using it sporadically for a few years now, and yeah, it’s fun, but I still prefer throwing real paint around :D

    I started painting something for the challenge today, but it’s not working for me, so I think I’ll try another one.

  • Well, to be fair, I use Photoshop ALL the time, so it’s not a total leap, lol. Thanks, Sturstein!

    It did make me miss real paint a bit tho… especially since I was having trouble figuring out how to get the brushes to work quite the way I wanted them to. Especially getting the fur to blend in with the background, and I must have redrawn his face at least 3 times. I still have all my supplies, it’s just getting my lazy self to find the time to do the setup and cleanup… one of the reasons I’ve been using the watercolors lately when I feel the need to break out the brushes :)

    – Stephanie Smith

  • artbyjehf
    artbyjehfabout 4 years ago

    Aw, I’m sending BIG wishes for Tony to be well. Don’t lose hope on those 9 lives. We’ve lucked out on several scary kitty illnesses. Hugs for you and soft kitty pets for Tony. Very nice portrait filled with love and beautifully done.

  • Thanks so much for your good wishes and lovely words! Tony is definitely special, he’s rallied before so I’m still hopeful. :)

    This is such a classic pose for him, but I do wish I had better photos… it’s hard to take pictures of a black cat indoors without the flash causing problems!

    – Stephanie Smith

  • Sturstein
    Stursteinabout 4 years ago

    I don’t believe digital brushes will ever truly replicate the real thing, so no matter how much oil or acrylic you’ve used, it’ll always take some time to adjust to pixel paint.

    I’ve recently tackled acrylics again, after years of resistance to them, and I’m glad I did, because I’m really impressed with the results. But watercolour remains my first love. As you say, they require minimal setup and cleanup. Plus, they’re fun! Of course, that’s another advantage of working digital: no setup, no cleanup. But I have to say, I just don’t feel right if I don’t have ink stubbornly ingrained in my hands :)

  • All true! Plus, I’m in front of the dang computer all day at work, gotta get away from it now and then or I’d go nuts!

    I remember I’d only used oil paints once before college. The art school I went to as a kid didn’t want people using turpentine in the winter because the ventilation wasn’t good enough, so acrylics were all I knew for a long time, lol! I have a tiny set of water-soluble oils now, but I think I’ve only used them once or twice… they’re kinda like halfway between the two types. The drying time for oils takes a while to get used to when you’re used to acrylics tho.

    Plus, there’s no undo button!

    – Stephanie Smith

  • Sturstein
    Stursteinabout 4 years ago

    Just noticed the update. Layers, huh? I generally use them too, but you should take a crack at painting something entirely on the canvas layer ;)

  • I’m totally addicted to layers, LOL You do NOT want to see some of my files from my job.

    BUT I’m really loving the “pick up underlying color” feature in Painter… it “feels” like you’re painting all on one layer because the paints interact, but it’s easier to preserve details or remove whole sections. Saved my behind because the eyes were kind of fussy to deal with and then I realized they were the wrong size. :)

    – Stephanie Smith

  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkeabout 4 years ago

    How beautiful. Great work Stephanie.

  • Sturstein
    Stursteinabout 4 years ago

    I’ve been using the water soluble oils as well. I’m sure oil puritans gasp at the mere suggestion, but I really like them. As you say, they’re kinda like a halfway point. They work like traditional oils, but they dry faster (which can be a blessing and a curse), and no stinky solvents! (Although the paint itself ain’t too pleasant.) I’m sure they don’t have the same lustre as the real deal, but they’re great for commercial work.

  • Diana-Lee Saville
    Diana-Lee Savilleabout 4 years ago

  • Thanks Diana-Lee! (And Newman, too!)

    – Stephanie Smith

    BLYTHARTalmost 4 years ago

    Lovely! One of our cats did this the other day, but with a live mouse. The mouse ran under our freezer, which I had to drag from the wall. We still couldn’t find him, but two days later his little corpse was on our lounge carpet, so the cats obviously tracked him down.

  • Oh yes, Tony did that to us once too! We’d discovered a mouse in the kitchen and while we’d retreated to the middle of the apt. to strategize Tony saunters right up to us, pops his mouth open, and POP! out comes the live mouse! He was so excited to have found a toy that can throw itself! We were less excited when the mouse made a beeline for our bedroom…

    I spent 2 hours following the cat around before admitting to myself that he had no idea where the mouse had gone either and was just revisiting all the spots it had been before. That’s when I remembered that this is a cat who would spend hours staring at the blank spot on the wall where a spider had been 3 days ago. :)

    We ended up cornering the mouse in the closet and trapping it in a bucket ourselves, but it took all day (I was NOT going to be able to sleep in there until we knew where the mouse was, lol!)

    – Stephanie Smith

  • Donna Huntriss
    Donna Huntrissalmost 4 years ago

    What a cutie! Speaking of mice – could we borrow you pusscat? We think we have one in our ceiling! XXX

  • Thanks Donna! But our other cat would do a much better job… the first time we had a mouse in the house after we got her, the first I knew about it was when we found the “leftovers” on the doormat, yuk.

    – Stephanie Smith

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