October Ink 3 & 4 – Dinosaurs, Cyborgs and Autism

 

My prompts for these 2 drawings were Dinosaur and Computer.  The dinosaur drawing was pretty straight-forward but the computer one revealed more about my autism than I am entirely comfortable with.

I always loved Dinosaurs, from when I was tiny.  So drawing one was a real treat.  I went for the iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex.  90% of this was done with my Pigma Microns but I did add a little grey shading with my water brush pen just to give the shadows a bit more depth.  Here’s the final drawing…

 

 

 

My next topic was “Computer”.  At first I thought about an abstract drawing based on printed circuit boards but it didn’t really excite me.  My next thought was of robots, which everyone knows, are as cool as dinosaurs.  But then I began thinking about AI and cyber augmentation of the human body and Greg Egan’s ideas of digital copies of human brains so I spent most of my day metaphorically down that amazing rabbit hole and didn’t get any drawing done.  (If anyone’s interested in Greg Egan‘s ideas about digitising human consciousness, then I would highly recommend his book Permutation City.  It’s one of my favourite books of all time.)

 

 

In the end I made a quick sketch of a half-human half-robot person.  It’s how I feel about myself really.  The cyborg is crying because people keep punishing him when he’s only doing exactly what they programmed him to do in the first place.  He is in a no-win situation.  This is exactly what it feels like to have autism from my point of view.

 

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October Ink Drawings – Days 1 and 2

I’m doing my own version of Inktober this year. I decided to make up my own prompts because the official ones seemed quite confusing to my autistic brain. They were adjectives rather than nouns. I prefer nouns. So here’s my list of prompts…

Because I have a chronic pain condition I decided to let the challenge continue for as long as I need but I will, eventually, make a drawing for each day in Ocotober.

So my first 2 were River and Bird. Here are the ink drawings…

The river one made me feel really calm while I drew it, despite the fact that it was drawn in those few spare minutes before school and at lunchtime while I was at work. I think the experience I have of fishing and boating on rivers and lakes brings calmness into the picture.

Being next to a body of water has always been like going home for me. When I was a child it was Toddbrook, the small stream near where I lived. As a teenager it was the gravel pit lakes where I sailed dinghies twice a week come hell or high water. Now it’s a mixture of the Norfolk Broads and all the lakes and rivers I fish regularly.

I used my Pigma Micron pens for most of this drawing.

And then added some greyscale using a Pentel water brush pen filled with a mixture of ink and water. This is what my water brush pen looks like…

My next ink drawing was of a Raven…

As I was driving to work this week BBC Radio 4 reviewed a book about the Ravens in the Tower of London. It really caught my heart and led to this picture. The book is called “The Ravenmaster” and it’s by Christopher Skaife. It’s all about his relationships with the Tower Ravens.

I don’t know if this is an autistic thing or just a general human thing but I find communication with animals much easier than with people. Dogs would be top of my list but most animals I find easier to deal with than people. So I was very interested.

I also remember an experience in a town centre where I met the scruffiest crow in the world. He was fabulous. His feathers were a mess, he hopped on only one leg and he metaphorically fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. But he was smart and bright and interested in everything. I saw him watching me eat my slice of bread pudding. As I walked past he kind of begged, hopping comically next to me as I walked along. So I stopped and gave him a little. Not too much obviously because it was bread pudding which is pure gold on my scale of brilliant foods. Then he began to beg in earnest. He bobbed his head, hopped from side to side and generally made a huge fuss which I think indicated that he liked bread pudding as much as me. So I gave up, sat down and shared it with him.

Next week, Dinosaurs and Computers… 🙂

Dreams of Ink and Watercolour

 

 

Following on from last week’s ink sketches I painted a new picture of Neil Gaiman‘s character “Dream” (from the Vertigo Comic “The Sandman”).  I wanted to combine fairly standard comic ink drawing with the looseness of watercolour for the background and some highlights.

So I began by adding some masking fluid in a few places to add some texture to my background.  Then I laid down an initial wash using Ultramarine, Paynes Grey and Alizeran Crimson wet into wet…

 

Once that had dried I wet the whole canvas again and added to the initial colours…(The colour is a bit darker in this photo because the paint is still wet.  Watercolour paint always dries lighter than it is when wet.)

 

 

Then I sketched in my figure and laid down some basic ink lines… (Shout out to the lovely “Peter Draws” from YouTube who talks a lot about his love of lines.  Whenever I think about lines now I find myself thinking about him and his work. It’s nice because his videos are really relaxing.)

 

 

Then I used my brush pen to add some deep shadows.  I love adding the darkest darks because it sets the tonal range for the picture in my fuzzy little art head.

 

Next I gave his hair a lot of ink texture with a 0.5 Micron pen.  This particular pen has been a bit squashed on the nib so I can get a range of widths and textures out of it.  Then I began adding some Paynes Grey to Dream’s coat…

 

 

I finished off by shading his face and neck, and colouring his hair, coat and T-shirt.  His face in the comics is always white so I used a mixture of Lamp Black and Paynes Grey to get a really neutral grey colour.  The hair was done using varying mixtures of Ultramarine and Alizeran Crimson to get a range of purples, violets and blues.

 

Here’s the final painting…

 

Ink Dreams and October Fun

October Fun

I’ve been thinking about next month and the whole Inktober thing. Now I’d quite like to do a small ink drawing everyday for a month. I think it would be fun. But I had a look at the list of prompts for this year and didn’t relate to most of them. I prefer prompts which are more definite – nouns rather than adjectives. I guess the original list is made up of adjectives to give artists more freedom but I can’t really follow it. It’s just something which makes little sense in my autistic brain. So I decided to make a list for myself.

Here it is…

If anyone wants to use this list – feel free – no rules – no stress – just enjoy doing what you want. I suspect I’ll take more than a month to do it, or skip some when I’m too busy or too tired, but I’m not going to let that stop me having a go.

Ink Dreams

Also this week, I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman Comic series. It’s really excellent! He’s a wonderfully imaginative author. I really love his character “Dream”. Dream is a quiet reflective sort of guy who occasionally seems melancholy in a modern, hipster sort of way and yet at the same time is an immortal with his own realm. The comic artists who worked on this Vertigo series were Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, and Michael Zulli.

I wanted to have a go at drawing this character.

I began with a basic drawing and played around with his hair colour-wise…

However this version seemed a bit generic and Dream is definitely not generic. So I did a few more sketches…

I think the top one ended up looking more like Professor Snape than Dream!!! But I liked the bottom one. I was especially pleased with the way my Pentel Brush pen was behaving as it ran out of ink. It gave me some lovely textures to use on Dream’s coat.

Then I began a different pose in pencil…

I really liked this look where Dream’s eyes are shadowed. Here’s the same image inked…

This time I used a shading technique where you hatch the shadows but also outline them. I really like the effect it made.

My portrait adventures with a Princess and a Superhero.

 

 

This week I first attempted a portrait of Carrie Fisher in her role as Princess Leia Organa in the Sequal Trilogy of Star Wars.  I wanted Leia to be older as I think Carrie got even more beautiful as she aged.  I also wanted her to look battle worn and tired after being so long in the fight.

I began with a sketch…

Then began to paint…

 

And this is the final painting…

 

In terms of how the painting went I think I struggled a bit for the exact likeness I wanted.  It’s almost as if my own knowledge of her from when she was younger overlayed what I painted.  I think studying the Loomis Head Construction Method helped a little, mostly with the shadow line which runs down the edge of the face but my best portraits have always been done using a grid method.

Here’s a pencil portrait I began using a grid which I haven’t had time to finish as I’ve been back at school this week with a new class!  The portrait is of Edward Norton from the days when he played Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (2008) who has a very iconic look.  I begin by printing a reference image that will fit my home made grid.  This is made from an A4 paper pocket with the grid ruled on in permanent marker.  Then you can draw what’s in each box on any size paper of the same proportions.  It’s easiest to do using paper which is the same size exactly, as I’ve done here, but it’s really not much harder to do it on any size you like, so long as you set up a proportional grid on the paper on which you are drawing.

 

 

Here’s the pencil drawing up close as far as I was able to get…

 

The thing I like about the grid method as opposed to the Loomis method is that I don’t have to imagine anything.  I just draw the darks and lights, lines and shapes, as I see them and it just works.  Maybe the secret to all of these methods of drawing is really just to choose or find a method that works for you.  For me using a grid is much better as I struggle with imagination.  Whereas someone else might find the Loomis method better.  I think Loomis’ work is especially good for drawing characters without any reference.

 

 

+  Rest in Peace Carrie +

 

Playing Around with Loomis Head Construction and a Sketch of a Wonderful Woman!

 

 

This week I began work on the Loomis book on drawing and had a play with the Loomis head construction.  Here are some of my working sketches…

 

 

Once I had the method I started making up my own variations.  At first I looked at common differences between male and female shaped heads and came up with some imaginary men and women…

 

Then, taking my cue from Loomis’ book I began to alter the basic form to make different shaped heads.  These were drawn in more of an illustrative / animation style and then inked with pen.  I tried to do my own version of some of loomis’ heads…

 

As you can see from these sketches I had a lot of fun playing around with this, especially with the front and profile illustrative inks.  Also, I think you can probably see that I struggled with the placement of the furthest eye in three-quater views.  Although the Loomis construction gave me boundaries I think I set each furthest eye too far away from the nose which makes all the 3/4 views look ‘off’.  After all of the work I did on bone structure and anatomy I didn’t take into account some basic anatomy facts…

  1. The eyes wrap around the head with the outside of each eyelid being place further back from the very front of the head than the inside of each eyelid which changes the angle at which we see the furthest eye.
  2. Because the curved plane of the eyes  is going away from the viewer there will be a small amount of foreshortening which will seem to bring the most inside point of the furthest eye’s eyelid closer to the nose.

So, I put all of this learning into the mix, and then made a quick (10 minute) portrait sketch of someone who will always be my princess – the wonderful, funny, beautiful Carrie Fisher.

 

Next week, I’ll use this sketch to paint a proper watercolour portrait – if I can!!!

Some fun with ink!

I got a bit fed up with studying the head and face.  So, while working on this portrait and head structure stuff I also took some breaks and played around with ink.

 

 

Generally I find looking at people’s eyes difficult which made the head structure stuff quite demanding.  It’s probably because of my autism but what I loose in some areas of art I gain in others so I don’t mind. At least I understand what is difficult and why.

As a result I often try to avoid portraits and faces. I can do them from photographs, they just wear me out really quickly.  Here’s a link to a full on front facing portrait I managed recently where I just screwed up my courage and went for it.  (Mud Man Link).  In paintings generally, when I can, I often hide the eyes and if I can’t do that I often have my subjects with their eyes closed or at least not looking at the viewer. e.g.

“Looking away”

 

“Eyes Closed”

 

“Eyes Hidden”

 

Faces in real life are a different matter all together.  When I sketched some friends last week I found myself avoiding drawing their faces until the end and then putting in simplified features so that I didn’t have to look at their faces for more than a glance.  It was so much harder than looking at a photograph that it really shook me.  I guess a photograph is really just tone and colour in certain patterns whereas people sitting there are real, whole and alive.

So with the inks I just had some fun…

 

 

 

I did some doodling…

 

And then a bit more doodling while thinking about this really enormous prime number (2^74 201 281 -1) which was discovered on 4th January 2018!

 

Finally I drew a tiny little woodlouse from reference. It was bliss.

 

Head Shape and Proportions #3 Muscle Structure

This week I concentrated on the muscle structures in the head and neck.  Again I did some careful pencil drawings.

Here’s the side view…

 

And here’s the front view…

I found this exercise revealed much more of the final head shape than the bone structure exercise did.  I guess that makes sense since the muscles attach to the bones and build on the bone shape.  They were very relaxing drawings to make.