The Razor Crest

 

Over the next three weeks I’m going to be posting some fun digital images that I’ve been playing around with.  This week’s image is a digital painting I made of a spacecraft called “The Razor Crest” from Disney’s Mandalorian series.  I like the shape of this one and the engine configuration reminds quite a lot of the “Serenity” from Joss Weedon’s Firefly series.

Here’s the way I painted it…

I began with some basic shapes and a horizon line.

Then I redrew the spacecraft more carefully and added some details.

Next I got rid of the basic sketch I started with and added some terrain.  The space ship was drawn from a couple of printed references, but the terrain I made up from scratch.

Then I began to paint.  My basic process is to fill in large areas of tone to give some depth to the main shape in my painting.  Then I gradually divide this simple shape into more detailed shapes.  First I put in some basic background tones.

Below I’ve begun work on the spacecraft, just giving it some basic form.

I didn’t put enough darker values into the basic form so I added them here (see below), particularly below the wings.  Although I used a couple of reference images for the ship, I wanted my light to come from a different angle so I had to see the highlights and shadows in my mind’s eye.

Then I added some specular highlights to the engines and windows.  (These are direct reflections of bright light on shiny surfaces.)

My next stage was to bring in some colour.  I wanted to use a restricted colour palette, which is something the cinematographer, Greig Fraser,  seems to do on the Mandalorian show itself.  I went for orange/yellow/brown offset against hints of blue/purple in the metal of the Razor Crest and in the shadows.  This is a fairly basic complementary colour scheme.

My final job with this painting was to pull it into Photoshop and adjust my levels.

I paint digitally on a Galaxy S4 tablet, but I often do this in bed.  I like to listen to a good book while I’m drawing.  It’s really relaxing and is great for diverting my mind away from any pain issues.  However, if I am in bed during the evening my tablet automatically adjusts the screen to darken it and reduce any blue light.  This is really helpful because it stops the light from the device keeping me awake for hours after I have finished.  It does mean though, that my levels are usually way out.  If I was working on a traditional painting this would be a big problem because the whole paniting would need reworking to correct the values in good light.  With a digital painting though it’s not too much of an issue – I just have to make some adjustments at the end and Photoshop can easily handle that.

So here is my final digital painting.

 

 

I like the overall setting and the sweet comic feel it has, but if I redid it now I would add more detail to the middle section of the background.  It could do with some rocks and gravel and general marks.  I think I would also try to work in some reflections in the lighter sand the ship is standing on, since then it would read as wet ground which might give the background more interest for the viewer.  The panel took about one and a half hours to complete.

Line and Wash – Damsel Fly

 

I wanted to try using watercolour on an ink drawing.  I decided to use foliage in a particular shape with a small animal, like a butterfly as the main focus.

First I worked out what sort of shape I wanted…

 

I tried several ideas for the main shape of my picture.

In the end I went for a spiral but I wanted the shape to form the structure of the picture but not be something that the viewer notices right away so I drew on some very light guidelines.

Then I began drawing.  Because I was drawing in a spiral I was concerned that as I moved around the paper I might smudge earlier work.  So, rather than struggling with that, I decided to draw in sections and then ink each section before I carried on.  This worked better than expected.

 

 

Gradually I worked my way around the picture…

 

 

…until I had my inks finished.

 

 

Then I used watercolour to colour and tone my image and then played around a little with my background using Photoshop.  (I had painted a simple gradient wash with watercolour but it looked flat and boring so I added some shapes with a large soft brush tool in Photoshop and then ran a filter over them to draw the changes together and soften them.)  Here’s the final piece…

 

Developing Characters for a Comic Strip

I began thinking of writing a comic strip a couple of years ago when I heard some people in a queue for the post office talking about the funny things children say. My first go at a strip on this subject was the simple one-panel strip above.

However, as I thought about it I wondered if it would be better to develop a set of characters in school and work from there. I could make each character a bit larger than life and really push their characteristics. At first I thought I might call the strip “The Little Plump Teacher.” so I began to design a little teacher around the title…

However, this direction didn’t work out. Firstly, the children were going to be the stars of the strip, not the teacher and secondly, I wanted each child to be very different from every other – with different personalities and different looks. I had been doing some reading on character design and one of the things the pros do when creating a set of characters is to make each individual have a very obvious and individual sillhouette. This gave me the idea to make my school a school for animals!

First I just played around with my ideas on a page of my sketchbook with some thumbnails of possible characters.

Then I made some quick character sketches.

At this point I decided I didn’t like the snail character “Smole”. This was partly because his personality overlapped a bit with my duck character “Duke” and partly because I didn’t like the shape.

So I created a different sixth character, “KittyKat”, a cat.

By this time I was happy with my little class, so I made some more formal character designs digitally. Here they are, ready to delight and amuse. I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures they might have!

An important side-note: Although the children I’ve taught have told me some of the most funny and heart-warming things over the years (enough to fill several books) I’m not going draw on any of that in order to protect their privacy and maintain my GDPR obligations. These characters are not based on any children I have ever worked with and the stories in the strip won’t include anything that has ever happened in a school I’ve taught at.

Peacock – a simple digital painting

 

This week’s art began as a doodle of a peacock on some copy paper…

 

 

I scanned the sketch and pulled it into Autodesk Sketchbook. Then I reset the drawing colour to a light blue so that I could redraw over it digitally…

 

 

I find this kind of drawing very relaxing and did most of this while watching some the excellent new(ish) series of Star Trek Discovery (which is awesome!!!)

Here’s the doodle redrawn digitally.  You can see that I used two different line weights.  To keep a track of this while I’m working I draw a little sample of each line weight I’m using and then write the size next to it.  This means I can make changes at the correct weight without having to guess…

 

 

Next I added some fanciful swirls to his lovely tail…

 

 

Finally I added some colour and then colour balanced and finalised the image in Photoshop…

 

 

 

Rocketman – Traditional Inks with Digital Tones

I’ve loved Elton John’s music from when I was a teenager, especially the older stuff like his classic song Rocketman. I used to work on Saturday mornings and then, once I was paid I would go and spend some of that hard-earned cash at this tiny secondhand records store in the small industrial units behind the local shopping centre where I worked.

This week I was listening to Rocketman from Elton’s “Very Best of…” Album when I got the idea for this drawing.

I began with some pencils…

Then I inked the pencils…

Then I toned the picture digitally…

Initially I thought I would end the drawing here but there were several things I didn’t like. Firstly, my astronaut didn’t really stand out from the capsule that he was sitting in. Secondly the mood of the picture was supposed to be lonely and quiet and I felt it needed more darkness in it to give it that sense of isolation.

So I redid the tones to create this final image…

PS: On looking up Elton John’s Rocketman online I found that there is a beautiful new animated video to go with it. Here’s a link to that beautiful song…

Art Therapy

Sadly, I had to leave my job for health reasons a few months ago and I have struggled quite a bit with this change. At first my GP helped me and then eventually I managed to arrange some phone counselling to work through it all.

Now I’m not going to go into details about any of the counselling itself here, except to say that it’s been incredibly helpful. What I have found though, with respect to my art, is that it is of real therapeutic benefit.

Firstly, art it is a form of meditation for me a lot of the time, and this has been very helpful. It’s very soothing to draw and paint. It feels a bit like putting a really good hand cream on very chapped hands. Secondly though, it gives me this wonderfully safe space in my head and on the canvas where I can work things out. I don’t know if this kind of thing would work for everyone, some people are more at home with words than visuals, but for me it has been very useful indeed.

This is a drawing I did as I mulled over a question my counsellor left me with at the end of a session…

It was initially done in ink on paper and then toned with Mars Lumograph pencils.

Then I scanned it into my computer and coloured it like this…

I wonder if other artists find art is supportive in this way? Maybe some writers and musicians feel the same way?

A School Comic Strip Preview

 

This is a quick, preview of a comic strip I’ve been developing.  It’s set in a fictional school where all of the children and staff are animals. (All of the characters are completely fictional too.)  In a later post I will go over the process I went through to develop the idea and the characters. This is just a taster.

Here is the rough sketch…

Once I had my rough layout I redrew it all digitally…

Then finally I added tones and textures…

 

Jo Kenobi

This week’s art is a little fantasy sketch of what I might look like if I were both young again and a Jedi!

I took a picture of Lucasfilm’s character Obi-Wan Kenobi…

 

…and a picture of myself when I was about Ewan’s age in this promotional shot from Attack of the Clones.  Then I attempted to make a sketch of the two faces mixed together!

 

I began with some basic measurements.  Luck was on my side with this as mine and Ewan’s face proportions were really similar.

 

Then I sketched out the basics…

I expanded the eyes to give the whole picture a hint of manga styling and then put in some basic pencil shading…

 

I had this drawing like this in my sketchbook for a while.  Then, when I got my Mars Lumograph Pencils, I thought I would have a go at inking the picture and shading it with pencil.  Here are the final results…

 

I wish I were a Jedi!!!