Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #4

This set of sketches was also done really quickly while watching Netflix and YouTube. I’m working towards being able to draw fast and clearly enough to be able to draw and write a comic book one day. Each sketch takes about ten minutes. I think when working on a real project, rather than just doing some sketching practice, I would definitely take more time. The question is, how fast would I need to go to be at a professional level in terms of time?

Professional Comic Artists

Well, in the comic industry the gold standard is that the penciller would be expected to draw 20 pages a month, which, if you take account of the weekends is one page a day for four weeks straight working only weekdays. But that is just the pencils, no ink, no colour or tone and no lettering. The person who inks the drawing will take less time to ink each page than the penciller did to do the drawing. Colour and tones take even less time and lettering, when done well apparently, takes a day for a whole book! (all 20 pages).

I know that some artists find this pace way too fast and feel forced by the timeline into producing work that isn’t their best which sounds miserable. Many work at a slower pace.  Conversely, comic artist legend Jack Kirby famously drew at an even faster rate  – producing an average of 3 pages a day and sometimes did up to 6!!!  If I were to produce a comic book, with the constraints of my health and a job (which has to come first), I would have to work fast to be able to get it done in a reasonable time frame.  If I stopped all other art I think I could get a page done in a week, working just in the evenings although it would depend on my health remaining OK.

Neria the Thanatologist

Jerry Hardin as Neria in Star Trek Voyager (Paramount)

This is a sketch from Star Trek Voyager of an alien male.  He was called Neria and was a Thanatologist from the planet Vhnori.  He was played by Jerry Hardin.  I like the sculpting of his head shape and enjoyed trying to capture that in a quick sketch.  (The still (left) is not the same pose and camera angle as the one I drew when pausing Netflix.)

Here’s the sketch…

 

The Seashore

The next exercise was to draw a screenshot of a nature programme I was watching about coastal ecology.  The camera man in this series captured a really stunning shot of the coastline and I had a go at sketching it…

This one took a full ten minutes to complete and I really felt pushed for time.

Stylised Hand

The final drawing was of a man’s hand.  I was watching someone scrubbing up for surgery in a documentary.  It seemed to me that a surgeon’s hands are incredibly important precision tools.  Watching him scrub, I saw the care he took to do things properly and became really fascinated by his hands.  I made the drawing of this really quickly (less than 5 minutes) but blew another full 5 on the shading with my brush pens.  Here’s the final result…

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #3

This week’s video observation practice drawings were from the 1994 TV mini-series of Stephen King’s The Stand and from an advert I saw on You-Tube. I only caught the very end of it so I don’t know what it was advertising but I was really drawn to the cinematography. Again they were both drawn in approximately 10 minutes with Pigma Microns and a manga pen and shaded with natural tone brush pens.

 

Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers

Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers in the 1995 TV mini-series of The Stand produced by Greengrass Productions and Laurel Entertainment Inc.

I really loved reading The Stand and have read it twice now. So when I saw that they made a DVD of the miniseries I bought it. It wasn’t a bad adaptation either. I particularly liked the performance of Gary Sinise as Stuart Redman (although, for me, he will forever be Ken Mattingly, the part he played so perfectly in the film Apollo 13).

The frame I sketched was of the actor Kathy Bates playing the radio presenter Rae Flowers.

In this scene Flowers is running a call-in radio show during an outbreak of a deadly disease in America. Her callers describe the power of the epidemic and speculate, correctly, about the origin of the disease – that it was made in a government lab and was accidentally released. The station is stormed by US soldiers and Flowers is killed. It’s quite a powerful scene. I completely loved the bravery of the character defending her 1st ammendment rights.  Kathy plays it beautifully.  Here’s the sketch…

I managed to complete the sketch and most of the shading in just over ten minutes for this one (12min).

 

River scene

The second sketch this week is of a couple of people in a boat on a river. I’m afraid I don’t remember much about the advert this came from, except that it had an Asian feel to it. I’d been looking up the history of Japanese woodblock prints and somehow got this image from an ad associated with the video.

Here’s the sketch…

Mostly this was done with my trusty Pigma Microns again and my brush markers. I did try the branch silhouette, though, in a different Kuritaki manga pen. The pen was lovely, however the ink I chose to use wasn’t quite as waterproof as I am used to with the Microns and did smudge a little. At first I was going to give up on the sketch but then I decided to add more diffuse colour and try to get the river below the branch to look more watery with darker and lighter reflections. I quite liked the effect in the end, although it looks better if you don’t know about the ink issue!  This one took about 7 minutes in total.

As I write this it’s now half term and I’m trying to put together at least a month of posts ready for going back to work next week.  I’m nearly there with that which will mean I will finally have time to work on my “Fae” picture inspired by the Amazon series Carnival Row.  I am really looking forward to it.  I also have another importantproject I’m doing for my mum, but I’m not sure about sharing it here as it’s especially for her.  I really want to get it done by Christmas if possible.

Video Observation Practice #2

Here are some more quick thumbnails drawn from while watching various videos.  I use this exercise as a way to practice drawing panels for comicbooks.  Each one took from 5 to 10 minutes to complete and was drawn using Pigma Microns and then shaded with W&N Neutral Tone Brushmarkers.

The first is from the excellent and funny film “Shaun of the Dead” starring Simon Pegg as Shaun.  In this scene Shaun has just had some serious girlfriend trouble and is in the pub with his friend…

 

The next one was drawn while watching a documentary about US jails.  This jail is inside a really tall building and in some places the prisoners can look out at the city if they pull down the window covers.  This is the scene I drew.

 

The final panel I sketched was while I watched a piano recital.  It was this brilliant young pianist playing the piano version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Beautiful…

Video Observation Practice #1

While I work away on my fairy drawing which I began last week I’m going to post a series of sketches I drew in ink during the spring and summer.

I did them whilst relaxing in bed in the evenings, watching various videos – everything from YouTube discussions to regular TV series. It was pretty varied. The idea was to attempt to capture a scene really quickly as if I were planning a comic panel based on that scene. I would one day like to write my own comic book but I needed to see if I could draw scenes and people quickly and well enough for the artwork to be able to carry a story. Now, none of this is finished comic art – it’s just a series of practice sketches which I never intended to publish at all – I did them to speed up my ink drawing and get a feel for working fast on comic panels.

So here are the first two…

I love watching animals and horses are one of my favourites. So here is a fast sketch of a horse from a YouTube video about a horse rescue…

The next picture was from a Netflix series called “Sex Education”. It was a funny series about a teenage lad who’s mum is a sex therapist. Otis is pretty insecure but finds, with the help of his rebellious female friend Maeve, a way to move forward with his life by giving sex advice to other young people at his school. (Oddly, it was set in the UK but the school was run like an american school.) Anyway, here’s a scene I chose from this series…

This is the excellent actor Kedar Williams-Stirling playing a character called Jackson Marchetti in the show.

The Fae

I had a slow start to art this week.  I’m still feeling quite weak from being ill and I had to concentrate mainly on work.  I did, however, watch a lot of a new TV show on Amazon called Carnival Row.

(Official Amazon Carnival Row Poster.)

It was the best TV I’ve watched in years!  I just loved the sparklingly new idea behind this series.  So much of Hollywood follows the same well worn path to the same formulaic stories.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to have newer video productions from people like Amazon (and Netflix) producing genuinely new stories and going in new directions.  From my point of view these guys are leaving Hollywood in the dust.  The script was written by an American Screenwriter called Travis Beacham.  It’s original title was  “A Killing on Carnival Row” but I guess they changed it to “Carnival Row” so that if the series takes off they can generate further stories.

I think I was really taken by the idea of the Fae – the fairies, the pucks, the centaurs – the creatures of legend brought into a gritty victorian, industrial reality.  I loved the subtext about the fight between nature and industry, between freedom and social convention and the views of different peoples on each other’s ways of life.

So I decided to make a larger (A3) ink drawing of a fairy and then colour it with just a touch of watercolour.  I began by making some thumbnail sketches.  This helps me get an idea of what I want to draw and organise my inspiration into a composition.  I used a wide range of reference, from standard face shots of models to ballerinas, to women diving in competition to get some ideas of how I could arrange my fairy on the page.

Here are the thumbnails – they are blown up to double the original size…

 

I really like the simplicity of the first one but it seems too static for a being who can fly.  The second one is a better pose in terms of movement but needs to have her wings above her body for it to really work.  The third is a classic ballet pose but looks too refined and restricted for a fae.

I’m going to have to think about this some more.  It will come with time.  🙂

 

 

PS:  I had some “help” today from my kitten, Leia, while writing this…

She came up with some good stuff…

 

 

Feelin’ Better…

I’m afraid I had no time for painting this week as I was quite unwell.  However, I am feeling much better now and am back at work.  🙂

So here’s a quick fun piece of digital art I made earlier this morning…

 

( I am reliably informed by the six and seven year olds I work with that this move is called a “dab” and is used when you want to celebrate something.)

Grey and Yellow Cockatiel

 

This week I painted a bird.  It’s a grey and yellow cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus).  It’s a popular pet which is native to Australia.

I began with a sketch…

 

Then I gave it a blotchy background and laid down a basic lemon wash on the bird…

 

Then I put in all of the basic large scale colours and tones as a basis for the detail I was planning next…

 

Finally I got to the details and dived right in.  Once I was most of the way there with the finer work I could see how my background didn’t give the painting enough contrast so I darkened the whole thing right down.  Lastly, I finished off the edges.

Here’s the final painting…

 

 

I really enjoyed painting the eye, beak and other facial features of this little bird.  I used more gouache techniques on these parts and more watercolour on the plummage.  The feathers were the most difficult part, especially the feathers on the top of the head.  This is the weakest part of the painting in my opinion.  The only reference I had for the head feathers was a bit too small to use effectively.  However, it’s something I only realised with hindsight!

 

PS:  I’m having some issues with my health at the moment so I apologise if I’m a little late getting back to anyone.  Also, this is the last of my summer holiday paintings and I’ve not been able to paint for a while so I might not be able to put a post up next week but I will get back to it as soon as I am able.

Two River Scenes

 

 

At the end of April I had a car accident.  My car was written off and I got some minor injuries but no broken bones.  Anyway, I had some increased pain from the accident (and from the physio that I needed because of it) for a few months.  Because of that I haven’t been able to go fishing at all this year.  I’ve been really missing it. So one day during the summer holidays I drove down to a car park which is right next to our local river and just sat there for a while taking it in.  You can actually smell the water and, annoyingly, see fish turning over in the river just under a tree I normally cast into!!  When I got back I made a really quick watercolour sketch – not really capturing the details of the scene – but the feeling of the place, the living, moving river.

Here’s the picture…

 

Because it was such a quick sketch, with no reference other than my memory, it stayed quite loose.  I love it when other painters do this but I find it hard to like my own work when I use this approach.  It just looks scruffy to me.  🙂 It does work though, feeling-wise.

Later the same evening I was playing with my tablet and found a good little sketching program (Autodesk Sketchbook).  I played around with this and ended up making another river scene in a digital way.  I imported the basic scene into photoshop for finishing the next day.  Here’s the final image…

 

 

I like the textures in this one.  It reminds me less of my time in the car park next to the river though, and more of John Wyndham’s excellent book The Day of the Triffids!

The Dawn Wall

 

This is a painting I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s quite large (A3) and went through a lot of iterations before it was finally complete.

I first came across this particular rockface while watching some climbing videos.  The first was about a couple of climbers climbing a particular route on the rock face El Capitan in the US.  The section they climbed is called “The Dawn Wall”.  Then I watched the amazing Alex Honnold, in another video, climb the whole thing, free solo.  It was extraordinary!  My hands kept breaking out into a sweat just watching that chap.  Later the same week I was looking at some more beautiful woodblock prints from Japan.  I looked through a lot of Yoshida’s work and came across this beautiful print he made of El Capitan…

By Horoshi Yoshida, 1925

It just blew my mind.  If I were rich I would attempt to get an original copy of this.  I find it really beautiful.  Having seen this I made a couple of sketches of El Cap using photo reference…

 

I liked the feel of this sketch, so rather than sketching it again I decided to enlarge and transfer the sketch onto my watercolour paper.

  • First I scanned in my image and then printed it out 141% larger so it would fit to A3 paper.  Because my printer will only do A4 I printed 2 sections and then joined them like this…

  • Next I used a nice dark pencil to cover the back of the paper with graphite…

 

  • Then I got my Arches paper and laid the sketch over the paper and drew over my lines.  This marked the watercolour paper very lightly with my sketch…

 

Then I began to paint.  I began with a watercolour sky…

 

Then I blocked in some of the main light and dark areas on the rock face…

I built this up until I had a basic underpainting…

Then I began to layer on my gouache.  I thought the contrast between a hazy watercolour sky and the clear and definite strokes of gouache would make the rock seem harder.

After the first wash with gouache the painting looked like this…

 

Then I did the bulk of the actual painting – all the medium level tones

and colours…

 

Then I was ready for my favourite bit – the details.  Here’s the final painting…