I love reading the National Geographic Magazine. It’s like being able to travel and see loads of interesting things without leaving the comfort of home. I was tidying out a bookshelf when I came across a really old issue from 2010 about Mount St Helens:
In it was an article called ‘The Forgotten Road’ about an old trade route in southern China where they used to trade horses and tea. There was a beautiful photo of a tea farmer in southern Yunnan province drying his tea. In the background was, what I think was, his home. It was obscured by the drying tables for the tea and was at an angle but I could see enough to use it as the basis for a sketch.
I tried something new with this sketch. I used the reference photo for some of the colours and a number of the details but I drew the man’s home from straight on and in the photo is was at an angle. I made up what I couldn’t see and added other elements which weren’t there at all. Since the builing he was living in looked really old I drew a person who might have been there a few hundred years ago in my picture.
I inked the sketch again with the Kuretake water soluble pen and then again used a brush and water to draw the ink out to make a grey scale wash.
Here’s the finished ink drawing…
I felt I had better control of the ink the second time around but I still found it to be brillliant fun!
Once I’d scanned it in I began to colour it in Manga Studio. I started using the colours I could see but quickly added a whole raft of colours which weren’t there. I used the three cell shading technique I’ve been working on lately but blended the shades afterwards so that the colours worked well with the ink style. Here’s the final picture…
I like this one much more than the boat picture I did yesterday. It has better tonal range and the light is coming strongly from one side which, for me, helps add to the drama of the moment.
The method I used to paint this digitally could very easily be adapted to traditional watercolours. I might think about doing that in the future if I’m feeling courageous. 🙂