75 and 76 – Ink Patterns with Multiliners

With this drawing I drew some basic structural lines in pencil and then worked directly in ink.  It’s an abstract picture really.  I’ve used the comma shape a lot before in the past when I was painting in contemporary acrylics.  So it was lovely to see how it looked in a completely different type of picture.

Here’s my picture…



I’ve also decided to give myself a bit more time each week by rolling the three posts I normal put up each week into one weekly post.  I want to still paint and draw just as much and then blog about it on a weekly basis.

Days 73 and 74 – City Lights

This painting began as a relaxed bit of sketching while I was waiting to collect my son from school after his band rehearsal.

I sketched it out roughly in pencil and then did most of the design for the image in pen.  Here’s the final ink drawing…


Then I painted it with watercolours using them as strongly as I could to get some really bright colours.  I used a restricted pallette of mainly yellow red and blue, although I did diverge a bit from this adding some purples and oranges too.  Then I painted the city  and the swirls in the water with gold coloured acrylic paint.

It’s quite hard to show you what it finally looks like because, neither the scanner nor the camera can pick up the shiny reflections you get from the gold paint when you just look at the picture normally.

So I scanned and photographed it to try to give you an idea.  Here’s the scan which makes the city gold colour look quite dull…


And here’s a photo of the same picture with light reflecting on the gold – this is more what it actually looks like…


Days 71 to 72 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 2#2

My next plan was to make my own facial expression drawings based on Mark Crilley’s guidance but using my own made up Manga character.

Also, while working on this I was reading the early chapters of ‘Bakuman’ – a Manga series about two lads who decide to become Manga creators.

Bakuman Manga Cover
“Bakuman Manga Cover”

I got to the bit where the artist in the pair decides to work with nothing but a G-pen (which is a kind of dip pen with a nib very commonly used in manga called a G-nib.)  I thought this would be really cool to try.  So I had a dig around and found an old Italian dip pen and a flexible calligraphy nib which works well and very much like a G-nib.  Then I drew the sketches on Bristol Board (because the ‘Calli’ Calligraphy ink I’m using bleeds around each line in my notebook) and inked them with the dip pen.

This is my dip pen …


But the nib I’m using is not the one which came with this pen, it’s a modern calligraphy nib very similar to a G-nib…



At first it was really difficult to use the dip pen.  Line pressure needed to be controlled as well as direction.  My lines were noticably wobbly, they didn’t have a good shape and they took ages to dry.  Lucky for me there were twleve pictures to do, so I managed to have a good practice.

Here are the results…

Set one…



Here’s set two…



And here are the last four…



By the end of it I beginning to find my way into occasional good lines.  Even though I’m only beginning with this, I prefer the look of the dip pen lines to the multiliner.  The biggest problem I had overall with this method was that they took 2-3 hours to dry where the lines were thick.

Here’s a picture of the wet ink…



At the moment I can only really tell the following facial expressions – OK (plain face), angry (shouting), sad(crying) and happy(laughing).   I was going to look into the ones depicted rather simplistically in manga to see if I can learn to recognise a few more in real life.  However I’ve since found out that, for instance, the confused manga look isn’t that close to what most people do on their face when they are actually confused in life.  So I’ll just go on enjoying manga!


Days 69 to 70 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 1#2

So in the last few days I’ve been working on drawing facial expressions in manga.   It’s something I’ve been avoiding for years.  When I paint or draw people I like to draw them with a plain face – no particular expression.  If I can,  I prefer even more to paint people with masks on.  This is because  (1) I think masks are really cool and (2) I don’t have to engage with any facial expressions at all.

Facial expressions are one of those things which I find really confusing because of the autism.  I can’t decode what all of them mean, especially at the time.  If I could constantly record the expressions people make and then go back and analyse what I see with the help of someone who can read this stuff, I think I could come up with an algorhythm to predict facial expressions, but I can’t record people like that.


To learn other bits of social interaction I have in the past recorded many complete series’ of an Australian programme called ‘Nothing to Declare’.  It’s about the Aussie border protection services.  I have used this programme to learn a lot about social interaction.  I like it because the customs chaps say straight-out what they see in a person’s behaviour and what that means to them.  They also model an assertive but fair and compassionate approach to interaction which fits with my faith and values.  Once they’ve explained a bit of behaviour and ‘decoded’ it for me I can spin the recording back a bit and watch it over and over until I can remember it.  Then when I see behaviour that fits what the customs people described, I can think about using some of their responses.  It has helped me to deal with more difficult situations a bit better.


manga books crilley


So, anyway,  given all of this, I certainly felt a certain amount of trepidation in trying to draw twelve different facial expressions.  Firstly I drew the 12 expressions which Mark Crilley has in his first ‘How to Draw Manga book’  (it’s the book on the left in the picture above.)

Here are the pictures:



I drew them in pencil, then inked them with my multiliners and then added shading in pencil.


Days 67 and 68 – Finally learning to paint faith and love…

Quite a while ago I tried to paint how I feel about my Christian faith.  Because it means so much to me I found that it was just too difficult to do.

(Here’s a link to those first attempts: Faith and Love Attempt One)

Then a week or so ago I sketched a picture of a shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders which kind of said what I wanted to say.

So I re-sketched this out onto proper cold-pressed watercolour paper…




Then I had a go at painting it with Winsor and Newton Artists Watercolours..



At first it looked really wishywashy and pale and I felt all fed up and annoyed with myself for doing a bad job – again.  But then the next day I decided that I had nothing to lose if I painted more layers over the top.  So I did – lots and lots of layers.  Here’s the final painting…



It’s not perfect at all but it does touch my heart in the way I wanted it to.  It just has, for me, that feeling of being loved and cared for which I get from my faith.


Because of the autism I have a lot of difficulty accurately communicating what I really feel with words which I find very frustrating especially when people start getting upset with me and I’ve done the very best I can do.  My language skills are pretty good generally but I don’t have the usual social context in which most people seem to operate – I’m always misunderstanding the effects which my language has and not getting the whole social aspect of communication.  For me, saying “A, B and C”, just means, “A, B and C”.  There is no social context, no what they call ‘side’ no ‘reading between the lines’ (which means understanding that there is a subtext in some communication)  because I am basically blind to all of this.  I can’t ‘see’ social context or non-straight-forward communication.  But with pictures I feel that I have a genuine way I could potentially communicate well and accurately in a way which isn’t constantly misunderstood.  I have a fighting chance.

I feel really pleased about this picture because it does, for me, finally say what I want to say.    🙂


Days 66 and 67 – Steampunk on the Thames

I’ve been playing around with steampunk on an off for a couple of days in the last few weks.  This is the picture I was working up to making.  It’s still not perfect but it’s beginning to be more like I want it to be.

Here are the sketch and ink drawings…





Then I coloured it in Manga Studio 5…


I am pretty pleased with the final result although, for my taste it could be a bit more gnarly and less smooth.  I think if I’d shaded it in pencil and then done some digital colour on top that would have helped a lot.  (I think I was seduced by the purity of the black ink on the white paper and didn’t want to touch it.)


For anyone who’s interested, I took some process screen prints of my digital colouring…

I've put in some sky and water and a bit of the base colour for the embankment.
I’ve put in some sky and water and a bit of the base colour for the embankment.



I’ve added some colour for the Houses of Parliment across the river.



More work on the background. I am trying to keep the colours and tones a bit muted to make the foreground stand out.



Background complete.



Finished the hat.



Done the coat and mechanical bird.


And here’s the finished image again…


Days 60 to 62 – Sketch, Ink, Watercolour – Coffee Shop #1

Another observational sketch today.  This was done in pencil in my notebook…


A few days later I decided to ink the drawing…


I left the pencil shading in.  I like the mixture of ink and pencil.  🙂

Then, after a lot more thought, because I really like ink drawings as they stand, I coloured it using watercolour.  I did it mainly, I think, because I need the practice.

Here’s the final image… (I cropped it too because I didn’t like the balance of the original.)



At school when we ask the children to evaluate their work we ask them to think of ‘two stars and a wish’ which means two things which are good and something to work on.  So, if I were to do that here I’d say, I like the ink with pencil work I’m doing, I like my attempt at reflections on the table and I wish I could paint with watercolour in a way that I like.

(Oh help – I’ve got more wishes than stars really – I also wish that I could learn to see value accurately in coloured images and I wish that I could choose better colours.)