Day 103 to 109 – Hands, hearts and music.

I began this week with an exercise on drawing hands from Mark Crlley’s Manga book…

manga books crilley


So here are my sketches…


I discovered that I really like drawing hands – they are such interesting objects with so many patterns and shapes that they can be in!

Then I gave them some shading in pencil and then added colour using a three shade cell animation style.  I worked at using a different skin tone for each hand which made it fun…


Looking at them now I can see some errors and mistakes I would like to draw better next time, but they do look more like hands than bananas so I’m OK with them generally.

Then I decided to use some of this ‘hand work’ to sketch a picture of my son playing guitar…




Drawing his real hands was much harder than drawing the hands from Mark’s book!  I had a good go at it thought and then inked my sketch and shaded it with some greyscale markers.  Once I got it scanned it, at first I played around with the music notes and added colour to them…



But, despite adding a drop shadow and trying a number of other things too I couldn’t get the contrast I wanted on them so I reverted for my final image to the scan…




The next day I was kicking back watching ‘Tattoo Fixers’ (a UK TV show about doing Tattoo Cover-ups – it’s a bit of a favourite in our place) and I saw one of them design an artificial something – I think it was a heart.  Anyway, I thought it was a great idea for a drawing so I began to make up my own artificial heart.

I began by sketching a real heart really lightly from a textbook I’ve got at home and then replaced each part with something artificial.

Here’s my final work from my sketchbook…


I used ink and pencil to create this.  I still thought it was a bit boring though so I added a background and colourised the ink/pencil drawing…


I think this has managed to make an interesting picture but I think I failed to really match the background well to my foreground image.  It just doesn’t tie in properly and loses impact because of that.  Ho hum – you can’t win them all.

Post Script:

I looked at this again today, after it was published and thought of some ways I could improve the coherance of the artificial heart picture.  I had a quick play around in photoshop and this is what I came up with.  I think it’s slightly better but I might be trying to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear!  LOL


I used colours from the background in the foreground image and then added some filters to both to tie them in.

Days 96 to 102 – Using art to avert ‘Death by Chrismas Concert’

As the school term goes on (and on) and the staff (and I suspect some of the children) all begin to edge towards ‘Death by Christmas Concert’ syndrome I’m finding myself increasingly tired.  Not just a bit worn-out but bone-achingly, think-my-body-will-seize-up-any-minute tired.  It’s no wonder that, when I hear the introduction to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ for the eightieth time and try to smile and encourage the children, I find myself losing the will to live.

So this week, art has been a bit of a refuge.  I’ve not had a great deal of time but what I have had I’ve used to do some ink work and then mostly to colour it digitally.

The first drawing began as a serious sketch of a Northern Saw-Whet Owl (which is a massively cute little thing with big big eyes.)  Gradually though it became more of a decorative ink pattern owl.

Here’s the final ink drawing…



Then I coloured it in Manga Studio 5…


At first I naturally tried to colour the leaves green but that added another hue to my colour pallette which I didn’t want so I played around with the colour and finally settled on blue.  The more I look at pictures with limited colour pallettes the more I like them so I’m trying to use this in my colour work.


Then I went on to sketch a butterfly while I waited to collect my son from his after-school session.  This was really just a way to relax…



As this was done mainly waiting in my car I had no computer, only a wet brush, some inks and some watercolour pencils.  I’m not sure I really captured the effect I was going for, where the butterfly brings colour to everything it touches, but it was fun to do.

The last picture I did this week was done quite late at night when I couldn’t sleep.  I recently got a set of Winsor and Newton Brush Markers (instead of Copics as my budget won’t stretch that far).  But I’d not had time to use them for anything, so since I couldn’t sleep and needed to relax I made a quick cartoon sketch of a Mr Fox character…



The markers were great to use although they bled a bit on the Moleskin paper and they blended really well.  (They also ruined the picture on the other side of the page but I was aware of this possiblilty and should really have thought about it and used some Bristol Board.)

I was pleased with the Fox character – I think he looks quite jaunty.

Then the next day I coloured him in Photoshop…



PS:  I wish you all a Happy Christmas!.  I do the artwork for my blog and write it up a few weeks in advance and then schedule it, so this work was done near the beginning of December when we were rehearsing like mad for the school Christmas performances.  It’s quite nice to think that by the time this blog is published I shall be sitting in my cosy living room with a cup of coco and my feet up!

Days 90 to 95 – Inspiration from artists I really admire.

This week I worked on two projects.  The first was to make a study of a full page piece from a Manga artist I really like (Makoto Yukimura) and the second was to work on a picture of my own design but in the style of a German artist I really like (Iraville).


The Manga I’m enjoying so much at the moment is called Planetes


It’s written and drawn by a super artist and storyteller – Makoto Yukimura.

Here he is…


The story is written as a slice-of-life take on hard science fiction – it’s fabulous!  The characters are complex and very accessible, the science is excellent and there are some great funny bits in it too which had me laughing out loud.

One of my favourite stories is when one of the main characters, Fee,  goes off duty in a space station and wants cigarette.  However a terrorist organisation is blowing up the smoking rooms in space.  The story chronicles her quest to have a quiet smoke.  (It’s the 3rd story arc in book one.)

The idea of an astronaut who smokes  really captured my imagination.

For this story Makoto Yukimura drew a full page of Fee smoking in her space suit.  I made a study of this brilliant image.  I find when I try to work in another artist’s style or work on reproducing one of their pictures as a study I get much more of a feeling for their work than from just looking at it.  It kind of takes me deeply into it – really close.  I love that feeling of studying every detail of something, especially something I find beautiful.

Here’s my sketch  (on the right) of Makoto Yukimura’s original picture (on the left) in my sketchbook.



Once I’d finished the sketch I tidied up my line work, inked it and added some grey ink to give it some tone.  The grey ink was waterbased so doesn’t go down as smoothly as the alcohol based stuff but I did the best I could with it.  (I have finally broken down and ordered some grey W&N brush markers and a blender pen.  Hopefully this will make my traditionally inked tones better in future.)

Here’s the finished study of Makoto Yukimura’s inspiring work…(Again Yukimura’s brilliant original work is on the left.)




The second artist I studied this week is Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde (Iraville), a german illustrator and character designer from Munich.  She has a beautiful YouTube channel here:

Iraville’s YouTube Channel

Iraville uses watercolour to colour these beautiful stylised images.  Her style is, as far as I can tell from a quick internet search, completely unique.  Here’s an example of one of her pictures…

Iraville’s beautiful original watercolour painting style.

I wanted my picture in her style to be of a turtle carrying a small patch of nature around on his back.  As part of the nature I wanted to have a little orange fox.

Here’s my sketch – outlined in black ink and coloured with prismacolor pencils…



Then I drew it again on watercolour paper and coloured it with my Winsor and Newton Artist’s Watercolours.  Here’s the final picture…(it actually has no blue in it but the scanner seemed to try to balance the picture and added blue which kind of reduces the vibrancy a bit.  I tried to sort it out in photoshop but without success.)


I think it’s possible to see Iraville’s influence in the painting quite strongly but I just can’t paint like she does.  Somehow it comes out different.  I like the way it turned out though.  One of the things which really worked for me on this one was the colour – it was one of those little break-through moments.  I have really been struggling with colouring things even slightly decently but this one doesn’t look so bad.  Perhaps I am finally beginning to understand how colour works?     🙂





Days 83 to 89 – Kyoto, Keys, Water and Watercolour

I began this week with another ink sketch on white paper.  Again I tried to work without making any pencil marks beforehand.  This time I chose a landscape as my subject rather than a person.  I found this harder as I had to think about perspective but couldn’t draw any guidelines.  It was challenging but was a good exercise.  It took about 20 minutes in all.  The sketch is of a famous street view in the Japanese city of Kyoto.  It’s somewhere I’d love to go one day.

Here’s the sketch…


Later in the week there was a night when I couldn’t sleep as my pain condition was causing me problems so I began to sketch some water droplets.  Previously that evening I’d watched a beautiful YouTube video by an artist called   ‘LethalChris Drawing’ who made an Inktober Sketchbook this year.  In it he had a lovely picture of some waterdroplets on a leaf.  Working from what I could remember from the video I sketched some water of my own using a worn out felt tip.  I was really surprised at how many line variations I could get with a pen I would normally throw out.  It wasn’t even a pen for writing on paper, but for putting names into my son’s school uniform from years ago.

So here’s Chris’ YouTube video (the waterdroplet is at approximately 11min 46 seconds)…

And here’s my sketch done with nothing but a worn out felt tip…


The following day I tried a more detailed ink sketch, again without any pencil lines beforehand.  This turned out to be the best one I’ve done.  It was based on a scene I had seen in a beautiful anime film called “5cm Per Second”.  (Wiki article here)

In the film our protagonist drops his keys in a lift.  The animators drew some beautiful keys with reflections and shadows.  It really blew me away – I loved it.  The whole film was wonderful.  So I watched that part a few times and then tried to draw the keys.  Here’s the final result of my drawing…


It’s nowhere near as good a picture as the original from the animation team at CoMix Wave Inc, but it does serve as a reminder of that lovely image.

Then I spent the rest of the week drawing 4 quick ink drawings (again with no pencil preparation) and then colouring them in different ways.  I am trying to find a way to use watercolour with ink drawings.  Here are the four images I made…


I like the deep colour gradients in the top left one and the watercolour wet in wet background in the bottom right best.

I find, for me, the bottom left picture is too fussy and the top right is kind of ruined by using greyscale water-based markers under the paint – they don’t give a clean finish – I’d have done better to darken the aquamarine directly I think.  Also, I used only flat colour here and it kind of shows.  I think using analogous colours together for each wash works much better and gives things a more lively look.

So that was the art I worked on this week.     🙂

Days 77 to 82 – From Scribbles to the Central Line

I began this week making an ink drawing without lifting my pen off the paper.  I decided to draw my little dog.  In the end I did lift up my pen twice in the drawing but it wasn’t intentional – just habit.  The idea of this exercise was to try to loosen me up a bit.  I find it all too easy to want every pen stroke to be perfect.  While I think that’s OK if you can still draw freely, I sometimes get hung up about messing up a drawing or painting.  I guess there is always going to be a degree of tension when anyone creates something but I try to keep that as a positive tension.  Personally I think the secret for me is a bit of bravery and a focus on enjoying drawing (or painting) rather than results.

After the ink drawing I coloured the picture with watercolour.  I think my relaxation really helped with this and I found ways to play with the paint rather than fight it!

So, here’s my little dog…



Then I went on to work on the issues I have with using watercolour to add colour to comic style ink drawings.  Here’s my initial drawing already inked…


(This was done as a double page spread in my notebook.)

My use of colour has been a bit of a weak spot so I’ve done some studying of colour harmonies…


This gives me a better basic visual language when it comes to colour.

I used what I’d learned about colour to design my colour scheme for the picture roughly in Manga Studio.  Here’s the plan I made…


Then I painted it in my notebook…


Considering it’s not on watercolour paper I’m kind of OK with this one but it’s really not where I want it to be.  I can feel things moving forward with this kind of work but it’s slow progress at the moment.  What I’m really looking for is a way to add a limited palette of colours to my ink drawings and lineart which I really like.  I want them to have the strong rich colour and smooth gradients of a digitally coloured piece but with some texture and warmth which comes more often from more traditional painting.

After all of that colour work I then spent some time drawing with black ink on white paper.  I decided to do this with no pencil work beforhand.  I found it quite a challenge making final marks on the paper from the very first stroke but it feels like a healthy kind of challenge.   Here they are…



This second one of a man waiting for a central line underground train interested me and I tried a little “mixed-media-messing-about” with it…


I kind of like the way the two media clash quite harshly but at the same time the subject matter pulls them strongly together.  The background image is a photograph with added digital work to make the ground for the figure to stand on.  I also dropped the opacity of the background to make the figure stand out really well.