Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #6


This is the last week of video observation practice.  My 10 minute practice drawings seemed to follow a war theme this week although it wasn’t intentional.  It began when I watched a documentary on the Vietnam War which was horrific in places and difficult to watch.  Then I  got into looking at clips of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.  Finally I ended up, where I nearly always end up, with Star Wars!

Here’s the picture I sketched from the documentary…


Here’s a sketch of Royal Marines deploying in a RIB from an RN ship…


And here’s a Star Wars rebel fighter pilot going into hyperspace!




Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #5

This week’s sketches were all of animals.  I mainly used my Pigma Microns and brush markers, although I did experiment with a bit of charcoal over the ink for the body of my gorilla.  I’m still in two minds about that decision.

Here are the pictures…



The dog is my favourite, despite running over my ten minute limit by 3 minutes.


A Maritime Interlude

This half term just gone, I got the birthday present of a lifetime and was given the chance to go, with some family and friends, on a real Thames Sailing Barge, under sail from Maldon. It was simply the best day ever!!! I have loved boats all my life and these boats in particular for more than 10 years. We used to visit Maldon in the summer, sit on quay, have fish and chips and watch the Morris Dancers. Always, moored up there, were the Thames Sailing Barges, looking magnificent.

Finally I got to sail in one and on the same water where I learned to sail! I just can’t say how totally awesome it was – it blows my mind!

This (above) is the view as we motored away from the quay and got out into the Blackwater Estuary. (These vessels originally didn’t have engines but when they were converted for passenger use, engines were added.)

Here are some amazing facts…

  • They are flat-bottomed sailing boats with no keel. Instead they use “leeboards” to prevent them being pushed to leeward when sailing. (Leeward is basically sideways in the direction the wind is blowing i.e. downwind.).
  • Because they have no real keel their draft can be as small as 3 feet allowing them to get right up river if needs be.
  • Our boat “Thistle” was 85 feet long and 20 feet across.
  • Thames Sailing Barges are the largest boats to be crewed by two men, a Skipper and a First Mate
  • She was built in 1895 and is 124 this year!
  • She began life bringing coal down to the Thames from the Humber and now works as a charter boat for Topsail Charters.

This is our First Mate putting up the jib. That day it was a bit blowy so we only used the jib and the mizzen (main sail on the second mast). She still heeled over when the wind got up, even with so little sail on. It was a beautiful ride.

This is one of a few beautiful vessels we saw moored out in the Blackwater. Once we got right out into the estuary I was very kindly given a chance to helm the boat for about 15 to 20 minutes under the careful watch of the crew. It was so brilliant! It was one of the best experiences of my life! The waves kept banging against the rudder making the wheel jump heavily in my hands. I also noticed that even with the leeboards she wasn’t able to go as close to the wind as the modern boats I’ve sailed before. She took a pretty long time to respond to the helm too, so you had to watch well ahead for channel markers. It was only 20 minutes but I think I fell in love with her a little bit. It was such a privilege to take the helm.

This (above) is part of the salt marsh at high tide. I love this kind of place! Marshes and fens have been my favourite places for years. They are incredibly useful and productive from a biological point of view. They are also invaluable as nurseries for fish, insects and crustaceans. Having good condition salt marshes on the coast really helps to balance overfishing and they also stabilise the land against wave action to some extent. Although, being a Biology teacher at heart, I really enjoy all of this biological stuff, the thing I love most about the marshes is that they’re a liminal place, neither sea nor land, a place of change, of lost edges, of ends and beginnings. It feels kind of magical to me, somehow free from the normal rules. I can see why the marshes were regarded as strange and uncanny in the past. To me though they spell freedom.

Finally we came back to the quay at mid afternoon and had a gorgeous late lunch of Lentil Soup onboard as the boat settled gently onto the Blackwater mud at low tide. This was followed by a lovely birthday whiskey – the perfect end to a perfect day!

P.S. I haven’t included any photos of family or friends because I prefer to ask permission for this kind of thing before putting any pictures onto the internet. I have loads of great photos and many more from my sister who is, it turns out, a much better photographer than me!

P.P.S. Apologies for my absence online on this day. Saturday is my main day for perusing WordPress and this nautical adventure was on a Saturday, so I got a little behind in my reading that week. 😁

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.