Lockdown Reading and Free Bookmarks

A while back I made a some bookmarks for my own use. (I am always in need of these. If I don’t make some I end up using old envelopes and other bits of tat.) During the lockdown I have managed to find even more need for booksmarks than usual.

I often have three or four books/comicbooks on the go at any one time, but I realised that, at the moment, I have 15 books on the go…

Star Wars Heroes and Villains (above) is a set of short stories so I count these four books as one since they are a series. (In fact there are six books in the series as a whole but I finished the previous two ages ago.) I’m doing the same with Autumnlands and Middlewest because they are both collected editions of ongoing comicbook series and it’s still up to 15!

I’m afraid I don’t have process photos for my booksmarks, but I do have a high quality image which you are free to download to help with your lockdown reading needs. All four bookmarks are on one sheet which should print landscape A4. Each bookmark has a slightly wider border on the right hand side to allow for space to cut them apart from one another.

To download click here to go to the full size image, then right click the image and use “save image as”.

(Creative Commons Copyright information for this image is at the bottom of this post. Basically anyone is free to use and copy this image for non commercial purposes.)

Here are the individual bookmarks…

I hope you enjoy them!

PS: I wrote this post a few weeks ago. I am now having some difficulties with my breathing. No need to worry, my Doc thinks it’s a regular chest infection (possibly a complication from a procedure I had done in March) rather than Covid. But if the next round of antibiotics and steroids doesn’t fix it, or if my breathing gets worse, I might have to go into hospital. So I apologise in advance if I don’t respond to comments etc. I think it will all be OK in the end. I just can’t wait to get back to regular traditional drawing and painting!

Copyright Info – Normally I hold all rights reserved on the copyright for all images on this site (unless explicitly stated otherwise when they belong to someone else). I also limit the size of the images I post to reduce the risk of copyright infringement. However I have given the image linked above a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC 4.0) and uploaded it at full size. Licence details below…

  • CC BY-NC 4.0
  • Creator: Jo Fox
  • File: jofoxfreebookmarks.png
  • Created: 20 Feb 2020

A Digital Deer Skull and some Poetry


This week I worked on a digital painting of the skull of a deer.  When I began this painting a while back I was aiming for more of an animation-styled image where there is the illusion of a 3D object behind fairly standard comicbook linework.

The image I had at that point was…


When I looked at it again more recently, I decided to try to take the image through to a fully realistic digital painting.

I’ve also had a go at presenting my process via video this week which is a relatively new medium for me.  There’s no voice over since I still have this cough and temperature thing and my voice is too croaky even for jazz!

First up is a general slideshow of the main steps I followed in making this painting.  I’ve done this kind of thing a couple of times previously using GIF format, but this week I had a go making an MP4 video slideshow with captions…



I also have some video capture from various points when I was doing the actual painting.

The first is from when I was painting the flat colour of the antlers…


The second is of me painting my cast shadow…


And the last is of me sculpting the shapes using highlights and shadows.  This part took quite a few hours and was the most joyfully relaxing part of the whole piece.  I forgot about being feverish and the asthma problems I was having.  I even forgot about the Covid-19 lockdown. For those hours I was just a painter doing my thing.  Because I couldn’t save as many layers as I wanted, I periodically saved the current working layer down to a general shadow and highlights layer and then started a fresh working layer.  It’s not an ideal way to work as you cannot adjust things as easily once different sections are all in one layer but the Autodesk saves kept failing when my layer count was any higher.  It wasn’t too much of an issue since most of my painting life has been done via traditional media which is also a process where there’s limited ability to remove paint that you’ve added!  So here’s the video.  It’s quite a short excerpt because the application only records when you are actually drawing so it condenses 5 minutes of painting into about a minute.



(NB: In the last bit of the excerpt above I make these smooth bumps to the bottom right of the section I was working on.  I eventually went back and reworked this area as, although they appeared on one of my references, they weren’t there on any of the others.)

Here is my final realistic digital painting…



I have a way to go yet in terms of realism but I am happy to see some progress here.  This exercise really helped me get to grips with how to create 3D shapes using light and shadow.  I began to get a feel for it which is a really good feeling  I wonder if it will have a positive impact on my traditional painting?  I think I’ll have a go at a gouache painting when I’m next able to, to see if it has helped at all.


I also, this week, reworked a poem I wrote years ago for a writing group I used to belong to.

Disclaimer:  I am not a poet and I’m not really very drawn to poetry (except when feverish it seems).  I am hoping this is not quite as bad a Vogon Poem(1) which is used as a torture method by the Vogons and is supposedly the third worst poetry in the universe.

Read at you own risk!  🙂


The Turning Point

Are we all born to die?
Like mayflies, to emerge one day,
Bright and new into the sun,
And then with evening fade and fall,
And float downstream,
Decaying slowly, in the river, as it runs?

Will the world all turn to dust
Leaving quiet darkness
In the wake of shattering light?
And all that danced and pounced and played,
In days of warmth and life,
Be known only then in the silent prayer of stardust in the night?

When all of time is done with ticking,
And all that lives is gone,
When outer darkness ventures inward,
Enfolding all in funeral song,
The lights go out, The suns burn down,
To blackest void, where once they shone.

At last, in death, the mind of God, becomes competely still.
In perfect silence, all lets go, all comes to naught, all rests in nil…

Then slowly, following nature’s urging
The grave becomes a womb
Expectant emptiness is stirring
Something coming, somthing soon.

The Great Mother, following nature’s course,
Then turns again to face the morn.
Though wrapped in grief
She speaks her love,
Across the dark and empty eons,
And from that fragment of a her heart, the universe is born.

by Jo Fox



[(1) Douglas Adams, 1979, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy]



Going Deeper into Art

Like many people I’ve been in isolation for a while. At the time of writing I’m still unwell with a cough, bad asthma and a temperature. However, I am managing OK at home and my GP has now put me on steroids and antibiotics in case it’s a sinus infection which has gone onto my chest.



So, while confined to bed and watching some YouTube, I found a brilliant art channel. It’s called Art Prof Create & Critique. (If you want to look at the channel you can find it here.)

I found Professor Lieu’s teaching on this channel to be really excellent and very useful for improving my art. After watching a number of their videos I began to see art in a new way.

Firstly, I’ve become aware that I favour art which has a single detailed subject with a plain background, or no background at all. I think this is partly just personal taste and partly my interest in scientific illustration coming through. However if it also might relate to me being autistic and, in some sense, needing to see single detailed objects in a blank field.  I’ve always been drawn to this kind of 2d representation.  It relaxes me instantly!  But, while this stuff has it’s place, there is so much more out there.  So I’m going to start thinking beyond this pattern.

Secondly I’ve come to understand that the research I do on a subject is also part of the art!  I had no idea!  So is gathering a wide range of references, and not just references for the actual objects to be painted, but references for textures and colour combinations too!  Added to this is the process of trying out lots of quick thumbnails to find a way into a piece of work and the thinking behind the painting.  All of this is part of the process of art.  It’s something I’ve done, usually quickly and without showing much, if anything, of it on my blog.  I previously felt that this side of the work was just the annoying bits and pieces you have to do to be free to work on something.  Now I see it in a whole new light.   It’s like the soil you plant your painting in.  Good soil = good painting (hopefully)!

So I want to do some work as soon as I can, taking account of this new understanding, and giving proper time and energy to these other parts of the creative process.  I’m not able to work in traditional media right now as the Ventolin I take for my asthma makes my hands shake and, after spilling a glass of dirty paint water on my bed, bedside table and carpet I’m less enamoured with trying to do this while unwell.  So I will try it when I can.

In the mean time here’s a quick animation-styled sketch of the teacher, Professor Lieu,  I’ve been following on Art Prof.  I can’t thank her enough…


Art Prof




Process for animation-styled sketches

Here are the stages I went through for each sketch.  I followed roughly the same process each time…

  1. Sketch
  2. Pen
  3. Colour or tone
  4. Lights and shadows

Woman in Bed…



And here’s the Professor…


Creating a Science Fiction Blaster out of a Modern Pistol


This week I tried a new digital technique using Autodesk Sketchbook again (and a little Photoshop in the final finishing).  The plan was to take a photograph and then cut and paste parts of it onto itself to make a new image.  I wanted to make a new blaster which would be suitable for my favourite franchise, Star Wars.

So I began with a modern handgun…

I don’t know much about real guns, but apparently this is a “Desert Eagle”.  I chose it because it looked pretty sleek.

I cut various sections out, copied them, added them back, and then played around with them in terms of size and shading and position to altar the original image.

Here’s a video of part of the process…


And here is a gif animation of the process I followed…


Next I made some final touches in Photoshop.  I added a name engraved in the metal and some shadows. Then I widened the photograph to centre the image properly.

Here’s the original modern pistol…


And here’s the final Star Wars styled blaster.  I called it the QuantumShot MkIII

I think Han Solo might like it!


PS: This is the last post I did over the February half term.  I’m going to carry on with some art while isolated and unwell as it cheers me up and I find it really quite relaxing.  However I might do less in the way of traditional painting as I dropped a glass of dirty paintwater everywhere next to my bed when I tried to finish a painting I currently have on the go.