Gaia – ink and pencil drawing

Recently I watched the Disney film “Moana“. It was wonderful – the ocean, sailing and a beautiful island earth-mother goddess – what a fabulous combination!

The ocean (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Sailing (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Island earth-mother goddess (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Inspired by this, and by Earth Day, I made a drawing of the Greek Goddess Gaia. I began with a simple design drawn digitally on my tablet. I gave her features which were similar to Te Fiti (the goddess in the film), but then added foliage from more of a central and northern european location.

I then redrew this in more detail on A3 paper…

I debated whether to keep this as a pencil image or work on it in ink. I chose ink in the end. I love the permanence of it and the way it makes me concentrate to get each line as I want it.

Next I began to ink in my details…

I used my Pigma Micron pens for this 0.3 and 0.05. Once all of the ink detail was done I then wanted to add some tone. I played around digitally with the idea of a watercolour wash in regular expected colours and then in a more green dominated palette…

But somehow these coloured options seemed to lose something I wanted in the feeling of the picture. So I tried again with greyscale only…

Now this I liked much more. So I worked on the image with pencils and blending stumps to fill in some tone in her face and body. I was planning to put a darker wash over the whole picture but once the body was done the picture seemed to be where I wanted it so I left it as it was.

Here’s the final image…

I hope you all had a super Earth Day!

Simple Tree Tattoo

This week I designed a tattoo. I’ve made a couple of attempts to design this tattoo before but both times the design was too complex and would need to be larger than I could handle in terms of having the work done. This design was made to be kept small (about 7 cms in diameter) which is manageable.

I did the design work digitally and began with a very basic shape…

Then using this as a guide I roughed in some basic branches…

Taking away the original rough guide, it looked like this…

Next I filled in my basic branches and then reworked them a little…

My next job was to put in some leaves…

To do this I needed to reduce the length of many of my branches. I used a simple rendering of light on the leaves. I imagined that the sun was setting just to the right of the trunk and kept the light section of each leaf towards that direction.

Finally, I wanted to give the viewer some idea of the texture of the trunk, but still keep things really simple. In the end I settled on this…

Here’s the finished design…

I think it will look good! I’ve found a really good tattooist to take this design forward and tattoo it for me. Now I just have to put down a deposit and then get an appointment!

How to get Photoshop 6.0 to run after the Windows 10 Build 20H2 Update

This is not one of my usual art blog posts. As some of you know I’ve owned a full licenced version of Adobe Photoshop 6.0 for many years but when I updated Windows with the 20H2 update Photoshop failed completely. I was gutted because I paid a lot of money for that software and I can’t afford the new Creative Cloud version.

Fortunately for me I have a wonderful son who is a talented and tenaciaous software engineering student at Uni. He found a range of solutions I could use. The best of these was to use Windows compatability mode on my original Photoshop software. Windows itself recommends XP service pack 3 via it’s troubleshooter but this didn’t actually work. I got the same fatal error. So I ran it in every compatability mode it has and I found one that works – Windows 98 / Windows Me!!!

So, for anyone else in my position who is struggling with Adobe Photoshop 6.0 after the lastest Windows 10 update, here are the instructions to to get it working. (I can’t guarentee it will work for you, it may depend on how your machine is set up and how you have installed Photoshop, but this fix is completely and easily reversable so if it doesn’t work you’ve lost nothing.)

Instructions

Find you Photoshp.exe file. (Caution, the spelling of the file is slightly different from the word Photoshop – it’s Photoshp.) In most installs it can be found at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Photoshop 6.0\Photoshp.exe

Here’s mine…

Right-Click the executable file. Then click Properties at the bottom of the menu as shown below.

In the properties form, click on the Compatability tab.

Now find the Compatability Mode part of this tab. (Don’t bother running the compatability troubleshooter – it gets it wrong.) Click the checkbox so there is a tick in Run this program in compatability mode for: and then select Windows 98 / Windows Me from the drop down box. It should look like this…

Finally Click OK at the bottom of the form

Next you can run Photoshop as you normally would. Windows will ask you if you want to allow Photoshop to make changes to your PC. This is because it’s running in compatability mode and it’s fine so Click OK.

…And, hopefully, Photoshop should run!!!

🙂

(PS: I’ve done some basic work with it and had no issues so far. It’s the best solution that I’ve found. I will update this page if anything else comes up. Best of luck!!!)

The Cardinal’s Mistress

This image comes from a pencil sketch I made while watching the CBC series “Tudors” about the life of Henry the VIII. At the end of the first season the mighty Cardinal Wolsey is in trouble with his King and is living in discrace with his mistress in a dilapidated house with a leaking roof. All the way through the series I was really touched by Sam Neill’s (Cardinal Wolsey) and Lorna Doyle’s (the Cardinal’s longtime mistress Joan) performance here. They were able to show us another side to the scheming and ambitious Cardinal – a man, like any other man, going through some serious difficulties with the help of his wife. There was a tenderness to those scenes which I found really moving.

Here is the pencil sketch…

I pulled the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook and began to colour it.

First I just put in some mid tones roughly in the background. In the TV programme the walls were a cream colour and there were were various browns around in the furniture. I added the blue to my composition to give the viewer the feeling of water which was everywhere in the scene.

Next, using a similar palette I filled in some basic midtones in the foreground…

Once this was done I needed to push my shadows and highlights a little with the colour so that the pencil shadows don’t have to work so hard. I also experimented with adding some other colours here and there to add depth to the painting…

I then finished off the image in Clip Studio Paint. Here is the final picture…

I like the unity between the foreground and background and I quite like the hints of green I put into her dress. If I redid this picture I would be more careful where I put the dark greyish navy shadows in her hair. I think they work in places but don’t in others.

Max and Mouse – A Comic Strip

In the last couple of weeks, while I’ve been resting, I’ve read a couple of excellent books about comics written by a guy called Scott McCloud.

These books are currently used in undergraduate sequential art courses and I can see why! They are brilliant! (Sequential Art is just a posh word for comics, graphic novels and any other combination of words and pictures which carry a narrative.)

I was working my way through the second book “Making Comics” when I saw an exercise Scott put into the notes sections for the first chapter…

McCloud, S. (2006) Making comics. 1st edn. New York: Harper Collins

This looked like wonderful fun! I picked the mini-plot about the dogs…

“Dog eats dog, dog burps, dog figure skates”

I began with 6 boxes…

Then I hashed out a very quick initial version of my comic strip…

Initially I planned for the Figure Skating panel at the end to tie in to the name of the strip and of the two dogs who I called Torvil and Dean after the world class figure skaters of the same names. I still remember their World Figure Skating “Barnum” performance in 1983 where they were scored a perfect 6.0 from the judges of every country. It was just a fabulous dance.

The third section of the dance still brings me out in goosebumps. I think it’s the way their dance perfectly captured the spirit of the music and the hearts of the audience at the same time. The audience begin to clap and you can just feel the joy of the moment reverberating around the stadium.

However, when I showed my mock up to my son, he had no idea who Torvil and Dean are, so the joke fell flat. I knew I was going to have to rework the art anyway so I thought I’d find a way to rework the joke too. I began with the line art…

Once I had my joke and line art finalised I then added some greyscale tones to increase the clarity and give the stip some more visual interest. I did the foreground first…

…and then the background…

Finally I tried to bring my image into Photoshop (PS) to finalise the tones and balance the whole thing out, but PS failed! I use Photoshop 6.0. It’s too expensive for me to use Photoshop Creative Cloud since the payments go on indefinitely and are way too expensive. It feels like catch 22 sometimes because I can’t get a job using PS (despite working with it since 1996 back when it was PS 4.0) unless I am up to date with PS Creative Cloud and I can’t afford PS Creative Cloud until I have a job!

Anyway, after some investigation it turns out that the new update to Windows 10 has permanently taken away my ability to use Photoshop 6.0 – so that software is simply not available to me anymore. It was a real blow. Fortunately though I also have Manga Studio 5.0. I was able to get this updated to Clip Studio Pro (the new version with a name change) and I have been learning how to use this newer software. It’s actually excellent and can do all of the everyday stuff which PS can do, plus the user interface is much much better! So, after a bit of installing and faffing about with the new way of doing things I got my image finalised – phew!

PS: Then I went to put up this post only to find that WordPress have now closed the loophole I was using to use the Classic Editor! So I had another new system to learn! It seems to be the way of things at the moment – a new year, new flowers, new software! I’m just going to go with it. 🙂

Here’s the final comic strip…