Dandelion – traditional Ink and Digital Colour

This week I drew a dandelion with it’s seeds taking flight. I began with a sketch…

…and then switched to drawing in bed. (My pain is not great at the moment.) It’s always a bit dodgy to do this. I already have one sheet and duvet cover with permanent ink stains! But keeping busy really helps so I did it anyway.

Here’s how my ink drawing turned out…

This drawing was inspired by the many dandelions in a bit of scrubland I can see from my front window. There used to be a hedge there but the local council pulled it out. It’s quite interesting how different plants take root in the new space. Biologically this process is called ecological succession.

Now I happened watch the dandelions release their seeds during the golden hour when the sun was setting one evening and it felt like fairy dust rising in some kind of magical realm, like I could see a gateway to some deeper time and place. I wanted to convey something of that singular experience in my picture. Sadly, looking at the ink drawing I made – it seemed flat and dull to me, more like a very basic scientific illustration than a witness to a wonder.

Initially I just turned the page in my sketchbook and moved on to something else. But then later on I wondered what I could do with some digital colour. I very much wanted to find an illustrative way to communicate something the sense of magic and connectedness I felt when I saw those dandelions in the sunset. So instead of pulling the drawing into Autodesk Sketchbook, I uploaded it to the PC and fired up Clip Studio Paint. This software has been developed for exactly this kind of illustration and has some excellent brushes built in. I’ve dabbled with the previous version of the software (when it was called Manga Studio) but this was my first time trying to use the new software in earnest.

Here is how it went. I opened up my inks in the program…

Before I really got properly started I had a lot of fun just playing around with a huge range of brushes and getting a feel for the way the software works. Eventually I found some ways of painting that I really liked so I laid down some colour. I wanted to imply out-of-focus plants and grass in the background around my subject so I was quite free with the painting. Once I had my main colours I used a blending brush to soften some of the edges and then added a bit more here and there to get a good range of tones. Here’s how that turned out…

I also added some airbrushed white behind the seed heads to make them stand out.

After that I began work on the dandelion itself – adding some blue-ish shading to the seed heads and browns and greens to the place where the stem terminates and the seeds are joined. I also painted the stems and the grass.

Then I painted the dandelion leaves and added some highlights to the stems. My last job was to add some very light airbrushed white behind the seeds dancing through the air to give the viewer the sense of the breeze carrying them – you can see this in the completed image below…

I’m still not sure what I think about this one. I like the background but I’m still not sure if it captures the moment I was aiming for.

8 thoughts on “Dandelion – traditional Ink and Digital Colour

  1. Thanks! I’m having some difficulty with adjusting the colour space of my laptop. On the laptop it looks much less saturated. When I’m well I check it on other devices but I didn’t get a chance to do that with this one. Apologies!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant to add that I hope you get some respite from your debilitating condition, and soon – I can’t imagine what it must be like – and that your art is a satisfying and not too tiring way to put it temporarily to one side. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did like the original inked drawing, though I saw it less as a textbook illustration, more as an evocative image in a picture- or story-book. The greens you use are a little garish for me (it could just be my phone’s limitations, of course) but I can’t see out your window so can’t judge!


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