“Young Adults” Part 3 # 3 – The young man who loves to cook insects.

 

This is the last in a series of three ink portraits of young adults.  This young Japanese man is an expert at cooking insects.  I saw a video about him and was impressed by his knowledge, skills and enthusiasm.  I paused the video just as he was serving a plate of insects and looking really thrilled at what he had made.  His face was full of joy.  It was such a beautiful image, I had to draw it.

Here are my pencils…

 

And here is the final drawing, following the same technique that I used in the previous two attempts at this particular exercise…

 

With this drawing I worked quite hard to put this young man in his commercial kitchen.  It was an interesting place with many different tools of a chef’s trade.  This drawing turned out a little looser than the last one.  I think that gives it an immediacy which I almost like, but I still find my heart wanting tighter line work (even when I am actively trying to loosen it up a bit!)

“Young Adults” Part 2 # 3 – Softball

This is the second of a three-part sketching series on Young Adults. The aim was to ink my drawings in the same way that I draw with pencil to try to get a looser feel and to draw people who are just being themselves.

This sketch is of a young woman softball player, looking quite relaxed, perhaps after having played a game.

I began with some structural lines…

Then I made a pencil sketch…

Next I added my ink ouline and cleaned off my pencil…

After that I added some hatching marks for the deeper shadows…

My final job was to add some ink diluted with water as a midtone. Here is the final drawing…

What I am happy with in this drawing is the subtle gesture of her centre of gravity (below, in red) which gives the sense of her standing in a relaxed way, along with the contrast of the opposing gesture in her arms (below, in blue).

I’m also finally finding it easier to draw hands more naturally. If I wanted to improve this drawing one of the things I would do would be to rework the way her T-shirt is hanging on her right (our left) which doesn’t read well to me. I think the lines need to be more curved. I also think it’s much tighter than the loose feel I was aiming for.

“Young Adults” Part 1 # 3 – Eat…Drum…Sleep…(repeat)

 

For the next three weeks I’m doing a series of simple traditional ink sketches, based loosley on the theme of “Young Adults”.  Apart from scanning the images to get them onto the internet, they will be done entirely with traditional materials.

This week’s sketch is, ostensibly, of a fantastic young drummer I know, although I actually used three different references for the drawing.  He does do a LOT more than just eat, drum and sleep, but it still feels like a good motto for this particular drawing.

Here’s a photo of the pencils…

 

This is the final ink drawing…

 

It was done on Daler and Rowney cartridge paper in an A4 spiral bound sketchbook which I am really enjoying.  It is really liberating to have a bigger sketchbook!  I used Pigma Microns for the main drawing and then some “Calli” India Ink (made for calligraphy), diluted with tap water in a brush pen to add some mid tone.

While working on this I didn’t actually have a photo of my subject in this position, although I have seen him sleep like this on many occasions!  So I used three references to make this drawing, a portrait of my young drummer and 2 photos of different men lying on a couch.  One of the men was actually sleeping with a newspaper lying on him so, wanting to keep the theme of my subject being the young musician that he is, I changed it to the New Musical Express (even though the NME went digital a long while ago).  The other male reference was for his body sinking into the cushions since the first picture didn’t really show that.

With this set of drawings my aim was to try to ink in the same way that I draw, to give the drawings a looser feel.  I also worked on having my figure sink into his surroundings.  I pretty much managed it with his body, but forgot to really push this effect with his head!  I think if I’d have shown some of the cushion overlapping with the bottom of his face and changed the line of his hair to take account of it falling on the cushion it would read a little better.

 

The Dryad’s Awakening

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about imaginary worlds in literature.  (This was sparked by an excellent post made by a fellow blogger and book lover, Calmgrove, which you can find here.)

The Bronte siblings, I have learned, developed the imaginary “Glasstown”.  C S Lewis made up “Animal-Land” as a boy and then “Narnia” as an adult.  Tolkien brought “Middle-earth” to life and Ursula K LeGuin brought us “Earthsea”.  As a child (and still as an adult) I spent a lot of time reading and finding myself adventuring in many different imaginary lands; I enjoy it enormously.  So I began to wonder what sort of imaginary place I would create, if I could?

I am strongly drawn to two different narrative landscapes.  The first are those where nature-centred stories seem to grow, especially those where every living thing has it’s own being and will, every plant, , every fish, every beetle.  Sometimes even the stone of a mountain might grow it’s own will and sense of being.  These places contain, for me, a mixture of 3 different things.  The first are prehistoric, animistic ideas (including ritual landscapes like long barrows and standing stones).   The second are ideas from the Japanese Shinto Religion, stories of various Kami with rivers being Dragon Lords and volcanoes as Gods of Fire.  The third place I always find my imagination going to is into classical Greek mythology with dryads, centaurs, river nymphs, harpies and giants.

The second landscape revolves around adventures in space; places from science fiction including my favourite galaxy far far away (Star Wars).  So the landscape is actually a galaxy wide region of space with may different planets, environments, people and cultures.  Among these cultures I prefer tales set in the margins, on the borders, where things are difficult and people have very little personal power to change their own fate.  I prefer hard science fiction to space opera, but only in so far as I think the things  a person could make or do in that world needs to have reasonably coherant explainations.  And there would, of course, be a plethora of totally cool spaceships and droves of interesting aliens!

Having all of this turning over in the back of my mind I fell into thinking about the first of these two landscapes and began researching dryads.

This week’s art is a drawing of such a dryad who has slept very late into spring and is awakened by a butterfly.

Here’s my basic outline sketch…

I made my pencil outline quite dark and then worked up the details of the tree also in pencil…

 

Then I began to ink the picture.  First I did the outline with a 0.5 Pigma Micron pen…

 

Then I worked on the inside area with my trusty 0.3 Micron.  (I seem to use this size pen more than any other.)

 

This is my final ink drawing…

I must admit, I absolutely adore doing ink drawings like this.  I know there are so many other techniques and opportunities to make art these days, especially with the advent of digital art, but I love the simplicity and starkness of the black lines on white paper.  Anyway, I decided I wanted to keep the drawing as it was so I scanned it in and did all my colouring digitally…

I added my colour on several layers underneath the ink layer.  When put together, these colour layers make an interesting shape with the ink layer removed.  It’s almost like the shadow or spirit of the drawing.

 

Here is my final image…

“After the Game” Character Illustration – Part 2 of 2

My second attempt at a character illustration is again of an older man.  This time he has just been to the gym is having a bit of a sit down before hitting the showers after working out.  I wanted him to be in reasonably good shape for his age but feeling more tired after physical exercise than perhaps he used to.  Maybe he’s reflecting on this as he rests?

 

I began with a sketch…

It was done very quickly using a Pigma Micron ink pen and brushmarkers to add tone. At some point it also got wet and the edges all got a bit smudged.

I took a photo of this and reworked it digitally. My first job was to re-draw all the line art. At this stage I also corrected an error I could see with the man’s right leg (the left as we look at him) which appeared to be out of position.

 

Next I filled in some basic tones…

 

Then I added cell shading.  I do really enjoy the simplicity of this old fashioned way to partially give shape to a 2D image…

 

Once that was done I worked on the bench he was sitting on…

 

My last job was to draw in a painterly background. I imagined my subject was quite well off, so the place he was in was more of a private health spa than a regular gym, with the kind of generic paintings on the walls that I imagine might be in places like that.

 

Finally I adjusted my levels, made some tiny detail corrections and added some shadow to the area immediately below his feet so that the viewer can see the connection between him and the ground. Here is how it turned out…

 

Looking back I think the linework on his arms is a bit janky.  If I redrew it I would de-emphasise the changes in his outline due to different muscle groups.  Overall though I like the pose and the effect of a more painterly background agains the stark 2D cell-shaded figure.

 

Next week I have post all about a magical creature I drew in ink.  After that I will begin a series of three traditional ink drawings of young adults which I drew during the Witsun holidays.

“The Boatman” Character Illustration – Part 1 of 2

This week and next week I am working on illustrating people and endeavouring show something of their character in the illustration.  For my first illustration I drew a boatman on a canal barge.    I began with a very basic drawing I made in my sketchbook.

Like this…

And here is my ink ouline…

 

I transferred the this outline to my tablet and then loaded the ink drawing into Autodesk so I could work on it.

First I filled in some basic local tones. I did this in the normal way by opening a new layer underneath my line art and setting the line art layer to “multiply”. This is a blending mode which adds the tones of both layers together. I could then, easily, shade in different parts of my picture…

My next job was to add some cell shading to the image, like this…

In line with what I learned about my art from the Art Professor I wanted to add a digital background so that my character wasn’t just a single subject in a white field. Since the picture is of a boatman on his canal barge I decided to paint in the river and the bank behind him. The effect I was aiming for is the same one that Studio Ghibli use, where they have simple cartoon style animation for the people and looser more painterly images for the backgrounds. First I just put down a gradient for the river…

After that I painted in the rough shadows of trees and bushes along the riverbank, gradually building up layers and tones…

Finally I added some textured details to give the viewer the feeling of leaves on the plants…

So here is my finished picture…

In terms of evaluating how it went I’m generally quite pleased with it.

I enjoyed painting the river and bank in a looser , more impressionistic style. I usually find this quite difficult but doing it digitally helps a lot since I can easily undo something which doesn’t turn out well. I also enjoyed drawing this older man.  He seemed relaxed, experienced and a little tired.

If I did it again I would try to improve the overall quality of my ink drawing and work on cleaning up the photo of it a bit more.

Firefly – Traditional inks with Digital Shading

 

This is the reworking of an ink drawing I made at Christmas time.  I photographed it in and then toned it digitally.

Here is the basic pencil sketch…

 

Here is an ink outline…

 

Here is the completed traditional ink drawing…

 

And this is the digitally toned image…

 

My main aim in toning this drawing was to give it a sense of light radiating from the firefly’s abdomen.  I had to find a happy medium between showing the firefly’s light and not making the whole image too dark.  There were two background densities where this might work.  One was using a dark enough background that the leaf the fly is sitting on looks a mid to light tone and the other is this one (above), where the flirefly’s light is less obvious but the rest of the drawing can still be clearly seen.  I added a selected part of a lenflare to the firefly to push the sense of light coming from it’s abdomen and then rolled the effect back to about 60% so it wasn’t too intense.  I’m not sure I got the balance right with this.

Chris at Comic Tropes

This week I am still working exclusively digitally until I am well enough to sit at a table and paint again. I can’t wait to get back to traditional painting. In the same way that I will always prefer a physical printed book in my hand to a digital or audio copy, I much prefer physical paints. I love the feeling of the brush on the paper and the smell of the paint. That said I am learning massive amounts from this period of digital art, mainly because it is so easy to jump back a step, it gives me more freedom to venture further into an idea than I would in a normal painting.

So, for this week’s post I painted a digital comic portrait of Chris from the YouTube Channel Comic Tropes.

I’ve been following his channel for a some time now and I really enjoy his videos. He shares his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the comic format and really gets down deep into his subject. At the end of some of his shows he displays artwork by his viewers, so long as the work is related to his channel. I want to support him so I thought I would have a go at making a portrait and sending it in.

I began with a digital sketch…

Then I added some titles and centred the image…

My next job was to “flat in” Chris’ portrait – this adds nothing to the final image but will drastically speed up the colouring process. Basically you just make a layer with different parts of the picture in different tones. If you’re working with line art this can be fairly loose as the lines cover the colour joins, but for proper digital painting it needs to be tight with no anti-aliasing…

Next was the fun part. I got to make up a handful of 2 page comic spreads in miniature. I made up parts of random stories from a range of genres to fill each set of two pages. I had crime, fantasy and science fiction. Because some of the pages go behind my subject I was able to duplicate them and and use parts of the book which the viewer can’t see in other places. The next few process shots are of the comic pages being drawn…

(crime)

(science fiction)

(fantasy on the left and more science fiction on the right)

Then I began to colour my background. I was initially wondering vaguely about the broad range of bright colours in comics and unthinkingly added a very wide range of saturated colour. This looked OK-ish while my subjct was still in greyscale like this…

…but after I coloured my subject the colour scheme started to fail…

…and got worse with the titles coloured in…

I didn’t really like it at all. There wasn’t enough division between the foreground and the background, the colour palette was all over the place and the title lettering keyed into nothing at all. It was basically a mess.

So I went back to the drawing board and began my colour process again with a fresh perspective.

First of all I got rid of all of the different colours in the background (what was I thinking?) To guide the viewer’s eye to easily see lots of different comic books I changed each book to a different shade of grey. Then I looked at what colour’s I had Chris wearing. I tried a range of changes but actually the deeper red makes his eyes stand out and suits him. So I took my grey scale background and added a very unsaturated blue with a hint of violet. This hardly reads as colour at all but still has the effect of making my background look cool compared to my warm subject without being distracting. I changed the title colours to a warm deep yellow and red combination which is analogous to Chris’ colour and ties the title of his channel to his portrait nicely. My final step was to airbrush some shadow just around Chris’ figure to push him right to the front.

So, after a strangely satisfying struggle with colour and composition I reached my final image…

This is the one I will send to Chris at Comic Tropes! I hope he likes it and recognises what a great channel he runs.

PS: Thanks for all of your kind wishes w.r.t. my health. Things are, very thankfully, improving without needing to go to hospital which is a big relief! I am still sore and tired, but my temerpature has been down for the longest period yet and my breathing is easier. As my wonderful son says “It’s all good Mum!”

Early morning over the Pacific

 

I have never seen the pacific ocean, but ever since I first watched the Shawshank Redemption, where Andy spoke to Red about going there, I have wondered what it might be like.

I am still quite unwell, although a little better today than yesterday.  Unfortunately I can only paint digitally in bed.  I don’t have the energy for sitting at a table or getting my paints out.  It’s what I can do in bed or nothing.  I do apologise for not using tradition painting media recently.  I will get back to it when I get better.

So this week I watched a video on YouTube about painting the ocean which was really relaxing.  It’s by Kalliopi Lyviaki. Here is a link…

YouTube Link

After watching I started to doodle my own version digitally.  I began with a gradient over the whole image.  Then I used what is called a dodge brush across what will become the top half of the sea.  This is the digital equivalent of dabbing off some colour when working traditionally…

 

 

 

Then in a separate layer I began to paint the general structure of the waves.  This is the bit where Kalliopi’s video was really helpful as I’d not really got to grips with this shape and pattern before.

Here’s a short clip of me drawing this part of the painting…

 

One of the main things I learned here was how to set up my digital brush to do what I needed.  I wanted to be able to have sharp edges and soft edges using the same brush in different ways.  So I set the nib hardness quite high to about 85% but then dropped the opacity right down for lighter pen strokes on the tablet.  That way, if I pushed harder with my pen I could get good edges and if I used the pen softly I could blend my colour.

 

 

Next I went in with a slightly lighter and more saturated ultramarine blue to paint the body of the waves near the front.  Often with waves you can see light through them and I wanted to try to hint at that effect…

 

My next job was to add some highlights.  They look white but I actually used a whole range of coloured tones, gradually getting lighter as I moved towards the horizon.  Because of the gradient underneath the painting, I hoped that this would read as specular reflections which are fairly even in terms of intensity over the whole water area.

 

 

Next I started on some clouds.  The YouTube demo only had the ocean, so I was just letting the painting lead me by this time…

 

 

At this stage I made some decisions about the direction I wanted my picture to go in.  I wanted it to be of a foggy morning at that moment when the sun really starts to burn through the fog and the day brightens.  In preparation for the sun I highlighted my clouds…

 

…and then put in my fog dispelling sun…

 

Next I felt that I wanted a boat on the ocean. I began with a simple sillhouette.  However, rather than putting the boat travelling right but on the left side of the image (which is more traditional and draws the viewer into the scene), I put her travelling left on the left side so she takes the viewer out into the Pacific with her.  I wanted to give the painting a sense of the craft moving slowing away and out of view, leaving the Pacific quiet and empty.

I am continuing to think about the lessons I have learned from the Art Professor YouTube channel which I mentioned a few weeks ago.  I am consciously trying to think and feel with respect to my art and use my thoughts to guide my work so that perhaps I will be able to paint pictures that bring up specific feelings in the viewer.  For this picture I wanted the expansive, quiet ,open feeling you get on a vast empty sea.  Anyway here is the basic sillouette I drew…

 

 

I added sails using the gradient tool.  The whole way through with this painting I was thinking in terms of watercolour and then translating whatever I would do with a paintbrush into a digital technique.  So traditionally for the sails I would wet each sail and then paint on a gradient.  This naturally translated into a formal digital gradient.  I used more red in my colour mix for the boat because I wanted it to read as warmer than the sea but still have the same analogous colour palette.

 

Finally I added a shadow to the water on the viewer side of the boat and some specular highlights on the vessel itself.

 

So here is the final painting.  (You can probably see I also painted in a diffuse, misty reflection of the sun in the water.)

 

 

At school we often ask the children to evaluate their own work by giving themselves two stars and a wish.  The two stars are things they think went well and the wish is something they would like to improve next time.

I would say the painting does give me the feeling I was aiming for in the end and I am pleased that I got deeper into adapting my digital brushes in ways which help me use these tools more effectively. My wish would be that I could add more texture to the boat and clouds so that they too reflect the brush strokes I was using on the water.  Then they might look less graphical and more painterly.