Trainers – Digital and Traditional

This week’s art is a traditional ink drawing of some trainers and a digitally coloured version of the same drawing. I have been working quite a bit on these two areas recently, ink drawing and digital colouring. My aim is to improve my skill in both.

 

Ink drawing aims

With the ink drawing I particularly want to be able to emulate artists like Olivia Kemp. Here is a link to her Instagram where you can have a look at her art: Link to Olivia’s Work.  I think her textures are amazing!

Now, some of what makes her art wonderful is the huge attention to detail, which means working on a bigger canvas and taking more time to draw. My ink drawings take about an hour to do and then half an hour to colour if I’m doing it digitally. So I think planning and drawing a bigger, more longterm, ink drawing would be a good step forward. The second thing Olivia seems to do is to take care with each line. I do think before I draw, especially when working traditionally, but I don’t take such care of each mark I make, so I could work on that too. However, the most impactful thing Olivia does, that I’m only beginning to work on, is to use varied textures for different materials and objects in each scene. Until recently I only used hatching and cross hatching and sometimes little dots, which is very limiting. On top of that I don’t really like the look of my cross hatching. So these are all things I’m going to work on going forwards.

In this picture I concentrated on making the canvas parts of these shoes look like canvas and, more than that, look like canvas that had been stretched to someone’s feet. I used hatching, but in a very controlled way so that I could show the viewer how the pressure from the laces molds the shoe to the wearer’s foot. I also experimented with using cross hatching in a very broad way to indicate the pattern of threads in the laces.

 

Digital colour aims

With digital colouring I’ve been studying colour theory some more and trying out different techniques and approaches. In today’s art I felt, for the first time, that I was able to really use some of this new learning in a way that felt natural and normal. It’s like the difference between struggling to play a difficult scale on the piano (which I’ve been metaphorically doing for a while now in my colour work) and being able to naturally use that scale without thinking in a piece of music.

Here are my process images…

With shading and some halftone ink added – this is my finished traditional ink drawing…

I also scanned this drawing in before I added the half tone ink so I could colour it digitally which turned out like this…

I made some subtle changes to the way I colour here, adding a range of hues for the violet canvas colour, from a darker, low saturation navy blue to a mid saturation magenta added in the centre of the violet colour where warm light would be hitting the shoe. I also changed the colour of my shadows. They still read as grey, but are actually a dark airforce blue. You can’t easily see the difference just looking at this picture alone, but just using greys left the image looking dull compared.

So the final question is, which picture is best? Well, I don’t know. I love the purity and simplicity of ink on paper, but I like the freedom and possibilities of digital art.

I would be really interested to know what do you think?

Texture and the Little Yellow Space Bus

The Space Bus

This week’s illustration was drawn traditionally with pencils and ink and then toned digitally. My two main aims in doing this were to work on my textures and practise some one point-perspective.

I began with some basic shapes…

Then I added more shapes and general “dodads”…

Once I had all of the basics sketched in I began to use ink. First I outlined my pencils in pen and then cleaned off the pencil with a putty eraser…

Next I began to really flesh out the shapes with ink…

And this is my final ink drawing…

Once that was complete, I scanned my ink drawing into the computer and toned the image digitally in Photoshop. I decided to do this because the background in space is nearly always a darker tone and I would run low on ink trying to darken my whole page like that.  SO I used the computer to add tone.

 

Here is the final illustration…

 

The problem is I made zero progress with my textures! The picture hangs together OK but so many of the surfaces look the same. In fact it still only has four different textures!

On realising this I decided to do a couple of exercises on texture.  I really need to get this into my head somehow!

Texture Exercise 1

First I drew 35 quick squares and then tried to fill each of them with a different texture. I gave myself 30 seconds for each one.

Here are the results…

I panicked a bit about the timeso  couple here and there are very similar but at least I began to find ways to make more interesting textural marks.

Texture Exercise 2

Next I chose 6 real world textures and made an attempt to draw them in a more detailed way. Here they are…

They took a surprising amount of time to draw (although I was watching Star Trek Voyager at the same time! It was the set of episodes where they travel through Borg space and first meet 7 of 9. Captain Janeway was her usual gorgeous self so I was more than a little distracted!)

(Image Rights to Viacom and Screenrant.)

Evaluation

Evaluating this exercise, I think these drawings show a good range of texture and, to my eye, they read reasonably well. I think more practice would be good for me, but I will do that as I incorporate more texture into my art.

I’ve learned three things about texture from doing this:

  1. I need to remember to take the time to look really carefully at textured surfaces when I want to include them in a drawing.
  2. Once I’ve looked carefully I also need to work out a way to represent that texture so that it reads accurately for the viewer. This can take some exploration.
  3. Finally, I need to give the textured parts of any artwork the time they need to be drawn well.

Abstract Sunset – Pastel

 

This week I played around some more with pastels.  My main aim was just to get the feel of the medium.  I quite enjoyed making the poppy picture I drew a few weeks ago and I found that it helped me to loosen up a little in my art.

I began with a very quick sketch using some hard pastel pencils…

 

Once I had my main elements placed I began to scrub in some basic background colour.  I worked this over the whole picture almost like an underpainting.  I’m working from dark to light so I made this layer is with slightly darker tones.

 

One of the things which surprises me with pastels is the intensity of the colour!  Once I had the pastels applied I rubbed the pigments into the paper…

 

After this I did a few more layers in the same sort of way, building up the colours and mixing my pigments to get the colours I wanted.  This is something I find tricky with coloured pencils and pastels; mixing colours on the paper.  I am beginning to see how to make it work.

Once I was satisfied with my background I began working on my foreground – the abstracted tree.  I used the hard pastel pencils and the soft pastels for this.  Surprisingly the soft pastels were more effective.

Here is my final image…

 

Looking at my final picture, I like the colour gradients in the sky and ground.  But the overall balance doesn’t feel exactly right.  It’s one of those times where you know that you need something but don’t yet know what that something is.  I will have to sit with it for a while and see if I can figure it out.

 

PS: It’s now the next day and I can see what’s wrong!  The tree is leaning out of the picture and looks very unbalanced.

Looking at the correction I wanted to make, I can’t do it using traditional methods so I’m going to see what I can do digitally.

I used  copy of my photo in Autodesk Sketchbook and had a little play with it to what was possible…

 

I used the same technique I used when I digitally made a Star Wars blaster from a photo of a real gun (here).  I basically selected parts of the painting copied them and then used them to make changes.

 

 

Here’s the final picture…

 

It looks more balanced now!  🙂  (I think it would have been quicker though to re-draw the pastels!)

 

The Space Weevil and the Art Problem

This weeks’ art was created using only traditional ink.

It’s a picture of a space weevil called Dave. He has hijacked a prototype spaceship to escape from his home planet after he was mistakenly accused of being a traitor to the realm. The ship is called Angel and turns out to have her own ideas on where they are going!

It really was epically fun to do!

Here are my process photos…

Here is a shot of some of the structural lines I drew to build “Angel”…

These are my basic inks…

And this is the picture with the inks finished, but before I added any toning…

After that I toned the image with a mixture of ink and water.  Here is my finished drawing of Dave and Angel…

I did really enjoy doing this one but, in reviewing it, what stands out to me is that I have very little variety in my textures. It’s either dots or lines. They happen to fit well in this picture because the lines work well for metal and the dots work well for the insectoid’s exoskeleton, but I think I need to work on my textures. In terms of art fundamentals I have line, shape, tone, (no colour because it’s an ink drawing), pattern (in the elements of the ship and the weevil), but minimal texture. Next time I work on an ink drawing I’ll try to improve this.

Soft Pastels – Poppies

This week I had a little play with some soft pastels I found in the cupboard.

I began working on the background, then played around with some mid level elements and finally put in my foreground, much as I would with watercolour…

After I’d got some basic colour down I sprayed it with some fixative (you can still see a drip on the picture which hadn’t dried when I photographed it.)

Then I added more forms to my background and then put in the basics of my poppies…

Finally I worked on refining my shapes, pushing my hard edges and pushing the contrast a bit harder too. This was tricky with this set of pastels as there were only two dark colours in the whole set – brown and black. So I used these along with some blue and purple (which were, unfortunately, quite bright) to try to make some darker hues.

Here is how this adventure turned out…

I quite like the foreground elements of this picture. I think the medium forces me to be more impressionistic and loose in a natural way. It might be worth doing some more pastel drawings to develop this a bit more. I really really enjoyed doing it, mainly because it was SO messy!!! I had to keep dashing to the bathroom to wash my hands, making the sink in there look quite multicoloured! It was really good fun to do. However, looking back, the background could have done with a little more interest and colour variation. I will have to work on a way to add some more marginal interest to my backgrounds without reducing the focus on on my foreground.

Painting a Prince

This week I worked on a digital portrait.  To test my portrait skills, I wanted to try to paint someone who is very well known and has an older, idiosyncratic face.   I really love working with people who look a bit “lived in”.  I know it’s not the standard definition of beauty, but it’s what interests me.  I looked through photos of a number of famous people and, in the end, surprised myself by choosing Prince Charles.  He’s not someone I know much about except that he’s the British heir to the throne and got remarried to someone he had loved for a long time.

So my first job was to map out the very basics of my subject’s head and shoulders…

Next, rather than making a sketch, I made a map of the main edges and contours I could see.  It’s less an attempt to bring an immediate likeness and more a matter of measuring, and then drawing in boundaries for different areas of colour and different values.   It ends up looking really quite messy as I find I have to redraw a lot of the lines as I get my map closer to the reality of my subject’s face.  None of this map will be seen in the final painting.  It’s almost like trying to draw a “paint by numbers” drawing so I have a feel of where to put the main features.

Here is my map. I had to redraw this a few times as I kept feeling that the map was too wide when I based it on my measurements and then I’d narrowed it and find my measurements had been correct.  (I don’t use a ruler to measure all of this just direct proportions by eye or with my s-pen on the photo print out.)

After this I added to my map with some palette choices.  I did this very roughly – scrubbing in various bits of colour, partly to see what goes where, but also to work out if the colours can be brought together in some kind of harmonious fashion.  It took me a while to decide what colour his clothes would be to give the feeling I want for my picture.  The idea is, that if you squint at the picture roughed out like this, you’ll get an impression of the overall colour balance.  This stage took quite a while, playing around with the colour until it made some sense to me.

Once I was happy with my plan I got on and blocked in all of the colours I’d made very roughly.  I also drew in some very basic eyes and features in the right places.  Getting the eyes in exactly the right place is really important to the likeness of a subject, so I didn’t want to loose these carefully measured placements when I added all my basic colour.  (Thinking back on this, since I was working digitally I didn’t have to worry about this issue since I was painting on a different layer to my map.  I just got caught working how I normally would in traditional media.)

During the next few stages it was really just a process of gradually refining each part of the face and adding detail.  In this next screenshot you can see that I gave some structure to the Prince’s hair, but I also refined bits of his face as I worked.

I kept making small changes like this right through to the end of the painting…

My last actual painting job was to tidy up my rendering of his shirt and tie…

At this stage the painting work was done.  My next task was to bring this into photoshop and finetune my levels, crop the portrait properly and add a border.  Here is my finished picture…

I do hope you can recognise Prince Charles from my attempt at digital portraiture.  It was an odd feeling to paint a Prince.  I have never met anyone from the Royal Family.  I’m just an ordinary person.  It was slightly unsettling then to paint someone like this, since painting a face has an intimacy to it which can’t be avoided.  Still, Prince Charles does have a very interesting face, so I quite enjoyed it!

“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.