Days 32 to 34 – Sketchbooks and portraits

Since I started drawing regularly on a small sketchbook which is more the size of a notebook (13cm x 21cm) I’ve found it much easier to draw than before.
My Notebook


I don’t really know why.  In my big sketchbook (I have an A3 and an A4 so they’re not really that big) I worry about wasting paper and I get the feeling that everything has got to be good.  Both of these things make it more difficult to draw freely which is what I’m trying to do.  In my new little notebook style sketchbook it’s so much better.  I can always find something I want to draw and I’m much more able to take risks and try new things.

In this portrait I was really aiming for a loose feel to the linework and to just get a feel for my subject visually.  This is a lady who sometimes comes to our church and has a remarkable face.  She looks so calm and regal and I really want to make a painting of her one day.  She has given me permission, but I’m still at the sketching stage.

Here’s the sketch – it’s done in pencil with some fineline ink outlines.


Once I’d scanned my drawing into the PC I also had a go at adding some colour using the cell shading technique I used before.




PS:  Apologies about the handwriting on the top of this portrait.  I still have this blooming chest infection so I’m taking a lot of Ventolin which gives me hands the shakes.  I can manage to draw with some difficulty when this happens but my handwriting is terrible.

Days 29 to 31 – Animal Managery

I sketched out some animals in my notebook and used their shapes to kind of fit close together (ish).  Here is my line work:


Then I shaded them with pencil..



I really liked this effect – with an ink outline and the shading in pencil.

For ages now I’ve been looking for a way to illustrate in a comic style which I like and am happy with.  I’ve been playing around with different styles for years now.  However,   I just spent a few hours colouring the above  ‘Animal Managery’ drawing .  I did this in Photoshop and used a cell shading style with a mid, light and dark version of each local colour.  I did it straight over the top of the pencil and ink drawing – setting the drawing layer to multiply.

Here’s the result…


I think I’ve stumbled onto a style which I finally really like.  I’m going to follow up on this!  🙂


Days 17 and 18 – A winged woman

Today I played around a bit more with my new graphgear mechanical pencil.


I drew a sketch of a woman with wings.  She started off as an angel and then became a fairy.  Then I put a dress on her, which, if you’re flying up in the air, isn’t exactly practical!  Anyway, I was trying see if I could follow Mark Crilly’s drawing style for his Miki Falls manga / comic book series.

Here’s an example of his art on this project:


I like the way he has thicker, darker lines around the main objects and then shades the rest like a really good pencil drawing.  You can really see what I’m mean if you look at Miki waking up in her sleeping bag in the bottom left panel.

So here’s my attempt at that kind of style / effect:



I used a black coloured pencil to do the thick outlines.  It was a watercolour pencil so it was really soft to use and I think I ended up making the lines too thick.  Nevertheless, I’m beginning to get there with that kind of style.


(Then just because I had the watercolour pencils out I decided to colour my picture…

I don’t like the watercolour pencil effect much.  I should have left it alone!

Days 15 and 16 – Shades of a Grey Wolf

Some of my new art supplies arrived today.  I bought another set of the Faber-Castell pens in shades of grey.


I also got a Pentel Graphgear 1000 in 0.5, which is a mechanical pencil.  I’ve never used one before but I wanted to see what it was like and whether I would take to it or not.

It looks like this:


Well, I can hardly stop myself drawing when I don’t have new supplies to try out, let alone after these arrived!

So first I had a go at sketching a werewolf.  For reference I used this art book by Glen Fabry:


I changed the posed a bit and the way I drew the paws.  Here’s the sketch:


I found the graphgear pencil really easy to use.  I could get a good range of strokes with it and the linework stayed very consistent.

Then I inked the sketch.  I was used a normal liner pen for this which doesn’t have the facility to make strokes of different widths so to make that effect I had to thicken and even colour-in my line work at times.  Here are the inks:



Then I added some grey tones with the Faber Castell pens.  I’ve had a set of these before and I  like the way they work.  However my current artist’s notepad is only 170gsm and I’ve found that this is not enough to hold much in the way of ink.  So I used the pens quite sparingly and it turned out OK I think.  I might do another picture at a later date on bristol board and see if that’s better for layered ink.

Here’s the final picture:


Days 13 and 14 – Samurai Ink

I came across some totally inspired Stock photos on DeviantArt the other day.  They are by a German artist and photographer called Phelan Davion.   There is a whole series on Samurai in different poses.  The one I liked the best from the very first time I saw it was this one:


(Please find the original of this super image in Davion’s Deviant Art gallery.)


So I made a quick sketch:



And then had tremendous fun inking it:


Because so much of the Samurai was dark I had to play around with texture effects in the ink to distinguish different areas of his armour.

Later I also added some basic grey shading to the ink.  I had to do this is Photoshop since my grey pens haven’t arrived yet.  Here’s the finished picture:



While I do really like the purity of having just the black ink to work with I think even a single grey shade adds a nice feel to it.  When my grey ink pens come I’m going to try doing all of it by hand and see what that looks like.



Challenge Days 11 and 12 – The Nakasendo Way

Over the last week I’ve been unwell with a chest infection.  I was still able to sketch a bit after a few days but haven’t been well enough to do much more.  Fortunately I had my last post already scheduled before I became ill so that went ahead without me.

While I was unwell in bed I was looking through pictures of Japan on my tablet.  I came across this old route from Kyoto to Tokyo called the Nakasendo Way.  It’s a route which people often choose to walk as it is recognised as being quite beautiful.

As I was recovering I began to try to sketch a scene from a small town on the route.


It was difficult because as the road climbs and turns it puts buildings into perpectives with different vanishing points.  The first thing I did was to slightly simplify this to two points.  I wasn’t aiming to sketch an exact copy but to make an enjoyable scene.

Here’s the beginning of the drawing construction:


I was drawing very lightly, mainly because I was in bed and not sitting at a table I think, so I had to ‘push’ the photograph when I got it into my PC to get it to show the lines.  Here’s the finished sketch:




My next stage, when I was well again, was to ink the sketch.  It was quite a therapeutic thing to do – really relaxing.  I love inking!

Here’s my finished ink drawing:


As you can see, instead of putting in the people who were in the original photograph I put in someone in more traditional dress.  I also added (at the sketching stage) a plant pot on the bottom right to add interest and detail to the forground.   I’m sad to say that I don’t read Japanese  and so I have no idea what the sign at the front of the picture says or if I copied it accurately enough.

Once that was done  I scanned the images into my PC and then added some greyscale shading to the picture to finish it off.  Rather than making all the ‘flats’ (areas of single colour which can be used to define a mask and paint just that bit), I decided to paint the greycale shading on – just colouring it in like you would on a paper colouring book.  It was much quicker.  In a couple of places I later played around with the lightness of certain areas using a mask.  Generally though I think I prefer the more organic shading as I think it has a nicer feel.  I tried to keep the shading simple and to use it to bring out the main shapes in the little town landscape.

Here’s my finished picture:


I’m really pleased with this one.  🙂



Challenge Days 9 and 10 – “Regret”

This weekend I re-read the Comic book related to Philip K Dick’s brilliant “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”



It’s done under the same title as Dick’s original novel but it’s a new story in the same world wirtten by Chris Roberson.  I thought it was really beautifully done.  The artwork gave tremendous atmosphere to the story and really fitted well with the subject matter.  The actual story art was done by Robert Adler (with colours by Lozano and Suppa).  He employed a loose rough feel in the inks which, together with sensitive cell shading styled colour worked wonderfully.  Often with looser, rougher ink work I find that the picture gets confused but the cell shaded colour made it all really clear.  Here are some examples of the work from the first issue:







I thought it would be wonderful to give this style a try in a couple of ways.  First I wanted to try this style but using rough pencils rather that rough inks.  Then I’m going to have a go at trying to ink in my own version of Adler’s approach.

So, to try this approach with pencils…

Here’s my initial pencil sketch:


Then here’s a pencil version with my ideas of how to light the image scribbled in…



First I just scanned it in a then put in some greyscale shading…



Then I coloured it fully and, to finish off, highlighted it…



I’m going to call the picture ‘Regret’  because the chap in jail might be feeling sad for whatever he did to get him locked up.

So, reviewing this,  I think I like the lighting and the colour scheme but I’m less fond of the rough pencils used as the final lineart.  I think pencil could work and would give a nice texture  to the lines but it has to be tidy and not just a rough sketch.  That said it was great fun to do!    🙂



Challenge – Days 7 and 8 – “Silver Fish”

For my next sketch and ink adventureI decided to try inking a sketch I did years ago.  I think it was around 2003 when I made this sketch.  It’s based on two fish swimming in a circle and kind of plays on the rotational symmetry of that.  I’m really into fish at the moment.  Having started a new job which is making my pain quite bad as I adjust to my working hours, I’ve also taken up a relaxing sport (is it a sport? – not the way I do it I suspect)  – fishing!  Last weekend I took my son and his friend out fishing on Sunday afternoon.  It was really SO relaxing, plus we caught (and gently released) 9 fish between us!!!!

Here’s my old sketch.  (I think you can even see some tea stains on it near the bottom on the left hand side!)


I began by redrawing the basic shapes and then inking them:



Then I had to think about how I wanted the final inks to look.  A few weeks ago I watched another ‘Drawing Video’ by the brilliant Mark Crilley.  When he’s just giving some advice, as he is in this video, he usually does some inking in the background.  In this instance he’s inking a mask which looks shiney and metallic.  I just love it!

Remembering this video, I wondered if some shiny fish scales could be brought to life with this kind of effect.

So I drew on some scales:


If I were going to put this through my colouring process I would leave the inks right here, but I wanted to try for that lovely effect Mark had on his mask.  Now I’ve still only got one grey pen.  I’ve got another on order but it’s coming by ship from Japan so I guess it’s going to take a while.  I shaded the fish with the grey pen, going over the image several times when I wanted the shade to be darker.  Then I used a gouache pen to add highlights.


Here’s how it turned out:


I quite like it but I think, with some practise, I could get better at this.  I also think it might help to have the light come from diagnonally above rather than directly above – so from the right and above or the left and above.

Another thing I tried with this image is giving it a grey background.  Since I don’t have a different grey pen I did this digitally in PS6.  I think this is the image I’m happiest with:



Challenge Days 5 and 6

While I’m still going to sketch or ink everyday I’ve decided to post every other day.  I think it makes for more interesting posts.

So for day 5 I sketched a male hair style – short and spiky. Rather than just having himthere on his own on the page I added him to the page I’d made previously with the two girls.

Here’s the sketch…



Again I used Mark Crilley’s brilliant book on Manga as a source for his hairstyle.  Here’s how I combined his picture with that of the girls:



Then, on Day 6 I inked this sketch:




Here’s how the whole thing looked when I was finished.  Again I used only black pen for this work.  I have ordered some new brush pens including a grey one, but they are coming from Japan by ship and so may take a couple of months to get here.