Small Art Projects

This week I worked on a few smaller fun projects, leaving my bigger painting ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ alone for a bit.  My son is doing his exams and I’ve been concentrating on being there for him.

So I began the week looking at some beautiful macro photographs of tiny animals, like this miniscule moth photographed by Johan J Ingles Le Nobel.

I’ve always loved macro photography with a passion.  So many beautiful tiny details!  Le Nobel’s work is brilliant!

I didn’t intend on sketching this picture and was just playing around in my sketchbook whilst in bed one evening when the beauty of the photograph came into my mind…

So I decided the next day to give it some colour.  I used watercolour paints with Prismacolor Pencils over the top.

Here’s the final painting…

I wish I’d got the eyes exactly the right shape as they’re the main feature of this animal’s face.  The drawing was ok but successive layers of paint slightly changed the final curve.

 

Next I drew an ‘Eevee’ which is a little deer Pokemon.  (Please note the design of this little guy is created and owned by the Pokemon franchise.  I just made a painting of him.)  I used gouache for the painting so I could get really bright cartoon-type colours.  It was kind of fun!

Then finally I sketched a high alititude landscape in pencil…

I think this would have been more effective if I could have created a greater tonal difference between the foreground and the background.  Part of the problem was that my scanner wouldn’t pick up very light pencil for the far mountains unless I darkened them.  There seems to be a cut off point where the scanner couldn’t see very light pencil even when it’s obvious to a person’s regular eye sight.  I could have darkened the foreground more to cater for this but I didn’t think if it at the time.

I also coloured this picture to see if adding some colour helped.  First I added three shades of green to the trees and some basic blue sky lightening towards the top.  Then I added yellow to the light areas and purple to the shadows to give the picture a warmed look.

 

Love’s Sacrifice #2 (still unfinished)

I’m still working on my bigger project, ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ although I’ve been struggling with my health in the last two weeks as well so I’ve only done about 2 hours of painting in that time.  I’ve completed the background, laid in some basic hair and begun to add the final colour to the body on the right hand side.  I’ve not allowed myself to extend a project beyond a week or two before and I am finding it’s lovely to take things at a more relaxed pace.  Anyway, this isn’t a finished picture, but here’s where it’s at at the moment…

 

My plans now are

  • to complete the body colour, adding a small soft reflected highlight on the right and the main direct highlighting on the left,
  • to finish the hair properly and then
  • to add the crown of thorns and the marks from him being scourged by the soldiers.

Autism and Trying to Paint Freely

This week I worked on trying to paint more freely with watercolours.

I have a mild form of autism.  While this is good in some ways, in that I can focus really deeply and have some cool interests and I always try to obey the law exactly, it can also be difficult too, sometimes for the same reasons!  When I’m really focussed on something I really hate to put things down unfisnished and I’m not great at listening when I’m really concentrating.  I have to have a rule with myself about my interests so I don’t go on about them continuously and become boring for others.  But the thing that’s difficult in terms of painting is, oddly, this desire to follow the rules exactly all the time.

The trouble is, with painting, following the rules translates into that childhood thing of not colouring over the lines.  Now that’s great if I’m going for a realistic or comic style look, but there’s more to art than that.  I really love looking at art which is more impressionistic and expressive where the colour doesn’t always stay within the lines.  Some of this type of art is incredibly beautiful.  But I find it almost impossible to do.  So, with some help and encouragment from Ink Flamingos and Alli Farkas , I had a go…

My first attempt was to draw a green woodpecker…

When  I began painting him I spilled the paint all over, but then immediately dabbed it up with a tissue.  Below is the best I could do to have the paint go over the lines.  I really hated it.  It made me feel like swearing.

Then I put on some blues for a background…

Again the paint was moving about and I felt quite distressed and ended up dabbing a lot of this up with some paper towel.

Then I got quite annoyed with the painting and tried to tighten it up ‘properly’.  I ended up just making a bad realistic style painting where I attempted to correct the errors…

You can see in this picture that, rather than have the movement of the ink over the lines as a part of the beauty of the picture, I corrected it and reworked it to try to get rid of it.  It doesn’t work at all.

I felt really fed up with this and I very nearly gave up on the whole adventure at this stage but then I decided to have one more try.  This time I thought I would paint the back ground very free and wild first and then paint a more standard watercolour figure over it, using limited areas of wet on wet to control the paint.

I also thought carefully about the colours I was using.  I used a deep cadmium yellow for the background with a pthalo blue over the top.  The pthalo blue is a nice transparent blue with a bit of a green tinge to it naturally.  So I thought that in the places where the yellow paint sat behind the blue it would go green and might add some more to the painting.

Again to try to make it loose, I began with a gesture drawing of a woman doing that dangling thing on some cloth which you sometimes see in a circus act…

Once I had the gesture I filled out her anatomy and gave her crazy hair…

 

Then I painted the background.  This was SO hard – it felt like I was deliberately spoiling the picture…

(I couldn’t help but remove the yellow that went onto the body area with a tissue.) Then I went back to painting more carefully to finish…

I know it’s really only an expressive background with a figure which maybe has some expression because she was drawn from a gesture, but it’s better than I’ve done before.  I think I might try some biological styled drawings with more expressive backgrounds like this next.

 

PS:  Sorry this post was late going out – I was unwell Thursday night, yesterday and this morning.  Getting better now I think!  😀

Love’s Sacrifice #1

So the bigger project I’ve been working on in the background these last couple of weeks is a picture which came out of the words of a song we sung at Church this Easter.  The phrase which really stuck with me was ‘love’s sacrifice’.  I just couldn’t get the feeling of those words out of my head and eventually they became a picture.

Here’s my sketch.  It actually took a few tries to get there with this image because the body position was quite difficult to pull off – particualrly his left hand which is mostly hidden by his right knee…

 

I drew on A3 cold-pressed watercolour paper and was planning to paint with Winsor and Newton watercolour paints.

However, I couldn’t quite picture the colours or style I wanted.  So I photographed the sketch and then made a quick colour study in the computer.

At first it was like this…

But I didn’t feel that the background colour was really working, it seemed too flat to me, so I tried a few different colours…

 

 

Eventually I settled on this colour plan for my painting…

 

So I began painting the figure with some lighter skin tones…

 

Then I gradually deepened my colour and added more shape to the shadows…

There’s still quite a lot of work to do here.  I need to fill in my basic background next and then finish the loin cloth which is going to go much darker under his right leg.  After that I have this idea of switching from watercolour to black ink to put in a layer of much finer detail to the portrait.

 

Health Problems

I was hoping to have this finished by now but I’ve had some problems with my medication for the neuropathic pain condition I have – my body is not responding well to it at the moment.  So I’ve been taking less and consequently I’ve been in a lot of pain for a while now.  It was OK here on my blog for a couple of weeks because I tend to post things a long way ahead of time but now I’m right up to date and still too sore to paint.

Plans and Ink Flamingos

Anyway, I’ve got less I need to do next week after work so maybe things will get a bit better.  If I get a chance to, I will finish this painting, but if I have less time I might have a go at a style of art I’ve been talking to another artist on WordPress about.

Last week Nicola, from Ink Flanmingos did a really interesting and beautiful piece based on Merton College in Oxford…here’s a linked picture…

‘Merton College’ by Nicola at Ink Flamingos

Here’s a link to her blog too…     Merton College by Ink Flamingos

You start with a drawing and then do a really loose colourful wash over the top before tightening it up with more layers later.  It looks amazing and I was thinking, when looking at it, how hard that would be for me, because splashing a loose wash on seems, well, mega scary.  I love precision and tight lines when I’m painting and they’re almost like a security blanket for me, but I actually really enjoy looking at the results of much freer work which other artists like Nicola can do.

So we’ll see what I manage to come up with.

 

 

Carl Grimes Fan Art – ‘Drawing with Ink’

This week I carried on working on my bigger project and also worked on some comic fanart for a friend’s son (an older teenager).  He’s really into the comic version of ‘The Walking Dead’ by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore (with later art by Charlie Adlard).

He asked for a fan art picture of Carl Grimes when he gets shot in the eye.  It’s based on Charlie Ablard’s original art.

It’s not really the kind of subject I usually draw – I’m not really into horror – it’s too scary – but I do really enjoy making pictures for other people so I had a go.

Here’s the sketch…

It was done on Bristol Board with my graphgear mechanical pencil.

Then I inked it.

I began inking in the normal way but then, about half way through I saw a really inspirational video on YouTube.  I had previously posted a link here but when I left a courtesy message on this person’s YouTube page they deleted it.  Now I don’t know what that means.  I thought I was following the proper internet etiqette and being polite and respectful but with the autism there’s always a chance I did something wrong so I’m going to err on the side of caution and not link to this chap’s video anymore.

Anyway what I really noticed about his technique was that he wasn’t outlining or inking the pencils, he was drawing with ink.  He was using the pencils as a guide but still drawing.  Maybe it’s a subtle distinction, but for me it was a powerful learning point.  So I continued the rest of the inks for this Walking Dead fan art piece concentrating on drawing with ink rather than ‘going over the pencils’ or ‘outlining’.

Finally I added some tones with a waterbrush.  I had a mixture of ink and water in that to give me some nice greys.  And then I added some strong red watercolour for the blood.

So here’s the final picture…

 

An Easy Digital Colouring Process

This week I worked on a number of smaller images in my sketchbook and started a bigger project.  The smaller images were in ink and pencil…

 

[Pencil on paper]

 

 

[Ink on paper]

 

[Ink on paper]

(NB:  The Drawing is my own but the character ‘Strontium Dog’  (aka Johnny Alpha) belongs to 2000AD (Rebellion) and the art style I used was my own version of Carlos Ezquerra’s brilliant work.)

Then I coloured them digitally.  I thought it would be fun to go through the basic colouring process I use with the gecko picture as an example.

(1) I start by scanning in the art work and cleaning any scanning artifacts (I always get one which is irritating).  I also do a general clean up of the image and adjust the curves and levels if it’s needed.  I usually do this bit in photoshop.

(2) Then I save the cleaned image and open it in Manga Studio 5.

(3) My next big job is to put in the ‘flat colour’.  Basically this process involves colouring every pixel of the drawing in flat solid colour with no anti-aliasing, shading or anything else – just flat blobs of colour right up next to each other.  I tend to use colours similar to those I want to use in the final product but you don’t have to.

So here, I’m putting in the flat colour for the first few leaves…

To combine the colour with the line art like this I put the line art in the top layer and set that layer to ‘multiply’.  Then I paint my flat colour in the layer below.

Here’s a bit more flatting done…

(Here you can see I’ve accidentally painted the flower properly with final colours in the flatting layer.  I could have wiped it all out and made it white but I knew there wasn’t much I wanted to do with that part of the picture so I left it.)

Generally I paint the flats using the polygon selector with anti-aliasing off so I get a clear division of one colour or the other with nothing in between.  Once I’ve selected my area I just fill it with solid colour.

Finally when all the flat colour is done it looks like this (without the linework on top of it)…

 

So with the linework we’ve now got to this…

 

I really love flatting images, I find it repetative but nice and it makes me feel relaxed.

(4) Next I complete the detailed colour and shading for each flat area.  This is where the real digital painting starts and I find in a lot of ways I can paint in my PC just like I paint on a canvas.  I can’t always get the same effects digitally but I do have the advantage of the back button which will undo my last few changes – I wish I had that on paper sometimes!

Here’s the painting done for the leaves but not yet the gecko…

And here’s the desktop with the gecko painted fully too…

 

(5) Finally I put on any borders I need and save the fullsize image, then reduce the size for the web and it’s ready to go.

Here are my final coloured pictures…

 

 

Ink and Watercolour Koi

This week I played around with using watercolour and ink seperately and then together.  I began making a koi tattoo design using black ink on paper.

This was drawn in my sketchbook.

Then I thought I’d have a go at doing a proper watercolour koi carp.  I love the way watercolour spreads when it’s wet in wet and I thought that would look great with the spots you get on the back of some of the fish.

I got this all painted but the style was really loose and impressionistic.  My son liked it but I couldn’t tolerate it.  It’s odd because I love it when others are quite free in their work but I can’t stand it in mine.  So I began to tighten it up with ink.  I liked it much more this way with the black ink supplying a strong boundary and contrast for the more impressionistic red watercolour spots.  I’m not totally happy with the result but it was fun having a go.  Maybe I should try to let things be more free?

 

Here’s the final picture…

 

Motorcycle Fun in Watercolour!

When I asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday he said ‘a Honda Goldwing’.  This, or the alternative answer, ‘a Ferrari’, is his usual response!    🙂    So this year I decided to give him an actual Goldwing in the only way which won’t give my bank manager a coronary – a painting!

I began with a pencil drawing…

This was quite tricky compared to other artwork I’ve attempted before.  The Goldwing is a beautiful machine, but it’s also really complicated.  I started with a loose sketch but it quickly became clear that I needed a much tighter form of drawing for this project, so I drew it more like you would draw a formal technical drawing.  This gave me the detail I needed and I felt more comfortable measuring and calculating sizes.

 

Then I began to layout my colour…

Because the image was so complex I divided my picture into three basic colour areas – the reds, the blacks and the light grey’s.  I painted the lightest shade I would need on the painting for each colour.  I knew I would have to repaint almost all of it again after this but now I could see clearly what was what and relate it easily to my reference image (which I stuck to the top left corner of my drawing board).

 

Next I began to work in the deeper colours and darker shadows…

You can see how sunny it was while I was painting this bit – beautiful!  As well as my regular Winsor and Newton watercolours I also used some Aquarelle pencils, by Faber-Castell.  These are basically just watercolour pigments in a pencil form, so you can draw on your watercolour painting and then use a wet brush to make the pigment into paint.  I find them really useful for  fine details on top of my watercolour layers, especially where I needed small straight lines between different sections of the bike bodywork.

 

Finally, after working really hard to get it finished in time for the framers to be able to frame it before his birthday, it was done!

Here’s the final painting…

 

PS:  This post is late being published this week because I wanted my Dad to see it first.  He did, and I think he likes it!!!!!         🙂

Lionfish, Ink and Digital Colour

I have been planning a new watercolour this week.  It’s of a lionfish.  I started out making a sketch and then developing it in ink as a sort of practice run.

Here’s the lionfish practice…

 

Also this week I’ve been playing with some digital colour using some other ink drawings in my sketchbook…

Original ink…

And with digital colour…

 

Original ink…

Digital colour…

(Ink and colours are my own work but ‘Old Stony Face’ as a character belongs to Rebellion and the brilliant people at 2000AD.)

Original ink…

Digital colour…

 

Original ink…

Digital colour…

 

Original ink…(inspired by George Todorovski’s YouTube Video)

Digital colour…

 

Original ink…

Digital colour…(this one’s for Dave from Davezart)

 

And last but not least – Gotham City’s moody Bat – 10 min quick ink sketch…

And in digital colour…

(Batman Inks and Colour are my own, by the character belongs to DC Comics)