October Illustrations – Using Graphical Patterns to Draw a Squawking Crow

This was also drawn during the summer holidays.

I live on the very edge of town next to a local common and a small wood. We have a small colony (or “murder!”) of crows living in the wood. Occasionally they fight with other birds (mainly magpies, but also seagulls if the weather is turning bad offshore). They make a huge racket when this happens. This is what was going on when I began to think about this drawing. I wanted to see if I could make a drawing of a crow using nothing but patterns. I also wondered if I could somehow show the crow squawking really loudly in indignation in a visual way.

So I had a try. I began by sketching out a quick basic crow…

Then I developed some simple filigree type patterns over the top of the basic sketch. I kept the beak more realistic as I felt that it was an essential feature which is didn’t want to change.

Once I had a basic outline I filled in some shading, added a half tone ink wash to some of the bird’s body and head and then built up a background using similar motifs trying to show visually the huge noise these birds can make when they are annoyed.

Here’s the final drawing…

I think the drawing captures the essence of my shouty little friend sqawking his little black head off quite well. The mid tone ink wash doesn’t photograph very well unfortunately but it’s patchy quality when photographed adds to the general scruffiness of the crow in question so it’s still in character! I do wish I’d taken a photo of this image when all of the black ink was done before I added the half-tone wash because I think adding tone digitally might have been a good option for this design.

October Ink Drawings – Days 1 and 2

I’m doing my own version of Inktober this year. I decided to make up my own prompts because the official ones seemed quite confusing to my autistic brain. They were adjectives rather than nouns. I prefer nouns. So here’s my list of prompts…

Because I have a chronic pain condition I decided to let the challenge continue for as long as I need but I will, eventually, make a drawing for each day in Ocotober.

So my first 2 were River and Bird. Here are the ink drawings…

The river one made me feel really calm while I drew it, despite the fact that it was drawn in those few spare minutes before school and at lunchtime while I was at work. I think the experience I have of fishing and boating on rivers and lakes brings calmness into the picture.

Being next to a body of water has always been like going home for me. When I was a child it was Toddbrook, the small stream near where I lived. As a teenager it was the gravel pit lakes where I sailed dinghies twice a week come hell or high water. Now it’s a mixture of the Norfolk Broads and all the lakes and rivers I fish regularly.

I used my Pigma Micron pens for most of this drawing.

And then added some greyscale using a Pentel water brush pen filled with a mixture of ink and water. This is what my water brush pen looks like…

My next ink drawing was of a Raven…

As I was driving to work this week BBC Radio 4 reviewed a book about the Ravens in the Tower of London. It really caught my heart and led to this picture. The book is called “The Ravenmaster” and it’s by Christopher Skaife. It’s all about his relationships with the Tower Ravens.

I don’t know if this is an autistic thing or just a general human thing but I find communication with animals much easier than with people. Dogs would be top of my list but most animals I find easier to deal with than people. So I was very interested.

I also remember an experience in a town centre where I met the scruffiest crow in the world. He was fabulous. His feathers were a mess, he hopped on only one leg and he metaphorically fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. But he was smart and bright and interested in everything. I saw him watching me eat my slice of bread pudding. As I walked past he kind of begged, hopping comically next to me as I walked along. So I stopped and gave him a little. Not too much obviously because it was bread pudding which is pure gold on my scale of brilliant foods. Then he began to beg in earnest. He bobbed his head, hopped from side to side and generally made a huge fuss which I think indicated that he liked bread pudding as much as me. So I gave up, sat down and shared it with him.

Next week, Dinosaurs and Computers… 🙂

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…