Peacock – a simple digital painting


This week’s art began as a doodle of a peacock on some copy paper…



I scanned the sketch and pulled it into Autodesk Sketchbook. Then I reset the drawing colour to a light blue so that I could redraw over it digitally…



I find this kind of drawing very relaxing and did most of this while watching some the excellent new(ish) series of Star Trek Discovery (which is awesome!!!)

Here’s the doodle redrawn digitally.  You can see that I used two different line weights.  To keep a track of this while I’m working I draw a little sample of each line weight I’m using and then write the size next to it.  This means I can make changes at the correct weight without having to guess…



Next I added some fanciful swirls to his lovely tail…



Finally I added some colour and then colour balanced and finalised the image in Photoshop…




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…



Little Owl – Illustration in Gouache

Yesterday on WordPress I found this lovely picture of an owl by Ashley Wolff:

Lovely Owl Card By Ashley Wolff

I love owls.  I think they are my favourite animals.  So I loooked at some owls on the web and found this beautiful “Small Owl”


This isn’t my photo.  I tracked the photo down to a number of websites but, unfortunately, couldn’t find the author.


So this is my process of illustrating this owl.





“Light Shadows and Eye Colour”


“Head Plumage”



And the finished illustration…


A Golden Barn Owl

Having played around with a barn owl pastel drawing yesterday my dreams were full of owls. (It didn’t help that I was listening to the audiobook of J. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ before going to sleep and Ron’s tiny owl ‘Pig’ was buzzing around the main characters like crazy.)  In the dream I painted a beautiful Barn Owl in acrylics using just blues and browns with some gold highlights.  Although this post is getting published on a Friday I tend to work a few days ahead of my blogs so for me it’s Saturday.   I don’t normally paint on Saturdays but  I really wanted to have a quick go at the picture in my mind before it disappeared.  So I made a sketch:


And then decided to paint it in watercolour because that’s much quicker and easier than acrylics (less cleaning up).  However, in the dream I used gold highlights and I only have gold paint in acrylic – so, for the first time, I made a painting using two types of paint – watercolour and acrylic.  This is the gold plaint I used:

gold paint

And this is the way it shines when the light hits it:


Here is the final painting: