Feelin’ Better…

I’m afraid I had no time for painting this week as I was quite unwell.  However, I am feeling much better now and am back at work.  🙂

So here’s a quick fun piece of digital art I made earlier this morning…


( I am reliably informed by the six and seven year olds I work with that this move is called a “dab” and is used when you want to celebrate something.)

Some fun with ink!

I got a bit fed up with studying the head and face.  So, while working on this portrait and head structure stuff I also took some breaks and played around with ink.



Generally I find looking at people’s eyes difficult which made the head structure stuff quite demanding.  It’s probably because of my autism but what I loose in some areas of art I gain in others so I don’t mind. At least I understand what is difficult and why.

As a result I often try to avoid portraits and faces. I can do them from photographs, they just wear me out really quickly.  Here’s a link to a full on front facing portrait I managed recently where I just screwed up my courage and went for it.  (Mud Man Link).  In paintings generally, when I can, I often hide the eyes and if I can’t do that I often have my subjects with their eyes closed or at least not looking at the viewer. e.g.

“Looking away”


“Eyes Closed”


“Eyes Hidden”


Faces in real life are a different matter all together.  When I sketched some friends last week I found myself avoiding drawing their faces until the end and then putting in simplified features so that I didn’t have to look at their faces for more than a glance.  It was so much harder than looking at a photograph that it really shook me.  I guess a photograph is really just tone and colour in certain patterns whereas people sitting there are real, whole and alive.

So with the inks I just had some fun…




I did some doodling…


And then a bit more doodling while thinking about this really enormous prime number (2^74 201 281 -1) which was discovered on 4th January 2018!


Finally I drew a tiny little woodlouse from reference. It was bliss.


Who says robots can’t be girly?

I would like to draw a simple comic book / manga robot.  I have been fascinated with robots since I first started reading Iasaac Asimov’s books as a child.

Now I have difficulty imagining things from scratch.  I try to do this a lot but my imagination doesn’t really work that way.  So, when I want to make something original and new I first look at all the great robot-type designs that are already out there.  Often there are bits and pieces that I like and don’t like in each design.  There are also design elements from other characters and objects which also seem to help.

Here are some of the super robot designs I found today which other artists have come up with:


The immortal C3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars


More brilliant Star Wars droids.


Wall-E from the film of the same name.


Robots from the animated film ‘Robots’


Robots fro the game ‘Machinarium’ – here painted by ‘big thumb’


This is actually Spectreman by the artist ‘Dreamflux1’ from Deviant Art but I think he would make a cool robot design.


This is a lovely SteamPunk Robot by the artist Ziom5 on Deviant Art

I think that looking at a range of representations of robots helps me learn the visual language of my subject.  Once I’ve got a feel for it then ideas start to flow – not always the best ideas but it’s a start.

Here are some of my sketches:


Looking at these designs I can see elements of C3Po in the first one and elements of a Star Wars Storm Trooper’s helmet in the second one.  However I felt that the first one was too comical and the second I just didn’t really like very much.  One of the things I love about robots is when they don’t have eyes in the way that we as humans might recognise them.

My second set of designs reflected this:


These two were following along with the Steampunk kind of theme.  I imagined part of the hemet being metal and part of it being made of leather – like a robot version of a pair of goggles.  I quite like both of these designs but my favourite is the bottom one – but only just.

So, I decided to make a big version of the one I liked the most in a few days time and to ink the other three now as they are.

Here are the other three robots inked:


I used three different pens to ink these three robots.  On the top left I used a new Kuretake pen.  I loved the way it allowed me to vary the line width by just using pressure on the tip.  It also had a beautiful stark black ink which really shows up wonderfully on the page.  Because it was so different in terms of feel to my usual inking pens (Staedtler 0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7  Liners) I found it hard to control.  It also took longer to dry than my normal pens which resulted in some minor smudging, but it wasn’t too long – just not ultra quick.  There was also some bleed of ink into the paper.  I think this probably says more about the  poor quality paper I’m using than about the pen. Overall the ink quality and width control were so good that I am going to practice a bit more with this pen to see if I can get some mastery over it.

On the top right I used an Italian Dip Pen with some calligraphy ink.  It was clearly NOT a success!!!! LOL  I didn’t find dipping my pen into the ink every now and again too onerous, (in fact it made me feel like I was at Hogworts!!!)  However, the actual nib was MEGA scratchy.  It did give me a good variable line width and had more strength in the nib than the Kuretake pen which I liked but the ink took about 20 minutes to dry!!!!  I totally couldn’t work with this.  I’m going to modify things and have another go with dip pens at some point in the future using a better nib – I’ve got some good ones somewhere – and some quick drying ink.  The dip pen nib holder was lovely to hold and felt comfortable and natural in my hand.

The final ink was done in my normal way with my Staedtler 0.5 liner.  It was easy to use although there is no way to vary the width of the line with pressure.  I also found that the ink wasn’t very dark compared to the Kuretake pen.

Then I scanned the ink pictures into my PC and had some top Manga Studio fun…



Who says robots can’t be girly?!




Manga Dragon – first colour

So although I’m going to change my dragon design I thought I’d use the old design to play around and look at what colour she’s going to be.  My favourite colours are actually opposites on the colour wheel – blue that’s really close to purple and yellow that’s really close to orange.  I gave these a try.


First I painted in the flat colour…

DRagon COlour Flats


Then I added some shading and changed the eyes.  In making my ink drawing I’d put the shine for the eyes on the left and then went on and put the shadows for the whole picture on the left too which is wrong.  To correct this I deleted the drawn eyes and repainted them digitally with the shine on the right.  I also removed some line work on the nose which I don’t like.

Here’s the shading without the drawing over the top:

Dragon shaded colour


And here’s my final dragon – well the first draft anyway…


Dragon Colour FIN_WEB

All of this except the border was done in Manga Studio which I find much easier to use than photoshop for this kind of work.



The Wave – Light Through Water

Today I did another exercise following a painter on YouTube.  Again I wanted to look at light and highlights.

This video is by a chap called Mural Joe.


What I wanted to concentrate on in this exercise is how to get the wave to look like it has light coming through it.  I applied the same rules as I did on the mountain study for glowing light – I made the sections where I wanted light to glow through the water lighter and of a stronger colour (in this case a blue/green).

I painted this in gouache.  I began with a simple background gradient:


Then I painted in the wave and then had incredible fun playing with painting the foam in the foreground.  I really loved working on that bit!

Here’s how it turned out:


I’m really pleased with this painting.  I can see some improvements I would make if I painted it again – like I would work on the curvle of the wave as it falls in the centre of the picture making that fall more gradual from left to right.  I would also put the main wave higher in the picture next time so there is more room for all that fun with the foam on the receeding wave.  Generally thought I like this one.  🙂