A Rural Landscape in Ink

 

This week I worked on developing texture in ink.

I began with a basic sketch of a landscape which you might find in the north of England…

 

Normally I would just dive into inking this but I wanted to take some time to think about the textural effects I would use.  So I looked at the landscape and picked out eight different areas where a texture might work well.  Then I experimented with the textures for each of these areas.

I found that I needed more space for some of these areas, so I went onto another page…

Once I’d decided on the marks I would use to represent each texture I began to ink my drawing.

This week I switched over to using Rotring Rapidograph pens which are lovely to use and reliably produce the same line weight all the time.

I mus admit I thought they were superb.  They worked well as soon as I had set them up and never waivered.

I began inking the basic outline…

And then slowly and steadily worked my way through the whole drawing.  Working on this picture was a very restful meditative activity.  Time flew by as I drew and before long it was finished.  Here’s my final drawing…

 

Trainers – Digital and Traditional

This week’s art is a traditional ink drawing of some trainers and a digitally coloured version of the same drawing. I have been working quite a bit on these two areas recently, ink drawing and digital colouring. My aim is to improve my skill in both.

 

Ink drawing aims

With the ink drawing I particularly want to be able to emulate artists like Olivia Kemp. Here is a link to her Instagram where you can have a look at her art: Link to Olivia’s Work.  I think her textures are amazing!

Now, some of what makes her art wonderful is the huge attention to detail, which means working on a bigger canvas and taking more time to draw. My ink drawings take about an hour to do and then half an hour to colour if I’m doing it digitally. So I think planning and drawing a bigger, more longterm, ink drawing would be a good step forward. The second thing Olivia seems to do is to take care with each line. I do think before I draw, especially when working traditionally, but I don’t take such care of each mark I make, so I could work on that too. However, the most impactful thing Olivia does, that I’m only beginning to work on, is to use varied textures for different materials and objects in each scene. Until recently I only used hatching and cross hatching and sometimes little dots, which is very limiting. On top of that I don’t really like the look of my cross hatching. So these are all things I’m going to work on going forwards.

In this picture I concentrated on making the canvas parts of these shoes look like canvas and, more than that, look like canvas that had been stretched to someone’s feet. I used hatching, but in a very controlled way so that I could show the viewer how the pressure from the laces molds the shoe to the wearer’s foot. I also experimented with using cross hatching in a very broad way to indicate the pattern of threads in the laces.

 

Digital colour aims

With digital colouring I’ve been studying colour theory some more and trying out different techniques and approaches. In today’s art I felt, for the first time, that I was able to really use some of this new learning in a way that felt natural and normal. It’s like the difference between struggling to play a difficult scale on the piano (which I’ve been metaphorically doing for a while now in my colour work) and being able to naturally use that scale without thinking in a piece of music.

Here are my process images…

With shading and some halftone ink added – this is my finished traditional ink drawing…

I also scanned this drawing in before I added the half tone ink so I could colour it digitally which turned out like this…

I made some subtle changes to the way I colour here, adding a range of hues for the violet canvas colour, from a darker, low saturation navy blue to a mid saturation magenta added in the centre of the violet colour where warm light would be hitting the shoe. I also changed the colour of my shadows. They still read as grey, but are actually a dark airforce blue. You can’t easily see the difference just looking at this picture alone, but just using greys left the image looking dull compared.

So the final question is, which picture is best? Well, I don’t know. I love the purity and simplicity of ink on paper, but I like the freedom and possibilities of digital art.

I would be really interested to know what do you think?

“Young Adults” Part 3 # 3 – The young man who loves to cook insects.

This is the last in a series of three ink portraits of young adults. This young Japanese man is an expert at cooking insects. I saw a video about him and was impressed by his knowledge, skills and enthusiasm. I paused the video just as he was serving a plate of insects and looking really thrilled at what he had made. His face was full of joy. It was such a beautiful image, I had to draw it.

Here are my pencils…

And here is the final drawing, following the same technique that I used in the previous two attempts at this particular exercise…

With this drawing I worked quite hard to put this young man in his commercial kitchen. It was an interesting place with many different tools of a chef’s trade. This drawing turned out a little looser than the last one. I think that gives it an immediacy which I almost like, but I still find my heart wanting tighter line work (even when I am actively trying to loosen it up a bit!)

Quick Comic Practice Studies

This week I ‘ve been very busy with the end of term so here are the final panel art practice sketches I made in the summer. I had been doing really quick 10 minute sketches from TV to speed up my ability to draw comic panels. For this last section of the exercise, rather than sketching from a video, I tried to draw 3 sketches of real comic panels by artists I enjoy as quickly as possible without them becoming unrecognisable.

I began with Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. I studied two original panels by Kishimoto and then tried to draw and tone them really quickly.

The first one was a picture of Naruto’s sensei Kakashi in a classic ninja pose. This one took about 10 minutes in total…

The second was also from Naruto and has Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura sitting together. This one had a lot more detail in it and took me 15 minutes. I blew my time limit on the background details…

The final study I did was from a comic series called DMZ written by Brian Wood with artwork by Riccardo Burchielli (and sometimes Wood himself). The panel is of the moment a nuclear device is triggered in New York during a fictional future war in the US. It’s an amazing panel. My study took about 15 minutes. Here’s what it looked like…

So, that’s the end of my quick practice studies

(NB: All three panels here were drawn and inked by me, but they are not my own original work – they are studies of the comic art of Kishimoto and Burchielli.)

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #4

This set of sketches was also done really quickly while watching Netflix and YouTube. I’m working towards being able to draw fast and clearly enough to be able to draw and write a comic book one day. Each sketch takes about ten minutes. I think when working on a real project, rather than just doing some sketching practice, I would definitely take more time. The question is, how fast would I need to go to be at a professional level in terms of time?

Professional Comic Artists

Well, in the comic industry the gold standard is that the penciller would be expected to draw 20 pages a month, which, if you take account of the weekends is one page a day for four weeks straight working only weekdays. But that is just the pencils, no ink, no colour or tone and no lettering. The person who inks the drawing will take less time to ink each page than the penciller did to do the drawing. Colour and tones take even less time and lettering, when done well apparently, takes a day for a whole book! (all 20 pages).

I know that some artists find this pace way too fast and feel forced by the timeline into producing work that isn’t their best which sounds miserable. Many work at a slower pace.  Conversely, comic artist legend Jack Kirby famously drew at an even faster rate  – producing an average of 3 pages a day and sometimes did up to 6!!!  If I were to produce a comic book, with the constraints of my health and a job (which has to come first), I would have to work fast to be able to get it done in a reasonable time frame.  If I stopped all other art I think I could get a page done in a week, working just in the evenings although it would depend on my health remaining OK.

Neria the Thanatologist

Jerry Hardin as Neria in Star Trek Voyager (Paramount)

This is a sketch from Star Trek Voyager of an alien male.  He was called Neria and was a Thanatologist from the planet Vhnori.  He was played by Jerry Hardin.  I like the sculpting of his head shape and enjoyed trying to capture that in a quick sketch.  (The still (left) is not the same pose and camera angle as the one I drew when pausing Netflix.)

Here’s the sketch…

 

The Seashore

The next exercise was to draw a screenshot of a nature programme I was watching about coastal ecology.  The camera man in this series captured a really stunning shot of the coastline and I had a go at sketching it…

This one took a full ten minutes to complete and I really felt pushed for time.

Stylised Hand

The final drawing was of a man’s hand.  I was watching someone scrubbing up for surgery in a documentary.  It seemed to me that a surgeon’s hands are incredibly important precision tools.  Watching him scrub, I saw the care he took to do things properly and became really fascinated by his hands.  I made the drawing of this really quickly (less than 5 minutes) but blew another full 5 on the shading with my brush pens.  Here’s the final result…

Having fun with styles.

This week I had some fun playing around with some shorter paintings and trying out different styles.  Some artists try to “find their style” but I’ve never been really bothered about that.  I have this feeling that as you develop as an artist the style thing naturally appears over the years.  It’s still fun though, to play with different ways of producing visual media.

The first picture began as a study sketch I made while on holiday in Paris last year.  We visited the Musée d’Orsay, a museum on the left bank of the Siene which really revels in impressionist paintings although there are many types of art there.  While there, I loved seeing a lot of the art.  Alexandre Séon’s The Lament of Orpheus was one of the paintings that really caught my eye.

 

Here’s a glimpse of Séon’s original work via a photograph…

 

This painting was gorgeous to see in person.  It’s odd how seeing online photos of some of these famous paintings, as above, doesn’t do them justice.  In this form it seems flat, like something is missing.  Anyway, I got out my sketch book and made a pencil sketch of Séon’s painting which I then went over quickly and lightly with ink.  This is what I used for the first of my painting studies this week.

I took the ink sketch and coloured it with watercolour and a little gouache.   I wanted to see how a classical image might look if done in a more painterly anime style.  Here’s the result…

 

I’m not too keen on this one – I think the linework is too rough to really make it click.  I quite like the sand texture from the way the paint I was using was granulating on the paper, but it doesn’t quite draw together as a good image.  Next time I will leave it as a pencil sketch while out and about and ink it more carefully later on.

 

My next painting was a small sketch of some sea cliffs in gouache.  I tried to paint big portions of them from imagination which is something I find hard.

Here’s the gouache on it’s own…

Once I’d painted them I tried to emulate a style which is being used in TellTale’s video game, The Walking Dead.  They used a fairly painterly CGI rendering of the figures and then added some comic styled edges with a filter of some kind.  It’s a beautiful effect and very suitable for a video game based on a classic comic.  You can see a little of it in this still from actual game footage…

 

 

It reminds me of the amazing film “A Scanner Darkly” directed by Richard Linklater and based on Philip K Dick’s novel of the same name.  They shot the whole film in a fairly standard way and then spent 18 months with an animation team animating the footage over the top of the digital cinamatography.  It was visually incredible.  I’ve seen it many times now and it still takes my breath away. Here’s an example of what that looked like…

 

Now I don’t have the graphics software which Telltale have or the Rotoshop software, in which “A Scanner Darkly” was animated, but I had a go at using a Photoshop to fill out some comic edges on my gouache painting.  I don’t think I got close to the way the pros did it but I like the effect.  Here’s my Sea Cliffs painting with the filter…

 

 

I wonder if this effect could be achieved in a more traditional way by outlining the art with a 005, dark technical pencil?  It might work for the edges, but I suspect it wouldn’t give me the texture Photoshop gives me in the rocks.

 

The final painting I did was a small illustration of a fox in plain watercolour over a pencil sketch.  I used wet in wet first and then went over that base with some wet on dry. Once I had it scanned in I had a go looking at it with the same filter as I used on the cliffs painting…

 

 

But, in the end, I preferred the watercolour illustration as it is…

 

 

This was the easiest of the three styles and one of the better ones for me, although I did kind of like the gouache painting with the filter.  The Orpheus image didn’t really work for me this time but could, perhaps, be improved by better line art.

October Ink – Pine Cones and Meditation

I have always loved the pattern of pinecones but have never tried to draw one before so it was a pleasure to have a go at this…

It was done using my Pigma Micron pens, a brush pen and, for the shadow, a non-permanent ink washed out with water on a brush.

My second drawing for this week was on the theme of “Meditation”.  When I’m well enough nowadays I go to the Quaker Meeting for Worship.  It is what people in the US would call unprogrammed worship.  There is no sermon, or songs or litergy.  People just sit together in silence.  If someone feels “led” they stand up and speak to the Meeting.  I still don’t know what “led” means in this context so I never speak.  It’s no loss though because the whole speaking thing is a mindfield when you have autism.  The thing that I love is the chance to be with other people in an almost intimate silence where I don’t have to think about how to connect to them or speak to them – just sitting there is enough.

In my long lost past (somehwere in the Jurassic!!) I practiced Buddhism for about 12 years.  Again this was really just sitting.  It was the Soto Zen practice as taught by Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey and a monk who travelled down to a centre in the South called Brother Raymond.  I think I got the same feeling of silent companionship from that too.  It also gave me the ability to let everything go in meditation and just be.  This is the most comfortable peaceful place I’ve ever been to.  At first it was hard, my mind just kept going when I told it to stop.  But I found I could do it if I concentrated on the weight of my body  on the floor and just noticed each thing and let it go.

So this picture of meditation, although quite abstract is about these two experiences…

 

 

The idea is that the world is all going on outside and the person meditating has just stepped of the metaphorical conveyor belt for a while and just sits there breathing.

 

At first when I made this picture it was like this…

I couldn’t darken it with my brush pen because it’s got a bit blocked up so I did it digitally…

Then I added a shadow around the person to highlight how the world just dims and quietens in meditation…

Having done all of that I’m not sure if I like the final result.  Sometimes I think the original ink drawing was better…

(With Shadows)
(Original)

October Ink – Underwater Spacecraft Warrior

By this stage in the Inktober challenge I was really flagging. I’d got really behind during term time at work and was trying to both catch up in half term and finish the whole thing in the same holiday. I found I was drawing from when I woke up to when I went to sleep! I even took my sketchbook and pens with me on the days when I was my son’s designated driver for his A’level Geography primary data collection. So while he was out at each location getting his data I would work on my drawings. Basically it became a real chore and all I could think about was finishing the blooming thing.

So, I had to set a limit to what I was doing during half term. If I couldn’t finish, I wanted to at least get enough done so that I could get all my posts prepared for the second half of the autumn term. It’s the busiest time of year in teaching with Christmas productions, the Pantomime, lots of wet play, all the normal work to do as well and lots of over-excited children! Mostly I managed that, although I did cheat on one picture which was the one inspired by the word “warrior”. I used an ink drawing I’ve done in the past.

Anyway here are the drawings…

This one is “Underwater”. It’s pretty abstract and was done using a white gel pen on top of black ink painted onto my sketchbook.

Next we have “Warrior”…

This was actually done years ago but because it fits so perfectly I used it for Inktober.

Finally I went for a drawing of the space shuttle in a simplified Art Deco style…

This was really easy to do. The hardest thing was avoiding the temptation to add details.

Then I cleaned up the drawing and added the Art Deco style colours in Photoshop 6.0

October Ink – A Sith, a Storm Trooper and a Kraken

The next three ink drawings were of Darth Maul, a Kraken and a Lego Storm Trooper.

Here’s Darth Maul…

While drawing this I kept wishing for some red ink to give him his usual colours so when I’d got him scanned in I couldn’t resist seeing what some colour would do to his picture…

I like it! (The colour was done in Manga Studio 5, along with the background effect.)

Then we had the Kraken…

When I drew this I wanted to try to make an old fashioned styled image with simple lines. It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped but it does bring to mind the legendary John Wyndham and his story “The Kraken Awakes”. I have loved this author since I was about 12 years old and first read “The Day of the Triffids” and then straight after that, “The Chrysalids” which are my favourites.

What’s really marvelous about these stories is that, unlike some science fiction, which can become anachronistic very quickly, these stories still read really well today! In fact, I’m going to have to read them both again now. 🙂

My last ink drawing this week is of a lego StormTrooper. Here he is…