Heavy Seas Off Brixham – Digital Painting

This week’s painting is a digital drawing of a small fishing boat caught in a very heavy sea. I decided that the boat would be from Brixham because my first new friend at University when I was 18 was a young man from that part of the country. He was reading Computer Sciences and I was was reading Natural Sciences. To this day I can’t read the name “Brixham” without hearing it in his accent! 😊

Here are some process images I made as I drew the boat…

Once I had my boat drawn I moved it to a jaunty angle…

…then added some big waves behind her…

Next I added big waves in front of her…

To finish it off I added some sea foam coming of the bow, a rather stoic Brixham fisherman in the wheelhouse and some threatening looking skies…

To get it ready for publicaiton I ported the image into Photoshop, made some final changes to the levels and added a border. Here is the final picture…

Looking at this image, I wonder what it would turn out like if I were to play around rather wildly with some ink, then draw on a small fishingboat and then add more ink on top? It could be a disaster (for the carpet around my dining table, as well as for the drawing)! Or it could be quite interesting. Do I have the courage to try it?

Maybe!

😎

Octopus Dreams #4 – Designing Octopus Tattoos

Sometimes I like to try out tattoo ideas directly on my skin. I usually do this by just doodling the design in black biro. This is how this picture started…

It was quite tricky to do since I chose a spot on my lower leg! I tried to brighten the eyes with some white gel pen, but as you can see, that didn’t really work. I did enjoy having an octopus on my leg for the day though! 🙂

So I thought I might make a better job of this on paper or via digital drawing. I tried digital drawing first.

Digital Octopus Tattoo Design

For this first design I wanted to make something symmetrical. So I began with a couple of circles to give me some rough guides for where I wanted parts of the shape…

Next I used the symmetry tool to draw the octopus. Using this tool I only had to draw half of it and the tool put the other half in for me and kept it symmetrycal.

Once I had a basic outline I added some other small details and removed my guide circles…

Then I added some shading. I used the pen tool to put in some darker and lighter tones and then used the blend tool to blend them together. This is exactly how I would do it with oil paint…

My final job here was to add some textural marks to the design…

Here is the final digital tattoo design…

Traditional Ink Octopus Tattoo Design

Here’s the process I went through to create a traditional ink drawing for a tattoo design. I began with the basic structure…

Then drew in an outline…

Next I inked my outline…

Then added some details…

Here is what the linework looked like once I was finished. (You might be able to see that I added some greyscale shadows in pencil on the design.)

Reviewing my work

Looking at the two designs I think each one has some strengths and weaknesses:

The digital design has:

  • Interesting textures especially on the octopus’ mantle.
  • Some webbing between the octopus’ arms which gives it a nice feel.
  • An overbearing outline which seems to me to be the wrong style for the final image.
  • A symmetrical shape which can be problematic in tattoos if the skin stretches in one direction more than another.

The tradition design has:

  • A well placed sense of the animal.
  • An interesting overall shape.
  • Textures and other design elements which work well together.
  • A lack of three dimensionality.

So having looked at both designs for a couple of days I decided to draw a new version which incorporates some aspects of one drawing and some of the other. Here is my final octopus tattoo design…

You can see I’ve based it on the traditional drawing, but added webbing, shadows, three-dimensional shading and some sand cloud and bubble effects.

Which one do you prefer?

Next week I’m going to be posting a study of a beautiful but sad Reuter’s photograph which I painted digitally.

Whale Song

I thought we’d have a break from octopuses this week with a watercolour painting of a beautiful humpback whale swimming with a diver.

I used Arches hot-pressed watercolour paper this time. It’s odd but, although I really find Arches paper great to use for watercolour because it takes a wash so beautifully, I keep avoiding using it because it’s so expensive. I just feel I have to save it. Then when I do use it, I feel a sense of pressure not to waste it which isn’t overly helpful. I think this is quite a common thing though. I’m going to deal with it by just using the paper until it feels more normal.

So, I began my whale painting with a pencil sketch…

Next I did the big washes – starting from the background and working forwards…

After that I worked on the details – the diver, the whale’s eye and other features and I worked on bringing the whale shape to life with some shadows. I also added a little more pencil in places to give a little more definition to some parts of the painting.

Once the painting was finished I photographed it and then corrected the levels in Photoshop. Here’s the finished painting…

I had a “whale” of a time with this one! LOL

😀

Early morning over the Pacific

 

I have never seen the pacific ocean, but ever since I first watched the Shawshank Redemption, where Andy spoke to Red about going there, I have wondered what it might be like.

I am still quite unwell, although a little better today than yesterday.  Unfortunately I can only paint digitally in bed.  I don’t have the energy for sitting at a table or getting my paints out.  It’s what I can do in bed or nothing.  I do apologise for not using tradition painting media recently.  I will get back to it when I get better.

So this week I watched a video on YouTube about painting the ocean which was really relaxing.  It’s by Kalliopi Lyviaki. Here is a link…

YouTube Link

After watching I started to doodle my own version digitally.  I began with a gradient over the whole image.  Then I used what is called a dodge brush across what will become the top half of the sea.  This is the digital equivalent of dabbing off some colour when working traditionally…

 

 

 

Then in a separate layer I began to paint the general structure of the waves.  This is the bit where Kalliopi’s video was really helpful as I’d not really got to grips with this shape and pattern before.

Here’s a short clip of me drawing this part of the painting…

 

One of the main things I learned here was how to set up my digital brush to do what I needed.  I wanted to be able to have sharp edges and soft edges using the same brush in different ways.  So I set the nib hardness quite high to about 85% but then dropped the opacity right down for lighter pen strokes on the tablet.  That way, if I pushed harder with my pen I could get good edges and if I used the pen softly I could blend my colour.

 

 

Next I went in with a slightly lighter and more saturated ultramarine blue to paint the body of the waves near the front.  Often with waves you can see light through them and I wanted to try to hint at that effect…

 

My next job was to add some highlights.  They look white but I actually used a whole range of coloured tones, gradually getting lighter as I moved towards the horizon.  Because of the gradient underneath the painting, I hoped that this would read as specular reflections which are fairly even in terms of intensity over the whole water area.

 

 

Next I started on some clouds.  The YouTube demo only had the ocean, so I was just letting the painting lead me by this time…

 

 

At this stage I made some decisions about the direction I wanted my picture to go in.  I wanted it to be of a foggy morning at that moment when the sun really starts to burn through the fog and the day brightens.  In preparation for the sun I highlighted my clouds…

 

…and then put in my fog dispelling sun…

 

Next I felt that I wanted a boat on the ocean. I began with a simple sillhouette.  However, rather than putting the boat travelling right but on the left side of the image (which is more traditional and draws the viewer into the scene), I put her travelling left on the left side so she takes the viewer out into the Pacific with her.  I wanted to give the painting a sense of the craft moving slowing away and out of view, leaving the Pacific quiet and empty.

I am continuing to think about the lessons I have learned from the Art Professor YouTube channel which I mentioned a few weeks ago.  I am consciously trying to think and feel with respect to my art and use my thoughts to guide my work so that perhaps I will be able to paint pictures that bring up specific feelings in the viewer.  For this picture I wanted the expansive, quiet ,open feeling you get on a vast empty sea.  Anyway here is the basic sillouette I drew…

 

 

I added sails using the gradient tool.  The whole way through with this painting I was thinking in terms of watercolour and then translating whatever I would do with a paintbrush into a digital technique.  So traditionally for the sails I would wet each sail and then paint on a gradient.  This naturally translated into a formal digital gradient.  I used more red in my colour mix for the boat because I wanted it to read as warmer than the sea but still have the same analogous colour palette.

 

Finally I added a shadow to the water on the viewer side of the boat and some specular highlights on the vessel itself.

 

So here is the final painting.  (You can probably see I also painted in a diffuse, misty reflection of the sun in the water.)

 

 

At school we often ask the children to evaluate their own work by giving themselves two stars and a wish.  The two stars are things they think went well and the wish is something they would like to improve next time.

I would say the painting does give me the feeling I was aiming for in the end and I am pleased that I got deeper into adapting my digital brushes in ways which help me use these tools more effectively. My wish would be that I could add more texture to the boat and clouds so that they too reflect the brush strokes I was using on the water.  Then they might look less graphical and more painterly.

 

The Moonlit Sea

I found another Shin Hanga print I really like. It’s by an artist called Koho Shoda. It really only has one colour and black and white. Here’s the original Japanese woodblock print…

I wanted to create something along the same lines but with a well known English boat as the main subject and in watercolour and gouache. I don’t live very far from Maldon where some traditional Thames Sailing Barges have their moorings. I think there’s also a repair yard in Maldon for these beautiful boats. I spent some time in my teens sailing on the Blackwater, very occasionally alongside these wonderful boats. They are so big that they’re a little scary to be near when you’re in a small sailing dingy, but they still retain the grace and beauty of a sailing vessel. Maybe coots feel the same way about swimming near swans!

(Wikipedia Photo of two Thames Sailing Barges going East on the Blackwater near Bradwell Power Station. By Terry Joyce)

I began with a wash using a mixture of French Ultramarine and Phthalo blue…

Then I painted on more details with gouache…

I did quite like the picture at this stage. It had an open feel. But I went ahead and added the foreground reeds…

Reviewing my picture at this stage I quite liked the contrast and the reflections but I very much disliked the ultramarine sky – it felt too warm and too saturated for the sea below it. To give you an idea what it might look like with the hue shifted towards green and away from red and the saturation dropped a bit I manipulated it in Photoshop. This is how I wish I had painted it…

I think this looked closer to what I wanted but it wasn’t there yet.

I was painting this in the last week of the Spring Term and was really tired so I was temped to leave it there, but every time I looked at the original, still taped to my board, it annoyed me. In the end, on the Thursday before the end of term I decided to do something drastic. I got a big paint brush I had bought for my son to use in painting the bathroom and used it to add a phthalo blue / ultramarine glaze over the top of everything. Then I worked the paper with water to blur much of what I had already painted. The gouache which I had used mixed with the watercolour and helped the paint to move and it really changed. In fact it really looked like a big dark mess, so much so that I went to bed in disgust!

However, today, the first day of the Easter Holiday, I saw it dry and still taped to my board. It’s amazing what eyes which have had 12 hours of sleep can do! I repainted all of the details and followed my heart’s feeling for the picture. Finally I had a painting I like!

Here is the finished picture…

Japanology, Prints and Paintings

 

Although this post will be published in Mid March, I am actually writing it during the half term holidays in the middle of February.  This half term I have been recovering from an illness which took me to hospital last week and looking after my son who has had an operation a few days ago.  So, rather than being out and about, I have spent a lot of time relaxing indoors and looking after my lad who is doing very well.  While surfing the web I stumbled across a series of Japanese woodblock prints.  I have always loved The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Here is a link from Wikipedia:

Great Wave of Kangawa by Hokusai

But I have never made a serious study of the art-form – until now!  I have been blown away by the simplicity and beauty of this kind of art.

Woodblock printing originally came to Japan from China in the 8th century CE and for a long time was only used for printing the written word – mainly Buddhist texts.  Then in 1765, right in the middle of the Edo period, a new style of polychromatic woodblock printing was invented called Nishiki-e.  At first they printed beautiful calendars with this method but the technique was soon taken up by ‘Floating World’ artists and so Ukiyo-e was born.  Ukiyo-e is printed art which centres on the fleeting and ephemeral nature of ordinary life.  It began featuring the goings on in the urban pleasure districts during the Edo period – beautiful women, geishas and teahouse mistresses, kabuki theatre, warriors and sumo wrestlers.  Later the subject matter broadened out to include landscapes, travel scenes, scenes involving people doing ordinary jobs, natural scenes of animals and plants and much more.  I have only really touched upon the surface of the subject so far but here are my favourites at this stage:

 

 

 

  • Kawase, a more modern artist, who specialised in landscapes of tranquil and obscure places.  Here is a selection of his work from the Ronin Gallery

 

  • Koitsu, another more modern artist who also does a lot of landscapes.  Here is some of his work.

 

The last two of these artists are from the Shin Hanga movement which began in about 1910.  It was really a revival of the original woodblock printing with some modern influences.  (Shin Hanga means “New Prints”.)

Of course, having been blown away by this artwork I wanted to have a go myself.  My aim was not to make my own woodblock prints but to create watercolour and gouache paintings which have a similar look and feel.  I suspect this is something that I will have to learn as I work on it.

The first painting I had a try at was a natural scene of a bird with some cherry blossom by a late 19th century / early 20th century artist called Ohara Koson…

Orange Bird and Cherry Blossom by Ohara Koson

 

I made this painting as a present for a family member’s birthday…

 

I made a graded wash going from the centre outwards with more cadmium yellow deep as I got towards the edge.  Then I painted the bird and the flowers on with watercolours.  I wasn’t sure from the original what bird species it was so my interpretation is a little fanciful  (sort of a red version of a blue tit).

 

While I was at the hospital waiting for my son to be discharged I made a sketch in pencil of the next subject I wanted to have a go at.  Here’s the original art by Kawase…

Moon at Matsushima by Hasui Kawase

 

Here’s my interpretation as a sketch…

 

And here is my watercolour impression of Kawase’s work…

I used a basic graded wash over my pencil outline and then painted the features on with gouache.  I am pleased with how both of these paintings turned out as initial studies, but I would like to work some more on this to see how far I can take it and what that ends up looking like.

 

 

Grand Trevally

 

I’ve been watching Blue Planet 2 in the last few weeks (I have a bit of a marine biology thing going on recently, so this was just perfect.)  So much of the cinematography in that show was spectacular.  They were the kind of images which make you ache inside, the very best I’ve ever seen.

So I’ve been trying to paint some of them.  It’s tricky because the photography from this BBC team is so good that I don’t think art can take it any further.  Their stuff is perfect as it is.  It doesn’t stop me wanting to try though.

Here’s a picture I painted recently of these fish which were catching some fledgling sea birds in the TV show.  I think the fish are Grand Trevally or something similar.

I began with a pencil drawing over which I painted some simple washes…

I used some masking fluid for the clouds.

Then finally I painted in the fish and added some highlighs with white gouache.

Jellyfish Fun

 

I drew a small quick picture of a jellyfish this week in my sketchbook.

Here’s my sketch…

(22 minutes)

And here’s my painting…

(Which took about 25 minutes.)

I made a bit of a big mistake in that I didn’t use any reference.  I should have done but my pain was bad, so I drew the sketch in bed and didn’t get around to looking up reference.   I think it really shows too.  Ho hum – you live and learn.

Originally I used a deep yellow and purple colour mix but I think it looked better when I added reds and blues to it which is what you see here.

A cold, an undersea horse and a sketch for a friend.

This week I worked on a line and wash painting.  I did the wash first and added salt to create some white sparkles (which are created as the salt goes into solution and pushes the paint away from each salt grain.)  Then I sketched in pencil and drew in ink a sea horse.  They are such fascinating creatures.

I found it quite tricky to sketch loosely on top of my finished wash as I was aware that I couldn’t remove my sketch lines.  But it was still easier than drawing with ink straight off.

Once I’d drawn my ink seahorse I then went back to the watercolours to colour him in.  I also added some white gouache to my pallet to give me some highlights.

Here’s the final picture…

seahorsescan_fin_web

 

I also made a quick (5 min) ink sketch in my sketchbook of a Marvel character called Wolverine.  He’s not really my ‘cup of tea’ but a friend of mine really likes him so I’m looking at eventually making a dark, modern style painting of him for her.

This is my initial sketch…

wolverinefin_web

It was drawn using just an 0.05 Multiliner (Staedtler) and then toned with my W&N greyscale brushpens.  Again(!!!) I forgot that these go through the page of my current sketchbook – so I wrecked the next page, but again they gave me a finish which I liked.

Then once scanned into my PC I added some blood to the spike things on his hands, which I now kind of regret because I did it quickly and rather badly and I’n not sure it really works at all.    🙂

What I would really like to do with this Wolverine portrait for a friend, is to work in my version of the style of an artist called Christopher Lovell.  He draws and paints low saturation  and greyscale pictures which have a dark sort of theme.  They just look fantastic.

Here’s a link to part of his Gallery…

Christopher Lovell Personal Gallery

And here are some linked pictures from his website…

By Christopher Lovell
(By Christopher Lovell)

 

 

By Christopher Lovell
(By Christopher Lovell)

 

 

By Christopher Lovell
(By Christopher Lovell)

 

The detail and the tonal range of his work is totally stunning.  I really love it.  Now obviously I’m not even in the same league as this guy but I would like to try to do a Wolverine portrait with minimal low saturation colour, or in greyscale with a lot of detail and tonal range.  I think Wolverine really lends himself to the style.  We’ll see how it turns out.

 

wolverine

(Hugh Jackman as Wolverine from Marvel based film series by 20th Century Fox)

 

PS:  I’m not starting my wolverine picture yet as I’ve got this horrible cold at the moment and it’s all I can do to get myself into work everyday and look after my son.  Hopefully it’ll ease off in a few days.

 

minion