Trinity Portrait – ink, pencils and digital colour

I spent a lot of time in bed at the beginning of this week and played around with portraits in my small sketchbook. I drew a few quick sketches of various people from Netflix and YouTube. I was working on finding out which parts of a portrait I need to measure (as a proportion of my pencil) and which bits I can just do by eye . This is a portrait based on Carrie-Ann Moss who I always remember playing Trinity in the film The Matrix although I redid her hair to make it longer than she had then.

Above are the very basic marks I made when I began. You can see where I am making some measurements.

I developed this into a rough ink sketch. Although it’s really rough and doesn’t have a good likeness I really liked the way it turned out…

At this point I decided to make a better drawing in a bigger sketchbook. I used my trusty mocron pens. I particularly like using my big 0.5 pen. Through use the end has become blunted but I can get really great fine lines and textures by using it leaned over on it’s side at about 45 degrees to the paper. Below is the drawing I made copying my drawing and tweaking various bits of it to try to get more of a likeness. You can see the textural stuff I did in her hair…

Once I had the inks down I wanted to add some shading but wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach this. So I photocopied my drawing and then played around with various types of hatching and mark making to see if I could find something I liked…

I liked the bottom left bit of hatching which followed the contours of her body best, but didn’t like it enough to actually use it. In the end I decided to add shading with pencils. I shaded lightly and then used my fingers and a blending stick to smudge the tones. I also used a kneaded eraser to pull out some white areas in the line of her neck and across her nose and collar bones.

Here is the finished drawing…

Once I had photographed the drawing and pulled it into photoshop I also experimented with pushing my portrait to the right of the frame. I really liked this. I find it interesting how the space, the nothingness, around Carrie changes the feeling of the picture.

Later in the week when I was feeling a bit better I fired up Clip Studio Paint again and had a go at adding some colour. I tried to follow a similar process to the colour work I did on the Dandelion picture I did a while back. Here it is…

I think I prefer the greyscale image personally. Which do you prefer?

Attelabus nitens – ink on paper

This drawing was a quick ink sketch I made when I got a new pen. The pen is designed for drawing Manga, but rather than being a dip pen, it’s actually a cartridge pen. Here’s what the nib looks like…

I’ve always thought this would be a good idea. Unfortunately it doesn’t hold a zebra G nib, which would have been perfect, but it does look pretty good.

I found a really cool looking weevil in my Collins Complete Guide to British Insects book…

I though this little dude looked awesome. So I made a sketch…

Unfortunately I went off the page a little bit with his rear right foot!

Then I began to draw with the new pen. I was able to make some great textures and create really small lines too. I did have some trouble keeping the ink flowing and had to dip the pen in water from time to time to help draw the ink out. I wonder if I need to put a flame to the nib to burn off the coating they sometimes have? So for places where I needed jet black ink I used my trusty Microns but most of the rest was all with this manga pen. (I did put in a shadow with pencils.)

Because I’d gone off the page, when I framed the photo of my drawing I added some extra space to deliberately make the weevil look like he was just about to crawl across the paper. I liked this effect. I think I will work more in future on placement and framing. Anyway here’s the final sketch…

This was a good little project to test out my pen but the image was too small for the kind of detail I would like on a picture like this (the weevil is only about 7-8cm long in my drawing). I think I will try to find a way to get the ink to flow properly and then have another go with this pen on a bigger sheet of paper.

Autistic Animal Familiar – pen and ink

This week I drew what my own autistic animal familiar might be like. I began my drawing with some basic shapes…

Then I built on my basic shapes to make a pencil sketch…

Once this was done I set to work on my ink drawing. This was all done in bed since my pain has been ferocious recently. (I am trying to follow advice and listen to my body more and take better care of it but it has yet to show any results.) I prefer drawing at a table but “needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle” (Blackadder).

Here’s the finished ink drawing…

My thinking with this drawing and autism was…

  • I made him basic shape a scawney little cat – just the sort of cat I would be. Cat’s always seem to me to be naturally autistic. It gives me a very strong sense of affinity with them. My cat Leia and I are like two peas in a Star Wars loving pod. (Yes, she loves Star Wars too because people call her name sometimes and call her a princess, but mainly because I give her treats so she will watch it with me. Lol)
  • I gave him big big eyes, ears and whiskers to convey his heightened sensitivity and the way we take in all the information not just selective bits.
  • The broken collar represents how so many clothes, clothing labels, jewellery etc. are intensly irritating and also how we don’t always fit so well into society.
  • My creature’s tail is curved up into a golden spiral which is based on the golden ratio (which is approximately 1 to 1.61803398875). This indicates how cool patterns are for many autistic people, me included.
  • I also gave my cat slightly sad comic eyes to show how it can be difficult sometimes to be autistic, especially when we have communication and social problems.

I’m going to call my autistic animal familiar “Joe“.

😊

Five-Horned Rhinoceros Beetle – ink

After looking at a rhinoceros beetle last week I really wanted to make a more detailed drawing of one. I chose the Five-horned Rhinoceros Beetle (Eupatorus gracilicornis).

I started as I always do with a drawing, just sketching out the big shapes. Then I began to add some details to my sketch. Here is the complete pencil drawing…

Next I put in a thin ink outline…

As they say in Star Wars…

“Here’s where the fun begins!”

Anakin, Battle of Coruscant, “Revenge of the Sith” film

My next job was all of the actual ink rendering which I really really like doing. I find it really helps with stress. Here’s how I started the head with the full black sections…

Next I had to try to work out exactly how I wanted to render the head of the animal. I thought first of using hatched lines, but I really wasn’t sure and have been caught out with this before when I’ve used them and not liked the result. So I photocopied my drawing and tried out two different ways of doing it. Here they are side by side…

I definitiely preferred the stippled effect, so I went ahead with that. (While I was at it I also sketched out some ideas for drawing various textures on other parts of the beetle. Most of these were OK and I went ahead with them in the actual drawing.

So here is the final beetle…

Red Panda – Watercolour

This week I made a quick painting of a Red Panda. Having been unwell for a while I wanted to get my skills up again ready to complete Jim’s portrait. This was a cheeful way to do that especially after seeing Turning Red by Pixar!

I began with a pencil sketch…

Next I mixed up some paint…

Then I added a couple of washes to each area (letting the paint dry completely before adding a second wash). This is the first wash of the whole painting…

Finally I added my wet on dry details – fur, eyes, nose, tree bark etc.

Here is the finished painting…

In real life these animals are so gorgeous! I think the characteristic I like most is that when they feel threatened or try to assert dominance they put their paws up, like they are surrendering to police.

The little guy in the following video is at first threatened by a rock and then tries to dominate it. Finally he figures out it’s just a rock, has a sniff and then goes back inside for a lie down!!! (You might want to prepare for a cuteness overload with this one 😍)…

Herne the Hunter

I’m afraid I am still unwell – on a second round of differrent anitibiotics. So here is a another sketch done while waiting on the phone for 111. I did begin with some very light pencils but I forgot to photograph that stage. Instead, we begin with a very light ink sketch of this beuatiful buck…

I was thinking here about using the ink pen as a primary drawing instrument rather than a secondary tool to go over pencils. This gave the whole thing a different feel. I gradually worked in both details and deeper tones…

The photo above was taken about half way through…

… and this one was taken when my inks were complete. I then used black watercolour paint and white gouache to add deeper tones and brighter highlights. Here is the finished picture…

Mickey Mouse – Mixed Media

Last week, as well as working on the portrait, I also made an ink drawing of Mickey Mouse as a personalised Christmas Card for someone dear to me who is a big Disney fan. Here on my blog I’ve left off the writing since it includes their name, but the rest is there.

I began with a sketch…

Then I inked a quick outline…

After that I went in and inked it properly…

Then I set to work with my black watercolour and white gouache paints. Here’s the finished picture…

The original looks a bit better than this photograph. I don’t know why this happens with this type of mixed media artwork. It’s like the camera picks up contrasts more than it should. Maybe having a grey background is throwing it off – but I can’t see why that should be. I might look up how digital cameras process light to see if I can get tot he bottom of this.

The Whispering Bat – mixed media

The brown long-eared bat is also known as the “Whispering Bat” since it’s echolocation can hardly be heard at all. These amazing creatures are common in the UK. They hibernate over winter beginning from about now. Sleep well little creatures!

I drew this using pencils, ink and black and white pastels.

Here are some process photos:

Pencils…

Ink outline…

Black and white pastel tones…

I added these by scraping off some of the pastel onto with my finger or a blending stump and then applying it to the paper. After getting significantly messy I ended up using one finger for the black and another for the white which was much more effective…

Similarly on the blending stump I used one end for black and another for white. Eventually the whole drawing was toned…

Once this was done I played around with the various patterns to use on the wings…

Then finally I sealed the pastels with a fixative and added black and white ink on top of the toned image. This was really fun to do. I enjoyed it enormously. Here’s the final picture…

Happy Halloween everyone!

The Eternity Dragon

I made an ink drawing this week of a dragon.

In western literature dragons are mostly symbols of evil and destruction who have to be killed or vanquished for life to go on.

However in many eastern cultures they are seen as strong, beautiful, natural and lucky and often associated with water. In Vietnam dragons are seen as bringing life sustaining rain and are therefore symbols of life and prosperity. In Japanese stories dragons are the Spirits or Kami of rivers and lakes and seas as well as being associated with rain. In China the dragon is a very powerful symbol of energy, wisdom and good fortune.

Because of these positive connections I chose to draw an eastern dragon, rather than a western one. I think the only western dragons I really like are those from Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Quintet. It’s been a while since I read this series but my overarching feeling about the dragons in her world is that they represent wildness. I really like that!

I began by playing around with curves and loops trying to find a pleasing way to draw this animal…

Then when I found a design I liked I began playing with it to see how I wanted to form it into a dragon…

Once I had the idea in my head I began to draw it…

At this point I realised that the basic structure I had chosen had two interesting relationships to symbols.

  • The first was that the main shape was that of the infinity sign used in mathematics, but also used frequently to represent autistic people.
  • The second was that the head appeared to be moving towards eating the tail, which is another symbol for infinity or eternity.

So I carried on working on the form, laying out ideas with pencil and then inking them as soon as I was sure they would be permanent, like this…

This is how my final ink drawing came out…

Next I used my watercolour paints to add tone to the drawing. Then I added a shadow to lift it out of the page a little and it was finished.

Here’s the finished art…

“The Eternity Dragon”

I do enjoy the symbolism in the picture. The association with autism brings it home for me as does the association with the Le Guin’s wild dragons. (That is, if I’ve remembered and interpreted this correctly and not mixed it up with another story!) The eastern links to water are also lovely too given how much I love being on the water in boats.

In terms of the art itself in a more technical sense. I’m fairly happy with the overall drawing but not quite sure about putting a shadow on it. I do like the way the shadow lifts the dragon out of the page, but sometimes I think keeping it simpler is better. Here is the drawing before I added the shadow…

I like the simplicity of this, but the shadow gives it more of a 3D effect and draws my eye more.

What do you think?