Squid in Watercolour

I had a go at painting a squid this week. Here’s how it went…

Basic structure in pencil
More details added
Completed drawing

I tend to use the same basic approach to painting as I do drawing, which is to draw/paint the bigger shapes first and the successively add small shapes. Below I’ve put on the basic overall wash and then add a few more detailed washes to add some darker pigment for shadows and darker skin colouration.

First wash of watercolour

Gradually I built up the washes until I was content with the final picture…

Zebra in Ink

This week’s art is a Zebra sketched in pencil and then drawn in ink over the course of an hour or two.

Here’s the drawing in a little more detail…

Direct Ink – Quick Sketches

Over the last couple of months I have done less art since I’ve been struggling with my health. This week I have a small group of quick sketches drawn fast, in ink, with no pencils. I was doing all of this while watching Netflix and YouTube in bed one evening.

For my midtone I used a brush pen loaded with water darkened by a tiny drop of ink. It was good except that I couldn’t easily paint a gradient. I played around with it until I found a way to do it by smudging off some of the ink with a combination of my fingers and some kitchen towel.

At first I was quite nervous using ink without any basic pencil shapes to indicate structure. It felt like I was trying to put up a building with no structural support – I thought the whole thing might collapse in on itself. I began by drawing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (since I was very familiar with Ewan McGregor’s face from watching the ABSOLUTELY AWESOME Kenobi series on Disney + three times over!) This is him as a Padawan though, looking all eager and ready to take on some battle droids…

Next I drew a woman in bed from a Netflix series I was watching…

She looked all cosy and comfy and I really wanted to capture that feeling. This was easier that drawing Kenobi despite the more difficult subject. I think a lot of my difficulty with drawing young Obi-Wan was just my nervousness of drawing directly in ink. The second time was definitely better.

My last drawing was of a seal – by this time I was a bit more confident and it was a dead easy subject. So here he is looking all happy on his rock…

I think he’s thinking “This is such a cool rock. All the lady seals are going to love me now!”

Results of this exercise

I think this was a really good exercise. It stretched me a little without being stressful and was really great for confidence building. I found it better to draw in a rough way so that it felt like I was sketching in pencil even though I was using ink. It was good to see what I could come up with like this because normally my sketches get erased once I have my ink outline done.

I was reading about an artist on the internet who draws daily directly in ink making portraits on public transport. I think this would be a great exercise, but I’m not sure I’d have the courage. Drawing outside gives me a much greater sense of inspiration from what I see but people are always very curious about what I’m doing which is tricky.

I have some mental health difficulties going on at the moment as well as ongoing sinus, ear and chest infections, so going outside is pretty difficult. I’ll have to think about it.

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?

An Experimental Portrait – Kenobi

After seeing the beginning of Disney’s Kenobi series I wanted to make a portrait of my hero. However, I am still feeling really unwell so I had a try at using pastels since they are really quick.

My plan was to draw with the pastels in the same way I would paint a digital or traditional oil portrait. I began with a map which is less of a sketch and more or a plan for highlights and shadows

Then I blocked in my base colours using my map…

(Poor Obi-Wan – he looks like a Sith Lord with a hangover at this stage!)

I used references of Obi-Wan from the Attack of the Clones film on my tablet. The thing I found most difficult was that I didn’t have the colours or shades I needed. So I grabbed a piece of scrap paper and broke up various bits of pastels onto the paper so that I could mix them like paints. It was quite difficult and messy but it did work. I struggled with it though. I think I just didn’t know the pastel colours as well as I do my paints and couldn’t always guess exactly what I needed to get the exact hue I was looking for.

Here’s my workspace, so you can see this process in action…

I completed the blocking in. Then reworked a lot of the colour. Then I used pastel pencils to finished the drawing off.

Here are the pastels and pencils I used on this project

Finally, I got it finished. It took longer than I expected (about an hour and a half) and my pain got quite severe by the end. While this didn’t turn out as the portrait of my dreams I will show it to you anyway…

Jim – part 2

Jim’s portrait is begining to take shape now although I haven’t finished it yet. When I’ve been well enough, I’ve been working on it a section at a time. I blocked in some basic colour for his face and then worked on his jacket. In my reference photo Jim is wearing a grey suit, but I thought black would give much better contrast for the portrait so I made it black. The following photo was taken as I worked on his suit jacket…

My original plan was to have a red background for this portrait because I thought it would warm the picture up. However, two family members both thought that a Teal / Turquiose colour would be much better so I was really happy to go with that. Below is a photo of the first background wash…

I also changed my plans for Jim’s tie. I wasn’t really sure what kind of tie to go for so I did some quick sketches to give myself an idea. I wanted something that would tie in well (LOL!) with the portrait background colour. Here is the first set of sketches I made for this…

You might be able to see from the picture (above) that I cut the sketches out. This was so that I could do this…

Then I could see properly how well each tie fitted the overall painting. I didn’t really think any of these four would work, but I liked elements of two of them. So I took those elements and painted another quick sketch and got something which I really liked…

So here is the tie colour and design I’m going to use for the finished painting. Obviously it will be painted in properly, not just a quick sketch like this…

My plan is to get this portrait finished by the new year but it will depend on my health. Hopefully things will improve. 😊

PS: I don’t know if any of you have seen the fantastic series on Amazon Prime called “A Discovery of Witches“. I watched 2 seasons in just over a week – it was fantastic! I totally loved it. Anyway, as a coincidence the cinematography in that series uses almost exactly the same colour palette as this portrait. They have a bright Turquiose as a strong accent colour and a darker Teal as a major colour. The rest are yellows, creams, blacks and browns in the main. It is a beautiful combination. I’m really glad the family wanted a Teal / Turquoise background for the painting or I wouldn’t have thought to work with such a palette!

Here’s a link to the trailer for the series…

Unfortunately you don’t get to see the turquoise accent colour in this trailer, but the teal is there if you look closely. 😊

Jim – Part 1

I have been working on my portrait of Jim, my father in law, who passed away recently. It one of those pieces of art which is really personally important because it’s a gift for his widow Jane and also a tribute to such a good man. At first I struggled to get started so I made a few sketches digitally to get myself warmed up a bit. This is the best of those…

At first it didn’t really look like himbut once I added some shadows and highlights it began to feel better.

Then, since I had a digital sketch I played around with the colour scheme to find something that felt right. Here are some of the attempts I made at that…

Of the colours above I preferred the royal blue and the red. Overall though I thought that the red brought out the warmth of him as a person, so I decided to go with that.

Once I’d got all of these ideas roaming around in my head I found myself finally ready to get down to drawing.

I began with a very rough sketch where I measured quite carefully his general facial anatomy. It doesn’t look a thing like Jim, but I find it an important step for making a decent portrait…

Once I had that sketched in I used it as a framework for drawing a more careful map of his portrait, ready for the paint. This is as far as I have got at the moment due to being unwell last week. Here is the drawing / map I made to guide me when I paint. It doesn’t yet capture his likeness because there are no strong shadows or highlights, but I am hoping it will turn out well. I will do my best!

I’m not going to rush this painting, so I expect I will post other artwork in between updates of this project.

Here are my main steps so far along with the main photo reference I am using…

Quick Charcoal Portraits

Having found my charcoals the other day I thought I would make some quick portraits. The first one I did in ten minutes. It’s of a boxer. I called it Fearless

Next I tried a 15 minute portrait of a very happy young woman. Her big smile seemed infectious. I called this one Beautiful

My next sketch was another 10 minute sketch of a really goofy, off-duty British cop, which I called Goofy

My last sketch was of a beautiful, older Indian lady who seemed to have this beautiful light in her eyes. I took more time with this one (20 minutes). I called the portrait Light

Of all of them I prefer the portrait of the older Indian lady. Which is you favourite?

Dark Lord of the Sith

This is a digital painting of Ian McDiarmid playing Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars. Although he’s a villain, he’s still one of my favourite characters, thanks to Ian’s superb acting work. Below are some stills from Star Wars “The Phantom Menace” (Image credit LucasFilm Ltd.)

My main reference for this painting was the top left photo (above).

I began with a drawing.

This was not made to be a proper drawing so much as a map for the painting which is why it looks a little bit funky.

Then I began to paint! At first I just scrubbed in some basic colours and tones to get the feeling for the main structure of his face and clothes.

Removing the map leaves us with this very rough sketch.

Then I began to refine the painting a bit at a time. I really enjoy this process as the details begin to appear. First I cleaned up the beautiful costume he’s wearing and then pulled together my very rough and ready rendering of Ian’s face.

Once I had things basically in the right place I worked on the details of his hair and facial features.

Finally I added a background and gave it some texture and tonal variation. This is the way I’m starting to move away from my autistic need to see each painting subject alone and seperate in a blank field.

My only job then was to pull the image into Photoshop and adjust my values. Here is my final painting.

He’s such a great character!

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the Prequal Trilogy as Chancellor Palpatine is confronted by the Jedi Masters lead by Mace Windu…

Mace Windu: In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor.
Chancellor Palpatine: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?
Mace Windu: The Senate will decide your fate.
Chancellor Palpatine: I am the Senate!

(Clip courtersy of qpsizzle’s You Tube Channel / Film Credit Lucasfilm Ltd.)