Detailed drawing – step by step

This week I made a detailed drawing of a Dragonfly. Here’s my step by step process of doing this…

1. First I draw the basic shapes very lightly. Here I’m just looking at the bigger shapes of things. (I have a tendency to jump ahead and include some more detail in this but I try to stop myself from doing that because I need the basic big angles and connections to be right.) So here I was looking at the size of the body compared to the wings, the angle the body was on and the angles of the wings. When I do this basic layout I try not to think about a 3D object in 3D space at all, rather I think about the shapes and relative sizes in 2D only. So, in a way, I never draw an animal or whatever my subject happens to be, I just drew a group of basic shapes. Doing this I don’t have to push my mind through the shape transitions needed for forshortening, I just deal with flat shapes.

(I forgot to photo this stage when I’d finished it, so this is taken just after I’d started to put in a little more detail on the abdomen and wing joints but before I went over all of my lines more accurately.)

The pencils I used for this are two mechanical pencils (I can’t find my Graphgear at the moment.) and a mechanical pencil sharpener to keep things tight.)

2. Once I’ve got my basic shapes looking right, the next stage is to look more carefully at the line directions and angles and redraw all of my outline with greater accuracy and add some more obvious details like the wing joints and abdominal sections.

As I go I use three types of eraser – a thicker pencil eraser, tiny detail pencil eraser and putty…

3. Next I add more of the major details to the wings and refine my linework even more. I quite enjoy this stage as I can see really accurate lines coming out clearly for the first time.

4. Then I went to work on the detail. I began with the wings which have gorgeous patterns in them…

Then finally I added my shading to the body…

My final step was to add a shadow which was a bit tricky because my reference was a cut out digital image and didn’t have one.

Here’s the final drawing…

A tribute to the Hollow Knight

Ok, I admit it, I’m a massive gamer. It helps enormously to manage my pain and keeps my mind very active. I recently bought a Nintendo Switch Lite which is a handheld games machine by Nintendo (who have a superb reputation in this area). That way, I can play wherever I am. One of the games I’ve recently got is called Hollow Knight by Team Cherry. The game is set in a fictional land of bugs. It’s beautiful. The artwork in the game just blows my mind away. Here are some examples..

They use a simple cartoon style for the foreground objects and then a digital watercolour / gouche style painting effect for the backgrounds. It’s a lot like Studio Ghibli.

So I decided to paint a tribute to them in traditional media. This post details my first try at this. It’s quite difficult to make a traditional painting look like a digital design since all of the tools of the trade are different.

I began with a basic watercolour wash on which I pencilled in my basic drawing…

As usual I used several pictures as reference and combined different parts of them. Then I added my lineart…

And then finally I painted the foreground. I used watercolour for almost all of it with some white gouache mixed in in places and used on it’s own for highlights.

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.)

The Fae

A while ago I watched the TV series Carnival Row on Amazon Prime. I loved it. Travis Beacham’s story and world was fresh, different and beautifully crafted. I was totally blow away by it. It’s set in a Victorian world where mythical races, collectively called “The Fae”, have been discovered. They include pucks, faeries, kobolds and centaurs. It is wonderfully done. Having watched the series, twice, I felt inspired to paint my own faerie. Last time I posted about this I got to the stage where I’d played around with the the idea and drawn some quick thumbnails.

From there I made a basic sketch of the pose I’d decided on…

Next I used this as a reference for a more careful drawing to use in my final painting…

Then I began to paint. I added a yellow wash with more pigment around the area where my sun was going to be and less elsewhere. (The yellow is a bit stronger on the actual painting than in this photo. I think my camera noticed that I was taking a photo under artificial light and corrected the white balance a bit too far..) Here’s the photo…

Then I painted my larger areas with some initial colour. For the wings I began with a light ultramarine wash with a tiny bit of viridian in it. I tried to keep it light enough that some of the sun colour would show through. Here’s this stage…

Now I wasn’t happy with the brown trousers she is wearing (above) so I reworked them into a blue. It gave me a really nice shade. I see brown as just a darker version of orange so I used that information to help me mix a new blue on the page. Once that was done I added some shading for all of the main colours and shapes and then got into the details – always my favourite part!!!

Here’s the final picture…

(PS: I’ve been unwell this week with a bug going doing the rounds at school. Apologies for any typographical errors etc. Although I wrote this post weeks ago I normally do a final editorial check before publication, however I haven’t been able to do that this week.)

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #6

 

This is the last week of video observation practice.  My 10 minute practice drawings seemed to follow a war theme this week although it wasn’t intentional.  It began when I watched a documentary on the Vietnam War which was horrific in places and difficult to watch.  Then I  got into looking at clips of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.  Finally I ended up, where I nearly always end up, with Star Wars!

Here’s the picture I sketched from the documentary…

 

Here’s a sketch of Royal Marines deploying in a RIB from an RN ship…

 

And here’s a Star Wars rebel fighter pilot going into hyperspace!

 

 

 

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #5

This week’s sketches were all of animals.  I mainly used my Pigma Microns and brush markers, although I did experiment with a bit of charcoal over the ink for the body of my gorilla.  I’m still in two minds about that decision.

Here are the pictures…

 

 

The dog is my favourite, despite running over my ten minute limit by 3 minutes.

 

Video Observation Practice #2

Here are some more quick thumbnails drawn from while watching various videos.  I use this exercise as a way to practice drawing panels for comicbooks.  Each one took from 5 to 10 minutes to complete and was drawn using Pigma Microns and then shaded with W&N Neutral Tone Brushmarkers.

The first is from the excellent and funny film “Shaun of the Dead” starring Simon Pegg as Shaun.  In this scene Shaun has just had some serious girlfriend trouble and is in the pub with his friend…

 

The next one was drawn while watching a documentary about US jails.  This jail is inside a really tall building and in some places the prisoners can look out at the city if they pull down the window covers.  This is the scene I drew.

 

The final panel I sketched was while I watched a piano recital.  It was this brilliant young pianist playing the piano version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Beautiful…

Video Observation Practice #1

While I work away on my fairy drawing which I began last week I’m going to post a series of sketches I drew in ink during the spring and summer.

I did them whilst relaxing in bed in the evenings, watching various videos – everything from YouTube discussions to regular TV series. It was pretty varied. The idea was to attempt to capture a scene really quickly as if I were planning a comic panel based on that scene. I would one day like to write my own comic book but I needed to see if I could draw scenes and people quickly and well enough for the artwork to be able to carry a story. Now, none of this is finished comic art – it’s just a series of practice sketches which I never intended to publish at all – I did them to speed up my ink drawing and get a feel for working fast on comic panels.

So here are the first two…

I love watching animals and horses are one of my favourites. So here is a fast sketch of a horse from a YouTube video about a horse rescue…

The next picture was from a Netflix series called “Sex Education”. It was a funny series about a teenage lad who’s mum is a sex therapist. Otis is pretty insecure but finds, with the help of his rebellious female friend Maeve, a way to move forward with his life by giving sex advice to other young people at his school. (Oddly, it was set in the UK but the school was run like an american school.) Anyway, here’s a scene I chose from this series…

This is the excellent actor Kedar Williams-Stirling playing a character called Jackson Marchetti in the show.

The Fae

I had a slow start to art this week.  I’m still feeling quite weak from being ill and I had to concentrate mainly on work.  I did, however, watch a lot of a new TV show on Amazon called Carnival Row.

(Official Amazon Carnival Row Poster.)

It was the best TV I’ve watched in years!  I just loved the sparklingly new idea behind this series.  So much of Hollywood follows the same well worn path to the same formulaic stories.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to have newer video productions from people like Amazon (and Netflix) producing genuinely new stories and going in new directions.  From my point of view these guys are leaving Hollywood in the dust.  The script was written by an American Screenwriter called Travis Beacham.  It’s original title was  “A Killing on Carnival Row” but I guess they changed it to “Carnival Row” so that if the series takes off they can generate further stories.

I think I was really taken by the idea of the Fae – the fairies, the pucks, the centaurs – the creatures of legend brought into a gritty victorian, industrial reality.  I loved the subtext about the fight between nature and industry, between freedom and social convention and the views of different peoples on each other’s ways of life.

So I decided to make a larger (A3) ink drawing of a fairy and then colour it with just a touch of watercolour.  I began by making some thumbnail sketches.  This helps me get an idea of what I want to draw and organise my inspiration into a composition.  I used a wide range of reference, from standard face shots of models to ballerinas, to women diving in competition to get some ideas of how I could arrange my fairy on the page.

Here are the thumbnails – they are blown up to double the original size…

 

I really like the simplicity of the first one but it seems too static for a being who can fly.  The second one is a better pose in terms of movement but needs to have her wings above her body for it to really work.  The third is a classic ballet pose but looks too refined and restricted for a fae.

I’m going to have to think about this some more.  It will come with time.  🙂

 

 

PS:  I had some “help” today from my kitten, Leia, while writing this…

She came up with some good stuff…