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…

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #3

This week’s video observation practice drawings were from the 1994 TV mini-series of Stephen King’s The Stand and from an advert I saw on You-Tube. I only caught the very end of it so I don’t know what it was advertising but I was really drawn to the cinematography. Again they were both drawn in approximately 10 minutes with Pigma Microns and a manga pen and shaded with natural tone brush pens.


Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers

Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers in the 1995 TV mini-series of The Stand produced by Greengrass Productions and Laurel Entertainment Inc.

I really loved reading The Stand and have read it twice now. So when I saw that they made a DVD of the miniseries I bought it. It wasn’t a bad adaptation either. I particularly liked the performance of Gary Sinise as Stuart Redman (although, for me, he will forever be Ken Mattingly, the part he played so perfectly in the film Apollo 13).

The frame I sketched was of the actor Kathy Bates playing the radio presenter Rae Flowers.

In this scene Flowers is running a call-in radio show during an outbreak of a deadly disease in America. Her callers describe the power of the epidemic and speculate, correctly, about the origin of the disease – that it was made in a government lab and was accidentally released. The station is stormed by US soldiers and Flowers is killed. It’s quite a powerful scene. I completely loved the bravery of the character defending her 1st ammendment rights.  Kathy plays it beautifully.  Here’s the sketch…

I managed to complete the sketch and most of the shading in just over ten minutes for this one (12min).


River scene

The second sketch this week is of a couple of people in a boat on a river. I’m afraid I don’t remember much about the advert this came from, except that it had an Asian feel to it. I’d been looking up the history of Japanese woodblock prints and somehow got this image from an ad associated with the video.

Here’s the sketch…

Mostly this was done with my trusty Pigma Microns again and my brush markers. I did try the branch silhouette, though, in a different Kuritaki manga pen. The pen was lovely, however the ink I chose to use wasn’t quite as waterproof as I am used to with the Microns and did smudge a little. At first I was going to give up on the sketch but then I decided to add more diffuse colour and try to get the river below the branch to look more watery with darker and lighter reflections. I quite liked the effect in the end, although it looks better if you don’t know about the ink issue!  This one took about 7 minutes in total.

As I write this it’s now half term and I’m trying to put together at least a month of posts ready for going back to work next week.  I’m nearly there with that which will mean I will finally have time to work on my “Fae” picture inspired by the Amazon series Carnival Row.  I am really looking forward to it.  I also have another importantproject I’m doing for my mum, but I’m not sure about sharing it here as it’s especially for her.  I really want to get it done by Christmas if possible.

Playing Around with Loomis Head Construction and a Sketch of a Wonderful Woman!



This week I began work on the Loomis book on drawing and had a play with the Loomis head construction.  Here are some of my working sketches…



Once I had the method I started making up my own variations.  At first I looked at common differences between male and female shaped heads and came up with some imaginary men and women…


Then, taking my cue from Loomis’ book I began to alter the basic form to make different shaped heads.  These were drawn in more of an illustrative / animation style and then inked with pen.  I tried to do my own version of some of loomis’ heads…


As you can see from these sketches I had a lot of fun playing around with this, especially with the front and profile illustrative inks.  Also, I think you can probably see that I struggled with the placement of the furthest eye in three-quater views.  Although the Loomis construction gave me boundaries I think I set each furthest eye too far away from the nose which makes all the 3/4 views look ‘off’.  After all of the work I did on bone structure and anatomy I didn’t take into account some basic anatomy facts…

  1. The eyes wrap around the head with the outside of each eyelid being place further back from the very front of the head than the inside of each eyelid which changes the angle at which we see the furthest eye.
  2. Because the curved plane of the eyes  is going away from the viewer there will be a small amount of foreshortening which will seem to bring the most inside point of the furthest eye’s eyelid closer to the nose.

So, I put all of this learning into the mix, and then made a quick (10 minute) portrait sketch of someone who will always be my princess – the wonderful, funny, beautiful Carrie Fisher.


Next week, I’ll use this sketch to paint a proper watercolour portrait – if I can!!!

Fine Art with a Modern Feel – Beginning a New Direction

I’ve decided that, with the start of a new term, I’m going to focus on more than just sketching and inking.  After 112 days of working on this I need to branch out and do some more varied art.  So I’m bringing my sketching and inking challenge to an end.

My last sketch and ink picture is of a dog looking really fierce.  It’s quite a forceful pose and was drawn after watching a documentary on pitbull’s.  But, it does nothing for me artistically…


This was done with W&N brush markers and a copic multiliner.


I’ve been longing to work on some new exciting things in watercolour and acrylic (seperately) and I’ve also been wondering about using oils too.  I want, eventually, to work on more fine art type projects but with a modern feel to them.  During the time I was sketching and inking a strong feeling of going in this direction was growing in me.  I’m not sure what will be the final result of following this latest quest but I think it’ll be good fun.

So, in the meantime, I began my new days of freedom with a regular pencil drawing of a grasshopper.  It was a real joy to use a pencil to do more than just sketch…



After that I began to play around in my sketchbook with ideas on how to draw water realistically.  It’s something I’ve been fascinated by and will look at in more detail at a later date.

This was inspired by a YouTube timelapse drawing by ‘TutoDraw’…

Here’s my picture.  Without using reference for the new fish, I changed it to be a Siamese Fighting Fish – one of my most favourite fish in the world.  This was a mistake as I didn’t get the shapes right, especially around the eyes.  However, what I was really concentrating on was the water and I felt that at least this part of the drawing was OK, at least as a beginning…


This was drawn using PrismaColor Pencils.

Then finally I settled down to a more detailed watercolour painting.  I love drawing animals of all kinds.  So here he is – Gareth the Goldfish…


I used W&N Professional Watercolour paints on cold pressed watercolour paper.  I didn’t make any preliminary sketches here, just drew in pencil straight onto my final sheet.  It was SO MUCH FUN to paint properly in watercolour again!

It made me feel so happy that all I could think of was this scene from the movie ‘Despicable Me’…


Days 77 to 82 – From Scribbles to the Central Line

I began this week making an ink drawing without lifting my pen off the paper.  I decided to draw my little dog.  In the end I did lift up my pen twice in the drawing but it wasn’t intentional – just habit.  The idea of this exercise was to try to loosen me up a bit.  I find it all too easy to want every pen stroke to be perfect.  While I think that’s OK if you can still draw freely, I sometimes get hung up about messing up a drawing or painting.  I guess there is always going to be a degree of tension when anyone creates something but I try to keep that as a positive tension.  Personally I think the secret for me is a bit of bravery and a focus on enjoying drawing (or painting) rather than results.

After the ink drawing I coloured the picture with watercolour.  I think my relaxation really helped with this and I found ways to play with the paint rather than fight it!

So, here’s my little dog…



Then I went on to work on the issues I have with using watercolour to add colour to comic style ink drawings.  Here’s my initial drawing already inked…


(This was done as a double page spread in my notebook.)

My use of colour has been a bit of a weak spot so I’ve done some studying of colour harmonies…


This gives me a better basic visual language when it comes to colour.

I used what I’d learned about colour to design my colour scheme for the picture roughly in Manga Studio.  Here’s the plan I made…


Then I painted it in my notebook…


Considering it’s not on watercolour paper I’m kind of OK with this one but it’s really not where I want it to be.  I can feel things moving forward with this kind of work but it’s slow progress at the moment.  What I’m really looking for is a way to add a limited palette of colours to my ink drawings and lineart which I really like.  I want them to have the strong rich colour and smooth gradients of a digitally coloured piece but with some texture and warmth which comes more often from more traditional painting.

After all of that colour work I then spent some time drawing with black ink on white paper.  I decided to do this with no pencil work beforhand.  I found it quite a challenge making final marks on the paper from the very first stroke but it feels like a healthy kind of challenge.   Here they are…



This second one of a man waiting for a central line underground train interested me and I tried a little “mixed-media-messing-about” with it…


I kind of like the way the two media clash quite harshly but at the same time the subject matter pulls them strongly together.  The background image is a photograph with added digital work to make the ground for the figure to stand on.  I also dropped the opacity of the background to make the figure stand out really well.

Developing a Manga Dragon Character

I originally thought of developing male and female human Manga characters but having played around with some story ideas in my head I think I want the female in the story to be a dragon.   🙂

So I drew a couple of dragons but they kept coming out looking like the lion from the Chinese New Year Lion Dance which is not the look I want.  I reseached some more Japanese styled dragons.  I looked through hundreds, but one of the dragons I really liked was the river spirit dragon form from Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” called Haku who looks like this:

Studio Ghibli Dragon

I like the way his face looks kind of fox-like which makes him more cute than the more reptilian styled creatures.

The other thing I liked were the horns and spikes on a picture from the “Wiki – How to Draw a Dragon page.”  It’s a very basic design but I really liked the idea, albeit in a different format.



So having filled up my eyes with beautiful dragons I sketched again and came up with this:

dragon sketch__WEB

She’ a bit odd, she can be a bit cute but I think I could make her very fierce too which seems good for a story dragon.

So I make an ink drawing of her:

Dragon Ink Drawing FIN_WEB

Looking at her now I think I might change the design a bit in the future and add some of those traditional tendrils which extend from below the nose.  Firstly they would look totally cool but more importantly she can use them as additional limbs to show her friendship with my male character Sam,. the fisherman.  However, if I do that I might need to reduce the general complexity of her head by maybe removing some of the horns or simplifying them.  We’ll see.


I’m going to make a coloured digital version in the next few days.

Exercise on Planes of the Head

I really like learning new drawing techniques and theory and YouTube seems to be a good place to do this.  Yesterday I watched a couple of good videos.  One of them was by Sycra and was about looking at anatomy in a simplified way which I thought was great.  His website is at http://www.sycra.net/. 

And his simplified anatomy model is here.

This got me thinking about the planes of the face.  Now I’m OK-ish drawing a front view and a side view of a face but I find the 3/4 view quite difficult.  I often mess it up.  SO I thought I’d work on that a bit.

I followed the technique in this pair of videos by “My Drawing Tutorials”.


This one…


And this one…


I watched them and then had a go.  My first two tries were pretty awful but it was fun to mess around with it.  I tried the first two times in ink which was a not a great choice because there’s no going back from a mistake.

3 quater head try 1


3 quater head try 2


Then I had a go in pencil which was much easier.  It’s still not perfect – I’m going to have to work on this some more, but at least I have a good solid method to work with now.   🙂


3 quater head._FIN_WEB

School Holidays

My fabulous son has now broken up from school for the summer holidays.  As we’ll be doing lots of holiday things together this will leave less time for my blog so over the holidays I’m going to do a mixture of three things:

  1. Reviewing work not previously shown on ‘Adventures in Art’ – I think this is helpful for me as I gain new skills and get more experience because I can look back at what I was doing and see how far I’ve come.  It also gives me a chance to look at my work more critically, picking out what’s good and what’s bad about each piece which is a learning experience in itself.  Finally I’m hoping I will get an idea of what kind of artist I am becoming.  One of the big blindspots I have from autism is not being able to see myself very clearly.  I can give specifics easily but if someone asked me to generalise about myself I couldn’t do it.
  2. Continuing to work on new ideas and techniques – painting and drawing helps me to relax.  I get enormous enjoyment from this sort of activity so while I will have less time I don’t want to stop altogether.
  3. Work on my 365 day Sketching project – this is where I am trying to sketch every day.  Recently I’ve found it really hard because I got sick and had to stop and then, after that I had a lot of catching up to do with housework and other things.  When I go away on holiday (to Devon this year!!!) I am hoping to do a Sketch Diary where I tell the story of my   trip in pictures.


A Sketching Tea Break…

I had a short break from painting today as I was feeling too sore.  I thought I’d put up here a couple of the daily sketches I’ve been doing.  The idea is to sketch every day and use it as a meditation / relaxation exercise because this works better for me than meditation in a more traditional sense. I just grabbed a new sketchbook (I buy them cheaply in sets of three online) and decided that all of my daily sketches will go in there. sketch365bookSo below, are a couple of the sketches so far (I’m only up to #3!!!). This is a sketch of my dog.  She wasn’t easy to draw as she didn’t feel like sitting still so every time I looked at her to draw the next bit I had to call her.  She was a bit confused that I called her when she was already near me.  (She did eventually get a biscuit after such a trying modelling session!) S365_002I brushed her beard for the drawing and the had to draw quite fast as she usually messes it up by rubbing her face along the carpet as soon as possible afterwards.  I think it might be why she also looks a bit sad in the picture. This is her with her beard how she likes it to be… Bonnie The other sketch I want to put up today is this one… S365_003On this particular day I had planned to go outside and sketch this amazing dead silver birch tree near where I live which got struck by lightening a while back.  But, as I put my trainers on the rain started coming down and while I like the rain, my sketchbook doesn’t.  So instead I drew some of the clutter on the bookshelves in front of my bed.  I was fascinated, at the time, by the line made by all the different bits and pieces on top of the sheves and how that line interacted with the mirror at the end on the right.  I still like this picture now but I don’t know why. The things on there are, from left to right, a pile of two books on top of 12 comic books, a spray deoderant can with a handcream tube right next to it, a reed diffuser, a can of hairspray (which I use as a cheap fixative for my drawings and never on my hair!), a wooden box holding my charcoals with the box set of ‘Game of Thrones’ books on top, then the mirror on the right. Back to finish the fox painting tomorrow!    🙂

(All Images unless otherwise explicitly stated are © Jo Fox, 2015)