May the 4th be with you!

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!!!!

On this wonderful May 4th I wanted to share some Star Wars Fan Art. I’ve got some Star Wars universe species sketches, some digital Star Wars Rebels portraits, three pencil drawings and a watercolour painting of our beloved Yoda!

star wars Species Sketches

Star Wars Rebels portraits

Pencil portraits of obi-wan kenobi

My favourite character in all of Star Wars!!! 🙂

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan

geonosian warrior pencil drawing

Yoda in watercolour

I drew or painted all of the art in this post, however, because it’s fan art, please note that the intellectual property belongs to Lucas Film.

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.)

The Razor Crest


Over the next three weeks I’m going to be posting some fun digital images that I’ve been playing around with.  This week’s image is a digital painting I made of a spacecraft called “The Razor Crest” from Disney’s Mandalorian series.  I like the shape of this one and the engine configuration reminds quite a lot of the “Serenity” from Joss Weedon’s Firefly series.

Here’s the way I painted it…

I began with some basic shapes and a horizon line.

Then I redrew the spacecraft more carefully and added some details.

Next I got rid of the basic sketch I started with and added some terrain.  The space ship was drawn from a couple of printed references, but the terrain I made up from scratch.

Then I began to paint.  My basic process is to fill in large areas of tone to give some depth to the main shape in my painting.  Then I gradually divide this simple shape into more detailed shapes.  First I put in some basic background tones.

Below I’ve begun work on the spacecraft, just giving it some basic form.

I didn’t put enough darker values into the basic form so I added them here (see below), particularly below the wings.  Although I used a couple of reference images for the ship, I wanted my light to come from a different angle so I had to see the highlights and shadows in my mind’s eye.

Then I added some specular highlights to the engines and windows.  (These are direct reflections of bright light on shiny surfaces.)

My next stage was to bring in some colour.  I wanted to use a restricted colour palette, which is something the cinematographer, Greig Fraser,  seems to do on the Mandalorian show itself.  I went for orange/yellow/brown offset against hints of blue/purple in the metal of the Razor Crest and in the shadows.  This is a fairly basic complementary colour scheme.

My final job with this painting was to pull it into Photoshop and adjust my levels.

I paint digitally on a Galaxy S4 tablet, but I often do this in bed.  I like to listen to a good book while I’m drawing.  It’s really relaxing and is great for diverting my mind away from any pain issues.  However, if I am in bed during the evening my tablet automatically adjusts the screen to darken it and reduce any blue light.  This is really helpful because it stops the light from the device keeping me awake for hours after I have finished.  It does mean though, that my levels are usually way out.  If I was working on a traditional painting this would be a big problem because the whole paniting would need reworking to correct the values in good light.  With a digital painting though it’s not too much of an issue – I just have to make some adjustments at the end and Photoshop can easily handle that.

So here is my final digital painting.



I like the overall setting and the sweet comic feel it has, but if I redid it now I would add more detail to the middle section of the background.  It could do with some rocks and gravel and general marks.  I think I would also try to work in some reflections in the lighter sand the ship is standing on, since then it would read as wet ground which might give the background more interest for the viewer.  The panel took about one and a half hours to complete.

Creating a Science Fiction Blaster out of a Modern Pistol


This week I tried a new digital technique using Autodesk Sketchbook again (and a little Photoshop in the final finishing).  The plan was to take a photograph and then cut and paste parts of it onto itself to make a new image.  I wanted to make a new blaster which would be suitable for my favourite franchise, Star Wars.

So I began with a modern handgun…

I don’t know much about real guns, but apparently this is a “Desert Eagle”.  I chose it because it looked pretty sleek.

I cut various sections out, copied them, added them back, and then played around with them in terms of size and shading and position to altar the original image.

Here’s a video of part of the process…


And here is a gif animation of the process I followed…


Next I made some final touches in Photoshop.  I added a name engraved in the metal and some shadows. Then I widened the photograph to centre the image properly.

Here’s the original modern pistol…


And here’s the final Star Wars styled blaster.  I called it the QuantumShot MkIII

I think Han Solo might like it!


PS: This is the last post I did over the February half term.  I’m going to carry on with some art while isolated and unwell as it cheers me up and I find it really quite relaxing.  However I might do less in the way of traditional painting as I dropped a glass of dirty paintwater everywhere next to my bed when I tried to finish a painting I currently have on the go.


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!




Animation Style Fun with Gouache


This week I played around with some animation style art using pure gouache in my sketchbook.

I work pretty hard at school each day so when I come home I have a nice routine to follow to sort myself, and my son, out for the evening.  Although I can break this routine, being on the Spectrum, I am much more comfortable if I follow it.  First I get a cup of tea and drink it while I go through the post for the day and sort out any issues that arise from that post, along with any other things I need to do in terms of general housekeeping.  Then I check and water my plants.  I grow a lot of plants from seed and have a hydroponic spinach set up in the kitchen which produces about two harvests for two people each week.  Then, I either meditate or read.  At five o’clock I start cooking tea for me and my son.  I usually serve it between 17:45 and 18:15.  Once that’s done and we’ve had pudding I get ready for bed and feed and check the fish.  By this stage my pain is quite bad so bed is the best place for me to relax during the evening.  While in bed I usually read or watch DVD’s and I sometimes paint.

So this particular artistic adventure began when I watched the last episode of the long running animation series Avatar the Last Airbender on DVD.  One of the best things about being a teacher is that I have a perfect excuse for watching what is essentially kids TV.  “Oh yes, it keeps me in touch with the children,”  – and has nothing to do with the fact that I really enjoy animation for it’s own sake!  My favourite character from this series is Appa, an Air Bison who can fly.  I was thinking about the series and wishing the live action film had been better when I began to sketch Appa.  Like all animated characters he’s dead easy to draw because his shape is very basic.  Then I decided to get my gouache paints out and give my sketch a little paint job.

Here’s the finished painting…


The next evening I embarked on watching a complete run through of the Star Wars The Clone Wars animated series which lasts for six seasons!  After a few episodes I stopped for the evening (if I watch too much Clone Wars I can’t sleep.)  Then I mooched about on the internet looking at Star Wars stuff for a while.  Somewhere I saw a picture of a Dark Lord of the Sith wandering about on what I guess might have been the ancient planet of Korriban (not Morriban – what an awful retcon that really is!)  Although I went on with my wanderings this picture stuck in my mind and the next day I tried to find it again but couldn’t.  So I had a go at sketching it…


Then, as with Appa, I grabbed my gouache paints and made it into a little painting in my sketchbook…


While no-one could call this high-art it was, for me, very enjoyable art!    🙂





“The Greatest Teacher Failure is”

Yoda says in Star Wars The Last Jedi
“Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

I’ve certainly found this to be true. I have learned a lot more from my failures than I have from my successes. At school, our headteacher has this quotation on her door. We sometimes have children who find the thought of failing at something very, very hard and so would rather avoid trying if they think they might fail. Every other term or so we all walk around to the headteacher’s door and read the quotation and then go back to class and talk about it. In a world where so many people put only their successes on social media and hide their failures it feels really healthy and relaxing to be OK with messing something up.

This week’s painting a portrait of Yoda when he was young (only about 400 years old, rather than 900!)

I began with a reference photograph from one of the films…

Then I used my PC to try out various backgrounds. In the end I settled on this tree sketch behind him…

I painted him in watercolour on A3 hot pressed, 300gsm paper, beginning with the background and then working forwards to the Jedi Master himself. It took me a couple of weeks on and off to get this done. I actually finished it before Christmas but was working on publishing my October Ink drawings at the time so I put it aside until later. Here’s the final picture…

I like his younger look and the shape of the tree behind him. However, if I did this portrait again, I would reduce the saturation and contrast in the tree a little and maybe even paint it more loosely to push Yoda forward and give the picture more depth.

October Ink – A Sith, a Storm Trooper and a Kraken

The next three ink drawings were of Darth Maul, a Kraken and a Lego Storm Trooper.

Here’s Darth Maul…

While drawing this I kept wishing for some red ink to give him his usual colours so when I’d got him scanned in I couldn’t resist seeing what some colour would do to his picture…

I like it! (The colour was done in Manga Studio 5, along with the background effect.)

Then we had the Kraken…

When I drew this I wanted to try to make an old fashioned styled image with simple lines. It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped but it does bring to mind the legendary John Wyndham and his story “The Kraken Awakes”. I have loved this author since I was about 12 years old and first read “The Day of the Triffids” and then straight after that, “The Chrysalids” which are my favourites.

What’s really marvelous about these stories is that, unlike some science fiction, which can become anachronistic very quickly, these stories still read really well today! In fact, I’m going to have to read them both again now. 🙂

My last ink drawing this week is of a lego StormTrooper. Here he is…

October Ink Days 12 and 13 – The Hero and the Beetle

For my hero I chose Mace Windu from Disney’s Star Wars.

In the prequal trilogy Mace always seemed solid, reliable and powerfully incorruptible as a character. He was wonderfully portrayed by the legendary Samuel L Jackson which is always a big bonus. Also I recently finished re-reading what is now a Star Wars Legends novel about Mace Windu which also influenced my choice. The book is by Matthew Stover and it’s called Shatterpoint. It is brilliant.

The most wonderful thing about the book is that it’s written from Mace’s point of view so we can hear his thoughts and follow his feelings and decisions. This is something I have always loved about books which will always put books above film as a form of media for me. The fact that you can hear people’s thoughts and internal struggles in a book is just beautiful. I really love being able to know this stuff.

On top of that, I’m hoping to get the trade paperback of the new Marvel Mace Windu – Jedi of the Republic comic soon. (A trade paperback is a softback collection of about 6 comics into a book.) It’s been out for a while but I haven’t been able to get hold of just yet. It looks amazing. Here is the beautiful cover for issue 003…

My next drawing was of an insect. I chose the amazing scarab beetle called the Hercules Beetle, (Dynastes hercules). It has this really long horn on the front of it’s head. It is so weird looking!

Here’s a photo of the beast…