The Cardinal’s Mistress

This image comes from a pencil sketch I made while watching the CBC series “Tudors” about the life of Henry the VIII. At the end of the first season the mighty Cardinal Wolsey is in trouble with his King and is living in discrace with his mistress in a dilapidated house with a leaking roof. All the way through the series I was really touched by Sam Neill’s (Cardinal Wolsey) and Lorna Doyle’s (the Cardinal’s longtime mistress Joan) performance here. They were able to show us another side to the scheming and ambitious Cardinal – a man, like any other man, going through some serious difficulties with the help of his wife. There was a tenderness to those scenes which I found really moving.

Here is the pencil sketch…

I pulled the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook and began to colour it.

First I just put in some mid tones roughly in the background. In the TV programme the walls were a cream colour and there were were various browns around in the furniture. I added the blue to my composition to give the viewer the feeling of water which was everywhere in the scene.

Next, using a similar palette I filled in some basic midtones in the foreground…

Once this was done I needed to push my shadows and highlights a little with the colour so that the pencil shadows don’t have to work so hard. I also experimented with adding some other colours here and there to add depth to the painting…

I then finished off the image in Clip Studio Paint. Here is the final picture…

I like the unity between the foreground and background and I quite like the hints of green I put into her dress. If I redid this picture I would be more careful where I put the dark greyish navy shadows in her hair. I think they work in places but don’t in others.

“Young Adults” Part 2 # 3 – Softball

This is the second of a three-part sketching series on Young Adults. The aim was to ink my drawings in the same way that I draw with pencil to try to get a looser feel and to draw people who are just being themselves.

This sketch is of a young woman softball player, looking quite relaxed, perhaps after having played a game.

I began with some structural lines…

Then I made a pencil sketch…

Next I added my ink ouline and cleaned off my pencil…

After that I added some hatching marks for the deeper shadows…

My final job was to add some ink diluted with water as a midtone. Here is the final drawing…

What I am happy with in this drawing is the subtle gesture of her centre of gravity (below, in red) which gives the sense of her standing in a relaxed way, along with the contrast of the opposing gesture in her arms (below, in blue).

I’m also finally finding it easier to draw hands more naturally. If I wanted to improve this drawing one of the things I would do would be to rework the way her T-shirt is hanging on her right (our left) which doesn’t read well to me. I think the lines need to be more curved. I also think it’s much tighter than the loose feel I was aiming for.

The Dryad’s Awakening

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about imaginary worlds in literature.  (This was sparked by an excellent post made by a fellow blogger and book lover, Calmgrove, which you can find here.)

The Bronte siblings, I have learned, developed the imaginary “Glasstown”.  C S Lewis made up “Animal-Land” as a boy and then “Narnia” as an adult.  Tolkien brought “Middle-earth” to life and Ursula K LeGuin brought us “Earthsea”.  As a child (and still as an adult) I spent a lot of time reading and finding myself adventuring in many different imaginary lands; I enjoy it enormously.  So I began to wonder what sort of imaginary place I would create, if I could?

I am strongly drawn to two different narrative landscapes.  The first are those where nature-centred stories seem to grow, especially those where every living thing has it’s own being and will, every plant, , every fish, every beetle.  Sometimes even the stone of a mountain might grow it’s own will and sense of being.  These places contain, for me, a mixture of 3 different things.  The first are prehistoric, animistic ideas (including ritual landscapes like long barrows and standing stones).   The second are ideas from the Japanese Shinto Religion, stories of various Kami with rivers being Dragon Lords and volcanoes as Gods of Fire.  The third place I always find my imagination going to is into classical Greek mythology with dryads, centaurs, river nymphs, harpies and giants.

The second landscape revolves around adventures in space; places from science fiction including my favourite galaxy far far away (Star Wars).  So the landscape is actually a galaxy wide region of space with may different planets, environments, people and cultures.  Among these cultures I prefer tales set in the margins, on the borders, where things are difficult and people have very little personal power to change their own fate.  I prefer hard science fiction to space opera, but only in so far as I think the things  a person could make or do in that world needs to have reasonably coherant explainations.  And there would, of course, be a plethora of totally cool spaceships and droves of interesting aliens!

Having all of this turning over in the back of my mind I fell into thinking about the first of these two landscapes and began researching dryads.

This week’s art is a drawing of such a dryad who has slept very late into spring and is awakened by a butterfly.

Here’s my basic outline sketch…

I made my pencil outline quite dark and then worked up the details of the tree also in pencil…

 

Then I began to ink the picture.  First I did the outline with a 0.5 Pigma Micron pen…

 

Then I worked on the inside area with my trusty 0.3 Micron.  (I seem to use this size pen more than any other.)

 

This is my final ink drawing…

I must admit, I absolutely adore doing ink drawings like this.  I know there are so many other techniques and opportunities to make art these days, especially with the advent of digital art, but I love the simplicity and starkness of the black lines on white paper.  Anyway, I decided I wanted to keep the drawing as it was so I scanned it in and did all my colouring digitally…

I added my colour on several layers underneath the ink layer.  When put together, these colour layers make an interesting shape with the ink layer removed.  It’s almost like the shadow or spirit of the drawing.

 

Here is my final image…

Mechanic – a large comic styled gouache painting

This week I’ve been dipping into some cool indie comics. One of them was called Quad. Each volume of Quad is a collection of four short stories in comic form. In Vol 1 is the story of Terah and Elvis written and drawn by Eduardo Shaal.

It’s a pretty good story with a Walking Dead type vibe – imagine Kirkman and Adlard’s Walking Dead after things have settled down a lot more and the zombies are just an annoying part of life which are dangerous if you’re not prepared. What I liked most about it was the feeling I got from the main character “Terah”; she had a sense of integrity lots of mechanical practical ability and a strong streak of independence. I really admire that way of being. Here’s the cover of the comic…

…and a link to it (here).

So, when I wanted to make a large comic-styled picture for my bedroom I thought of Shaal’s character. First I made an initial sketch in pencils based on a comic panel I particularly like. (If you follow the link above and use the ‘Look inside’ feature you can spot Shaal’s original panel on page two.)

I changed her hair and hat and I removed her gloves. Then I made the shadow of her cap less dense to I could draw her eyes in which were lost in shadow in the original work. I wanted to take the image in a slightly different direction from Shaal’s original. (Shaal has a beautifully loose drawing style which I love but wouldn’t be able to replicate even if I tried. So, rather than making a study of his work and style, I decided to follow his pose and work from there.)

Here’s my initial sketch…

This was done on A3 watercolour paper using pencils. It was harder and easier to draw something really big. It was harder because it took more courage to sketch something on a big scale. It was also easier because there was so much space to get every line I wanted and when you work bigger the final results are cleaner.

Then I inked her…

I used my Pentel Brush Pen for most of the main lines, which was great because you can get a very wide range of line widths really smoothly with this pen.

Then I used my Pigma Microns for the details.

Once the line work was complete I used my computer to have a play with colour schemes. I wanted blue and gold but I wasn’t sure exactly how to arrange it all. At first I thought this would work…

But her skin colour has too much yellow in for mustard coloured clothes to look right. So I changed her clothes to blue. This meant I had to work on trying to keep the blues properly differentiated but I thought it looked better…

Next it was time to paint. I’ve never tried to get such large flat washes before, especially inside tight lines. I used watercolour for the dark upper background colour (Payne’s Grey with some ultramarine dabbed into it). The rest was done with gouache. I know that professional illustrators often use a Liquitex acrylic gouache when they want large flat areas but I don’t have any of that so I did the best I could with regular gouache. It took a few hours over two days to complete the painting which is a really long time when you think that I did both digital colour scheme sketches in a total time of about 30 minutes.

Once the painting was finished I redid my line art to make it crisp and clear. This was so lovely to do, if a little nerve-wracking!

Anyway, here’s the final painting…

Autism and Trying to Paint Freely

This week I worked on trying to paint more freely with watercolours.

I have a mild form of autism.  While this is good in some ways, in that I can focus really deeply and have some cool interests and I always try to obey the law exactly, it can also be difficult too, sometimes for the same reasons!  When I’m really focussed on something I really hate to put things down unfisnished and I’m not great at listening when I’m really concentrating.  I have to have a rule with myself about my interests so I don’t go on about them continuously and become boring for others.  But the thing that’s difficult in terms of painting is, oddly, this desire to follow the rules exactly all the time.

The trouble is, with painting, following the rules translates into that childhood thing of not colouring over the lines.  Now that’s great if I’m going for a realistic or comic style look, but there’s more to art than that.  I really love looking at art which is more impressionistic and expressive where the colour doesn’t always stay within the lines.  Some of this type of art is incredibly beautiful.  But I find it almost impossible to do.  So, with some help and encouragment from Ink Flamingos and Alli Farkas , I had a go…

My first attempt was to draw a green woodpecker…

When  I began painting him I spilled the paint all over, but then immediately dabbed it up with a tissue.  Below is the best I could do to have the paint go over the lines.  I really hated it.  It made me feel like swearing.

Then I put on some blues for a background…

Again the paint was moving about and I felt quite distressed and ended up dabbing a lot of this up with some paper towel.

Then I got quite annoyed with the painting and tried to tighten it up ‘properly’.  I ended up just making a bad realistic style painting where I attempted to correct the errors…

You can see in this picture that, rather than have the movement of the ink over the lines as a part of the beauty of the picture, I corrected it and reworked it to try to get rid of it.  It doesn’t work at all.

I felt really fed up with this and I very nearly gave up on the whole adventure at this stage but then I decided to have one more try.  This time I thought I would paint the back ground very free and wild first and then paint a more standard watercolour figure over it, using limited areas of wet on wet to control the paint.

I also thought carefully about the colours I was using.  I used a deep cadmium yellow for the background with a pthalo blue over the top.  The pthalo blue is a nice transparent blue with a bit of a green tinge to it naturally.  So I thought that in the places where the yellow paint sat behind the blue it would go green and might add some more to the painting.

Again to try to make it loose, I began with a gesture drawing of a woman doing that dangling thing on some cloth which you sometimes see in a circus act…

Once I had the gesture I filled out her anatomy and gave her crazy hair…

 

Then I painted the background.  This was SO hard – it felt like I was deliberately spoiling the picture…

(I couldn’t help but remove the yellow that went onto the body area with a tissue.) Then I went back to painting more carefully to finish…

I know it’s really only an expressive background with a figure which maybe has some expression because she was drawn from a gesture, but it’s better than I’ve done before.  I think I might try some biological styled drawings with more expressive backgrounds like this next.

 

PS:  Sorry this post was late going out – I was unwell Thursday night, yesterday and this morning.  Getting better now I think!  😀

Days 51 and 52 – An Experiment with Watercolour in Manga

So today I had a go at painting a couple of manga ink sketches I’d done in my notebook with watercolour.  The sketches were based on one of Mark Crilley’s Manga books.

The paper really struggled to take the watercolour especially when I was trying to do a wet on wet wash.

Here are the images…

mangapeople-practicefinweb

 

Then I took an old discarded manga ink drawing I’d done before.  I’d not bothered with it because I’d drawn the girl with her face turned away and mostly hidden by hair and I don’t think the way I did that worked very well – it made her face look odd.

Then, since it was on a stronger paper, I had a quick go at colouring it with watercolour.  I started out laying down gradients of colour, wet on wet as a kind of background for each part of the drawing.  Then I painted wet on dry to get some clearer details and cell shading type shadows.

watercolour-girlfin_web

 

Although the initial drawing is a bit faulty I’m happy with this attempt at using watercolour.  It will take some work but I think I could learn to using this medium well for colouring comics / manga if I dedicate myself to it.  I think it looks better than digital colour – has more interest and texture.

 

Days 32 to 34 – Sketchbooks and portraits

Since I started drawing regularly on a small sketchbook which is more the size of a notebook (13cm x 21cm) I’ve found it much easier to draw than before.
My Notebook

 

I don’t really know why.  In my big sketchbook (I have an A3 and an A4 so they’re not really that big) I worry about wasting paper and I get the feeling that everything has got to be good.  Both of these things make it more difficult to draw freely which is what I’m trying to do.  In my new little notebook style sketchbook it’s so much better.  I can always find something I want to draw and I’m much more able to take risks and try new things.

In this portrait I was really aiming for a loose feel to the linework and to just get a feel for my subject visually.  This is a lady who sometimes comes to our church and has a remarkable face.  She looks so calm and regal and I really want to make a painting of her one day.  She has given me permission, but I’m still at the sketching stage.

Here’s the sketch – it’s done in pencil with some fineline ink outlines.

lady-from-church_fin_web

Once I’d scanned my drawing into the PC I also had a go at adding some colour using the cell shading technique I used before.

 

lady-from-church-fin_web-col

 

PS:  Apologies about the handwriting on the top of this portrait.  I still have this blooming chest infection so I’m taking a lot of Ventolin which gives me hands the shakes.  I can manage to draw with some difficulty when this happens but my handwriting is terrible.

Days 17 and 18 – A winged woman

Today I played around a bit more with my new graphgear mechanical pencil.

graphgear1000

I drew a sketch of a woman with wings.  She started off as an angel and then became a fairy.  Then I put a dress on her, which, if you’re flying up in the air, isn’t exactly practical!  Anyway, I was trying see if I could follow Mark Crilly’s drawing style for his Miki Falls manga / comic book series.

Here’s an example of his art on this project:

mikk-falls-art-example

I like the way he has thicker, darker lines around the main objects and then shades the rest like a really good pencil drawing.  You can really see what I’m mean if you look at Miki waking up in her sleeping bag in the bottom left panel.

So here’s my attempt at that kind of style / effect:

018-pencil-angelfinweb2

 

I used a black coloured pencil to do the thick outlines.  It was a watercolour pencil so it was really soft to use and I think I ended up making the lines too thick.  Nevertheless, I’m beginning to get there with that kind of style.

 

(Then just because I had the watercolour pencils out I decided to colour my picture…

I don’t like the watercolour pencil effect much.  I should have left it alone!