Sunday, October 31, 2010

Illustration: Tree Full Of Owls

A Post for Halloween!

This is entirely down to Makenzi Crouch, who suggested that we do a story & sketch for Halloween. Unfortunately, at the time I was suffering from a sick headache that was about to develop into a migraine, so to make things easier I sent her an old image with a vaguely Halloween-y theme, and let her play around with that. And once she'd finished her story, and I could see/walk/type in a straight line (hooray!) I gave the image a bit of a tweak to fit in better.  

So, without more ado:

Most of the porch lights on Alpert Court were out. The only reason anyone bothered to trick-or-treat here at all was for Mr. Jackson's candy, and only a very few - the well-informed - braved his house. Chris had been scared so badly last year that he had promised himself he wasn't going to go anywhere near Mr. Jackson's house this year, and now he found himself standing at the end of the walk again, distracted from the ghosts swooping around the porch by something in the tree in the front yard. He tugged nervously on Matt's sword.
"Matt, there's eyes in the tree. Matt!"

And, for your edification, here's the original image:

This was done way back in September 2009, when I was just starting to use Illustrator. I've come along way since then – this was mainly just me poking around with various tools to see what they did.

Inspired by a line from the 1956 musical High Society:

"Uncle Willy, this morning you look like a tree full of owls."

No, I don't know what it means either.


I think the night time version looks better than this one – but that's okay, I wasn't trying to do anything fantastic with this in the first place. ^.^

Illustrator CS4. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sketch: Foxgloves

My friend Makenzi and I have decided to do stories and sketches, turn and turn about (in that one time I send her a sketch, and she has to write for it, and then she sends me some writing, and I have to sketch for it) to practice our drawing/writing on demand skills, and get in practice for things we might not normally think of drawing/writing. 

So, here is our first attempt. Sketch by me, inspired by watching a gardening program and hearing 'foxgloves' mentioned. I sent the sketch to Makenzi, giving her free reign as to what to write (I don't think I even told her why I had suddenly thought of the image in the first place), and she came up with a story to go with it.

Here's an excerpt of Makenzi's story:

"You look awful anxious," Isabella said, leaning against the edge of the table and sipping at her own cup.

"Oh, it ain't nothin'," Mary said. "I mean, I'm sure if it was you, you wouldn't be anxious at all."

"Afraid my brother ain't goin' to ask you to dance?" Mary ducked her head in embarrassment. "I don't mind, you know. You ain't the only one who's sweet on him."

"He sure is handsome, ain't he?" Mary breathed. She saw Isabella's expression and laughed. "What else are these dances for but for lookin' at boys? Ain't you sweet on anyone, Isabella?"

Isabella shook her head vehemently. "No."

Surprised, Mary wheedled, "There ain't no one you think's just a 
little handsome?"

Isabella's eyes drifted without thinking to the son of the saloon owner, and then snapped back to Mary. "No one," she said sharply. "And that ain't a bad thing, either, for what's the use of fixin' my cap at a handsome fella just to get my heart broke?" She shook her head. "Ain't no use, Mary. I talk too much. Anyone'll tell you that right off. I like to do what I like to do. What fox wants a vixen like that?"

To read the whole thing (and you should!), you'll just have to go over here to her blog. Enjoy! =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sketch: Little Girl

I was demonstrating pencil portraiture at an agricultural show on Saturday, and this little girl went past. Well, technically it was 'this little girl' for only a given value of 'this little girl', as I never actually saw her face. But I did see her outfit, polkadots everywhere, and odd shoes – and she was evidently making the most of having a boofy skirt by twirling. Very cute. 

And today, to reward myself for getting some illustrations sent off a day before I needed to, I sketched her out, and played around with the sketch in Photoshop.

No Refs, probably about three hours all up, working in a desultory fashion. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Imaginary Miniatures

Way back when I did honours in Illustration (2008) I created a picture book. (My topic was 'A Modern Take on the Golden Age of Illustration', so it was a book in the Golden Age style, while attempting to bring in modern aspects of illustrative storytelling).
It could use a bit of a revamp now, but after spending a whole year drawing the characters, I became very attached to them, and every now and then I miss them and get the urge to draw them again.

Practicing miniatures naturally brought them to my mind again, as the endpages of the picture book were a character gallery of miniature portraits (albeit in the sepia linework style common to Golden Age endpapers)

These were done with a dip pen (a mapping one) in brown ink, and then lightened and overlayed on a parchment texture in Photoshop. 

So I thought I'd try more realistic portraits of the main characters, in pencil.

So here we have Katia, Edmund and Adele. 
These are all roughly 5cm in diameter, although they were drawn freehand, so that's not quite exact. 

To see more of them:
Spreads from the picture book:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Miniature: Kathryn Grayson

I've been playing around with doing miniature portraits lately. 

I started out using watercolour, and did a couple (I've done one of Merle Oberon as Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, but that's awaiting a partner in a matching one of Leslie Howard at the moment) and then decided to try my hand at using pencil. 

Watercolour is actually much easier, because the brushes are so much smaller than the 0.5 pacer lead I use when drawing, so it's easier to get really fine, accurate lines. 
This was in fact a double-experiment, because I've never tried doing a pencil drawing on Bristol Board before. 

While I'm practicing, I'm having fun using actors and actresses, and here we have Kathryn Grayson:

This was done on Bristol Board using a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with a #B lead, a very small blending stump, a cotton bud, a touch of a #8B graphite pencil, and white gouache (for the veil), applied with a 6/0 and 3/0 brush. 

Size is 5cm diameter (1.9") 

To give an idea of scale, here's a snap including my reference, my trusty magnifying glass, my pacer, and one of my paintbrushes. 
At the moment, 5cm is about as small as I'm happy going – but hopefully I shall get better and they'll get smaller. 


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