Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sneak Peek: Portrait

I'm doing a wedding portrait of my friends, as a wedding present. Severely belated, but I should hopefully be able to have it finished in time for them to move into their new house (*fingers crossed*). It was never going to be an on-time present anyway, as it's from their favourite wedding photo, which of course didn't exist until after the fact. 

They know they're getting it, but want the finished product to be a surprise – but it's taking so long, what with actual work and stuff, that I've already sent along one little tidbit, and here's that, along with another one, to tantalise them (and everyone else). I think it's coming along quite nicely. =)


Monday, December 20, 2010

Sketch: Falconing

I was sent some fabulous pony photos on Saturday, so naturally just had to do some sketching!

Horses have never been a particularly strong subject of mine (I remember drawing a distinctly rotund racehorse at age six =P) but I think this is definitely one of my best efforts. Possibly aided by the fact that this is not a sleek horse, but is allowed to be a bit on the round side.... I tried to keep horse, tack, costume, etc at least vaguely accurate for the early-mid 15th century (without delving into in-depth research, that is)

I'd quite like to take this further, but I'm not sure exactly how, so it's not exactly a priority. 
I'm quite liking where I've got my sketching style to, though – much less stiff than in the past.

0.5 mechanical pencil with #B lead in Moleskine Sketchbook 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Collection of Christmas Cards

I've been making our family Christmas cards for years now, and I came across a bunch of them while I was sorting through a drawer, and thought I'd share, since it's getting so close to Christmas.

I'm not even sure when these two were done. About 2001, I think. Certainly I was using a laptop for the digital one on the left, and I know I didn't have a tablet at that point, and did it all with the button mouse. 
The kangaroo was coloured pencil. 

I'm not sure what's become of the intervening years. There must be samples around somewhere, though to be honest I don't even remember what most of them were. =P

2006 I was still doing two designs a year. Here we have an angel with digital cell shading and gold stars (based on an old photo from the 20s; I liked the basic idea of the pose and costume, and adapted), and linework wattle flowers with gold highlights and a cut-out centre.

2007 I did some angels, based on some stock photos by Becky Stock over on deviantArt.
You can see the card over here.
These angels were definitely one of my most popular card designs, and I'm very fond of them. 

2008 I went all graphic, and to mix things up had one card in gold and one in blue and silver. 
The image was hand drawn with a fineliner, and the stars were glittered using double-sided adhesive paper (rather fiddly)

2009 I went back to angels, since everyone seemed to want some more of them. This one was jazzed up a bit with a punched-out star in the background, and a glittered halo. As with my previous angels, this was done in Photoshop. 

2010 I went graphic again, this time with baubles, even more fiddly glitter, and an even larger number to make. Sometimes I question my sanity.
My original post about this year's cards is here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quotes: Something Fresh

Ironically enough, this isn't fresh. It's been dug out of my archives for your viewing pleasure, having been done a good 18 months ago. 

The quote is from P G Wodehouse's wonderful Something Fresh, also known as Something New. Anyone who's ever heard Jonathon Cecil read this particular segment aloud would sympathise, I am sure, with my desire to draw it. ^.^ 

In case my writing is illegible (it isn't the best scan, the paper was too thin) here is the full quote:

"If girls realised their responsibilities they would be so careful when they smiled that they would probably abandon the practice altogether. There are moments in a man's life when a girl's smile can have as important results as an explosion of dynamite.
It is not too much to say that he reeled before Joan's smile, it was so entirely unexpected. He clutched Mr Peter's steamer trunk in his emotion. 
All his resolutions to be cold and distant were swept away. He had the feeling that in a friendless universe here was somebody who was fond of him and was glad to see him.
A smile of such importance deserves analysis, and in this case repays it..."

Of course, one could quote an entire Wodehouse novel, but I won't do that! 

And yes, I am aware that that is not a steamer trunk. It fitted better as a small overnight bag. =P 

Moleskine Cahier, no refs, June-July 2009

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quotes: Pride and Prejudice

I'm in a classics mood, and it's a long time since I drew anything from Pride and Prejudice. 
This was started last night, while I was feeling very sorry for myself indeed with a bout of terrible hayfever – I didn't get much done =P – and finished tonight. I chose a random scene, which happened to be the dance at Netherfield. 

I used a photo from, I think, Becoming Jane as a basic pose starter. I've seen this dance step in a number of adaptations, and it seemed fitting. 

"It is your turn to say something now, Mr Darcy. I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples."

I was happy with Mr Darcy right up until I finished Lizzy... now I'm not so sure. I may go back on fix him up at some point, you never know. 

0.5 Mechanical pencil with #B lead in Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sketch: Watching

Further antidote to drawing prosaic items with clean, joined-up, colour-in-able lines!
I was doing image research on google, and came across a promotional still of Taylor Swift singing 'Love Story'. I'm just about the worst at keeping up with modern music, but it was such a pretty picture, and I used it as a basis for this sketch:

I wasn't bothered in the slightest about getting a good likeness, and I played around with an entirely imaginary dress. Much fun was had. =)

#B 0.5 mechanical pencil in moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sketch: The Court Jester

Again, there is nothing creative about this – just an exercise in brainlessness to have a bit of fun. 
I've been working on a series of linework illustrations for an educational publisher, which is certainly expanding the number of things that I draw – within the past few days I've drawn streetscapes, witchetty grubs, oysters, a scull, colonial children, an Australian colonist... and lots more. So I wasn't really in the mood to think while I was sketching. =P 

I've been reading Cornelia Baker's The Court Jester, published in 1906, with charming black and white illustrations by Margaret Ely Webb and Margaret H Deveneau.  

This is a detail of one of Margaret Ely Webb's contributions – not entirely accurate, as the copy I had wasn't very large, but a lot of fun to do. I like playing around with linework. 

0.2 Artline Drawing System fineliner in Moleskine sketchbook.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sketch: Ransom Springs

The next story/sketch challenge with Makenzi Crouch. A whole month late, which is entirely my fault. Not only did I get pretty swamped with work, I also had to sort out a grand total of five computers in the last few weeks, only one of which was actually mine. I am not techy, so computer problems take me quite a while, and eat into my sketching time quite considerably. 

But, despite two of those computers being this weekend, I managed to get this finished off, finally:


“I am wondering,” she said, “Mr. Raymond Geelbert, ees he here?”

            “I ain’t seen Gil in weeks,” the man replied. “Who’s askin’?”

            Marta folded her hands over the handle of her valise. “I am Marta Berge. Mr. Geelbert say he will be here when I come. ”

            “Fred Nelson,” he said, sticking out his hand. Marta looked at it for a moment, and then carefully put her hand in his to be shaken. “Why you here t’see Gil?”

            She tilted her head at him. “Geel is Mr. Geelbert?”

            Fred folded his newspaper and leant forward on the counter. “Oh, sure,” he said. “Everyone calls him that. What’s your business with him?”

            “I not think Mr.—Geel—want me to discuss matter,” she said.

            The sound of hooves and the clatter of wagon wheels outside cut short any reply Fred might have thought of making. He banged his hand down on the counter, making Marta jump, and said instead,
            “Betcha that’ll be Gil, then. Can tell from the squeak on that ol’ wagon of his. Oughter get the damn thing fixed.”

            “I am hoping it ees. I am pleased to meet you,” Marta added, with a polite smile to Fred, before turning and walking stiffly back out onto the platform.


What's the story? You'll just have to go over here to find out! ^.^

Adobe Photoshop CS4, with a texture from 
Inspired by 1950s magazine illustrations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Portraiture: The Misfits

I just finished a triptych of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift in the film The Misfits, for a client who also commissioned Gloria Grahame and Robert Redford. I don't usually take commissions of film stars, but in this case I know the commissioner (and so couldn't really get out of it =P).

The film is not a favourite of mine, and the promotional pictures were all rather grainy, which made this quite a tricky job to do. Marilyn was especially tricky, as there was none of the classic Monroe look to fall back on; her look in this film was very different to what we are accustomed to seeing. 

The complete triptych, put together in Photoshop:

To view larger go here.

A work-in-progress animation of Marilyn Monroe:


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Illustration: Wren Thankyou Cards

You may remember the Wren wedding invitations I did some months ago. These are the thank you cards that went with them, which it just occurred to me I had not yet blogged. 

I used the original painting of wrens from the invitation, and dressed them up in the clothes and bouquet from the wedding itself. Wrens in dinner jackets are just too marvelous to pass up. ^.^ I'm not quite sure how the bride is actually holding on to the bouquet, but we'll call that artistic license, shall we? =P It's certainly held in her left wing. 

I can't remember exactly, but I think I made about 70. We got them printed at a Kodak photo booth, and stuck them on to folded card with double-sided tape.

Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sneak Peek: Little Mermaid

I've been pretty busy on portraiture lately, but today was Saturday and I wanted a break from obsessive detail work, so I did some work on a portfolio piece. I started this ages ago, and just picked it back up the other day. I need to update my portfolio.
And since I haven't really done any sketching lately, I thought I'd post it:

So here we have a tiny bit of a still very unfinished little mermaid meeting the sea witch. It will be atmospheric. The witch is quite scary, but I shall not spoil her for you. =P

Adobe Photoshop.

And tagging along we have a little sketch I did last night:

I saw the Sky adaption of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal recently, and quite enjoyed it – certainly it's my favourite of the adaptions so far, – but of course characters always look different in one's imagination. So here we have my interpretation of Adora Belle Dearheart, based loosely on Lauren Bacall from the cover of my copy of Dark Passage

The quote reads: 
"You know how to pray, don't you? You just put your hands together – and hope."

And anyone who likes their film noir will probably see why I always think of Lauren Bacall for Adora Belle. Remember the famous quote from To Have and Have Not?
"You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow." 

Pencil sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

Yes, I'm organised.
I've been making and writing in my family's Christmas cards since I left high school, and this is the batch for 2010.

The original test card I did to check out the design:

It's a bit hard to see, but two of the baubles have been raised with double-sided foam tape. 
I got the images printed at a Kodak kiosk, which played a bit of havoc with my colours and sizing (some of the design was cut off, and I had a much smaller white borders around the image). 

I created the image in Photoshop, using baubles that I had previously created in Illustrator.

I kept tabs on my progress as I went. 

In the end, this is what they looked like:

All in all, I made 90, over two days. And yesterday I wrote in 68 of them. I am now exhausted! =P

Taking into account those that I know are still to be written in, I have 15 spare for last-minute emergencies. Any left over I shall sell next year. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Progress: Gaya

I took a day off today, and spent it starting a coloured pencil portrait of Gaya, my lovely cousin-by-marriage. She was kind enough to let me have a full-resolution copy of this beautiful photo for portrait-purposes, so I thought I should post progress in case she wanted to see. 

This picture serves several purposes: I need to practice my coloured pencil portraiture, as I haven't done any in years. I need to add some coloured pencil work to my portraiture portfolio. I need to create a wedding portrait portfolio. And I just liked the picture. ^.^

I've done the majority of the skin – I wanted to get as much skin done as possible, because once you put all your pencils away you can never remember what colours you were using. =P I still need to refine it lots, of course, but most of it's down, at least.

I'm using Prismacolour pencils on generic Bristol Board – not a combination I've tried before. 
About 5-6 hours so far.

I'll upload more progress when I make some – which will be the next time I take some time off and want to spend it doing portraiture. =P 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sketch: Building

I really need to practice buildings and perspective. To this end, I've got myself a book on perspective (although I haven't yet had time to do more than flick through it) and I'm making myself draw buildings.

This is the first of the results – from a photo I took on holiday in Georgetown, Penang. I chose it because it had a nice easy front-on perspective to start with.

I didn't draw the whole building – I decided instead on an artistically semi-finished sketch, otherwise known as 'protecting my sanity'. =P

Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, I will have no troubles with perspective, and I'll be able to come up with interesting buildings out of my head. And hopefully I will also have less trouble with furniture in perspective too! ^.^

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. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sketch: Merle Oberon

Here we have a pencil sketch of Merle Oberon as Marguerite Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel
A bit wonky, but in my defence, I did draw with the sketchbook balanced on my lap. My Great Aunt packed us off to this year's Ian Constable Lecture, which was Rolf Zinkernagel lecturing "On Regulation  of Immunity and Immunopathology by Antigen". o.O

Now, I am not scientifically-minded enough to understand more than about one word in ten of the lecture, unfortunately, but I listened (albeit rather lost) and sketched away. I had reference pictures of the lovely Merle Oberon with me, as I've been practicing miniature watercolours, and have been doing one of her – so I sketched her as well. She's great fun to draw. =)
I did most of this at the lecture, and (since it finished before I had) spent 15 minutes finishing off the background and touching stuff up when I got home.

0.5 mechanical pencil with B lead in a Moleskine sketchbook. 
1hour, 45 minutes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Study: 20s girl

There is absolutely nothing actually creative about this. =P I've been so busy (which is a fabulous thing, of course) that I have no brain left for actual creativity once I've finished work for the day. ^.^

Olde-Fashioned over on deviantart uploaded this wallpaper recently, and I just loved the image she'd used (from the cover of an old Photoplay magazine). She was kind enough to send me the original file, and I did a study of it, partly for fun and relaxation, and partly because my lovely mother gave me some Rose Madder watercolour over the weekend, and this was an opportunity to use it without taking up too much of my time. 

I did a pencil sketch last night, which took about 50 minutes or so (while watching tv) and printed it out onto watercolour paper and mucked about with my watercolours tonight, which took about half an hour. Much fun was had. =) And I still need to work on my washes (although admittedly I wasn't trying very hard)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Design: Ads and Posters

Despite appearances to the contrary I am actually still alive. Just very busy, and by the end of the day, too tired to sketch.
However, I have not been inactive! As proof of this, here are a couple of snaps of some design work I've done recently. I just got my hands on some prints.

Remember The Year of Biodiversity Schedule Design? This is more work relating to it. One full page newspaper ad (plus a considerable number of small ones) and A4 poster and a DL flyer.

I think they came out rather nicely. =) Nice and colourful. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sketches: From the Travel Diary 1

I've recently returned from a 10-day trip to Malaysia. My cousin was getting married in KL, so we started off in Penang, and finished our trip in Kuala Lumpur, for the wedding.

I'm a bit behind on the travel diary I was keeping, as I got pretty much no time while actually on holiday. (and came home to lots of work to do) But I plan to finish it off, come hell or high water! =P

So, here we have some pages from the Penang part of our trip – very sketchy, as they were of course not meant to be refined. I used various combinations of pencil, a variety of pens and ecoline ink (done at home, I wasn't travelling with it =P) in a little A5 Moleskine. It's not the best for ecoline, but it'll do.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
Various flowers seen in Georgetown, a woman doing batik, more flowers (this time outside the Batik factory), various butterflies from the Penang Butterfly Farm, a small bird, and a sketch map. =) 

Stay tuned for more pages, as I actually ... you know... finish them. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sketch: Spatuletailed Hummingbirds

I was watching the BBC's beautiful Life on tv  – the 'birds' episode, which had beautiful footage of the lovely spatuletailed hummingbirds (Laddigesia Mirabilis). So of course I had to draw one.

I found the footage on the BBC website, so I was able to replay it and see them properly so I could get some down on paper.

The quick sketches on the left were done in pencil, as usual, but the picture on the right was me mucking around with various pens that were lying around in my desk drawer – two COPIC markers that have been hanging around since I had to do greyscale layouts in uni, some ink pens, fineliners, metallic gel pens and highlighters. Good fun. =)
This of course means the colours are not quite accurate – but they're vaguely right. They're a sort of greenish-grey/blue/black/white combination, it's just a bit more earthy than I have here. ^.^

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quotes: Yolanda

I was scrolling through my reference files, in search of a pose (which I didn't find) and came across this picture of Marion Davies in the 1924 film Yolanda.

That, thought I, is a fabulous hat. 
So I decided to use it as a basis for a sketch, and see if I couldn't make it look a bit more dramatic (which I know is something I need to work on).

I was halfway through when I decided to look up the book that the film was based on (Yolanda; Maid of Burgundy by Charles Major, 1905) and see what the actual scene was. 
It was at this point that I realised that a) the girl should technically be kneeling on the ground and b) it would have been more dramatic if I'd done the scene immediately before, when it was our handsome hero on the ground, instead of the villain, and Yolanda casting herself over him to protect him from a blow from a battle-axe (ah, the joys of turn-of-the-century novels with no regard for historical correctness and no compunction at being cheesy! =P

Since I wasn't too happy with how dramatic I made this, I sketched over it in Photoshop in intervals throughout today, and ended up with this:

A bit better, I think.

By the by, it's perfectly acceptable for everyone in the novel to be seized with that amazing blood-lust, as the man on the ground cheated in battle by getting someone off to shoot his opponent. =P 

I hope you can read my writing at this size; if not, and you're curious as to the quote, let me know and I'll add it to this post. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Illustration: Tiana

Whee! Shameless fanart! ^.^

This is my interpretation of Tiana from Disney's The Princess and the Frog. I liked her design in the dream sequences much better than the rest of the movie, plus I wanted to paint all those golden colours. 

This started out as a sketch in my sketchbook, with absolutely no reference, so we're not talking extreme character likeness here. And today I was waiting for some job info to come in (bit hard to create ads without the text =P) and I had a headache, so I amused myself by taking it into Photoshop and painting it up. 

I think we're talking about 5 hours all up, including the sketch. That text took longer to arrive than I was expecting, so I was able to get a bit carried away on what was intended as a speedpaint.

No reference for Tiana herself, but I did take a look at some screenshots to get a general feel for the background. Textures from 

I do not like the fountain. I do like her dress, however; I had fun playing with what was essentially negative space. =)

Tiana is copyright Disney. 


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