Monday, January 31, 2011

Sketch: Kingdom

This had to happen. 

To start with, after Christmas my mother and I were going through all our old holiday photos and reorganising them, and I came across a number of snaps of St Michael's Mount
Then one of the illustrations for ReadyEd was an island (albeit sans castle and avec seabirds).
Then I saw Tangled
And finally, today, watching Coast while working on portraiture, there was beautiful footage of both St Michael's Mount and Mont Saint-Michel.

I figured the world was trying to tell me something. So this is my sketching for tonight – one very, very tiny kingdom on a very tiny island. 
It's been too long since I drew pointy turrets, I swear. ^.^

0.5 mechanical pencil with #B lead in A5 Moleskine Sketchbook.
Roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes. 
Click to enlarge. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sketch: Tangled

I saw Tangled last Monday (it opened here on the 6th, so I wasn't actually completely behind the times =P) and loved it. I have a very soft spot for happy Disney movies. 

So I started a sketch of the characters, but only got around to finishing it up this afternoon. It's very rough, as it didn't take me very long at all. I did use a screenshot from the trailer for Rapunzel's expression, as it was one I particularly wanted, but everything else was done while just flicking through The Art of Tangled.

Clearly I need to work on chameleons. 

While I was flicking through the aforementioned book, I was constantly bombarded with very expressive faces. Having also come across Tracy Butler's Lacksadaisy Expressions in recent days, I came to the conclusion that I needed to practice exaggerating expressions a bit. What else are other artists (and art books) for if not to cause despondency and a burning desire to get better?

So, out come the usual suspects. Mainly Adele, with a couple of Katia and Edmund at the bottom. I chose Adele to focus on because she was originally designed with a very passive face (in contrast to Katia and her family) so pushing the limits of her expressions would be more of a challenge. The result is that only the profile view really says 'Adele' to me, although I like the middle expression, which very nearly works, I think (some of the others scare me slightly, however =P)
I think I have a way to go yet. I must work harder! 

0.5 mechanical pencil with #B lead in A5 Moleskine Sketchbook. 
The Tangled sketch took be somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, the expressions about 10 minutes each.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Colouring Page: Falconing

My mother is a primary school teacher, so of course she's always looking for colouring pages, and every now and then I turn one of my illustrations into a colouring page for her class. 

It seems a shame that they're only used in one class, so there are currently three other ones available on my website, but I haven't got round to putting this one up there yet – I need to update my website, but it takes me too long to just 'insert a colouring page before bed', for example (it sounds so easy when you say it like that, but web design and I have never got on particularly well). Soon I shall set aside an afternoon and do everything properly. 

In the meanwhile I'm making this colouring page (from my falconing painting) available here.
Anyone can use for private home or school use (or etc – no profit can be made from it, basically, and no removing the credit line). 

Click to download!

Photoshop CS4 with Wacom Intuos 3

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Portraiture: Gaya

Finally got around to putting on the final touches, so I'm calling it done. There's generally things I think I could work on more / have done better, but after a while it's best just to call it a day before I really overwork it. =P 

It's a pity coloured pencil doesn't scan quite as well as I'd like. I much prefer this in real life, the colours seem so much more alive, and positively glow (and the blends are a little better). This is as close as I could get it in Photoshop:

You can see this a bit bigger over on my deviantart page.

Here's a progress animation, showing stages of completion. I scan every night (assuming I've worked on a piece during the day) but I don't always work all day on one piece, so the stages aren't equal.

And here are some detail shots:

 Her sleeve:




Prismacolour coloured pencils, Winsor & Newton watercolours, Reeves gouache and Sailor White Writer on Bristol Board.
Somewhere around 36 hours over 13 days (not consecutively) 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Illustration: ReadyEd

I've been doing a fair bit of work recently for ReadyEd, an Education Publisher here in Perth. They produce BlackLine Master books, which contain worksheets for teachers to photocopy. I've been doing some of the illustrations. 
Pictures for these types of books need to have nice solid black-and-white lines, and be easy for kids to colour in. It's a little strange, having spent years making myself not join up every line and instead be a little more sketchy, to switch back to clean linework. Most of the illustrations are good fun, however. 

Here's a small selection of some of last year's pictures. All of these were from Language Skills books that were being updated, for grades 1 to 3. My style is more suited to younger children, although more recently I've been working on some History books that go all the way up to grade 7. 

Adobe Photoshop CS4 (using just the standard brush tool in pts 9 and 19) and Wacom Intuos 3, over initial pencil sketches. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sketch: Rebecca

Character sketches are always a good excuse to draw pretty people not doing much, which is my default state of drawing when tired. Very relaxing! 

This is Rebecca, one of the protagonists in Makenzi Crouch's novel-in-progress. You can read an excerpt of the current draft on her blog over here.

I was focussed on the character, not the background, as you can see. Be thankful there's at least some background! =P 
I hope to do more character sketches soon. They're a nice way to spend my evenings; currently I'm doing illustrations for an educational publisher, so it's nice to wind down with elaborate costuming and sketchy lines. 

0.5 Mechanical pencil with #B lead in Moleskine sketchbook.

As for other works in progress, Gaya is to all intents and purposes finished, and is just going through a rest period, so I can check for mistakes with fresh eyes in a few days. And the wedding portrait that's on the go is, weather permitting, my other project for this week (unless it gets horrid and humid again). 
I then have a couple of other portraits to get going with. 
Busy busy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Progress: Gaya #3

I'm still making steady progress on the portrait of Gaya.
I spent this evening working out how to get the pattern in her sari while still making it look like silk. I've done patterned silk in previous portraits – but only in black and white; a kneadable eraser, and I'm good to go with that. That technique doesn't work with coloured pencils, of course. I've done a similar fabric digitally, too. 

I've settled on a mixed media approach. I start out by mapping in the darkest areas of the pattern with watercolour (in this case raw umber, and the occasional dab of sepia). Then I put in the fabric colour with my prismacolour pencils, right over the top. The watercolour shows through (since I'm only using light colours) but is softened a bit in the process.
Once that's done, I put in the rest of the pattern over the top of the prismacolour with watercolour (Pale cadmium yellow or yellow ochre) or gouache (yellow ochre or white) and a white paint pen.

Her jewellery is done in much the same way: watercolour it all, add shadows with pencil, and highlights with gouache and paint pen. 

Mixed media – around 22 hours

Design: Thank You Cards

I'm a little behind on my Christmas Thank You cards this year – but I've got them done now!

Every year, Christmas and Birthday Thank You cards feature this girl. This year she's on a swing; clearly the result of my spending too much time with my nose in the beautiful The Art of Tangled.

Printed on white cardstock, they're made into A6 cards. Previous years have had A5 notes, but I decided to change the format. I used to print them on a pinstripe-textured cream paper, but I've run out – so I slapped a bit of texture on instead, for continuity. 

For Christmas 2008 she was on a scooter. This is still my favourite. 

You can see the original bunch of girls, done for my 21st birthday over here on my deviantart page. 

Photoshop over pencil sketch. No reference. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Progress: Gaya #2

It's been too humid to work on graphite portraiture the last few days, so while I'm waiting for the next list of linework illustrations to arrive in my inbox, I'm back to working on my portrait of Gaya. Much fun is being had! 

The scanner wasn't working last time I posted progress, but it is now. This is a much better picture. And I've got quite a bit further, too:

I broke out the watercolours and a 000 brush to do her jewellery – pencils were just too chunky. The focus on the original photo is extremely narrow, so the jewellery is almost entirely out of focus, which doesn't translate well to coloured pencil work; so this isn't perfectly accurate, but I don't think it's too bad.  It should look quite striking when I get all the rest of the jewellery done, I think.

I haven't yet decided whether to leave the background as plain white, or to do something with it. Any thoughts, anyone?

Prismacolour pencils, Winsor and Newton watercolours 
About 16 hours so far (but while I'm watching tv and being languid due to the weather, so not too solidly) 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Illustration: Falconing

I've been too hot lately to be particularly enthused about doing anything, so I ran this sketch through the printer (not without a battle, it doesn't like watercolour paper much) and splashed around with my watercolours.

Still working on being a bit looser with my painting, and on using more limited colour palettes. I broke out the coloured pencils on this, too, to cover up the fact that nice smooth watercolour washes don't really happen when it's 40 degrees C outside. The pencil gave a nice texture to the foliage, anyway. 

I can't say I've overly pleased with how this turned out, but it's passable, I suppose. =)

Winsor & Newton watercolours and Prismacolour pencils on 300gsm watercolour paper. 


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