Monday, August 27, 2012

Illustration: My Shining Hour

It's been a while since I did one of these. I've been pretty much tied to my computer lately, and felt the need to spend a little while with my watercolours. I'm going to need to be painting for an upcoming project, also, so it pays to get back in the swing. 

This is Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie (although not the best likenesses, I was working off a very low quality youtube screenshot, as I only have the movie on VHS, and our pause button no longer works – not that it was even overused! =P) in The Sky's The Limit – dancing to 'This Will be My Shining Hour'. 

Winsor and Newton watercolours, Artline Drawing System pens and Atelier Waterproof Drawing Ink (Carbon Black) in a Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook.
About 2 hours in total. 

Previous in the Black Dress series:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Week: The Booksniffing Pug

My second Children's Book Week Australia post!
I really don't have the time to do much, alas, so here is a small review of one of my favourite book-related blogs:

If you like children's picture books, and you haven't yet found your way to the Booksniffing Pug's blog, make sure you rectify that omission soon! The Booksniffer sniffs only the finest in children's picture books, and often conducts charmingly quirky interviews with their creators. Based in England, the books reviewed are naturally English, but all gorgeous, and I find it a great blog to introduce me to books, authors and illustrators I might not otherwise have seen, and gives me titles and people to look out for when I'm browsing the more adventurous children's book sections in local shops. 

The Booksniffer's reviews are always a bit eccentric, so fun to read, and the interviews, where we often get glimpses into the sketchbooks and studios of illustrators, are always interesting. Plus it's just a great site for finding new books and seeing what's popular at the moment. 

Go check out the Booksniffer!

Illustration above is by me, 0.5 mechanical pencil with #B lead in a Moleskine sketchbook. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Screaming Book Week Bookmarks

It's Children's Book Week here in Australia (and also the National Year of Reading) and if you ask me there just isn't enough stuff around for it. It's such an important thing, to try and get children interested in reading, but compared to the stuff I see for equivalent events in the UK and America (the web is good for breeding discontent!) we don't make such a big deal of it. Which is a shame.

So I thought I'd do a few Book Week posts. First up, some screaming bookmarks. I'm really rather busy at the moment, so I didn't have time to do anything particularly inspired, but these always go down well. I first learnt how to do them from the fabulous British tv show Art Attack, when I was little. I couldn't find the video on youtube, so I've made up my own instructions. Credit for the original idea goes to the show, though. =)

The bookmarks are made to print on A4 paper (open in a new tab or window to get the full size), and they're a nice high resolution so that you'll get nice clean lines. You can use them for home or school use, anything that's non-commercial, but I do ask that you don't remove my logo and credit line. 
For those of you who haven't heard of the 2012 Book Week theme, it's 'Champions Read!'

And here are the instructions:

These were drawn in Adobe Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Illustration: Danielle Darrieux

Remember the quick pic I did of Brigitte Bardot? Well, here's another one. I think this is turning into a series of 'Why can't I live in a 50s musical? They have such pretty dresses!' =P 

This is Danielle Darrieux in Rich, Young and Pretty from 1953. I haven't actually seen the film, but I play a piece from it ('We Never Talk Much (We just sit around)') on the piano, and so looked it up on Youtube. She has such a pretty dress, and I had lots of fun unwinding by seeing how to do satin with this colouring technique. 
And look, there are elbow length gloves again!

Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. 
About 2 hours. 
I used a half-body screenshot as a starting point.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Portrait: Cally

Here's my schoolfriend Cally, who's photo I shamelessly snaffled from her tumblr. I hope she doesn't mind! 
I've been playing around with a new way of colouring in Photoshop on breaks between work jobs, just for fun, and the picture I was working on was not turning out the way I wanted (i.e. it had ceased to be fun =P) and then Cally posted a picture of herself dressed up in 1940s style. I've drawn Cally a number of times, and decided that she would be a good easy subject for my fun-colouring-practice, because her face was unlikely to give me any trouble.

Also, this gives me a good excuse to point everyone in the direction of her beautiful art. She had a solo exhibition lately, and her art is absolutely gorgeous.
I should warn you that her art often contains nudity, in case you get upset by that. =) She explores animals and mythological themes in very delicate watercolours. So, go take a look-see!

Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3. I did a black line drawing first, and then coloured beneath it by lassooing shapes and shading them with a very large soft-edged brush. A bit like using gradients in Illustrator, but easier to control without having to fiddle withe the gradient tool. Once I had the shading in, I locked the pixels on the line layer and coloured the lines to match the shading. It probably took about 2 – 2.5 hours. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Invitations: Engagement

Here's a monogram I designed recently for some Engagement Party invitations.

I always give out a questionnaire when I do invitations, so that I can tailor my design to the commissioner. This couple didn't really have anything in mind, no theme or suchlike, but they did tell me their favourite colours. So, since they also wanted something simple, I took those colours and turned to the good old language of flowers to design a monogram. 

So, here we have red roses, symbolising true love, blue violets for faithfulness, forget-me-nots, again for true love, arbutus, for 'you're the only one I love' and lilac, for the first emotions of love. Probably rather more romantic than the couple themselves, but I like to choose flowers that suit the situation. 

If you're interested in the fonts, the letters are in Recherche and and the scrolls are from Melany Lane Ornaments. 

I constructed all of the invitations yesterday, and here's a snap:

The bride-to-be had given me a sample of a DL invitation printed on shiny paper, and wanted something similar. I chose some Quill Metallique paper in Lavender, and opted to stick on the information rather than print straight onto the paper, as it gives a cleaner look, I find. To tie it all together I went over the letters of the monogram with a silver gel-pen to add a bit of sparkle. 
The mood choices that had been ticked on my questionnaire were 'romantic', 'simple', 'cheerful' and 'fun' so to keep everything a bit less formal I chose to typeset the invitation in Americana BT, rather than a more classic swirly or sans-serif font. That was also the reason for the + rather than an & in the monogram itself. 

The text of the monogram was created in Adobe Illustrator CS6, the flowers in Photoshop CS6 and the typesetting in inDesign CS6.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Illustration: Common Tree Shrew

I have lots of work to do (and I spent some time today doing it) but it's Saturday, and that calls for a sketch-for-me. Also, I upgraded to CS6 last week, and hadn't had so much as a chance to look at all those interesting 'natural' brushes. 8 days is a long time to spend actually working in the programmes and not being able to play around with new features at all! =P 

So here is a common tree shrew, not entirely accurately. They're native to Malaysia and surrounding areas, and I saw one in the Adelaide Zoo. It was the most hyperactive thing I have ever seen, impossible to focus on (eyes or camera), so I just pointed my camera and clicked, hoping for the best. I didn't get any shots that count as 'good' but I did catch a few poses, in focus, but blurred because there was very low light and my shutter speed was thus slow. But, good enough for vague references. 

This was done entirely playing around with the aforementioned 'natural brushes', to see what I could do with them. The vague leafy textures are my own, and there are a few from slapped on there as well. By rights this shrew should be a streak of nothing, but it's very fat, so maybe it's too full to look fast. 

Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Intuos 3, somewhere between 1 and 2 hours. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photos: Adelaide Zoo

Next in my holiday photos instalment. 
We spent a day in Adelaide Zoo, and I actually had a zoom lens, which was extremely fun. On previous zoo trips I've always had to make do with a standard 18-50mm lens, but I now possess a 40-150mm, which makes zoo photos much easier. For those interested in such things, I was using an Olympus PEN EP-3.

I love taking photos in zoos, I get lots of reference material, so I'll happily snap away at the animals just moving around and in different positions (I never know what I may suddenly be called upon to draw), but I also like to work at some shots so that I get some good photos as well. I took several hundred photos that day, and these are my favourites. 

Crested pigeons are always fun
Pygmy marmoset

Miraculously clear two-toed sloth (I literally couldn't see anything in that nocturnal house, it makes it extremely hard to focus!)
Yellow-footed rock wallaby

Barbary sheep

Freshwater turtle, possibly a snake-necked turtle, or a mata mata

Gipsland water dragon (I think)

Wang Wang, the zoo's male panda
Chestnut-breasted finch 
Greater flamingo, which arrived at the zoo in 1933

Star finch

Bush thick-knee

These two were in an enclosure labeled 'Siamang' but I'm told they're more likely to be Nomascus gibbons
Baby tree kangaroo
I love otters

Is any zoo post complete without a smug meerkat?
Red panda – I had to wait ages for a good shot of this, they're so elusive.  And I got trodden on by a kid for my pains =P

 Most of these have had standard post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS6 – curves, sharpening, colour adjustments where necessary, and the occasional crop – but the panda had more intensive work; they were behind hideously reflective glass, so I edited out the distracting reflections. I also made the sloth black and white, because it was distressingly blue, due to the nocturnal house lights. 


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