Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Portrait Card

Here's a commissioned one-off watercolour portrait card that I completed last month. I was given a photo of the girl in question jumping in front of a fountain somewhere in Europe to use as a base. The client wanted enough of the background remaining for the original location to recognisable to the recipient, so I left in the fountain and added a few trees. I also enlarged the girl quite a lot from the original photo, to make her the focus of the card.

It was a difficult format to work from, to fit in a jumping girl and the fountain in the space of a standard ratio greeting card. I would have preferred a longer format so I could have more space below her, but I didn't have an envelope that size. If this was an illustration I would have done things a bit differently, but for a portrait from a specific photo, I kept everything as close to the original as possible. I altered all the colours from the winter photo - from blacks and khakis to more pastel colours - to work with the birthday theme and added some spatters and metallic paint to give the whole thing more fun and energy, along with flicking out the hair and jacket and other artistic-license tweaks. =)   

Four hours using Copic Multiliners, Winsor and Newton watercolours and metallic gold Ecoline on Moleskine watercolour paper.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Upstream Lies Adventure

Last week the Colour Collective prompt was 'Warm Grey V' and I wanted to do something with an animal. I discounted elephants because I had already used them for several Colour Collective prompts, and was still trying to settle on another grey animal when the final episode of Brian Cox's Forces of Nature appeared on television - with some segments shot in Iceland, with lots of grey rocks and bright grasses. So I changed my ideas completely, and decided to create a piece more focused on the background than the character:

I'm still working on putting texture into my illustrations, so this was an excellent exercise. I had a lot of fun with all the rock surfaces and grasses, and it was very meditative to work on - which was especially handy as my business email was down from Monday to Thursday night and I was a bit stressed, especially after trying to deal with tech support. It's always good to have something peaceful to work on under such circumstances!

For my character I decided on a mouse, because I always enjoy drawing them. He's got a packed lunch tied to his staff, because I also enjoy drawing berries. =) His cloak is a nice splash of colour in the overwhelmingly green and grey illustration, I think. 

About 5 hours in Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. I googled a lot of references, but none of them were used directly, just to inform my drawing, especially when it came to the flowers and grasses.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Rains are Coming

Belatedly, here is my Colour Collective from two weeks ago. I've had a bit of a hectic week, but the main occurance preventing my posting earlier was spending a lot of time with tech support after our service provider broke my business email. All that is sorted now, and I'm back in a more normal routine. =) 

The set colour was 'thistle', a bright pale purple. Obvious connotations were fairies and the like, but I tried to steer away from the obvious. I was watching Brian Cox's Forces of Nature, and the episode featured some Maasai. The women were so beautiful, and one of them was wearing a purple baby sling, so I went from there. I also used the set colour in the sky, to create a suitably dramatic impending storm. I liked the contrast of the purple sky against the yellow grasses. 

I'm trying to get more texture into my illustrations, so for this I played around with a lot of Kyle Webster's bristly brushes that I haven't used all that much. Colour Collective is a good space for experimentation.

About 5 hours in Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Flying Carpet Salesman

The Colour Collective colour this week was 'barn red', a dull red that's not really a colour I use a lot of. It reminded me of persian carpets, so I decided to redo an old illustration and update it.

Originally there was going to be a bit more to this illustration, but although I'd set aside some hours to finish it off on Friday, they were all eaten up by other stuff, and lofty ambitions of backgrounds and other characters had to be jettisoned for something I could realistically finish in the time left to me. Instead, I added the parrot, to lift the colour scheme a bit. All that dull red and orange and beige was, I felt, lacking in zing. The whole thing needed a cool colour to offset all the warms. 

Here is the original illustration. I'd come across an old promotional postcard featuring it during the week, and thought it was fun enough for updating. I've always been fond of it, but it is definitely looking a bit old. 

He was inspired by a man I saw briefly out of a taxi window in Malaysia, in 2010 or 2011. He didn't have a turban or carpets, or a feather, but he was a round little man with a beard and a motor scooter, and I went from there. 

It was originally done as an example of work for educational publishing, in greyscale and with solid black outlines. I do a lot of educational publishing and it all involves solid outlines. However, last year I took an Illustration Department Illustration Workshop (My piece 'The Quest' came out of that) and I was told I should lose the black outlines. Obviously I can't do that in my day job of blackline master illustrations, or the colouring book I'm creating, but for my portfolio I'm trying to take that advice on board.  

The old illustration was created in Photoshop CS4 (I think) with a Wacom Intuos 3. The new one was created in Photoshop CC2015 with a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, using Kyle Webster's brushes (China Marker, Gouache a Go Go and a textured watercolour brush) and two textures from About 6 hours all up, I think.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tropical Island

I had slightly more free time last week, and I wanted to create a Colour Collective piece that could actually make it into my portfolio, rather than just a quick sketch. The colour was 'lightning bug', an electric yellow. The obvious route there would be to do a scene with fireflies, but I wanted to do something different. It's been wet and cold here, so something tropical seemed like a nice thing to work on.

Here's a progress gif with a couple of stages:

As you can see, I didn't spend much time on the sketch, just got the basic idea down. When drawing coral reefs and lots of fish, I think it's much more fun to work out what you're going to actually include as you go. I used the yellow colour in the sand, some of the fish, the girl's bathers and the boys sunglasses. A lot of people were rather daunted by the brightness of the colour, I think, but I love working with bright colours!

For this illustration I used Adobe Photoshop CC2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 - and I used Kyle Webster's brushes, mainly the China Marker and Gouache a Go Go.

Here's a hyperlapse video of me painting one of the fish, which I posted on Instagram:


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