Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Night is falling

This is last week's Colour Collective. The colour was 'Sea Blue', but I used it as a sky colour instead. I'd had a really stressful week, preparing for a small expo and panicking because there was a delay in printing and shipping the colouring books I was going to be selling (more on those soon, they're currently going through the process of being sold on Amazon, and I'll do a whole post on them when they're up) - so i was stressed and tired and just wanted to draw something easy. So I resorted to defaults - pretty girl in pretty dress. I tried to make it slightly more interesting, however, by turning her into the sky:

I recycled the background from an old illustration, so the two don't gel together as well as they should - but it was better than leaving her on a plain white background, and I was in a hurry! (Colour Collective time is 3.30am my time, so I usually Buffer my posts anyway, but this week I had to be in bed unusually early before the Expo on Saturday, so time was of the essence! =P)

This probably took about 3 hours, using Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

For Colour Collective's 'Gold' prompt I thought I really needed to do something Christmassy. To have 'Gold' so close to Christmas (even if it is still November)... I just couldn't pass that up. There's been lots of advertising for The Nutcracker around, so I used that as my inspiration. I've never actually seen The Nutcracker, but I didn't let that stop me!

The Sugarplum Fairy is generally (as far as I've seen) shown dressed in mostly white, a very pale and etherial being, but I wanted to change things around a bit. As she lives in 'The Land of Sweets', I was thinking it would be nice to have lots of chocolate and caramel colours (classier than candy cane red and white), and a generous helping of icing-sugar sparkles. There are various conflicting stories on what 'sugar plums' actually are: I grew up with my mother telling me they were actually prunes, and the internet gives me options ranging from sugared almonds to truffles of dried fruit rolled in brown sugar, to purple sugar-coated sweets to preserved plums. So lots of room for interpretation there! (that, or no one knows what they're talking about at all, in which case I can't get it wrong!) 


I chose to have a dark fairy for a number of reasons - dark skin looks so lovely against dull golds, it adds to the 'chocolate' theme, and sparkles show up beautifully, so she could have a proper dusting of icing sugar and look fabulous while rocking it. 

I took screenshots of Nina Kaptsova dancing so I could get a pose from the actual choreography. Here's the screenshot I used:

And here are a couple of progress shots:

As you can see, I flirted with the idea of an icy blue night-time background for a while, but in the end I decided to use as much gold as possible. I kept the background fairly muted to help her stand out.

I'm really pleased with how her tutu and wings came out - They were mainly created with Kyle Webster's 'Gouache Bonus Gritty' brush, on multiple layers with opacity lowered. Very easy, and I think very effective!

4-5 hours in Adobe Photoshop CC 2016 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. I hear a new Wacom mobile tablet is coming out, and I'll be interested to see if they've fixed the myriad problems I've got with mine. A charging pin that works would be an excellent start....

Monday, November 14, 2016


I was in a bit of a rush with Colour Collective's May Green prompt, but, as is wont to happen, the finished result was far better, and far better received, than I expected. If only I could distill that for use in all my pieces!

I wasn't sure what to do for the colour until a throwaway line in the Terry Pratchett audiobook I was listening to mentioned hippopotomi. My brain went hippos > water > algae > plants > green. And there, in a nutshell, is my artistic process for this piece:

I'm really awfully fond of it. I don't think I've ever drawn a hippo before, certainly not that I can remember....

About 3 – 4 hours in Adobe Photoshop CC 2016 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Algerian Girl

Every now and then I do portraiture demonstrations. People prefer to see portraiture being demonstrated, I find: they can see exactly what I am trying to do, and judge how well I am doing. If I'm illustrating only I know what it's supposed to look like! I've tried demonstrating illustration, but it never goes down so well.

This is one of my demonstration portraits. In previous years I've always done actors and actresses, but I saw a 19th century photograph of an Algerian girl and thought it was beautiful, so I used that. 

I started it for demonstration purposes in October 2015, and only finished it up in October of this year, so I could enter it in a show (I won first in portraiture!!). 

Here are some progress shots, all taken while I was working and posted on Instagram. Some of them are a bit fuzzy, I was quickly snapping shots with my phone between chatting to people, and the lighting was pretty poor:

1.5 hours in:

2.5 hours in:

3.5 hours in:

4.5 hours in:

That was the end of my demonstration time - after that I switched to needle felting.

Here she's almost finished:

Graphite on sketchbook paper 20cm diameter, 8-10 hours in total. If you'd like a rundown of all the materials I use in pencil portraiture, I have a list here.

Here's the original photograph:

Source: Matthew's Island of Misfit Toys

Baby Cards

Babies always seem to come in clusters, don't they? Here are two baby cards I've completed recently:

This one is for Jemima:

I did the illustration in ink with watercolour highlights so it could count towards Inktober (at which I am woefully behind) as well:

And this one is for Xavier. I had a photo of him to work from, so did a miniature watercolour portrait for this card:

Here's a video I took of me painting this little portrait:


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