Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Pirate Stall

'Are you looking to buy.... or looking for trouble?'

Here's a black and white piece I did for my Middle Grade portfolio a little while back. I'd been mucking about with pirates for my nightly sketching, and came up with this little character, who I rather liked. I had fun filling her stall with lots of different wares, and at the suggestion of a friend, I gave her a pet ferret to guard the money. People should think twice about stealing from her now!

As you can see, I'm still working on being sketchier with my final pieces and not getting too hung up on tiny details. What are your thoughts on this?

Here she is all coloured up. It was always intended as a black and white illustration, but I was curious to see how she'd look in colour, so when Colour Collective came up with 'Wenge' as their prompt last week I took that as a sign that I should slap on some colour and see what happened. Wenge is a rather dark, dull wood, so I kept everything looking a bit murky and just slightly sinister. I don't think this girl is necessarily selling wares she came by honestly....

Which do you prefer? Colour or black and white?

Here's a progress animation:

As you can see, this started out as just a character sketch. I don't do fully detailed scenes for my nightly sketching, if I did I'd never get to bed!

Here are some other pirate sketches I did about the same time. I started off with this one, referenced from a photo of someone in the Weekend Magazine. He wasn't a pirate, I just thought he had an interesting weathered face that would be a good fit for one:

I then did this quick little pirate girl:

And finally this character. I see him as the brother of my pirate girl above. They steal stuff to sell on - but to do that you need to know a real jewel from a bad one! 

I did muck about with adding him into the pirate stall scene, but as I hadn't originally planned to have him in there, he really didn't fit so well, so I didn't keep him. 

I used his sister in a recent Colour Collective, which I threw together far too quickly. See? I flipped the image part way through and forgot to fix her eyepatch. 

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. Not entirely sure how long it took me, probably around five to eight hours, with another two on top for colouring. I used Kyle T Webster's Photoshop brushes. I'm pretty sure this was done entirely with the Perfect Pencil and Fat Fun Spongy brushes.

Monday, May 29, 2017

On the Lookout for Plunder

(Not thunder)

This little piece was for Colour Collective's 'Mountbatten Pink' prompt. It wasn't really speaking to me and I couldn't think of anything to do for it, and then I was walking the dog and there was Mountbatten Pink in the sky. I thought that would look pretty nice over the ocean, and from there it was a small leap to 'pirates'. This is a little pirate character I've been playing around with lately (although while I was quickly sketching this out I flipped the image and forgot to switch her eyepatch around. Oops!) She doesn't have a name, any ideas?

This started out a bit more expansive, it got more and more ruthlessly cropped as I realised I had less and less time. =P 

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. A couple of hours, not very long.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


When Colour Collective's 'Lemon Chiffon' prompt rolled around, I'd just finished the audiobook of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, so that seemed an apt topic for a pale yellow:

I had fun working on this. I've been doing lots of different projects - illustrations for science workbooks, precise drawings for a chiropractor, and a gross-out picture book aimed at boys - so it was nice to just go super-girly with sparkles and pretty dresses. 

For your amusement, here's a sketch I did of Yvaine in Stardust earlier in the week. It was done extremely quickly in the few minutes before bed, her head is too big and stuff, but you know, we can't have every sketch turn out perfectly (do any of them?). She looks pretty unimpressed at being so out of proportion. Sorry Yvaine....

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. Two to three hours (and 15 or so minutes for that sketch)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Drum Major

Another very quick little piece for Colour Collective, this time for the 'lava' red prompt. If I'd had more time I would have liked to have several mice in a little marching band, but as it was, I only had time for the drummer. 

Here's the original sketch, which I did earlier in the week:

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. About an hour, I think.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sweet Dreams

I've been very busy lately, but I try to snatch a little time for quick sketches before bed. And I try to snatch just a little extra time for Colour Collective. The result is a bunch of very sketchy Colour Collectives, but at least I get something done!

This one was for the 'Kingfisher' prompt. I'd seen some light-up star cushions in my reference-searches around the internet, and they were just crying out to be put in an illustration, so I used them as my base and threw this together in rather less than two hours. Overall, I quite like it as a concept (although it's scarily full of mistakes)!

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. Under two hours in total.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


I was in a big hurry for Colour Collective's 'Coamaru' prompt, so I did a quick colour job on a sketch I did during the week. It went down well, this has the distinction of being the Colour Collective that has garnered the most likes on both Twitter and Instagram in the several years I've been taking part (good heavens, is it nearly two and a half years already?!)

Here's the original quick digital sketch. As you can see, I added more leaves.

Really very fond of this one!

Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2.
About 1 to 2 hours, tops.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Alastair: 12-month Portrait

I keep thinking I have blogged this, and it appears I haven't, so I must rectify that! If you follow me on social media you will have seen snippets of this piece some months back; it's a piece I did for a friend's birthday in July. Her son, Alastair, was also born in July, just a week after her birthday, so it seemed like an excellent time to give her a 12-month portrait of his first 12 months of life. I was inspired by her remarking that he changed so much from day to day. I enlisted the help of her mother, who made sure I had a selection of nice photos for every month. Babies are so expressive, I had fun choosing lots of different moods! 

The painting is just under A3 in size, so each individual portrait is quite small:

I took a number of timelapse videos while I was working. All of them were shared after I had finished the painting and given it away, so that it was a complete surprise.

These last two timelapses are two parts of the same painting. The limit for a timelapse is 10 minutes, so I couldn't fit a whole painting into one. As it was, I always started with the base skin tones already down and dry - no one wants to watch a timelapse of paint drying!

Each individual portrait took in the region of 40 to 60 minutes to sketch and paint, so we're looking at somewhere in the region of 8 to 12 hours for the whole piece. I sketched each portrait out in pencil first, and then it's almost entirely watercolour, apart from a few coloured pencil touches, mainly in the background. I'm really a mixed-media girl. 
I decided to keep the focus on the face by making all of his clothes white - in reality he has a varied wardrobe, but that made everything rather messy when 12 pictures and placed side-by-side.

Winsor and Newton watercolours and series 7 brushes, with Prismacolor pencils, on Moleskine watercolour paper.

This makes a great gift for a mother in your life (or for yourself), so if you'd like to commission something similar, please contact me via my website - I'd love to discuss it with you!


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