Character Sketching – Fantasy Creature

It’s taken me far too long to post these sketches from this session where Daniella Traub modelled as a ‘fantasy creature’!

Through the evening I explored different versions of the character – more elfin, a wild girl of the woods, a villain.

Costumed Drawing – Maiden

Last week I was finally able to catch the free costumed drawing session CTN is running before it vanished from YouTube! As it’s a recording I was able to skip back and forward a bit as I pleased, so though poses were between two and seven minutes I spent less time on some and more time on others.

Kinsey’s Sword Thumbnails

A few years ago I posted some images from a short story I’d written and illustrated. You can view them here if you didn’t see them the first time around!

The story follows Kinsey, a young Queen who battles her fears in order to reclaim her sword, her family, and her purpose.

Since then I’ve adapted the story into a script, in collaboration with Philip Todd of Fellowship Film, with the intention of producing an animated short. As part of that process I drew a thumbnail storyboard, some of which is below.

Drawing the thumbnails really helped me visualise the story in depth. I had been struggling to separate the script from the original story – it’s been a challenge to convey through notes in a script what’s described in a page of prose!

So what’s next? Right now, I’m drawing beat boards for the latest draft of the script. Following that we’ll start work on a trailer, so we’re on the lookout for artists, animators, and others who may like to get involved! Please let me know if you want to find out more – you can reach me at or through social media.

Equitots Lanarkshire Pony Booklet

My sister and I were horse mad when we were younger, with model horses, multiple books, and notebooks filled with pony sketches and stories. I still ride, and (when I’m not in lockdown) volunteer with my local Riding for the Disabled group. So creating this booklet for Equitots Lanarkshire was a real pleasure!

Lee gave me the text and structure she wanted, and I began by sketching this quick layout of the whole booklet.

Next came the rough sketches – some more accurate and some less so …

Clean up is drawing the final line that will be seen in the finished booklet.

Next comes colour! Here are the pages with and without text.

Character Sketching – Alameda Slim

Last week’s CTN On Model sketching session featured Jonnathon as Alameda Slim, the villain from Home on the Range. I’ve only seen the film once so I don’t know the character very well. At first I really struggled to figure out how his head connects to his neck! By the end of the event I had ‘got’ the character a little more, but he remained pretty off-model.

Sometimes I just couldn’t get the character, so I drew Jonnathon instead.

Alameda Slim reference – what he’s supposed to look like!

Life Drawing, 12th May

Vilidian modelled at this week’s life drawing session. Unfortunately I’d run out of paper (more is on the way) but I drew in Photoshop instead. I tried to resist using ‘Undo’ but didn’t always succeed …

It was nice having some close-up poses near to the camera.

Thatched Cottage Studies

At the moment I’m gathering reference for a personal project, and I’m learning a lot! The way medieval houses were constructed depended so much on where they were built – stone or wood? Heather or straw for the thatch? There are the well-constructed houses, some of which are still standing today, and then the ones made of little more than twigs, wattle, and mud. And then, how is the thatch kept on the roof?

Character Sketching – Maleficent

I’ve admired artists who turned their life drawing sketches into characters for years, but though I’ve used my drawings as inspiration for characters I’ve never, until now, drawn a model and drawn a character at the same time. It’s tough. But it’s fun!

With so much online at present, I discovered that CTN is running their On Model Character Sessions through Zoom at a UK-friendly time. Last week I decided to try it out.

Maleficent reference

I set up a screen of Maleficent model sheets / animation drawings to reference during the session. Some of my drawings are a bit more like the model, Aryiel, some more like the character. It was a good way to practice simplification ‘on the go’. I learnt a lot, and I hope to keep attending.

Gesture Drawing, 5th May

Liat modelled at an amazing gesture drawing session this week. I gave a brief demo on gestures before we began, showing a little of what I’ve been taught while studying animation. The response to what I shared and to the session as a whole was really positive, much more so than I expected. It seems that short poses aren’t taught that often, so I’m glad I could share some of my experience and how helpful I find them as a base for building drawings onto.

It’s been a long time since I drew gestures from a live model. It was a fantastic session – here’s hoping for another one soon!

30 second poses

One minute poses

Two minute poses

Five minute poses

Ten minute pose

Life Drawing, April and May

I’ve joined for part of the last couple of life drawing sessions, modelled by Maxime and Dominique (plus a special guest). Some really lovely poses from both of them, and the added challenge of a snake …

*EDIT – The initial time posted was wrong. Updated time below.* Tomorrow (May 5th) there’s a special gesture-focused online life drawing class, and I’ll be giving a brief demo with some tips on how to draw gestures and quick poses. It’s free (but consider donating to the model) and starts at 18:15 BST. If you’d like to join in, send Deryck an email at

Animal Gestures

Some recent sketches. I love how much is shown by the way the rabbit stretches warily across screen, and the relaxed compared to the alert tail of the squirrels. Body language shares so much story. I’d really like to draw more ‘story’ poses for human characters.

Life Drawing, 14th March

My regular life drawing group has moved online, so last week I sketched Amelia from the comfort of my own home! I’ve done quite a lot of drawing from stills online, so it was familiar in that way. The shorter poses worked well, but I struggled to see the detail for the longer poses – it felt like I was making quite a lot up!

Good Friday

How can today be ‘Good’ Friday when it is a day of death, of sorrow, when even Jesus cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

It is good because ‘It is finished’ – not over, but paid in full. It is good because the temple curtain was torn in two. It is good because it is not the end of the story.

Hand Studies

Recently I’ve spoken to a few people about their life drawing, and one thing that’s kept coming up is hands, feet, and faces. It’s really clear when I look at work that has these things missing. They’re tough to draw – don’t I know it! Sadly, they will still be difficult to draw if you avoid drawing them.

What I like to do is spend drawing time focusing solely on hands, or feet, or faces. It’s great to do this in life drawing sessions, but I’d recommend using sites like Line of Action (free) and Bodies in Motion to practice. Start with 30 second gestures, treating each hand or foot or face like you would a whole body pose. Do longer studies of five minutes or more, plus everything in between. Once you’ve done this a few times it will be so much easier to sketch these details in life drawing. Keep it up, and you might even start enjoying to draw them!

They don’t have to be particularly good drawings: the ones above are cherry-picked as the best of three or four times this number. Bad drawings can be more helpful in the end, as you will consider what’s not working.

Taking hand studies a step further, I saw this tweet over the weekend:

This is an area I struggle with – working on Klaus helped a lot, but I’ve found it hard to apply to my own work. So this week’s challenge was to draw some hand studies and then simplify them, like Arthur Blavier’s drawings above.

Here are some of the results! I really enjoyed this exercise. I haven’t really thought about pushing the pose of a hand before. There’s still a tendency for me to add detail, but it’s a step in the right direction. I want to try a lot more of this kind of thing, not only with hands but with full body poses.