Nat and her dog Lapa were wonderful models at last week’s life drawing session. I drew Lapa quite a lot, as you can see below …
That’s me caught up!
Inktober is an annual drawing challenge which I’ve taken part in before, but this year I’ve decided to do it a little differently. As the name suggests the drawings are supposed to be in ink, but this year I’m going to cheat and draw digitally. My aim with this challenge is to develop my character design skills, so I want to focus on that and not on my inking skills. I will also be taking the weekends off as I think it’s important to have a couple of days to rest or catch up, depending! To that end I’ve created a list of 23 characters (some mine and some from favourite books), many of which I’ve been meaning to draw for a long time.
Elsa is the first – not wholly a character, but certainly caricatured for my Selkie storyboard.
Yesterday I sketched Elsa as she chewed on a toy. Occasionally she’d bring it over to me and dump it at my feet before retreating across the room to stare at me. She usually wore an accusing look at this point – “What, you haven’t thrown it yet?”
I’m a bit unsure about my painting below; it’s quite wonky but it was fun to play with colour. Usually I stick to sketches, but the Sketch app on the iPad Pro is amazingly versatile and I’m looking forward to trying more painting on the go.
There’s been idea in my head that I’ve wanted to storyboard for a while. I’ve begun drawing thumbnails, but before going any further today I decided to get down some rough character designs. A dog features in this story, specifically a Border Collie, so I did some very loose drawings inspired by my own dog Elsa. She has the most wonderful ears.
For my grandfather’s birthday, I made him a tie. The actual sewing of it was fairly simple (no complicated seams or sleeves or buttonholes!) but I had a little trouble getting my head around the repeating pattern. There were a few false starts before I got it right.
Here’s the original pattern. All the little caricatures are based on pets my grandfather has owned. The ginger cat, Biscuit, originally smiled like the rest, but my mum thought it was uncharacteristic of him.
And here’s the finished tie! The print and colour reproduction was actually excellent – my photographs don’t show it very well. I had the fabric printed with Bags of Love and used an excellent free tutorial and pattern from Sweet Shop Sewing.
My grandparents are moving and leaving behind the house that my mum grew up in. It’s a huge change for all of us as it’s been such a big part of our lives. Behind their house is a large field filled with beech trees where my mum, and then my sister and I, grew up climbing trees and jumping into leaf piles and throwing sticks for dogs.
Yesterday my mum and I went out there to draw for the day. (My mother’s also an artist! You can see her work here.) We had the most wonderful weather. Though I did some sketches, some of which you can see below, I also took the time to wander around all my old haunts. It was lovely, but bittersweet.
I drew the sketch above from the old treehouse! The squiggle in the middle is my dog, who was at that time attacking a stick.
This stile leads from the tree field into farmland, which I took a nice long walk in.
The beech trees that surround the tree field were, once upon a time, a beech hedge. It’s created a one-sided avenue of sorts.
Making birthday cards for people is something I really like to do. Here’s one I made for my sister a few days ago. I’ve created paper cut-out cards before, but this is the first time I’ve played with depth. It was fun! I should make more.
Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday) was yesterday here in the UK. I made a little card for my mum with a Charley Harper-inspired caricature of Elsa, our Border Collie. Though my sister immediately knew what it was meant to be, our parents thought it was either a bear or a monkey. So here it is, hopefully cute if not dog-like …
This is my dog, Elsa. Elsa from Frozen, yes, but we didn’t name her! In reality she is more like Anna – feisty, determined and a bit nuts.
At first she was asleep, but then she realised I was drawing her. This is her eye upside-down – she was lying like she is in the drawing above. The next stage was play! Eventually she moved around too much and my drawings became very quick gestures …
Yesterday I found a link to the site artists.pixelovely.com which has photographs of people, animals, expressions, etc. that can be viewed as “classes”. This morning I tried out a 30-minute figure drawing class, followed by a 30-minute animal class. There are different things to pick from – clothed, nude, horses, birds – but I chose the most general options. The classes both began with several 30-second poses, followed by gradually lengthening poses. What I really enjoyed about them is that they replicate the drawing-class feel. It’s hard to keep track of the time I spend drawing sometimes! I would recommend checking it out: the site’s free, and though the photographs used wouldn’t be great for very long, high-detail drawing they are great for quick gestures.
Here are some of the drawings I did. My animals ones were generally better (perhaps because I’d spent most of the figure class warming up). I added the colour later.
I’ve been working on this since late August, and I’ve finally got it to the I’m-almost-happy-with-this stage! I drew the rough in Flash (hence the general messiness; I don’t like the brush tool very much) and I’m planning to clean it up in Photoshop.
Comments and criticisms would be appreciated, though please don’t mention volumes (I know).
I’ve been working on one page for a while and it was only yesterday that I finally understood what I was actually trying to say. The words for this spread read “Liffey was a big dog who thought she was a small dog.”
My first few sketches were all using the same idea. On the left, Liffey looking down on a smaller dog; on the right, her surrounded by the “scary shadows” of her imagination.
Using the sketch I started to play with colours. But it never felt right. I wanted the scary page to be full of clashing colours and conflict, but it never sat right with the other page.
I am not proud of this page, and it was never really meant for general consumption, but it’s needed here – so I apologise for its crumminess!
Next I changed my colour scheme for the dogs a bit, bringing them into a more natural realm. However I tried to keep the bright green and blue.
After completing it I wasn’t happy and left it for a while, wondering how to fix it. I knew it didn’t work as I wanted it to – painting technique aside, Liffey looked sad rather than scared, and the monsters seemed like an afterthought. So I started sketching out ideas in my notebook giving the monsters more precedence.
So this is what I painted yesterday. I’m pleased with it as a piece (though of course there’s always things to nitpick) but I still wasn’t happy with the page. Liffey sure looked scared, but it felt TOO scary. After all, it’s supposed to be a light-hearted children’s story …
It was when I was taking a bath yesterday evening (baths and walks are fantastic for coming up with ideas) that I finally realised where I’d been going wrong. Somehow I’d forgotten all about the words on the page: “Liffey … thought she was a small dog.” I’d moved away from “small dog” to “scared dog”, even though her fear of other dogs is addressed on the next page in a much clearer way.
Now just twenty-one more pages to go …
I’ve been writing and illustrating a book, and this is a test page from it. I’m pretty set on the colours I want to use, but I’m still trying to figure out how detailed I want to go. I quite like how this has turned out, but I think I need to clarify some areas more and I definitely need to work on the poses of the characters.
Elsa is our new Border Collie puppy. She likes to chew on things! Sadly, not only her own things …
I used Kyle T. Webster’s Pastel Palooza brush, and was so impressed I’ve preordered his dry media brush set. You can find his brushes here.