This is a little ink illustration I drew for a friend’s birthday card. I coloured it in Photoshop, but I think I prefer it in black and white.

 

The snow is beginning to melt, leaving icy pools of water and slush. As I struggled through it on a walk this afternoon I thought it would be a good subject for today’s study.

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Here are some quick pen studies of the views from the train today – mist in front of trees, stubble in the snow, hedges, ploughed fields, footprints, snow melting.

If you’ve been following me for a few years you may remember that back in 2015 I drew ‘Pieces of Sky’, small squares of the sky I saw that day. (Here’s an example.) I’ve been thinking about starting to draw small colour studies again, as I enjoyed the challenge. However I feel only drawing the sky is perhaps a bit limiting, so I’ve set myself a new goal within the same guidelines of a 500×500 pixel canvas. I’ll continue to take inspiration from life, but it will now be from anywhere.

It’s been a very grey, snowy day so unfortunately there is very little colour anywhere. Today’s ‘Study Square’ shows some of the snow piled up outside my window.  I like how mountainous the shapes are despite the fact it’s only about a foot in height!

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While watching The Sound of Music again recently I was struck by the scene where Mother Abbess sings ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’. I decided to do a tone/composition study because the lighting and cinematography of the scene is so lovely.

When Maria enters the room, it’s very dark. The lighting is harsh and dramatic, and all that’s highlighted are the faces. Maria spends a lot of time with her back turned and her head bent. As the song begins Mother Abbess moves closer to the window, bringing more light into the scene. Maria follows, until she is also lit by the window.

The shots at the beginning, while Maria and Mother Abbess are talking, are fairly short and change position frequently – much like Maria’s answers. Once Mother Abbess sings, the cuts slow.

I began with rough but quite detailed studies. However I became aware I was focusing more on the poses and acting than I’d wanted to, so I did the latter images with a broader brush.

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If you’ve enjoyed this you may also like to see the studies I drew from Jaws.

A little over a year ago I set myself the challenge of illustrating a short story I’d written. I’ve posted some concepts and development of these illustrations before, but now I’d like to share a few of the finished drawings.

Most of the drawings below are spreads, and are viewed over two pages when printed. Odd blank spaces are normally where there’s some text! I had a few copies printed as presents for family and friends this Christmas. I’d like to illustrate some more stories and perhaps create a collection, or maybe tackle something larger, to be published.

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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.02

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.

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This stile leads from the tree field into farmland, which I took a nice long walk in.

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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.

The Gael King is an independent feature I am a storyboard and concept artist on. I recently drew some storyboards for the next stage of filming. Here are a few of the panels!

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Though I’ve been working on a few different projects I can’t share much from them yet. So here are some drawings from my personal project, a story of mine that I’m illustrating. I posted some concepts for it back in February (see them here).

I began with very loose digital sketches, brainstorming ideas for each page. Next I took my favourite sketches and refined them into a page for the book. (You can see how this drawing, originally portrait, has turned into a spread.) The stage I’m at now is creating more detailed sketch layers for each page. I’ll then go back over them with the rough brush; I want to try and create a finish somewhere between the detail of the final image and the contrast and looseness of the first two.

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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 …

Elsa has appeared in other drawings of mine, here and hereCrazyElsa

I’m illustrating a short story of mine, something I’ve wanted to do for a while! Here are some of the concept sketches. I’ll use a similar style for the finished pieces; I didn’t initially plan for them to be black and white but I love how these have turned out.

Roughs

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I paid more attention to the sky today. Though most of the time it was completely cloudy, there was one moment when the cloud thinned just enough for the sun to be seen as a white disc.

This one I drew on my phone, using an app called Sketch Club!

How do I delete the white background from line art?

Over the last year I’ve been Googling the sentence above – how do I delete the white background from line art? I know that I know how to do this, but I keep forgetting. So I’ve decided to write it down so that I can reference it in future, and hopefully help others as well.

I’m using Photoshop CS5.1 on a Mac.

Technique No. 1
Black line with white background, on Multiply to show colour.

This is the way I was taught, but kept forgetting because it’s a string of keystrokes that if done in the wrong order doesn’t work at all.

Black line with white background, colour and background layers turned off.

First, turn everything off except the layer you want to cut out. In the example above you can see the white areas behind the black lines that I want to get rid of.

Duplicate Line layer.

Duplicate your line layer, so you have a spare, and turn the original off. I like to duplicate by Alt+drag while clicking on the layer. (It took me a long time before I realised I could do that, hence why I’m writing it here!)

Next, select the entire layer (Cmd+A) and cut it (Cmd+X). Fill the now-empty layer with black (Alt+backspace).

Quick Mask button off / on. (Use Q.)

Turn Quick Mask on by pressing Q, or selecting the button under the colour picker (as above).Paste line art.

Paste (Cmd+V) your line art into the layer. It should look like the above.

Turn Quick Mask off (Q).

Press Q again to turn Quick Mask off.

Invert line art (Cmd+I).

Inverse the image by pressing Cmd+I.
Cut background (Cmd+X), leaving line art.

Cut (Cmd+X) to leave the line art, like so!

Colouring line art.

The reason this is my preferred method is because it’s the best way to recolour my line art. For the purple example above I Cmd+clicked on the preview window in Layers (which selects the entire painted area on a layer) and then filled it (using Alt+backspace again) with purple.

If, however, you aren’t interested in painting the line, then you may prefer one of the other methods.

Technique No. 2

This begins in the same way as No. 1: Duplicate your line layer, copy it and cut it, fill the layer with black.

Create a mask.

Then you select the layer, and add a mask to it using the button highlighted above (“Add vector mask”).
Alt+click to select mask.

Alt+click on the white mask to select it.

Paste line art into mask.

Paste (Cmd+V) into the mask.

Cmd+I to invert line art.

Invert (Cmd+I).Click on ordinary layer to view.

Click out of the mask onto the ordinary layer. As you can see above, though the line art is now free from white the background that was transparent is now black. This is easily solvable by filling in the transparent areas before beginning, but it’s one of the reasons I don’t tend to use this method. Also, there is no way (that I have yet discovered) of colouring the lines.

Technique No. 3

This is the simplest and perhaps best method if all you want to do is get rid of the white. It’s quick and requires no cutting, pasting, or inverting.

Double-click preview window.

Double-click on the line art layer preview window.

Layer Style window opens.

The Layer Style window will pop up.

Select top white slider and drag a couple of degrees.

In the Blend If: Gray area at the bottom, select the top white slider and adjust it by a couple of degrees. I moved it from 255 to 253. The white background will disappear.

Exit window.

Exit the window and, as you can see, only the line art remains.

Example of painting using this technique.However, as the background still exists on the layer and is only hidden from view, it means that painting the line art is not possible.

In the past I have had problems with this method – jagged white remains in corners and so on – but recently it’s been working beautifully.

I hope this is helpful to someone out there! Please let me know if you know of other / better ways of doing this, I’m always looking to learn!

Life Drawing, 9th

I’m pleased with many of the sketches I did last night! Regular drawing helps so much, yet it’s so easy to fall out of that all-important habit.06 08 07 09

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