Wednesday, 7 November 2018

How my first life drawing practice went

I found a life drawing event in my area
and I had to go!

All the artist emphasis the importance of drawing from life, and you would think, yes of course it is important to practice, and I may just practice in my style, use other peoples life drawing to copy or why not just taking photo reference.

To really bring it to the point, you need to teach your eye to see what there is, not what you think there is. Art and photos from other people show you what they see and that is rarely what you would see yourself.

My goal was to look at the model and just draw exactly what I see. And that is harder than you think. We do build a version of the world in our head and live through filtering out all the things that we already think we know how they work so we can focus on something unusual. This way of living and drawing is prone to wrong perspectives, and odd repetitive mistakes. I have done it myself a thousand times. The other thing is, we also miss out on the opportunity to add new knowledge. Think about it, when was the last time you have payed attention on how many fingers there are on the hand... maybe when you were 2, right? Have you updated your knowledge since then? You drew the hand back than as a square with 5 carrots sticking out and maybe today you wonder why your hand drawing sucks.

 You have to draw what you see 
and correct the model of the object 
you build in your head.

So, there I was, sitting in the room with the nude drawing model in front. I see the body, but I can't see the model. All my anatomy knowledge was distracting me from drawing what I see. So I implemented a trick.

I started drawing shapes, 
negative space shapes,
and I compared measurements  

I started drawing the things I didn't know. That is the shapes around the body. It was completely new to me how the body fills up the space and as I brought my brains attention to something new and unusual, I was able to really see what there is.  How the arm holding the hip builds a triangle, the big square made out of both legs and the floor. This helped me to go through even most challenging poses. Because this way, I never asked myself, how I learned the arm is jointed up the the shoulder, or how are the hips positioned on the chair, i just drew shapes that I could see.

2 min poses: Here still thinking too much about shoulder joining up, torso being three heads high, etc...

10 min poses: Slowly finding the shapes around the body and working in big lines. The back and bottom are one tilted line, the arms and chair another, all builds a triang.e

20 min poses: Finally I am drawing what I see, there are triangles, s-curves, bony rounds

By the end of the class, I was able to draw what I see. And it worked so well. I then implemented that way of looking also on observing the shades. What shapes are the darkest part of the shade, how long and dark is it compared to the rest. 

About the class programm
At the start the poses were 2-5min long, and then the model changed the pose. This time was just enough to warm up to the paper and to start concentrating. The next set of poses was held 10 min, and that was for just too long for a quick sketch and just too short for working out the details. The 20min poses were brilliant, as you had enough time to start with the rough shapes and then work out smaller shapes and more detailed shapes that would finally form the body.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

random tuesdaynews

Finishing the roughs for book Africa was harder than I thought. It took me really long to finish the scenes as they have a lot of details. I am drawing different places of a big culture market. Lots of things, items, people, food, buzz and action. It is the most challenging project I had so far.

I have learned of the illustrator Kendyll Hillegas and her vlogs. In her videos she shows her studio, her work and daily tasks as illustrator (and mum). The basic element that I learned from her is: keep organized and effective.

private projects
I was inspired by Kendylls videos and last week I tried to do a vlog myself. But I failed quite obviously. I wasn't surprised, as it was my first one, but realize I will need a lot of training and a topic list, if I want to do it. Initially, I wanted to save some time and talk instead of write, but it turned out that taking a video without being a very chatty takes so much much more time for me. I guess, for now I will reserve to photos to show my face :-)

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Illustrations are telling the background story

It is time for the roughs. I got good feedback for my story board and could proceed with working out basics of every page. That means, I will be drawing the characters making them look the same on each page (recognizable), design their clothes, and working out what is happening in the background. I am not putting all the work force in this stage as it still a draft and can undergo major changes. So far, I have been really lucky in the other books, so fingers crossed.

I get to tell a whole background story to a picture. The text gives me the lead on what is happening right now, and I fill in the history. For example, if the text says something like: It's a new day and the kid jumps out of bed all excited, my picture will also tell you if the kid has had a calm or rough sleep (maybe the hair is ruffled), whether it played or read something before the sleep, does it need a glass of water before bed, are there any siblings, favourite toys, preferred colour, boyish or girlsh, and so on.

private project
Inktober2018 - it is going well! 15 days done and 16 to go. Here is the result so far of drawing every day. Each picture took me 1h in total and brought me a handfull of new followers on instagram

Passive income - my aim is to sell prints of my current private projects and invest the money in getting me more time to work. We are talking about being able to pay another morning session in the nursery.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Coloured light sources are tricky

The storyboard for "Africa" is finished and send in. I will be waiting for the comments. In the mean time I am working on some Ankara pattern. It will be a very colorful book!

There is not much to say. I am continuing my training in shading and lighting and have at least two things to focusing on atm.

- Is the object 3D and correct? Did I get the right shape, did I block in the correct shades and lights parts? Do I communicate the right information about the object?

- Including special light sources. I am trying to understand how colour influences each other and am including some special effects. So, for example, this girl (foto below) with her orange shirt is sitting next to some apparent blue light and her orange top and skin tone will be influenced. I can't just mix orange and blue, as this will give me a muddy green and I have no experience how it looks in real life. So I am looking at light color wheel. The colours mix different when they are coming from a light. We remeber that taking all colours together we will get white. So, I am trying to figure out what colour I would see if I get to mix orange light and blue light... gray, turquoise?

Do the colours show different light sources? The blue light from the letters shines on her neck and through the t-shirt arm. But will it really hit all the folds in the same strength as I painted it here?

Are the values correct? Check in black and white if the shades are strong enough and if the object feels 3D. Here the folds are fine, but the whole shirt does not appear to wrap around her body. It needs to be a bit darker around the tummy area.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Inktober 2018 "splash" off


Monday starts the Inktober challenge 2018 and I will participate with my own prompt list. The topic is toddler routines and I am hoping to create interesting colour-in pages for toddlers with pictures of activities they can identify with and that may help their grown ups to introduce as routine cards.

The tools I will be using are a blue mechanical pencil and a graphite pencil for sketches, fine liners by Staedler and Rotring for the final pictures, and then pen and Rohrers ink for maybe some fancy stuff or fonts.

The Bristol heavy paper by Canson is my absolute favourite for fine liner work. The surface is super silky on touch and the white is absolute. The ink doesn't spread and lines remain crispy sharp. It seems so effortless to slide the liner on the paper and the dried ink looks better than what a printer can press into paper... I am jut in love with it.

Happy inking everyone!

What is INKtober?

Keywords you need to know:

Jake Parker, illustrator and cartoonist, and a business genius. He is dedicated, diligent, and the most disciplined artist I have seen in online media.

Inktober - an ink painting a day, means to get into a habit of painting each day. This improves skills through daily training and sets your mindset into taking art as something that you can work on and not something just for talented people.
See more on:

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

What is staging in the process of creating a children's book?

Book "Africa" is getting into the next step: staging! I create a bunch of test thumbnails drawing different perspective and/or different motion.
Staging is the process where you create the stage for a scene: where is the camera, what  perspective, who is going to be in the scene, where are they going to stand, what is the dynamic going to be?

For each spread (double page) I do about 7-8 and sometimes more. I try to be as creative as possible but also try to pay attention to my initial vision I had when I read the script for the first time. This first picture is an echo of all my experience with other books and movies, which means that probably a lot of people will have similar pictures in their head when reading the text, assuming we are exposed to the same culture. I feel it is good to present people with something familiar, so they can read the message quickly. But it is really important to go further than that first echo, in order to create something new. What I wouldn't want is to draw just copies of copies of memories (ref. Fight Club)

I got some cheap brush pen markers to treat myself and play around with scripting and pattern design. I do feel it might have been one of those impulsive purchases ... ah well, why not. It is for fun and I will enjoy it.

It is meditative and helps me focus on the task ahead. (So it is kind of work related :-P) The tips are a bit fussy, but I also didn't want to spend a lot of money, so it will do just fine. I am enjoying to exercise my wrist and fingers and getting just the right pressure on the tip to paint smooth transitions between thick and thin lines. These are the type of patterns I do:

To learn what I learned about staging watch this great video by Marco Bucci!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Strong tint water colour and lighting exercise

I finished book JO (JO is a working alias), a story about a family that is just the mum and son, in August. The proofs have been send back to me for a check and everything looked fabulous. Now we just have to wait for the printing production. I am sitting on hot charcoal and can't wait to share the pictures, once the book is published.

The next book project is about the African culture. I did a handful messy paintings as a warm up training and posted them here below.

There is a big difference to my usual art. My usual pictures are quite pale, which was alright for Caucasian babies. To be honest I was always a bit worried to ruin the picture with a wrong placed shadow so I would work with very light washes. But that just wouldn't work for dark skinned babies. I had to soak my brush in paint and just go for it. And if you are not confident enough, they say "fake it till you make it!" And that is what I played by. The result is quite alright.

Time to get that value right! I have been watching these videos by top artists explaining value, and shade, ambient light, direct light, core shadows, cast shadows.... It's a whole library of words, and I am slowly getting the grips of a hand full of them.

In my work I just started to separate the way I deal with form shadow v.s. cast shadow. The first is to bring the 3-D feeling of the object to life, and the latter is to bring that object into context with the surrounding, where an other object throws a shadow on to it, or itself is throwing a shadow on other things. The little picture below shows the difference.

These shadows are influenced by the light around them of course, so I always have to ask where is the light source and what parts of the object does it hit?

It involves a lot of thinking at the beginning, but I am sure it will become natural soon.