A is for Alice

I have been so busy making things; other things have been left behind (this blog, for example!) and that annoys me.  Saying that, I think if you find the motivation to make something then you should embrace it, as it’s not always guaranteed! One thing I’ve come to realise, though, is that waiting for inspiration to come your way could mean you are in for a very long wait – actively seeking out ideas and inspiration will most definitely help you find your way – or another way – eventually. Sitting on your arse probably won’t.

a-is-for-alice

A is for Alice

This lead me to the fact that I needed a change so I started taking part in a fun weekly drawing challenge on Twitter called Animal Alphabets https://twitter.com/hashtag/animalalphabets

It’s a lot of fun , provides a weekly source of inspiration and its amazing how so many people take part in the challenge yet each submission is so cool and unique!

Currently it’s up to E and I have encamped the rest of my progress (so far) on my Creatures page.

Bibliography and Inspiration

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 1 and 2, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Sketching from the Imagination: Sci Fi, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Music I listened to

Queen of the Damned Soundtrack

The Raveonettes

Interpol

The Zombies in the Wood

I am teaching myself to draw and someone (not a zombie!) asked me if I had any advice on how to go about it. I think, for me, there are many answers to this and I decided this question might be something I could write about here.  I think it worth noting that you should never stop experimenting and pushing yourself – otherwise what is the point! Whenever I have the time I like to look back at old work and try again. Like this project – The Zombies in the Wood (the original piece is included further down)

img_20160906_0001

Work in progress – The Zombies in the Wood – graphite (2H, H, HB)

For me, drawing things that interest me is very important. The few structured art classes I did years ago were pretty uninspiring and I think I have figured out why. I like fantasy and Sci-Fi. If someone asked me to draw a chair (which they did) I could see that the task was useful but not ever so exciting. If someone asked me to draw a pirate king’s throne then I think I would have been all for it. Clearly I didn’t have the imagination to see that back then, but I guess better late than never. I also get that the chair is totally necessary – it’s really important to use reference material and if you are drawing people or animals then it’s a good idea to consider the anatomy and think about what lies under the skin. This really helped with my figures and characters.

I use all kinds of things for reference – I collect objects ,  catalogues with pictures of vases and clocks, fabrics and furniture  or just stringy people in jeans! Every autumn I go to the park and collect Autumnal things. I decorate my home with Autumn.  It helps with the arduous task of getting through summer.

I draw every day if I can and I always listen to music – that is important for me but not compulsory. Maybe.

If I don’t draw I look at my books (see Inspiration) and plan what I am going to draw. I have collected a lot of books. I have learned so much from these resources so far and I haven’t even scratched the surface!. Perhaps I buy too many.

Ask yourself what you want to draw and then make it your mission to find out how.  It’s important to look at the larger shapes and negative space – once you’ve established these you can then look at the smaller shapes within.

When I first began learning I tried a lot of different media. It helped me discover what I wanted to use. I think it’s important to experiment with different media but ultimately use materials that you enjoy using so you can be really good at one or two things instead of OK at lots of things. My favourite is dry media – especially graphite. I’m starting to really realise how much – I always come back to it.  I am desperate to try the coloured water soluble graphite pencils from Derwent. Maybe I will get them for Halloween!

I also love watercolour although I am not sure that it loves me! Some advice I took without regret was to buy the best materials you can afford –  cheap materials can be frustrating and the results disappointing no matter how much skill you have.

AgfaPhoto DIGITAL CAMERA

My favourite pencils and my home made drawing board (incline fashioned from ImagineFX magazine cardboard packaging)

I think what I have learned the most from is making a finished drawing – not a sketch – but a complete illustration.  Drawing individual subjects in a vacuum is great for practice but actually planning, researching, sketching thumbnails, practicing key elements and then making a piece – a finished piece – is by far the most exciting way of learning how to draw – it forces you to look at so many different things and bring them together and make them work.  You can look at what you made – see what worked and see what didn’t, and then start again. I am going through this process with The Zombies in the Wood. I did this in a rush last year and I have developed a keen hatred for it. So, I am starting again. I will probably look at it in another year and do it again. In fact, I am counting on it!

 

Bibliography and Inspiration

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Anatomy for Fantasy Artists – An essential guide to creating action figures and fantastical forms, Fabry, G., and Cormack, B., David and Charles Publishers, 2006.

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, Austen, J. and Grahame-Smityh, S., Titan Books, 2009.

 

Music I listened to

Miss May I – Monument

The Birthday Massacre-  various

2B, or not 2B

Finding time, when you have no time.

Summer holidays and there is no time to draw when I feel the urge. Luckily, I have no idea how to just stop and be still these days so when I do get a spare minute I usually grab it. I decided to just relax and sketch and look for inspiration from other artists and illustrators (there are lots of examples in my Sketchbook). It’s also a great excuse to enjoy all the books I collect – so far I have worked from A Brain is for Eating, Poses for Artists  1 and 2,  and ImagineFX (bibliography below).  I concentrated on gesture but didn’t try to use the media they used – I love working with graphite and it’s a chance to practice!

AgfaPhoto DIGITAL CAMERA

Working from A Brain is for Eating, by D and A Jacobs, illustrated by Scott Brundage

I am really enjoying the light touch of the harder range of pencils in my pencil box.  I remember being criticised by a well-meaning advisor an age ago – asking me if I thought that was correct? Weren’t they too hard? I took it to heart and listened to this advice. I really shouldn’t have!! The hard pencils are perfect for lighter tones – you can build up tone and you can use them to figure out the initial line drawing without messing up your paper – lightly done pencil work will leave very little evidence of initial errors and, if you want to add watercolour later, hard pencils don’t dissolve into your paint like the B’s will.

AgfaPhoto DIGITAL CAMERA

Dynamic figure practice – from Poses for Artists (Justin Martin)

I think learning from other artists and other peoples methods is a very useful approach – trying to make what they make really makes you stop and think about the how of a drawing and, personally, it makes me look at other drawings differently, too.  Saying that, it’s important to remember your own voice because what works for other people may not be right for you.

All this book worming is making me want to make something. Anything!

Bibliography and Inspiration

A Brain is for Eating, D and A Jacobs, illustrated by Scott Brundage, Pale Dot Voyage, 2013

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 1 and 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

 

Music I listened to

Really bloody annoying Minecraft songs from YouTube.

Engella ~ On gesture, Chinese lanterns and swirling cloaks.

I have been practicing gesture. It’s something I really wanted to focus on for some of the illustrations I made for the sci fi story, Engella, by Paul Ian Cross.

I began by seeking out reference material.  I examined how clothing swings when you suddenly turn, and what it does when you walk and are caught in the breeze on a balmy beach.  (Since I didn’t have a balmy beach nearby some of this took place in my head and in my living room).  I made about a million colour studies with pastels to find the right mood for the final painting and then I moved on to making watercolour sketches to decide how to make the watercolour work for what I had in mind.

Part of the story takes place in the future so for inspiration and the pure joy of it all I researched cyber punk and Chinese lanterns, and dark alleyways. I made a cyberpunk mood board on pinterest.   This is something I like to do! A lot. I have collected a huge amount of reference material and inspiration there for other projects and for safe keeping.

Engella

Engella  (graphite)

I sketched out lots of ideas to find Engella and this is who emerged. I love adding energy and movement to my drawing – its so rewarding making the subject come alive and tell a story!

Kindle cover

The book cover (watercolour and watercolour pencil)

 

Bibliography and Inspiration

http://www.pauliancross.co.uk

https://uk.pinterest.com/abakerrasmussen

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Music I listened to

All about Eve

Cocteau Twins

I love you but Ive chosen darkness

Radiohead

Engella

Kindle cover

A preview for the new book cover I painted! I was invited to collaborate on this e-book recently by the super author/scientist, Paul Ian Cross, and I’ve had so much fun with this project! It’s about a girl called Engella and is set across multiple universes – not only did I work on the book cover but also on some illustrations for the story itself. It’s been such a pleasure – and totally appeals to my Sci Fi geek.  The book is due to launch on Sunday 31st July and it’s free!

http://www.pauliancross.co.uk/home/engella-previewCover

Bibliography and Inspiration

http://www.fontspace.com/indian-type-foundry/rajdhani

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Sketching from the Imagination – An insight into creative drawing, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sketching from the Imagination: Sci Fi, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sci-Fi Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

 

 Music I listened to

The Devil Wears Prada – Space E.P

Mozart – Requiem

Switchblade Symphony

I turned my son into a zombie receptionist.

The Book Cover

I have explored many avenues for making this thing. Some of the twists and turns lie festering on Growing Paynes  and show a few ideas I explored. One idea actually turned into an illustration for inside the book so all that work was pretty useful!

But here I am – not the final destination because a.) That never ends well and b.)  I am sure the next one will be completely different again, so it’s a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.

Working in my sketchbook, I came up with an entirely different idea from what I had first imagined it would be. I wanted to represent the protagonist and her post apocalyptic world.  I decided to work in graphite and only use colour for the eyes – the eyes are important as there is a lot of tech involved in the story so I wanted the viewer to be drawn to that – and it looks interesting to me. I really love working in greyscale with just a hint of colour!

I also worked on another drawing for the back. Its a zombie receptionist. I used my son as a model for this drawing and I cannot quite decide if he is more annoyed about the fact I turned him into a zombie or if its because I turned him into a woman.

Next I began to think about the cover design.  I wanted to find a font that would work for a book cover – so I did some research on designing a book cover. An internet search brought up a wealth of information. I’ve included a link or two.  I used Photoshop Elements to put it all together – I am an absolute novice with that – I had to get a little help – but it made me realise that I would love to make some digital art and this is definitely something I am going to explore.

But, anyway.  Here it is. The book cover. I hope it says something about the characters, what they are up against, who they are – I hope it invites Alistair’s readers to want to look inside and see more.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/5-great-fonts-for-book-covers/

fontsquirrel.com

Biblography and inspiration

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sketching from the Imagination: Sci Fi, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Sci-Fi Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Music I listened to

Doom:VS – Dead Words Speak

Cranes – Wings of Joy and Inescabable

Miss May I – Monument

Our Rats are Low

I have been dreaming about rats, although thinking about it, it might have been a very large gerbil, but its probably because I have been drawing rats lately. I think it is true that we often relive or make sense of our waking experiences in our dreams and I have produced a few illustrations involving rats so far, so I decided one more couldn’t hurt.

I rather like rats – there are, perhaps, way too many wild ones for us humans but I think they are inquisitive and intelligent, if a little blood thirsty , gnarly and low. And they are part of the clean-up crew so need fair representation.

Rat

I experimented with pastel pencils, watercolour, watercolour pencils and ink. I don’t want to talk about the ink as it didn’t end well, but the other experiments paid off and I drew (using watercolour and watercolour pencils) a rat that had clearly been up to no good.

I worked with damp paper, dropping in a background wash and then, once dry, I added details and textures with the watercolour pencils. Some of this was blended with a damp brush and then sharpened up again with the pencils.

These are other rats I have worked on. I am especially proud of The Feast (one in graphite) – it married very well with my mission to draw hands and practice gesture. The bonus of the hand being consumed by Low creatures is that wonky bits can easily be blamed on the little nibblers!

Bibliography and Inspiration

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Music I listened to

Chronicles of the Wasteland/ Turbo Kid Original Motion Picture Soundtrack  –  Le Matos, 2015

The Devil Wears Prada – Space EP

Faith and the Muse – various

Murderous Abbie

IMG_20160528_122927

Murderous Abbie

 

I’ve had a bad cold and I’ve been in the doldrums, thinking a lot about what I am doing. I have been working on some of my character portraits. I wanted to spend the week finishing and refining some ongoing projects (they must be deemed finished at some point and the deadline for that book is approaching!)  I think that is the hardest part – knowing when to stop – I heard someone once say – stop when it cannot be made any more beautiful – but what if it isn’t beautiful? What if all I see are the flaws? The things that frustrate the hell out of me?  The things I want to do better? I think stopping when things are barely adequate is crazy but you can take the thing too far and destroy all your hard work, too. I think I did that when I first decided I needed to draw a face. I remember being really happy with  a lot of my early attempts and so I didn’t push myself enough perhaps – and then when I realised that the drawings could be a great deal better  I often found I kept pushing it until it looked overworked and seriously lacking in spontaneity. I think there is a vile fine line between the path of inadequacy and that of the destroyer!

I hope the things that I am making now are heading in that direction.  We never stop learning so it would be insanity to stop and say that will do, but I guess equally important – we mustn’t give up when we realise we could be more.

I’m going back to bed.

Oh, wait. I guess I should explain about Abbie. She’s a new character I am illustrating. She is a slightly murderous, post-apocalyptic badass, and scarred. Inside and out.  I hope she stays for a while as I really enjoyed drawing her – from her wild hair to her scarred, pretty face.

These images show the stages of my drawing – I will probably try to remember to keep a record like this in the future. I can then look back and find exactly where it all went wrong!

 

 

Bibliography and Inspiration

Turbo Kid – Directed by Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell – 2015

– because it’s a post-apocalyptic masterpiece!

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing

Faigin, G., The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1992

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

3dtotal.com

 

Music I listened to

Chronicles of the Wasteland/ Turbo Kid Original Motion Picture Soundtrack  –  Le Matos, 2015

Because it’s a post-apocalyptic/80’s/synthwave masterpiece!

The Gnarly Knuckle

I’ve been doing some work on hands – it’s something I’ve really started to love to draw – they are not that easy and just to make life even harder I like to choose really awkward poses – it’s rewarding to draw, more interesting to look at and sometimes a gnarly zombie hand emerges from the graphite dust just begging for some rot to be added to its suffering limbs, and what’s not to like about that!?

AgfaPhoto DIGITAL CAMERA

Hand drawn in graphite

The first drawing was done from some photos of my hand and arm in tense gestures. I wanted all the tendons to show so I could try getting the tension down on paper. I think I succeeded and the next step was to re-do the piece in watercolour pencil, like another zombie hand I made recently.  I used tracing paper to transfer the image and I did a little research (see bibliography) to figure out what level of rot and bone exposure I would be going for.

I traced it onto a watercolour background I had painted previously – I like practicing washes and trying different colour mixes to create atmosphere, and I always try and make them with possible backgrounds for drawings in mind – it’s less wasteful!

AgfaPhoto DIGITAL CAMERA

The Gnarly Knuckle – gnarled with watercolour pencils

For this drawing, I intentionally used a lot more watercolour pencil than I would normally go for as I wanted the hand to look like old, rotten, dirty skin – perhaps a little too much in retrospect as there were some areas that looked a little too muddy even for a dead thing – so, I re-wet the areas I wasn’t happy with and lifted some of the colour off with some clean kitchen paper. I then used a clean, wet brush to blend and pull the colours around until I was happy. Once dry, I went back in with the watercolour pencil and tidied up any lost lines or little details I wanted to keep. I will probably do more pieces like these – it’s excellent practice and seriously good for ones calm.

Bibliography and Inspiration:

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

3dtotal.com

Craftsy.com

Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

Siouxie and the Banshees-  Hyaena

The Chameleons

Requiem in White

Portrait in charcoal

This is a recent portrait I made in charcoal. He is a new character in the book I am working on and I spent a huge amount of time practising this guy as I didn’t have any useful reference photos, or a model for that matter, and I didn’t want it to end up being a caricature just because I was trying to do it from my imagination.

Must

Different races have key characteristics which an artist can refer to but that shouldn’t be an excuse to over exaggerate features just to make your point.  Gary Faigin (from Craftsy) briefly covers the differences in skulls and explained that Caucasian skulls in profile are flatter, African are sloping outwards (with the jaw sitting further out in relation to the forehead) and Asian skulls fall somewhere between the two.  I did a little more rooting around on this subject and there are even more skull types to learn about. I actually ended up drawing upon a variety of sources to make this drawing, including google for information and images about the skull, Faigin, graphic novels and I used an image of Christie from Alien Resurrection for his expression and age.

I stayed with charcoal for this drawing to be consistent with the rest of the portraits I have been doing but mostly because I am really enjoying learning to use this messy, unpredictable medium! I love blending with different brushes and I am discovering that depending on the coarseness of the bristle you can manipulate the charcoal in different ways. A small, flat, soft synthetic brush can push the charcoal in different directions, a finer brush loosely used in a circular motion can help blend small areas. Courser bristles can push the charcoal into the paper to help lay down a darker tone, and when finding the initial shapes this can be pretty useful in preventing greasy finger marks on the paper.

Bibliography and Inspiration

Craftsy.com

Faigin, G., The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1992

Skulls and Race in google images

Alien: Resurrection, Directed by  Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by Joss Whedon, 1997

Music I listened to

Faith and the Muse

Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord – The Devil Wears Prada

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

The Big Stink – The men who will not be blamed for nothing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XwemMOMmWM

I love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness