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29 September 2013

More sketches...

Still plodding along trying to get some sketches done most if not every day. Still trying to focus on people. My "people" sketchbook is nearly full, only a few pages left. I think I'll buy a new book and continue this theme, I still have a long way to go. Having a sketchbook dedicated to this topic has helped encourage me to keep going and been a great easy way to look back and see if there has been any progress.

The first sketch was me trying to focus on getting hair looking more realistic and natural. The top wasn't too bad, I could see lots of shapes and shading in there and hopefully conveyed that. The long parts were more of a challenge. It was just becoming a mess. I need to try and simplify things more.

This was a great ref photo I found on WetCanvas. I had to give it a go. I have been focusing so much on portraits I have been neglecting doing poses. I am feeling more confident in my sketching. Hope that shows.

25 September 2013

Facial expressions

My focus in my portrait sketching the last few days has been children and different expressions. Children have such large eyes and express so much. I am trying to capture even just a small part of that. I am fairly happy with my results. One thing I have noticed I need to work on a lot  more is the 3/4 angle of the face, no matter the age. This might be what I work on next.

I mainly used pencil for these but decided to get out my Lamy Safari fountain pen for one of them. I always love working in pen and ink and washing out the lines. I don't think it is too heavy for a child.

22 September 2013

New improved digital painting style

I have been working on some digital paintings for a children's book idea. I was not completely happy with the effect I was achieving. It was much more cartoony than I like for my own work. Will Terry is an illustrator that I admire. He paints both digitally and in acrylics. I really like his style. So yesterday I watched some of his YouTube videos showing some tips on how he paints in Photoshop. It only took a short time and I felt much more confident. I understood the principles of what he was doing.

I have repainted my dragon. I am much happier with the result I have achieved here. It is more realistic, which I like, while still maintaining a digital feel. In my final image I have combined a watercolour painted background with the digitally painted dragon. The result is interesting and different. They blend well together while still looking different.

It really emphasised for me that sometimes you have to step back and really look at what you are doing and decide if you are getting the results you really want. If not try something new. Give it a go. There is so much information on the internet that you can easily and quickly get your hands on to help. Sometimes this takes a lot of time and effort, other times you can click with just a few tips. This is how we develop and grow as artists. Remember you are not slavishly copying what the other person is doing, you are adapting some of the ideas into your own style. Just making your style better.

I am so pleased I took the time to do this. Here are the results. I hope you agree there is a marked improvement.

Original style...

New style...

Final illustration, watercolour background and digital dragon...

Establishing a daily drawing practice

I am trying to re-establish a daily practice of drawing. New daily routine, get up, check internet for news, etc, do some sketching/drawing. Even if it is just one drawing or one page it helps. It helps my drawing, it helps me feel I am doing something constructive and improving my skills.  If I do more during the day its an added bonus. And I am actually wanting to do more during the day. It is having a positive effect all round.

I guess I am not so different from many others in that I often will not allow myself the time and luxury to do those things I enjoy the most. My art comes under this category. I should be doing something useful. Doing an art course at college helps me to justify my time on my art. It is homework. I have to do it. I am allowed.

Establishing this small morning ritual of allowing myself to relax and draw is good. I feel good about it. I don't have to spend a lot of time, even just 10 mins but I feel good about this time. And I have something concrete to show for it. My sketchbooks are filling up. Looking back over the pages I can see the improvement. This also makes me feel good.

Here are my efforts from this morning...

21 September 2013

Challenging myself

One of my goals for this year with my art was to improve my portraits and people drawings in general. I have worked hard at this, with the odd lapse here and there. I am human after all...

I realised that although I have been doing a lot of work I was still avoiding certain images of people as I felt they were too hard. Well I bit the bullet, so to speak and have made an attempt at some of those images. As you can see they generally include older people with wrinkles and different face shapes, and facial hair.

Here are my efforts. I hope they encourage you to give something a go that you have been avoiding. You don't have to strive for perfection just give it a go. Like everything else the more you do it the better you will become.

19 September 2013

Visiting Healesville Sanctuary, Australia

Last weekend I spent a lovely sunny spring day strolling around Healesville Sanctuary. This is a wildlife park for Australian native birds and animals. I have not been there for many years and it was great to see the improvements.

Early spring, mating season, turned out to be a great time to visit as many of the birds and animals were very lively. We saw a great display from the lyre bird. He had his mating season tail feathers and showed us his mating dance. It was fantastic to see from within 3 feet. The usually quiet platypus was also lively and swimming actively in his pool. It was also great to see the Tassie devil trotting around too.

On the evening before I pre-prepared a number of pages in my sketchbook. I took the chance to sketch some of the birds and animals and today did a watercolour sketch of the blue fairy wren, one of my favourites. The blue was just so intense to see on such a small ball of feathers. I could not resist the Pelicans, they are wonderful birds. Naturally there are some sketches of the roos and a dingo curled up enjoying the sun.

Here are my sketches, I hope you enjoy.

17 September 2013

Another recipe accepted :)

I submitted my Spicy Pumpkin recipe illustration to They Draw and Cook and it was accepted straight away. I was surprised at the quick response. Happily surprised. This is my own variation on a standard recipe so that makes it even better.

I really like that they noticed and commented on my "signature" red checkered cloth.

The recipe is posted here...

11 September 2013

Turning it around... dragon illustrations

After several attempts at combining watercolour and digital for my illustrations have decided that it works best with the background in watercolour.

Here is my first scene. The dragon, Puff, is painted in Photoshop as well as some detail and highlights throughout. I am really happy with how this is turning out. Have four more scenes planned and underway.