When I’m working on a painting or drawing, whether digital or traditional, I always find it fascinating watching the image evolve, so I thought I’d include some WiP images of from my last piece. It’s funny because through all the groundwork, building up the image, not a lot seemed to change, and it was only putting in the lighting and ‘special effects’ right at the end, which was pretty much the smallest change, yet the one that really pulled the image together into something a bit more presentable!
So I don’t know how many of you know but a couple of days ago (Thursday 4th Feb) it was the second Harry Potter Book Night, an occasion created by Bloomsbury last year, with events held in libraries and bookshops up and down the country meant to inspire a new generation of readers with the Harry Potter series.
Now I was lucky enough to be just the right age when the first book was originally published (I was 9 at the time) which meant that as every subsequent book came out I was roughly the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione. For me this made the stories extra special (and possibly even a little bit more real), and re-reading the books again now, especially the earlier books, always takes me back to feeling like I’m 10 or 11 again. So now every time I read the books I get hit by the same sense of wonder and imagination as I did all those years ago.
The difference now is, as soon as I get a whiff of inspiration, I feel like I have to capture it in some way; it makes me want to draw. And the thing with Harry Potter Book Night is, working in a library I’ve had the chance to be involved in 2 Book Night events now and through some of the work I’ve done for displays, it’s given me the opportunity to go back to the books through new eyes. More specifically, since I’ve spent a serious amount of time drawing and making over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to be inspired by the magical world of Harry Potter all over again, but this time through my new illustrator eyes (if that’s actually thing).
So, after all that preamble, these are 2 of the digital paintings that I created for the event* (and also because having re-read the Chamber of Secrets I suddenly really really really wanted to paint a basilisk, and a phoenix, and a flying car, and…well actually all the magical stuff described in the books because it just inspires something in me. But on this occasion I had to restrain my self…
Photoshop and intuos 4 pen & tablet
The background is a photograph I took in northern Scotland, but the rest is painted as above. I should also probably explain- there’s obviously no-one driving the car, but that’s because this was designed as a photo opportunity where the windscreen area was cut-out and the kids stood behind so it looked like they were driving the car.
Over the last few months I’ve been working at improving my digital painting skills, and quite often I would find myself thinking ‘how would I do this if I were using traditional media?’ And particularly when Photoshop was on the go-slow I would think ‘Could I just do this quicker by hand?’ But at the weekend I went for a walk on the beach, and the sky was so dramatic, the lighting was just awesome, and I just got that ‘I have to draw this’ kind of feeling.
So, when I got back, armed with a good number of reference photos I sat down and started to thumbnail a few different compositions, and then having seen one photo that caught my eye I just got out my water soluble pencils and started to draw. And as I drew I felt so much more connected to what I was doing, watching the image evolve in front of me (without constantly zooming in and out and waiting while the brush strokes on the screen catch up with the pen in my hand). I found that I’d really missed it. But the interesting thing is, I also found myself thinking ‘how would I do this on photoshop?’ ‘What kind of rendering style would I go for here?’ It’s like switching between digital and traditional really made me think about the basics all over again. Having not completed a piece traditionally for probably over a month it was like starting all over again. Now I know these aren’t the greatest sketches I’ll ever do, but the best thing is, despite the differences between digital and traditional, swapping between the two has really made me think about what it is I’m creating, and between them, they’ve helped push and improve my drawing skills as a whole.
Watersoluble pencil and inktense blocks & pencils
This painting is a bit of a first for me; it’s one of the few times when the blurry image floating around in my mind throughout the planning stages, somehow materialised in the final piece. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is that did this for me (as it could quite well be useful again!) and I think what it comes down to is not the actual layout or details of the work, but the atmosphere and feeling about it. While I was working I thought a lot about the perspective and lighting set-up, and it wasn’t until I put the final lighting in that I began to see it.
Of course, whether it conveys to you, the audience, what I was intending, I’ll leave up to you to decide… (and if you want to give me a shout about what you think I’d be very happy to hear!)
I’ve had a wacom tablet for about a year now and I’ve used it for little bits here and there, but I’ve never created a whole piece purely digitally (well, except for the hand drawn line art), but finally having time to work on some of my own projects I gave it a go, and this is the result. The funny thing is I wasn’t expecting it to be so addictive, and quite so difficult to put down the pen and walk away, because as much as I love the freedom to play around with the tiniest details and hit ‘cmd z’ when I decide I don’t like it, the urge is to make the image as ‘perfect’ as it can be. Which can be a very dangerous thing!
Right, so my mission for this week was to start my Rusty project, and, I’ve surprised myself again- I’ve actually done what I was intending! By the way in case you were wondering, Rusty is my dog (see above), I haven’t quite branched off into metal work yet…although, I’m sure it could be quite fun to draw…
Anyway, I started trying to sketch him from life, which was a mission in itself- he doesn’t stay still. I managed to get a few sweeping lines which just about suggest the form of a dog…if you piece them altogether. But I’m sure this collection of disembodied body parts will come in very handy at some point.
So in order to get a few more drawings that resembled something more like I was intending I took a load of quick photos on my phone while playing fetch with his ball (which required a heck of a lot of concentration and co-ordination to make sure I chucked the right thing…)
Having successfully managed that I gave myself the target of filling a double-page spread in my A3 sketchbook of quick sketches, using at least 3 different media. And I have to say, I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome (also see above).
My aim with these was not to get caught up too much in the details but rather try and capture the form and sense of movement that was there while we were playing. I particularly liked the freedom of the brush and ink, and surprised myself with the charcoal pencil, as this isn’t something I’ve really used that much-it was just something I found lying at the bottom of my pencil case.
So, for next week, I need to do more sketches (both from life and photos) to try and build up a strong reference base showing a range of different angles and movements, which should prove very useful as a starting point for a character design, which is the other thing I want to start doodling around this week. Although the coming drawings might start to be more detailed and more anatomically correct than the drawings this week I don’t want to lose the freedom and movement that these have. So that is my challenge!