Monday, February 27, 2017

small pleasures

Taking a break from digital watercolour to post some small things I've been doing in traditional watercolour as loosening-up exercises. The School of Life recently released a little card pack called Small Pleasures, and I've been painting my favourites.


1. Feeling at home in the sea. I used a technique called 'spontaneous painting' by YouTube artist The Mind of Watercolor. Winsor & Newton Artist watercolours.


2. Figs and lemons. Staedtler clutch pencil, Winsor & Newton Artist pan watercolours and watercolour markers.


3. A book that understands you. I love painting people reading! Kuretake brush pen and Cass Art professional watercolour travel set.

There's quite a few cards in the set, so there will be more of these soon!

Monday, February 13, 2017

learning and sketching

I've been working on my facility with digital art lately. I may be most comfortable with creating work on paper and then painting it digitally, as I'm doing for a current project:

Watercolour brushes and techniques from Kyle T Webster!

My Bamboo tablet and Photoshop are my tools of choice, although I've seen amazing work on Corel Painter, Paint Tool Sai and a relatively new open-source program called Krita.

But I'm still most comfortable with pen, paints and paper. Sometimes you are seized with inspiration and need to get something on record RIGHT NOW. A digital illustration still takes me many hours and a lot of equipment. So when, for example, one of my favourite actors appears at my place of work and I want to commemorate the experience...


I still grab my notebook instead of my tablet. I do hope to be equally quick on the draw with both someday!

Monday, November 28, 2016

inktober review

The Inktober Initiative was created by artist and illustrator Jake Parker in 2009 and became a massive worldwide art event, much like NaNoWriMo is for writers. I joined in the last 2 years; my first year was a huge failure but this year I managed to get some fun work out despite other project demands.








In fact it got me into the habit of regularly drawing something for myself along with my commissioned work. Inktober is lots of fun and I love being part of the community; I'm definitely doing it again next year!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Copic markers

Back in my all-anime-all-the-time days I painstakingly built up a collection of Japanese Copic alcohol markers over years, and taught myself how to use them. This year I am relearning how to do manga style for a project, so it seemed appropriate to go back to working with my old friends.




I have a lot more experience under my belt now, but it still took a while to remember the techniques! Luckily there are some awesome tutorials on Youtube to work with, which I didn't have when I first started.




But sometimes you get a challenge that you can't find a tutorial for, and that's when training and practice come to the rescue. I used the wrong side of the marker paper by mistake and didn't realise a very obvious thing: the other side isn't like the front at all! It's smooth and pencil slides across it and the alcohol just sits on top and doesn't absorb. Colours will smear and push each other out of the way. But if you know some basic principles and are willing to play around, it produces a fun effect of a very different kind.



Copic marker, fountain pen ink, various pens, nibs and brush pens.

Monday, August 22, 2016

collage: books and cybernetics

Two quick things I knocked together. Sometimes you just run across something that makes you want to cut it out and keep it: one was a picture of piles and piles of new books and another was a few lines of text that were just too weird to forget.

Both collages in a Moleskine Large Squared Notebook.

Stamp of Observant Owl, from Ink Wit

Apparently a performance artist I won't name has had a cybernetic ear affixed to his arm. The text reads: 'The ear cannot currently hear; however, the artist now plans to use his own stem cells to grow an external ear lobe before implanting a Wi-Fi enabled microphone which will be permanently activated so that people all over the world will be able to listen live.'

But to what, I wonder?

Monday, April 25, 2016

messing about

Some more collage work to wind down from current projects. After hours of meticulous drawing it's good to pick up scissors and paste and slap together a few compositions.

Stamps, Neocolor crayon, washi tape, tea and magazine clipping.

Cotman watercolour, white Signo pen and black Platinum Preppy.
Inspired by Lisa Congdon's fish.

Tea, stamps and magazine clipping.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

collage: it's a fashion nation

When I'm not feeling so great, I sit somewhere with scissors and a pile of stuff and cover myself in art goop. It makes me laugh to think how many materials I used on this. Paper punch, magazine cutouts, acrylic paint, masking tape, washi tape, clear gesso, regular gesso, PVA, white ink, Neocolor crayon, stamp ink and a brush pen to lay down my almost invisible signature.

'It's a fashion nation'...and a terrible pun.

Don't mind me, just checking out my imaginary closet...


Monday, January 4, 2016

screen face

The 'Screen Face' is what I call one of my favourite character design tropes.

Ibor the robot gorilla from Twice Upon A Time
(courtesy of the Muppets Wiki)

It provides an endless canvas for artwork and pop culture references, while emphasising the fact that this character is made of non-organic material. The Screen Face humanises and de-humanises a character at the same time.

Prince Robot IV, from Saga (courtesy of Bitch Team Alpha)

TV Tropes calls this the 'TV Head Robot', and has a fascinating list of characters that embody this trope. (Warning: don't click this link unless you have several hours to spare. This site is very addictive.)

Canti character designs from FLCL
(courtesy of the FLCL Wiki)

I'm currently designing a few non-human characters for my new project, and I thought it would be fun to give one of them a Screen Face. It's a projected screen with programmable faces that floats in front of a robot head. You can pick faces of existing people from history or come up with your own.


I drew the head and the framing screen in black ink with a Kuretake brush pen, then did the faces in Diamine Grey with a Daler-Rowney 0 round brush. Effects are added in Photoshop: I filled the screen with 50% grey, added Noise and then Dust and Scratches, and lightened the whole thing. Then I recorded this process as an Action so I could just select the screen and redo the effect in one click.



There's going to be a lot of this character in the comic, so more famous faces will be appearing, as well as some original ones. If you want to do your own Screen Face character, remember that some faces or images have copyright holders, so do your research and stay legal.

Happy New Year, all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

commonplace book

A commonplace book is basically a running record of things you pick up every day that educate or inspire you. Often it's like a scrapbook, or a card file, or just a collection of interesting quotes. Blogger Ryan Holiday has a pretty interesting post on his methods.


I have very messy notebooks where I record lists of books I like, quotes, errands and basically everything, but I wanted to collect some quotes to practice my lettering with. My commonplace book is an A6 Nocturnelle from Paperblanks. It's not very 'commonplace' looking, but I fell in love with this journal ages ago because it looks like a door in a Gothic novel. Paperblanks also has great paper for pen and ink. My calligraphy dip nibs just skate across this paper!

Copperplate Hunt 101 nib with Rohrer & Klinger Salix ink.

This is my first quote, dashed off in dip pen and framed with washi tape. Of course the aim of a commonplace book is to quote correctly - it's Kobori Enshu, not Ensho.

Same nib, with Noodler's Bulletproof Black.

Yogananda is a great guide for life. Concept designer Chris Oatley of the Oatley Academy is a great guide for work.

Copperplate nib and Mitchell 'script' nib, Bulletproof Black.

Listening to podcasts is a great source of inspiration for me. This quote comes from actress and comedian Aisha Tyler interviewing John Cho on her awesome podcast Girl on Guy.

Copperplate nib and Speedball B-5 lettering nib,
Noodler's Bad Blue Heron and Luxury Blue ink.

Jen Dziura's column Get Bullish gives 'aggressive lady-advice' for the go-getter gentlewoman.

Copperplate nib, Diamine Sherwood Green ink, and acrylic stamps.

Karen Healey is a YA author with a collection of pretty great quotes about writing...and some choice words of her own.

Copperplate nib with Bulletproof Black.

This post about Elizabeth Bathory was pretty terrifying, but it did make one important point. The online magazine The Gloss has a column called Shelved Dolls, a fascinating series on women in history, where I get a lot of inspiration and amusement.

Some other commonplace books I like:
The Journal Diaries - Ellina's Commonplace Notebook
Tolstoy's Calendar of Wisdom