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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sketches in Leamington Spa

This church and these fields are about 10 mins from my flat, on my running route. These were an experiment in using more colour in my sketches.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Artwork process part 2

 There were a lot of artists I would have liked to use for the Tarot cards (particularly Lee Kennedy, who is a Girly Comic staple) but I chose those that fit the major arcana best. This is not a realistic spread of tarot cards- a proper layout would have covered up too much of the tabletop.

Because some of the cards had extreme perspective, I drew them to normal dimensions and used the Free Transform tool in Photoshop to warp them into the main composition. I then used the channel menu to separate the line art from the white background and filled the lines in in black to make sure they were clean and crisp. I kept flipping the picture - unless I'm aiming for a particular effect it's usually pot luck which way round it ends up.

Tarot from left to right: 
  • The Fool from Septimus Le Page In The Killer Frock Of Doom  by Jenny Linn Cole.
  • The Lovers from Roommates by Zack Gardner.
  • The Empress from Kelechi, queen of the world by Jonathon Dalton.
  • The Chariot from Tankless Tasks by Jeremy Dennis.
  • circus poster from Strangers To Love by Douglas Noble and David Baillie.
  • newscast from Pumpkin Coach by Allen Ashely, Serena Lock and Mayko Fry.

 Next step: adding text to the posters. Once the text was in place, I created a new layer in Photoshop, traced over the letters and deleted the text layer underneath. This gives the text a hand- drawn quality.

I created a new layer for the colour underneath the line art, coloured the illustration in and applied a a blue filter to the mobile phone screens.

The shawl texture came from a scarf which I scanned in and pasted into the illustration. I keep a texture library on my computer and download a lot of free textures from mayang.com.

Then I started putting the details in. I added "makeup" to a separate layer on the face 

...and knocked the opacity back to make it more subtle. Watercolour painters use purple and green under a flesh coloured wash to create realistic flesh tones.

I added shadows, highlights and gradients...again these are on separate layers, so I can remove them if something goes wrong. 

There were a few more tweaks I did to the rest of the illustration, applying yellow highlights and colouring some of the lines.

This is a screengrab of the final illustration - it's a good idea to get into the habit of naming and organising all the layers. There are at least 35 here. The whole process took about 6 weeks to complete (working evenings and a couple of weekends).  A simpler illustration can take two evenings.

Here is the final product! It has been cropped a little but most of the detail has been kept in.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Artwork process part 1

I've been trying to become more analytical about my artwork, so I thought that it would be interesting to document the process that I use to make it. This is not a guide or a tutorial- there are plenty of those on the Internet by people far more skilled than I am. Feel free to comment on the way that you do things, or if you think there's a simpler method than mine!

I've chosen the illustration below, which is cover art for The Girly Comic (Collected Vol 2) because it's complex and because I really had to work hard at it.
This is the finished illustration:

The brief was  specific-the illustration needed to ....
  • have either blue or green as the dominant colour
  • have a technology theme,
  • feature a large central figure
  • reference the comic strips inside the book
  • the idea of using Ipads as tarot cards was suggested.

 The reason I was asked to draw the cover is because I've got a number of strips in the collection. One of them is Chess for Witches, a comic that I adapted from a short story written by a co-worker in my first job. Here is a page from it:

My art style has developed since then, but I liked it and was looking forward to revisiting the character. The original brief mentioned the comic Madame Xanadu as inspiration, so I looked at some of the old comics:

I wanted to show the main character leaning forward towards the viewer and was having trouble getting the perspective right, so I  photographed myself in the same pose and used the photographs for reference.  When I did the original comic I didn't have much idea how to draw people, so I used myself as source material. (This is the only part of the process that I'm not putting online, because the photos are too embarrassing)

If I am struggling with something and cannot get reference myself I will search images online. Apparently some artists think that everything should come from imagination or from life. That might work if I had a less realistic art style but in practice most artists I've known use reference.

Paul Duffield built 3D sets for the most complicated layouts in Warren Ellis's comic Freakangels and rotated them to get the right perspective. Mine is not the most complex procees out there.

The Ipads became mobile phones because they were nearer the size of tarot cards Below is an initial sketch:

I finished the rest of the body, flipped and traced the image a couple of times on a light box to make sure it wasn't wonky (the face is still a bit skewiff in this sketch) and traced it out in thick black marker. I  pencil final artwork on the back of cheap A3 supermarket paper and then ink on the opposite side using a light box. This means I can redraw it as many times as I want without paying for expensive tracing paper, but it  loses some detail, so the lines have to be clear. 

The image often ends up the wrong way round because I trace and flip it so many times- but that's something I can correct later in Photoshop. This is the clean line art. I had such a hard time with the figure that I drew the mobile phones at the bottom of the page in separately:
I  scanned it into my computer and adjusted it in Photoshop using the Auto Levels and Brightness/Contrast Tools.

I drew and scanned the background separately and added it using Photoshop. At this point, I  also decided that the perspective on the pointing hand was horrible and needed to be redrawn

It's looking a bit more like the final version now, but notice that the actual illustration has much more blank space at the bottom?  I sent it to the client at this stage , they liked it but asked for more room for the logo. It's easy to change things at this stage. When you add colour, it becomes a lot more difficult.

Next stop: Colour!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Animal Inside Out-Natural History Museum

Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out exhibition plastinates animals-stripping off the skin and flesh to preserve them for educational study.
The exhibition was a bit pricey at £9 per person but contained much more variety than I expected with 90 specimens ranging from frogs to elephants.  The public display in the foyer is harshly lit and dissected in greater detail than many of the displays in the exhibition so don't get put off - it's still well worth a look!To see animals dissected in the flesh like this is intriguing - anyone who struggles with drawing or animating the legs of animals like horses or giraffes would definitely get a lot of help from this exhibition.
There are no photographs allowed but it is the only place I have known that requires you to ask permission before sketching too.