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November Art Prompt

It was a hard choice to decide what to draw this month. My initial choice was Victorian cemeteries but we just did Halloween right? So let's do something off the horror path for a little while and go with fantasy creatures. So some of you might be wondering what some of these creatures look like. Here is a massive list of AD&D monster descriptions. Some have images accompanying. See if you can beat the reference illustrations. 

Graham Smith Marks: Volume 1 – Review

    I'm on this mission right now to collect all of the artbooks, comics, etc. from artists who really inspire me. ( I have a whole other post coming up about that subject.) For my birthday this year I decided to treat myself to something really special- Graham Smith's Marks: Volume 1. This is my experience.

    I had my eye on this book for a while. I was trying to find a way to buy it here in Europe. After doing my homework I realized these are limited edition signed prints and available only directly from the artist. Well worth the $25 cost of the book. After several months of coveting I decided to shoot him an email and see if he would be willing to ship one my direction. 

    I got an email back pretty quick. Graham was more than willing to go out of his way to help me out. He made the trek over to the post office to check out international shipping costs. Not cheap- almost the price of the book. In all honesty I expected that and had already figured it into my budget. This is where it gets good though. He was kind enough to offer to put a little personalized doodle in the book for me if I decided to buy it, since it was my birthday and all. I almost tore my pocket off trying to bet my credit card out!

    I sent him a return email thanking him and took the opportunity to tell him how much I admired his art, blog and how I found the videos from his website to be very inspirational. In response this is what I got in the mail a few days later (fastest shipping ever!). 

 

 

 

I have always been a HUGE fan of mail art. I've sent them out before but this is the first one I have ever received. Getting a hand decorated package in the mail is super exciting. 

 

 

 

He included a stack of art cards which I did not expect. The big one is signed.They now grace the walls of my studio.

 

 

 

Signed cover page.

 

 

 

The really cool thing was finding this gem. Sure beats an email!   

    I am not comfortable showing internal pages of this book. There is, however, a very extensive bookflip on the shop page. If you are into expressive mark making, texture and grunge then you will love Graham's artwork and I highly recommend his book. You get to be a supporter of the arts and get a collection of excellent artwork in your very own signed book.  If you would like to see the artist at work, check out his illustration process below. If you are looking for some inspiration his Sketchbook Fury series for Strathmore is a must see. I simply cannot say enough good things about this artist and his work.  

Art Prompt October 2017

    I know i cut it a little close. I do apologize. i like to give people some breathing room to prepare for the prompts. Especially since this month we will be watching tons of horror movies! Yes, thats right. Every day this month we will be drawing from a different horror movie. Feel free to substitute at will, but I hope you enjoy my selection. For those of you doing the Inktober challenge you can either make two drawings or why not try combining the two? Happy drawing!

Inktober 2017

    Inktober was created by  Jake Parker in 2009 as a means to create better drawing habits and improve his inking skills. After working on my second installment of The Pines I did a self critique and decided I was thrashing some pretty decent pencil work with some pretty atrocious inking. My solution is to join the thousands of artists worldwide who are going to partake in this year's Inktober.  

    In order to get ready for Inktober I thought I would share some of my favorite ink supplies and where to get them - cheap. 

Pens

Graphic Pens

    I'm going to kick off this list with everybody's favorite- the graphic pen.  I don't personally use them that often but I know a lot of people do. Sometimes you just need one because no other tool will do and they can get really expensive. If I buy Pigma Microns in my local shop I spend about 4 euros each pen. Of course you need a few different sizes for varied line width. The end result is it gets expensive fast. 

    My solution, assuming you don't need them right away, is mail order. The pens shown are a knock-off brand. The still write very well. The ink is waterproof. You can order a pack of 8 for $4.99 at this shop  on AliExpress.

    If you are a real stickler and need the real deal Pigma Microns you can pick those up on Ali as well at this shop , 7 pens for $8.00. One of the most awesome things about AliExpress is many of the sellers offer free shipping.

The pens on the left I am including because I like them just a little better than Microns. They are a brand called STA. They do everything a Micron does but the ink seems to last a little longer in these. You can pick them up for less than a dollar per pen

    I love these Stabilo pens.I don't use them as often as I would like to. I like the fine liner (point 88 style) because they make sketchy lines when you fill in areas of color. I really want to incorporate more of that into my work.

    They come in a variety of colors and two different point styles-the 88 and 68. The 68 is a fatter marker looking tip. You can pick them up most places that sell stationary for about 2 euros a pen. Sometimes you can get them in 12 packs for less than 10 euros. 

Bamboo Dip Pens

I know everyone thinks of the crow quill variety when they think of dip pens. I suggest you give bamboo dip pens a try. They make really expressive marks and lines. Definitely not for control freaks as they do seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to line variation. They are excellent for drawing organic elements, animals and foliage. 

Depending on where you live and their availability you can pick these up anywhere from a few dollars a pen to "are you freaking serious?". I prefer to make my own. You can pick up bamboo at your garden center or on Amazon. A bundle of it usually costs $5-$8 and will make many many pens. You can find vidoes on making these pens on Youtube , or if you have Skillshare check out Jen Dixon's video

Gel Pens

    This pen is the reason I don't use graphic pens more often. My secret weapon- the diamond head gel pen. As you can see this pen gets quite a lot of use. I love it because the ink is water resistant. If you don't go too thick with the ink you can go over it with a wash of water and it won't move. The other really super cool thing I love about this pen is that you can turn it on an angle and do some shading with it like a pencil. When I need a pen for drawing, this is the one I reach for. 

    You can lay hands on these pens cheap as chips here. As an added bonus you can buy refills for them and save even more money. This seller  offers the water resistant ink refills. Not all refills are created equal. I knew a lady who did awesome artwork with gel pens where she would wet and smear the ink. If you are into that kind of thing you can get the non-waterproof refills here.

Brushes

Water Brushes

    It seems like over the last few years everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of water brushes and brush pens. I combined the two by sticking my india ink in my water brushes. This way I can mix the ink to the darkness I want it and then label my brushes so I know which one is 100% ink and which is a 25% wash. The points on these say nice and sharp. I've had ink in them for some months now and if I keep the caps on they do not dry out.

    You can get them here in packs of 3 varied sizes (S,M,L) or buy them individually.

 

Chinese Calligraphy Brushes

    I bought these brushes on a whim a few years ago because I wanted to see what the hype was about natural hair brushes and I thought they looked cool. They are now among my favorite art tools. I love them for both inking (in a smaller variety) and watercolor. They hold a ton of water/paint/ink. The tips come to a fine sharp point when wet and are great for painting in details, while the same brush can be used to fill in large areas of color. You can find them easily at a range of prices by doing a search on AliExpress for "calligraphy brushes".  I usually pay $1-$2 each.

Chinese Calligraphy Waterbrush

I don't use these as a waterbrush though they do have the function of being filled with water. They do not have a cap so I don't know how well they would hold ink -never tried. I am including them in my list because I like the brush quality just a little better than some of the calligraphy brushes out there. They seem to hold more water and have a sharper point. 

You can pick them up for $1 a brush at this shop. You get a choice of SML in white or brown brustles. Typically the brown bristles are stiffer with more snap than the white bristle brushes which are softer. 

Chinese Calligraphy Brushes - Small

   These are my absolute favorite for inking linework. I have tested out my fair share of small calligraphy brushes trying to find one that makes the finest most controlled marks and this one really does it for me. The lines they make are very expressive and don't look like lines made by western paint brushes. I think you have to test them out to see what I mean. 

I bought them at this shop. Even with shipping they come out to about $1 per brush. Don't let the name fool you they are not made from real wolf hair. It is actually a type of weasel called a "mouse wolf". 

Riggers

    These brushes are on the shorter fatter end of the spectrum for rigger brushes. Unfortunately they shop that I bought these from no longer carries them. They are synthetic hair and make sharper straighter lines than Chinese calligraphy brushes. I guess you could say they are the crow quill of the brush world. I quite like them even though the marks they make have a bit of a sterile feel. If you are into crisp clean lines I would give these a go. Even though they are a generic brand, I paid a little more for these than my other brushes but they are worth it. I'm sure similar products can be found at just about and art supplier in just about every quality you can imagine. 

    So, that's it for this post. I hope all of you get some enthusiasm for honing your inking skills. It should be fun to have a log of where your skill level was at the beginning of the month vs. where is ended up by the 31st. So happy inking and remember ------------------->

The Pines #1

    I am happy to announce I've finally published the first installment of The Pines. You can check it out here, in the gallery.  As opposed to other web comics that update a page a week I have decided to update in chunks of a few pages every couple of weeks.  I think the story will flow better that way. 

    I hope you enjoy the story. If you have questions or comments I would love to read them. Feel free to post them on the blog or send me an email. 

September 2017 Art Prompt

Last year I took a landscape painting class at Schoolism (I did a lot of urban landscapes in it as well) and it really helped me with getting over the fear of drawing environments.  This past month I have been working a lot on my reboot of The Pines and I have found I have a lot of environments to design, both indoor and outdoor. Out of all of them, the ones with trees give me the most headache. Environments really are important if you want your images to be interesting and convincing. If this list seems overwhelming then definitely give it a shot. I promise by the end of a month you will see an improvement in your work. 

The Pines: Reboot

    Now that I have my script for Colony: Origins completed, and have been hard at work improving my drawing and painting skills, I have come to the conclusion I need to work on comic creation and hone my skills. 

    I have been trying to come up with some story ideas. One of them was Java Dreams, the other is reworking a story I wrote several years ago called The Pines.  The Pines is a Southern Gothic horror story. I'm still hammering out details. I am making a lot of changes to the story. I liked the basic plot of the story but there was something really wrong with it.

    After going over all the notes I can find (my original complete script is lost so I only have first attempt artwork and 25 pages of thumbnails with dialogue to work from) I came to the conclusion that the pacing is really manic. It almost goes Once upon a time - the end. What was I thinking?  Most of the time you have to cut parts of a story to make it more coherent, I actually have to add more story to my story.

    

Original Artwork

    The next thing to tackle is the artwork. With the original comic I spent very little time in character design and really rushed my page output. The result was really terrible artwork. 

    This time I am spending more time developing the look of the characters. Overall, fairly similar in general appearance, but more cleaned up, and tighter drawing. The original scratchy pencils weren't doing it for me. I think I was trying to go for a grunge look.

    Another thing I've discovered is that, after years of avoiding trying it, I love inking with a brush. I think initially the notion that I wouldn't be able to make fine lines or that I wouldn't have as much control kept me from giving it a go. Now i'm wishing I would have tried it years ago. My new best friends are Chinese calligraphy brushes.  

    

       Recently I joined the Comic Fury community. I've been picking up quite a bit of info on comic creation from those guys. One of the most important topics touched on was output. The standard output for an online comic seems to be about a page a week. I was rushing doing the penciling trying to put out at least three pages a day.

    Now that I feel like I can slow it down and do it right. I am more likely to publish my comic in coherent chunks. I don't want to publish something in mid thought. That's not my idea of a cliffhanger. My aim is to update weekly, but if it takes longer that's ok. I really am more interested in doing as good a job as I can rather than having a huge output of rubbish.  

    So script writing is where I am right now. Once I have the script completed I will begin updating the comic once every week or so until the story is complete. Stay tuned. 

New Look

Drawing Poses: Make Your Own References

       In my opinion, the hardest references to find are ones concerning figure drawing for scenes and individual poses- odd angles, multiple subjects and especially those scenes where there is action going on, like a fight. What should you do? Where can you find copyright free references to use in your artworks? You can make your own - free.  Here's how: 

Daz3D Studio

    Daz3D Studio- I'm putting this one top of the list because I think most people will find it the most appealing, and with good reason. The basic program and models are free. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of models, props and outfits in their store for you to purchase and add to your models and scenes. The models are beautiful. When working with the models setting up a scene they feel very lifelike- as if they actually had bones and muscles inside their bodies. Pretty cool. I admit having a limited knowledge of this program because it is a little overwhelming to use with all of it's options. Basically I haven't taken the time out to actually learn how to use it, so it is me being lazy. Overall I am very impressed with what I have seen and I really need to make a point to get more familiar.  

Poser

    Poser - At the moment this one is my favorite. This is the Poser 6 version. I got it as a gift years ago and it has served me well. While this software isn't exactly free (various versions have various pricetags) it is easier to use than other programs. You can set up a scene and render it in minutes. Figures can be displayed as full or as boxes. I also like that the interface is drag and drop and the posing window can be resized. The only real downside is that the models are not as lifelike as the models in Daz3D Studio, at least in my version. The link I have provided will get you a free trial version of Poser 10. 

Make Human

    Make Human - I have to admit that until I started researching for this article I had never heard of this program. I decided to go ahead and include it because it is a 100% free open source program. Should you be so inclined, you can code for it and make your own versions. I also am intrigued by other features, such as the sliders to change the race of your models. I'm curious to know if you can set up scenes with multiple models. I think it warrants further investigation. 

Posemaniacs

    Posemaniacs -  This is not as customizable as Poser or Daz3D, however, there is an app that will allow you to use it on your smartphone. There is a huge library of poses that can be rotated 360 degrees. Sadly, this only applies to Y axis. It is free, although, you can make donations on the website. More poses are being developed.