It starts- draw something daily and post it. After my Jason sketch yesterday my friend Sharri asked me to do a Michael Meyers.
Wanted to get a jump on sketching this morning. Stupid effing sun! Can’t see anything in here for all the light. Good time to make a blog post!
Draw something every day!
One common thread in all of the courses and advice I have been given is that if you want to improve your art seriously you should draw every day. That can be quite a challenge. Real life has a tendency to take over, especially when your art is viewed more as your hobby. (Hiss! Seriously this pisses me off!) My goal for this year is to sell a piece of my art so it becomes legit and I can justify all the time I spend drawing and painting. But I digress.
One of the things I did for myself, as well as others, was to start this blog and post the art prompts. It can be exhausting trying to even think about what to draw. Ok, problem solved. Now there is a list of stuff to draw. So why am I still not drawing? Well real life can be chaos. Plus I get a lot of big ideas about all the stuff I want to do- comics, illustration work etc and I feel like my skills aren’t up to snuff. My inner critic wins out and it gets easier and easier to avoid my sketchbook.
Here is the first ink sketch I ever did, circa 2014. I had been working in graphite quite a lot and my drawing skills had improved greatly. Then I did this ugly sketch and I couldn’t even touch my sketchbook again. Seriously, my perfectionism was THAT bad. I didn’t draw much of anything again for over two years.
Now is the time I have been working hard (most of the time) to get my skills up but I really want to push further. I need a plan, both long and short term. Long term plans are professional work and comics. What I really need most is a short term accountability goal. I have decided that I can use this blog to my advantage. Draw something every day and post something every day. I will also use social media and try to gain more followers and maybe get some critiques and feedback along the way. Constructive (yet honest) criticism can be extremely useful when developing skills.
You are never too good for fundamentals.
Outside of being practiced with your medium of choice – in this case ink, and whatever tools you wish to use (brush, pen etc), the bottom line is if your drawing skills are under par your work won’t look as good as it should. This does not account for style. My personal taste (which becomes your style, ladies and gents- really it does) is for realistic looking renderings. My brain is just happier when I draw something that is proportionally correct and recognizable. I do like to copy other styles and incorporate a messier, sketchier feel into my own art. I really love those people who can really be loose and just go for it and make art with total abandon. That is not me. Period. I have to work for that.
As you can see by the drawings above (from Oct. 2016) I do not have a talent bestowed on me by a higher power. I had/ have to work to build my skills. I did these October 16 and signed up for Schoolism October 17. I knew I needed a drawing refresher course. Sometimes when I get stalled in my progress I go back to basics and buy a drawing book or take a different course. Every place you can gain new insights from will have an impact on your work. If you don’t like where your art is, go back to the basics. The problem lies there. Truth.
Eventually, persistence pays off.
Don’t be afraid to copy other peoples’ work! This was so frowned upon when I picked up an art class in London. It really left an impact on me and I was terrified and wracked with guilt when I decided to do copy work. This is one of the best learning tools out there. Do it! You need to! Just don’t be an asshole and try to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Be considerate of the original artist. Ask their permission or at the very least give a credit if you post your copied work online. Make sure it is known that it is copy work or fan art. This is a copy / fanart from The Walking Dead. The original the barrel of the gun is much longer, but I had to cut it short because I ran out of space in my sketchbook.
When you start to work on original drawings (this one is done of a costume I found on Pinterest that I liked), it is also helpful to try to draw them in the style of artists you admire. I really like Ashley Wood‘s sketchy loose style. I want to incorporate more of that into my art. This was the outcome.
Slowly…..ever. so. frikkin’. slowly….my style with ink is emerging. I really like that sketchy/realistic, gritty feel. I am slowly getting used to the stark contrast of black ink and white paper. I am getting used to the look of hatching. My favorite tool is a Chinese calligraphy brush. Sometimes I use a gel pen, but it gives a totally different look. I love the varied lines of a brush. The calligraphy brushes are really expressive. I love them and that’s my thing. When I get done with the line work I do washes over the top. Sort of pulls it together for me. I am working to get a better handle on controlling the flow of ink and the tone. I’m also wanting to get more detail into art. Doing a lot of experimenting with that right now.
I did this yesterday. Wouldn’t it have been cool if I thought of this last week and posted it on Friday 13th? Yeah, well I’m not that cool, creative and forward thinking. I’ve learned to live with it.
Nonetheless, I am really proud of this one. THIS is the direction I have been working to go in. I finally managed to get the background and foreground to not meld together. Devil is in the details. I was experimenting with dry brush and markmaking. I experimented with texture. I think I got pretty close with my value structure (tone). Overall super happy to have this page in my sketchbook.
Ok, so this brings us full circle. I need to get my skills up. I need to draw every day. So I am going to challenge myself to draw something every day and post a daily ink sketch. Hopefully you guys will enjoy my work and follow along. Comments and constructive critiques are welcome. Also I am interested in the work you guys do. Post links to your stuff in the comments. Another goal with this blog was to network. I am really interested in surrounding myself with more artistic people who are into the stuff I am into. I assume if you read this far this is your kind of thing. So, say hello.
Would it be too cheesy to start this post off with “Arrr Mateys”? Well, I wanted to give a shout out to all my subscribers. Up to 544 officially. I always get one the moment I finish the artwork. Welcome all. I hope you like what you see here. Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have blog suggestions, questions, etc. I love hearing from you guys.
For the sake of convenience I had the site set to comments post with email address. Sadly, spammers had to screw it up. I was being inundated with crap about cheap insurance, viagra and trash hauling to the tune of a few hundred comments a day that I would have to dig through to find anything relavant posted by readers. Sorry if this is inconvenient to anyone but now you must be registered and logged in to leave a comment. Please don’t lose your log in info.
Ok, now for the real topic – an art dump and discussion about what I’ve been up to and where I am going.
I signed up for a watercolor painting course – a real one with actual real people at an actual real place. I did so because I feel like I need to get out an socialize more now that my kids are in school all day. Also my anxiety is much reduced since I stopped having to take anxiety meds. Figure that one out. Lastly, but probably most important, it helps my Dutch language skills greatly when I have to get out and actually speak the language.
So now I have to draw things to take to class to paint. So I am starting to draw more often. I have been superiorly slacking off lately. Sometimes only drawing once a week. Totally unacceptable in my book. I have worked to hard and come too far to let things slip that far. For the last 3 days I have managed to draw every day and will continue to do so. Ok, maybe a few misses here and there but seriously – goals. Here is my rough pencil design for an illustration I want to do about Game of Thrones. I see some mistakes and have a few fixes I want to make, but I think I will paint this is class today and get a feel for what the real finished product will look like inked and colored.
Here are three pages from my sketchbook of the Draw 100 challenge I posted. I actually drew about 50 before I got a little barmy over drawing eyes. Note to self- come up with multiple subjects when doing a draw 100 so as not to get bored. Overall I liked the outcome and I feel like my eye drawing improved. Since I did them all in ink my inking skills also improved.
This is an ink portrait I did for fun of Jon Crosby of VAST. I would post my reference photo but I would have to ask his permission. I don’t really want to because I sent him a copy of this and got zilch for feedback. He’s given enthusiastic feedback in the past. Maybe he wasn’t impressed with this one? Oh well I thought it turned out rather well. If you have no idea who I am talking about a Google search will pull up some photos. Great band. I recommend giving them a listen.
Here are some more sketchbook doodles I did in art class. It has occurred to me I should work towards making more finished pieces and not have everything be a sketch. I’ve been digging through stuff I have posted in my gallery. Hmmm, well progress I guess? I thought all that stuff looked great 6 months ago and now I’m like “What are you thinking?”. Time to update in a big way. I am going to start working on more portfolio pieces. Further, I have suspended working on my comic for now. Not that I don’t have an interest in working on it more in the future, but I have come to the conclusion I need to put a lot more mileage into finding my drawing/ inking style before I continue. It doesn’t look very good and I don’t want to put readers off the story because of bad art. I can forgive a terrible story if it has cool art, but not the other way around. Not sure how you guys feel.
Lastly, I leave you with a page of skulls. I kinda got half way through the page on this one so not all are finished. As you all know when i get stumped on subjects I revert to skull drawing. So yeah, it had been some days since I had been drawing and I was trying to get over the blank page stare. I did all of the inking in this post with a gel pen, except the hyena which I did with a brush. I can’t really decide which I like more. i think I tend to do more shading with the pen. I have some plans to try mixing the two and see how that works out. I will keep you posted. Anywho, time for me to get to my painting class. Until next time, happy arting.
Hello all! I wanted to thank you guys for the awesome comments. It really makes me feel good knowing you guys enjoy the topics I write about. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback lately and it really encourages me to want to make more content and continue with this blog.
Today I wanted to write a post for you about my experiences with online art schools. Of course, these are my personal experiences. Some of you might find your experience to be different. But I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts about them in case some readers have been trying to decide if trying any of them out was worth it or not. If you have an interest in checking any of them out just click the images to go to their website.
Schoolism actually feels like art school. The instructors are top notch industry giants in animation, illustration and fine art, etc. You get assignments to do. They are seriously challenging. You will learn something if you listen to the instruction and do the work. Don’t pass on watching the critiques. You will learn a lot from those.
The one drawback I can name is, in the last few months they have doubled their monthly costs to $30. They did do away with the annoying $1 charge to switch classes, so now you can switch between the classes freely. But I think the price hike was a bit steep because they didn’t add any new classes or content. Even though the class count may be limited compared to other schools, the quality is far superior. I really loved all of the courses I took. If I could give them one suggestion it would be to add more traditional media courses. Most of them are geared towards digital media, though I worked my assignments with pencils and paint. There is also an option, you can take a full on course with the instructor giving you weekly critiques of your work. It does not come cheap – $998 per course.
Art Tutor has a variety of courses geared towards the traditional media artist. I signed up with them specifically to take the courses on ink drawing. They did not disappoint. I stuck around for several months do several other courses and having fun learning different mediums. This site’s courses also have the feeling of a real art school. Many of the classes have assignments to do. The courses are of excellent quality and I learned many tips and tricks. At €17 per month I felt the value was excellent. Again, if you follow the instruction and do the work, you will learn and improve whatever medium you are studying.
I’m actually looking back through their classes and debating a resub. I think they may have even added a few new ones that look pretty cool.
This group is affiliated with North Light. You may have visited their website or seen some of their books on Amazon. They publish art and craft books on a massive range of topics. Anywho, they also have a channel with more than 700 classes on all sorts of media. My biggest interest was drawing, ink drawing and watercolor. The courses were pretty good. Claudia Nice does some watercolor and ink courses. I LOVE her work and have a few of her books, so this was huge for me to get to watch her process.
The classes are mostly follow along style. A little YouTubish, but overall informative. The price is $19.99 a month for total access. Maybe a little high in terms of quality but it makes up for it in quantity. Seriously, you could be on here forever and never run out of videos to watch.
The Virtual Art Instructor
This is a cool site run by instructor Matt Fussel. His courses are really top quality and worth checking out if you are a traditional media artist. It really helped me up my ink drawing game. He has a week trial for $1 and then $19 a month after. Sometimes he runs special offers and you can sub even cheaper. Some of his videos are completely free and you can view them on YouTube . As a full member you can download the videos and ebooks from the site and watch them as many times as you like. I really enjoyed his courses. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough to keep me around for long.
Society of Visual Storytelling
SVS is the brainchild of illustrators Will Terry, Lee White and Jake Parker. You might remember Jake Parker as the guy who started Inktober.
SVS is mainly geared around children’s book illustration. There were some classes on ink drawing and comic creation, which is why I subbed. THE absolute coolest thing about this school is the courses on the industry side. Yes, they discuss how to get a contract, what contracts are bad and which ones are good, legal pitfalls, what should you be getting paid, ethical practices in the industry and other awesome topics no one ever talks about.
According to the reviews I read some people feel they can’t live their lives without Skillshare. I hated this site with the burning passion of 1000 suns. You can get 2 months trial sub for 99 cents. After that it is $11 a month. If you search around you can find discount codes. I think I got one for $8 for a month. Even after I tried it and hated it I went back and paid for a month because I wanted to take Yuko Shamizu’s ink drawing class. As much as I love her work her class was disappointing. Most of the classes on there I found disappointing. There were a few gems – Jen Dixon’s ink drawing/ watercolor classes were informative. Rob Marzullo’s comic creation courses were good. However, he also does them for free on YouTube, so why pay for it? Truthfully that is exactly Skillshare reminds me of- YouTube you pay for. The classes are mostly low quality. They are not vetted for quality by the company. Anyone can make a class and post it. Many of the videos are only a few minutes long and teach you nothing. Lots of the “instructors” can’t even make themselves understood. Seriously, save your money and go elsewhere unless you have a buck burning a hole in your pocket and nothing better to do.
Lynda.com / LinkedIn
Lydia.com has been bought out by LinkedIn and is now LinkedIn Learning. You can still sign up through the Lydia.com site- which I am posting a link to here because it is slightly easier to navigate. You can sign up with the Lydia.com site with your LinkedIn account information.
This site boasts a huge library of classes (according to their website anyway) which are nearly impossible to find. You can do a search for topics and get a short list of about 6 recommended topics. If you click on those topics you get other recommendations based on what you are looking for. In short, this site severely pisses me off. The saving grace is you can get an entire month free to attempt navigating through this nightmare if you have a credit card or a Paypal account. They also invite you to cancel ahead of time if you hate it and they won’t bill you further.
I have found a few comics creation courses and drawing courses. So far the quality of them seems to be pretty good. Most of the topics they offer, at least in the topics list you can find on Lydia (if you dig deep enough you can find a somewhat tragically ordered list of keywords) seem to be geared towards business classes and learning software programs. I’m going to watch the comics creation videos and be done with it. Hey, free is free.
I love YouTube. You can find pretty much anything on there and it is absolutely free. If you are persistent and do some digging you can get some really worthwhile information. Here is a list of some of my favorite channels for art and comic creation:
- Christine Karron – Watercolor
- Alphonso Dunn – Ink and Watercolor
- Mark Crilley – Comic Creation
- Lethal Chris – Drawing and Comic Creation
- Stan Miller – Watercolor
- The Art of Aaron Blaise – Drawing and Painting
- Kelly Eddington – Drawing and Watercolor
- Draw Mix Paint – Oil Painting and Color Theory
- James Gurney – Painting
- Jeff Watts – Drawing and Painting
- Cha Yeon Painter – Watercolor
- Fine Art Academy – Drawing and Painting
- Stefan Baumann – He mostly deals with oils. Sometimes he lectures on galleries and art shows. He is insane and always dresses like a pirate.
I wanted to start off by saying thank you to the 336 subscribers to my blog. That’s more readers than I ever hoped to have, ever, and I’ve only had this up and running since August. That is extremely encouraging and makes me want to work my arse off making this site as interesting as possible.
Of course by the time I get this artwork done last night I get another subscriber first thing this morning. You are not forgotten 337! You all rock. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and amazing New Year.
This post is going to be a little long so grab a drink and a snack and lets get on with it.
Art Block Freakin' Sucks
Art blocks can come on for a whole host of reasons. For me personally, anxiety and depression are the usual culprits. This time though, I had some major fatigue that washed over me last Feb/Mar and just wasn’t letting up. It had been bugging me off and on for a couple of years. I always kinda wrote it off as having 3 kids at home 5 y/o and under- of course I’m tired! Not like this though, and whatever was going on with me, it was sending my anxiety through the roof.
Through this experience, I managed to keep sketchbooking, at least some of the time. I was being pretty damn stubborn about not wanting to lose all of the hard work and money I had invested in art supplies and online art lessons. Seemed a waste to get frustrated and give it up (again).
I thought it might be interesting to make a post, showing my sketchbook work during this period. Kind of a demonstration of how stress, lack of motivation/energy, medication struggles etc. can affect work- making quality suffer or even grinding productivity to a halt.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Ok, so let’s back this all the way up to last July. My anxiety meds got upped- a lot, turning me into a neurotic zombie. When I could manage to force myself to draw something I couldn’t seem to summon the required brain power to judge angles, gradations of color or value, or line quality.
So I go back to my regular dosage, and things pretty much go back to me being my edgy cantankerous self. Arting continues as usual. I start making plans to work on my comic. During this time I take a sleep study to try to figure out why I am always exhausted.
I do all kinds of little character doodles for my comic. When it comes right down to the final outcome I find it lacking. It needs punch. I needs marks and hatching and grit. All of these things I love to see in other peoples’ work, but when I try to do it….
I do fine until I start working on those areas of shadow, then it all goes to hell. My hatching skills lack a lot to be desired, so I end up going the other way and doing everything in washes, which generally looks, well, boring.
So this is the part where I really start struggling with the block. Things aren’t going as planned and I’m really not sure where to go from here. All I know is I can’t ink to save my life and I really need to get a grip on it. At least this time I decide to formulate a plan of action instead of throwing in the towel. So I gather up a pile of comic books and art books of my favorite artists and start copying their work as a study.
This basically keeps me pretty busy through most of September. I’m playing with some new brushes. I found I really like Chinese calligraphy brushes. I’m getting more used to the stark look of black ink on white paper. I’m really trying hard to be ok with hatching and cross hatching- on faces especially. All this is going pretty well, except my anxiety is at crisis level for some reason. I started having panic attacks at the end of August and had several a week through September. I went back to see my shrink and they upped my meds again, but not as much. Things were seeming a little better. I was in better spirits and hyped about Inktober.
The first week of Inktober was awesome! Despite the benefits of doing copywork, I really like to work on my own stuff. So for Inktober I wanted to take some of the things I learned in September and do some experimenting on my own work.
We lost a couple of icons. Tom Petty…
Then I wanted to work on my horror movies prompt list-
Then my medication started catching up with me. Slowly I started getting this creeping “not give a shit” feeling. Again I got this weird can’t draw, or assess. I don’t even know what happens, or how that works. All I know is my work starts looking flat and fuzzy, totally lacking in detail and I can’t seem to fix it. Really I don’t even have the patience to fix it. It’s just weird.
So I go a few more days making other, ever increasingly disappointing sketches. I start painting them out with black gouache. A couple pages I go back and paint over with skulls. Yes, skulls. My bestest friends. When all else fails draw skulls!
Then my skulls start looking kinda meh….(and BTW what the hell is wrong with that crow!?)
By this point I am pretty frustrated. This art block really is becoming a thing and it is freakin’ winning. My general attitude about this…
Hi ho, hi ho, back to my shrink I go! Ok this meds thing is not working. Oh and btw, early in October I got a result from my sleep study – major obstructive sleep apnea. The good thing is they think they can fix me up with the aid of a CPAP machine (sexy!). But I have to wait 6 weeks to get the machine (crap!) People with anxiety and depression can often reduce or go of their meds. Armed with this info/ coupled with the fact that both of the meds I take contribute to sleep apnea, my shrink took the logical (radical!) step of taking me off my meds. I felt a kind of relief coupled with fear. I mean my anxiety is extreme with meds, so who knows what’s going to happen now. And the weaning off process begins….
Well, first things first, I had to give up my sleep meds cold turkey. Not that I have an addiction problem with them, but without my sleep meds my other meds keep me awake all the time. Those meds I have to taper off of.
I revert back to copying from comic books. Black Monday Murders to be exact. I don’t have to think too hard about what to draw or where the ink is supposed to go.
I troop on for another week or so doing this. I don’t draw every day because I am pretty freakin’ tired by now. I’m glad when I can finally stop all the meds because I really want to be able to sleep. The sooner I’m off, the sooner they are out of my system. Careful what you wish for. Now the real fun begins because there was an ugly withdrawal phase. Massive fatigue (yes it is possible to be even more tired when you are already exhausted!) and in my waking hours (sleeping 12-16 hours a day now) my moods are BLACK.
At this point I can’t even focus anymore. I don’t draw most days. Then I feel really guilty about it. It feels like I’m giving up. Every few days i try to scribble something in my sketchbook, even if it’s little, even if it sucks.
I’m watching a lot of X Files and Bigfoot documentaries. No clue what that’s about. I’m diggin’ the X Files and kinda wonder why I never watched it when it was on tv.
I saw this girl outside and I thought she had kind of an interesting face. I tried to draw her from memory. Well that didn’t go as planned. I drew something that day. It counts.
I can’t focus enough to draw so I try to write a story. That doesn’t pan out either. Just can’t freakin’ think!
Here is my Bigfoot. My husband despises conspiracy theories. I kinda like to annoy him with them sometimes so I can watch the vein in his forehead pulse.
If I give him too many “facts” supporting the evidence of Bigfoot he really loses his shit.
Somehow, in all of this, I have managed to keep a sense of humor.
This brings us to mid-November. Finally I get my CPAP machine!!! (super sexy!) My husband learned that peanut jokes cut both ways. After a few nights of decent sleep, I start coming out of my fugue state.
I also got my copy of Art of Jock, which was super inspiring. Ok my copy doesn’t do the original justice, but I drew something, so it counts.
I spent a day or two going back through my sketchbook and scribbling over pencil drawings I made, trying to make them look slightly less horrible. I think this exercise was mostly about saying I did something that day because I was still pretty damn tired for a few weeks.
I liked this cabin after I inked it. Not sure where it came from (if it is a copy or not.) I vaguely remember scribbling it in my book one day, then inked it weeks later.
Finally the black ass mood I was in, for what seemed like an age, lifted and I sat down and drew something I was pretty pleased with.
A couple of days later I drew a bee. I also drew a few Christmas cards, but I sent them before I made copies to post…..because I’m slick like that.
Lastly I drew this skull a few nights ago (yes it has taken me two days to write this post!). Right now I am trying to get back in the habit of drawing every day…even if it’s little…even if it sucks. I do see improvements along the way. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of hard days ahead. That’s cool. Struggle is progress.
The most important thing is I kept going. I have given up in the past and it always haunted me later. Still haunts me, in all honesty. How far would I be if I didn’t give up all those times? And yeah, there were many. So that’s why I wanted to share this post. Maybe it will encourage someone to keep going. Never give up!
Before I get to the main article I wanted to apologize for not being more active on the site lately. I have been having severe chronic fatigue issues that have sapped my energy to do anything at all, ultimately resulting in a big fat art block. My doctor finally found the issue- a severe sleep apnea. Average 32 breathing stops an hour- yikes! I just started treatment a few days ago and am now have 3 whole days behind me that I didn’t need to take a nap (or two or three). Today I actually felt like getting some art done and catching up on my blog. So here goes~
Finding Your Tribe
“Finding your tribe” was the term used in a recent workshop to describe finding those artists who influence you – or who you would like to influence you. This was a pretty refreshing concept for me because in art classes I took in the past allowing an artist’s style to influence you was a bad thing. Copying artwork was definitely frowned on. You needed to draw for years and wait patiently for the style fairy to arrive and imbue you with your own amazing uniqueness. Well let me tell you – that is complete and utter crap. Well, for the most part. At the very least, if you want to speed things up, you need to study and copy other artists’ work.
It has been said in order to understand our subjects we need to study them. The best way to study a subject is to draw it. Don’t believe me? Take a photo of a subject, then draw it from memory. Now draw a subject. Then attempt to redraw the same subject from memory. I guarantee you will retain information from the subject you drew in much greater detail. In order to draw the art we want to draw we need to get inside the minds of the artists whose work we admire and define exactly what it is about it that we love.
As an exercise, collect works from 3-5 artists you really feel resonates with you/ is in a style that you want to draw like. From that selection of artists find 3-5 pieces of their work that are your absolute favorites. You can do this however you want. I have a Pinterest board of my picks. Because I like the way printed images look on paper, I also bought books and comic books containing my favorite artists’works. (Amazon loves me, my husband is kinda pissed though.)
Study your images. Make notes about whatyou like about each image. See if you can find out how the images were produced. What media was used? Try to replicate the image. You can do this by copying it as closely as possible or just trying to get the essence of what it is about the image you really like.
Steal Like an Artist
You should never plagiarize another artist. If you post your copies someplace then make sure you credit the original artist – and never EVER sell your copied work. That being said this is where the hard work comes in. You still have plenty of drawing to do. All we are really doing here is putting all those ideas in your head about how you want your art to look into focus.
Drawing is quite literally a map of your central nervous system and your body structure working in tandem. Couple that with your personal preferences and you will produce original artwork unless you are planning a career in art counterfeiting. Remember, you will be referencing several artist’s, not just one. As you are making studies you will see things, even in your absolute favorite artist’s work, that you want to change or improve. You start off asking yourself how would da Vinci draw a subject and over time transition into how you would draw a subject based on observations of da Vinci’s work. That is when you are truly on the path to creating your own style.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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 ——————->
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.
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.
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– 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.