Get Your Own WIP

Original: 5th Nov, 2011

Or, that will be the title for now. I might change it later, but who knows.

Anyway, after working on that Sleepy Forest thing for a while and receiving some helpful critique on it, I decided to rethink my approach to an autumnal scene. So now I’m challenging myself not only with a full nature scene, but also character interaction and drawing and painting a human being.

I’m probably going to adjust the dragon’s facial expression and head position to make it look more like it was just trying to sneak a lick of whatever hot beverage your imagination desires to be in that mug. I’ll have to examine that girl’s proportions and pose a little more to make sure everything’s okay and make any necessary adjustments, then I’ll move onto colouring!

Sleepy Forest WIP

Original: 14th Oct, 2011

After doing some shorter, quicker forest paintings for practise, I’ve now moved onto a larger painting as a challenge to test what I’ve learned! Here are some progress images:


I’d drawn a smallish sketch to start, then I enlarged it and scribbled the rough colours over it. I did this last night before I went to bed.


I pulled up some references and decided I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour of the grass, so I scribbled over that with some more orangey colours. Refined the rocks a bit and started drawing branches on trees! Also turned that orange blob to the left into something. Sort of.


And I started painting foliage on the trees. I don’t like how empty the space at the bottom of the canvas is, so I hope I can think of some way to use it.

And I don’t know if I have time to get much further on it until tomorrow!

Forest Speed Paintings

Original: 13th Oct, 2011

After posting the previous blog post to my deviantART account, Lhune gave me some helpful advice about how I’m probably not as enthusiastic about painting things because I’m not improving a whole lot and suggested I try painting landscapes and things from photos. I can agree with her since I feel like I’m bored of my skill level and would like to draw things in a new, improved, ‘fresh’ way or something.

So I’ve been doing what she suggested and have been doing quick 30-minute speed painting things of various landscapes (mostly mountains, hills, and forests) and have since painted a couple of little forest things from imagination. They’re far from perfect, but considering they in themselves were speed painting things that started off as loose scribbles and weren’t carefully planned in any way, I can say that they’re quite an improvement over my previous attempts to paint similar things!

This is the first one, which I did a few days ago:

Foliage is definitely a challenge. I’m not sure I have any particularly good brushes to help me make masses of foliage, so I end up scribbling a lot of little lines and dots here and there to try and make it hopefully look like there are a lot of leaves in the scene.

And this is one I did today:

This one feels like an improvement over the first one, and I probably spent more time on it too! I’ll probably try to think more about composition and stuff in future speed painting things, which I wasn’t really at all with these ones. I’m interested in trying more little nature scene things though, and hopefully I can see a lot more improvement in my landscape-involving artworks.

I should mention also that this is something similar that I tried painting a few weeks ago:

I think it’s safe to say that my colour choices have become far more natural and believable after painting several landscapes from photos.

Artistic Engagement and the Art Rut

Original: 6th Oct, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted anything here…! I’ve done quite a bit of sketching, but mostly I seem to be in an art rut of some sort. I really *want* to draw and work involvedly on an image, but I can’t seem to find the interest I need in the subjects I’m drawing to feel engaged. I’ve started drawing numerous things, but after a few minutes of haphazardly sketching out a pose and getting to the point where I start trying to refine the drawing, I realise that I’m just not all that interested or engaged in what I’m drawing. It’s that engagement that brings out the best of my drawing knowledge and gives me the patience to actually want to spend the extra time drawing each line out precisely and delicately, which makes all the shapes fall into place like some sort of 3-dimensional puzzle and I can really enjoy what I’m doing. That sort of engagement is being ludicrously difficult to find and I’m not entirely sure where to look for it.

I don’t really know what to do to bring my interest back. It’s frustratingly conflicting due to my strong desire to be drawing and painting things, but it’s like… I don’t know, really wanting chocolate and then you get some and it tastes like cardboard or something, so you try to find more, but it all seems to taste the same, and no matter how much chocolate you eat, you can’t enjoy it unless you’re lucky enough to find properly-made chocolate. Or something. I’m sure there are better analogies out there, but yes. That. I want drawing, but it tastes like cardboard, but I remember how good it’s supposed to taste and want that.

For a long time, I was content to redraw characters of mine, comparing the new versions to the previous versions I’d drawn, excited to see the differences and improvements. I don’t think that’s working for me so much any more since I’m sort of getting tired of drawing the same things again and again.

I remember my earlier experiences when I started taking the improve-at-art concept seriously, and learning about things like construction lines made me feel like I’d gained some sort of magical power since I was now more able than ever to draw the things I imagined. It was really exciting to me to be able to put my ideas in a viewable format, which I’d been able to do before, but in a more limited way. I would have loved dearly to be able to draw as well as I can these days, but now that I have the skills that I do, I struggle to use them because the novelty of being able to draw my ideas has long since worn off. I suppose.

I don’t know, sometimes I wonder if drawing other peoples’ characters for them would give me a new sort of motivation where I’d know that what I was drawing was going to make someone quite happy when I was done. But then I also can’t help but wonder if that’s one of those other sorts of things where I feel excited about it initially, but then when the pressure of the obligation to actually get something done for someone else is present on my mind, I might be less enthusiastic.

So maybe I need to re-evaluate my motivation for drawing, the purpose behind what I’m doing, and try to find my long lost Engaging Interest. The feeling that I cannot wait to get to a blank canvas and start scribbling out what I’ve got on my mind, the strong burst of excited energy that helps me power through an artwork with enthusiasm and where each drawn/painted part rewards me with the satisfaction of a Job Done Better Than I Was Expecting.

Pfft. Good luck.
I’m not going to quit drawing or anything, and I’m still trying to get better and stuff, I just can’t seem to get very far past the initial sketch phase of a drawing.

Lantern Phoenix WIP

Original: 18th Aug, 2011

Well, that’s it’s title for now. I might change it later if I can think of something more interesting. Anyway, I’ve been craving lately to do some traditional art (mainly watercolour painting), so I thought of an image I could try to paint and have started! Hooray! I’m not incredibly confident in my ability to use watercolours well since I use them rarely compared to how often I do digital art, and they are two mediums which work very differently.

After much mental debate, I decided to use one of my watercolour boards rather than watercolour paper to paint on since I don’t have to worry about paper warping. My watercolour boards are also the largest sized anythings I have for watercolour paintings at the moment (11″x14″. The paper is a bit smaller). So, here’s a poor-quality photo of what I have so far because this is too big to fit into my scanner!

It’s night, so I have no natural lighting to use to make the photo clearer. Maybe I’ll take another one tomorrow, if I can be bothered. At the bottom, you can see my lovely pencil, and that grey lump thing below it is my kneaded eraser, which is a fantastic eraser that you can mould into any shape. You can pinch part of it into a point to erase tiny details, or you can flatten it a bit to erase a large area. They erase things really well too and without damaging the paper you’re rubbing much.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep those stars… I’m starting to think I’d be better off getting rid of them rather than trying to paint around them or whatever. The whole idea behind this painting is that there will be sort of wavy light streams emanating from the lantern in the middle there. I’m hoping to incorporate various swirls and things to try and make it all seem more ‘magical’, but we’ll see. My plan currently is to give the phoenix thing peacock colours, so it will be blue/green. Maybe I’ll even use iridescent paint for that *because I do have iridescent greens and blues*. And peacock feathers are iridescent anyway. So that would be fancy. The lantern will give off yellow light, and the background will sort of fade to orange and then purpley red near the edges. Or something like that. With swirls. And maybe clouds. Maybe swirly clouds. I really don’t know, but I’d better have a decent plan before I start painting because I can’t redo things once I’ve painted them.

So yes. I suppose I’ll start painting tomorrow and might take photos of my progress along the way. I’ll probably fix some asymmetrical bits and any other problems I might see, then go over all the pencil lines, squishing my eraser against them to really lighten them all before I begin, otherwise the excess pencil will bleed into the water and paint and create muddy greyness.

Skribble Gryphons Complete

Original: 7th Aug, 2011

Well, I managed to finish the artwork I’ve called ‘Skribble Gryphons’! Yay! Huzzah! But first, I’ll post some early work in progress pictures to show where the whole process started!

At this point, it’s a really vague mush of colours. I was just working out the colour scheme and would later build the more detailed painting on top of that. (It’s not as tall as the images I posted yesterday because I cropped the file I was working with in Photoshop and hid all the other layers of the painting to show the layer I started with, saving that as this work in progress image.)

At this point, I start adding some basic shading, trying to work out how the lighting will work in this image. I added some glow from the moon and lanterns and scribbled leaves in leafy places using a leaf brush I made recently. This was mostly to give me a better idea of what it might look like and give the picture some texture I could build on more than anything. (It’s also helpful to have all these different colours everywhere because I use the Eyedropper a lot to switch colours, taking colours from other places in the same image to make sure the colour scheme is consistent and so on.)

I often have problems with contrast, so I tried to tackle this early on by adding dark shadows and bright highlights where I could right at the start instead of jumping into detail and then realising later that all my colours are off. It’s good to do as much of this type of ‘planning’ as possible before jumping into detail to prevent those sorts of ‘oh no, I should have done this instead!’ situations.

And here’s the finished image:

Skribble Gryphons WIP

Original: 6th Aug, 2011

I’ve been wanting to enter deviantART’s Skribble Contest, where I have to use an image of some lines and build a piece of artwork from them. This is what I have so far:

The set of lines I have to use are the conspicuous circle being used for that weird tree lamp, a squiggle for one of the tree branches, and another squiggle forming the side of a mountain and a river. I’ve been fussing with the colours as I’ve been going, creating new layers and splashing blobs of brightly-coloured digital paint on parts of my picture to try and make it look more pleasing. Thankfully, I’ve been slowly getting closer to colours I can be happy with.

I don’t like the extra empty space at the top of the image, so I’ll probably crop it away around the top of mass of cloud on the right before I call it finished.

I find it a bit silly that I’ve chosen to do a piece of artwork for a contest that includes mountains, of all things, because I know mountains are something I really struggle with, so I have to be really careful to try and make sure they look right when I get around to adding details to them. I’m not sure how I’m going to paint the space below them, though. There’s supposed to be a lake down there, but we’ll see how well I can pull that off!

But even if this piece of art doesn’t turn out super judge-impressingly amazing, I want to try to enter more than one piece of art into the contest. (The prizes excite me, so I want to feel like I have a shot at winning something. o_O)

Edit 11:23pm: I’ve been working on it off and on during the evening, though couldn’t make as much progress as I wanted to due to getting interrupted by an annoying headache…!

Added some extra leaves on the ground and stuff using a leafy brush I made recently, started refining the mountains, and worked a bit more on those wingless gryphon things. I’ll probably make changes to that little one playing with that weird lantern thing. I suppose that’s what I get for not really sketching out its features before trying to paint them. Or something. But uh… that’s all the progress I’ll make today because I’m tired and want to sleep.