Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The 10 Minute Epiphany...

I've been getting very annoyed at myself this weekend, with my caricature work.  I didn't seem to be able to get a good likeness done, and what I was doing was taking forever.  After looking at the caricature tutorials again, I had an epiphany...  I was taking too long. It was taking me over 40 minutes to get to a stage where the drawing looked something like the subject.  To get better, I have to do more caricatures, and that means getting faster...

The answer?  Simplify, and go back to basics.

Take a good look at the subject, but concentrate on the shapes that I see.  Once I have the shapes in my head, I give myself 10 minutes to capture the best likeness I can with a blue pencil.  Like this...



As you can see, I've got a reasonable likeness of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Blofelt (Donald Pleasance) - both of which I'll ink over at some stage and produce a finished colouy version.  The 10 minute limit forces me to get the basic shapes right first - once that's right, the rest is easy.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Digital Caricatures - Note to self...

Keep it simple stupid.  Concentrate on the drawing and line art, then colour simply - just use airbrush to create light and shadow.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

...And the results are...

...Interesting.

Here's what I did.  I decided to do a quick background comparison test using a piece of watercolor paper (with a gesso coating) versus Bristol board.  At the same time, I decided to test my new purchase - a Winsor Newton Series 7 size 2.  The only waterproof ink I had to test it with was my little bottle of Winsor Newton Indian Ink, so that's what I did....

The image on the left is the watercolor paper with gesso, the left is untreated Bristol board.
First thoughts?  I HATE inking on gesso - it's not just the feel of the brush on the surface, but it catches my fingers making the inking more "wobbly" as a result.  I used my Rosemary brush on the gesso, as I didn't want to ruin the W&N straight away.  I did use it on the bristol, and liked it a lot - but the ink!  The W&N Indian ink just didn't want to flow!  I normally use Sumi ink, which is gorgeous with a brush, but compared to that, the W&N ink felt like tar - it just didn't flow.  The upshot is I'm going to try to get some Pelikan ink (supposed to be really good with brushes), but I digress...

I did the background using the same basic method - that is, I got the page wet, and applied some diluted Golden Fluid Acrylic (Pthalo Blue), trying to get a gradual fade.  I obviously didn't succeed, but that was becausse I was short of time.  Both surfaces were much less absorbant than the basic watercolor paper (which I expected), but both behaved in different ways.  The gessoed watercolor page did have some texture, which stopped the paint from moving very freely.  The bristol board is much smoother, which lets the paint flow better.  You'll notice that the bristol has a more "watercolor" feel because of that - the quite stark color gradient is because I had to mop up the remaining blue paint on the surface as I ran out of testing time.  I think that given more time, the result would have been more pleasing.  It also leads to another point:  with the bristol board, I could lift the paint off more like I would with watercolor, so I could fix mistakes.

So what's the result?  Well, I prefer both surfaces to untreated watercolor paper without a doubt.   The thing is, I'm not sure if I'd prefer gessoed illustration board to Bristol Board.  Bristol is cheaper, more easily available, and takes ink better - I may well stay with that.What I might do is sand the gessoed illustration board a bit, and see if that helps...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

'Ruddy 'Ell!

Just tried a background in acrylics on watercolour paper, and found that I couldn't move the paint around how I wanted.  Problem appears to be that compared to Bristol or Illustration board, the paper is so much more absorbant that it literaly sucks the water out of the paint.  Also, even though I sealed the ink drawing with fixative, the ink still ran when water was applied!  The answer appears to be to gesso the surface, so I might try a couple of experiments..

Friday, March 11, 2016

Trouble at t' mill...

This blog of mine as sort of become a post facto diary of sorts for my journey in art, so here's the latest debarcle...

I've started experimenting with liquid acrylic paints, specifically Golden, and the results are quite good.  I used a similar method that I use for the watercolour base (light to dark), just with more layers...

I'm really pleased with my version of "Leia" (Carrie Fisher), and it gave me the confidence to go further, so I tried "Castle" (Nathan Fillion again).  Nathan is a really hard subject, but I thought my sketch was pretty good, so on with the painting, and...  oh dear....


Unlike "Leia", I tried to do clouds as I would have done with oil paints, but by using an acrylic blending medium - the results were horrible.  Not only were the clouds "patchy", but the illustration board reacted badly in one place, the surface "bobbling" until it went a very strange shade (almost like I'd damaged the surface).  I'll tried to tone the background down a lot to get over that problem, but that wasn't the end of it.

The mask I used to cover the subject failed in places, leaving bright green smuges on the paper.  The answer (I thought) was titanium white, but of course, the different absorbtion rates between the paper and the white paint left me with horrible blotches.  I tried guoache, but that just mixed with the acrylic paint!  It took a lot of work, but I finally covered the mistakes.  Then the painters tape ripped the board - bacause it wasn't gessoed...
Next step was colour pencil - and that really didn't work.  The blending just went straight to hell, although at least the pencil "took".  As I look at it now, it's not terrible, but it's nowhere near "OK"...

So, for future projects....
  • Gesso the surface to make it "even" when the paint is applied and prevent "Bobbling"
  • Go from light to dark, and assume you CANNOT lighten it.
  • Don't mix guoache with acrylic!
So, I may try "Castle" again using the lesson's I've learned - watch this space!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Been a while...

Oh yes, it certainly has.  I've been playing with more cartoon and caricature methods of late, as well as doing some commisions, and I'm now in the process of updating my methods (again).

As described in previous posts, I usually colour my line work by underpainting in water colours, and then detailing with colour pencils.  I recently bought Jeff Miracola's acrylic painting DVD, and it made me rethink my current process.  Firstly, I've been using pigment markers or brushes to do my linework, but I've always been happier using my Zebra brush pen - but it's not waterproof.  After watching Jeff's videos on youtube, I thought I'd try using a fixing spray to seal the paper after I did my linework - and waddya know, it works!  I can use my Zebra brush pen, with all its abilities, and still colour the work with no ink bleeding - marvelous!

I then tried to do the underpainting using acrylic inks (FW Ink) which worked, and here's the result...

As you can see, it turned out...OK.  Not as good as I hoped actually, which I put down to the inks being far too strong, which meant I had to work much harder with them.  My next step was to try Acrylic paint - specifically Golden Fluid Acrylics - for the underpainting - here's a little "TinTin"esque character...

This is JUST the underpainting - no pencils involved.  You'll notice how rich it looks compared to the combined ink / pencil method above.  I reckon it will look even better once the pencil is applied.  Let's see...

Subtle - but it's there.  The pencils add a bit of textured shading (this is watercolor paper...).  Overall, the effect is quite nice.  There's a "depth" that's there that wasn't before, possibly because I "glazed" the underpainting, making the colours more striking.  The Pencil shading is good, although I wonder if I could do that with just paint (the before picture has had some shading performed with just the acrylic).  The next step is to try this on another caricature, and see how we go...

As an aside, my next piece will be on illustration / watercolour board.  I'm tempted to prime the board with Gesso (another little trick from Jeff) before I start, to make sure the board is properly sealed first, but as I have 3 boards, I might just have a go with just the fixing spray first.





Friday, December 04, 2015

Mixed Media Part 2 - "Mad-Eye Moody"

More notes to myself on the Mixed Media process....

1.  Dark colours first, then go progressively lighter...
2.  Only blend dark colours with oil, as the lighter ones will darken too much...