Showing posts with label brush pens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brush pens. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What I'm working on...

Here's a little peek into my process for some small commissions I recently finished! 
First, I gathered information on my subjects (I asked about favorite colors and animals). I took this information and started with really loose sketches in my sketchbook:
I tried to mimic those sketches as best I could on watercolor paper using very light pencil. I went over that with ink line and when that dried, I erased the pencil and began painting and coloring. 


The results look a little bit like this! The colors ended up looking great together:



These pieces for Kickstarter backers were all inspired by Peter H. Reynold's International Dot Day. In fact, the alligator piece on the bottom left is for him! It's his son, Henry Rocket reading a book about rockets, of course! 


Cheers!
~Renee

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Watercolor my World: Part 2

In my last few posts, I've gotten a little digital-heavy, but I promise I have not forgotten to document my painting progress! In my last watercolor post, I described why I decided to take a watercolor class in the first place. As my 8 week course comes to a close, it's easy to say that I'm not quite publish-ready with the medium, however, I did make a great deal of progress. 

My starting palette. 

Here's my edited palette (in list form) and what I discovered about each color (to my personal taste):

-Cobalt Blue (too close to Ultramarine, replaced with Prussian Blue)
-Ultramarine

-Viridian Hue
-Sap Green
-Burnt Umber (dull, but sticking with it)
-Yellow Ochre (too dull, replaced with Naples Yellow)
-Quinacridone Gold (decided to add more blue to palette with Cerulean)
-Cadmium Yellow Hue
-Burnt Sienna
-Alizarin Crimson (use it in EVERYTHING)
-Cadmium Red Light Hue (replaced with Mortum Violet)
-Cadmium Red (also use it in EVERYTHING)


As in most schooling, it's customary to start with still lives. Here's my first pass at one using my original  Winsor & Newton palette and Arches Cold Press


Here are a few other samples of what I painted:



I discovered how much I like to add reds and pinks when I'm real-life painting. I also became slightly obsessed with painting fur. :) It doesn't happen so much when I'm working digitally, but who knows, maybe that will change now? 

My weapons of choice:
-Ticonderoga #2 Pencil
-Isabey Squirrel Quill Brush (Size 4) - great for both large washes and details
-Isabey Kolinsky Brushes (Size 4 and 6) - best for small areas
-Winsor & Newton Cotman (Size 5) - best for hard details


I switched a lot between Hot and Cold Press Arches (140 lb.) throughout the 8 weeks, trying to discover what I like best about both. 


Cold Press (Toothy Texture) seems to be best at letting the paint do it's thing:


Paint edges look softer and blend better on Hot Press.

Hot Press (Smooth) seems to be best for adding ink line and/or colored pencil:


Paint edges look harder and more defined on Cold Press.

Here is an example of some color tests I did side by side on Hot Press (back) and Cold Press (front):

Lemur in a sombrero prefers Cold Press, like me.

I gave Cold Press another shot on the last night of class, and this is what happened (based off of this sketch):


I wasn't able to use my ink brush, instead I tried using the paint, itself to fill in the lines I wanted so badly to see. 

I hope to keep painting and I can only imagine that making the promise to update you all on my progress will push me forward. And then, maybe slowly over time, my palette will continue to grow to a more masterful size, like Dan's

Dan Moynihan's watercolor palette is well-loved!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!
~Renee




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From Sketchbook to Screen: Black and White

My last post was about how I've been trying to get back to my painting roots and become less of a digital artist. Besides attempting watercolor, there are other ways I go about trying to accomplish this: One of them is by using scanned a page from my sketchbook in a finished piece. To explain how I go about this very tricky business, I'm going to show you the scary inner workings of my Photoshop layers for this illustration:

Jody from The Yearling is REALLY just crying about how messy my Photoshop layers are.

*I can go into more depth, but to keep it simple I'll start with just black and white art. Next time, I'll go into the beast that is color. 

This particular assignment was for the most recent SCBWI Tomie dePaola contest in which he asked for a black and white piece. I had just read this interview with Jon Klassen (author/illustrator/Caldecott winner) over on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The way he describes his own process is very much an organic blend of making shapes and positioning them together digitally. I thought this would be a great way to practice combining both traditional and digital media in my own work.

So, to get started, I read The Yearling... SOBBED my eyes out, composed myself, chose a moment, and finally then started sketching. My ideas came out in pieces: Jody, the bitterns, the forest, ducks, the pond, grass, plants, weeds, etc. Here are some pages directly from my sketchbook, in which I used both a pencil and ink brush pen:





I scanned all of these images at 600 dpi, a nice, adjustable size for my tiny sketches. I knew I wanted to be able to make those inked plants really big and put them in the foreground as silhouettes. That being said, once your image ends up in Photoshop, it'll probably still need some help. Here's what I do:

Adjusting Levels

1. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels:



2. Move the middle triangle to the right to make increase contrast (making your lines darker):


3. Move the right triangle to the left to brighten the whites:


Now you can copy and paste the pieces into a new file and set the layer to multiply to see only the line. And now I'm ready to show you my monstrosity of a 75 layer Photoshop file (I've had up to 400 layers in one file, btw). This image shows less than half of the layers I used, but you can sort of see (with some layers turned off ) how it works. I positioned the ducks together, overlapped the plant in the foreground, and arranged the wildflowers and rocks into a scene. I normally label my layers, but I must have been in a hurry this time. 

*TIP: If you have a messy unlabeled file like me, you can press "V" for the Move Tool and right click on any object to find the layer it's on. It works better than turning layers on and off until you find the right one. You'll be pulling your hair out by the time you find it. 


Here's a closeup of Jody, who's entire self exists on just 4 nicely labeled layers (sketch, multiple shadow layers, and a white underpainting):


When it comes to the background, one helpful thing to help you fill in details like tree leaves, is knowing how to make a Photoshop brush. It's SO easy. Specifically, here's how I made a leaf stamp for the above image:

How to Make a Photoshop Brush:

1. Create a new file at 300 dpi - good dimensions are somewhere between 200-500 pixels (mine is a weird dimension because I cropped the file when I finished drawing leaves):


2. Make a new layer over the background white and start drawing what you want your brush to look like, in this case - leaves!

3. Once you have your image, delete that white background (by default this layer is locked, unlock it by  OPT+double click):


4. Press CMD+A to "Select All" then go to Edit  > Define Brush Preset...


5. Name your new brush.


6. Find your brush in your brushes palette, select it, and use it!!

 


*TIP: If you click on Brush Tip Shape in the Brushes Window, you can change things like rotation and size, which help to aid the variance and organic quality of your brush. 

7. Make sure to save your original Photoshop file so you can make the brush again easily if you happen to lose it!



And that's a wrap on how to combine sketches with your digital art. I hope this was a helpful resource for some folks, but if you have any questions please feel free to post in the comments. Next time I'll elaborate more on what I do for color images! 

In other news: 
Recently, I was interviewed by the awesome Bill Turner over on his blog, The Tools Artists Use: A fine resource to learn more about many illustrators, cartoonists, comic artists, etc.  

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!
~Renee

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Speed Sketching Dojo

TracyBishopKarateSketch01
Last summer my son started taking karate class. It didn't take long for me to realize that while it's fun for him, it's BORING as a parent just sitting on the side the entire hour. So I decided to turn my son's class time into my own dojo of speed sketching.  I have a classroom full of cute models so I had to take advantage of that.

Since I'm mainly a digital illustrator I try to keep my analog skills fresh by keeping a sketchbook (so no iPad sketching for me). My goal was to loosen up and try to exercise my drawing hands. It seems obvious but trying to draw a dojo full of moving kids is tough. Eventually I landed on a strategy where I just focused on capturing the general motion. I filled in the details like the face and hairstyles later.
TracyBishopKarateSketch14 Another strategy was to use a pen instead of a pencil. That way you avoid the temptation of being timid and laying down light lines so you can draw over it. With a pen you're forced to commit to a line and it either works out or it doesn't. You can't be precious with it.

With this kind of sketching you end up with a messy sketchbook with half-formed lines and blobs that don't make sense. But once in a while I hit on that little drawing where everything comes together and that makes me happy.

TracyBishopKarateSketch18TracyBishopKarateSketch15TracyBishopKarateSketch06TracyBishopKarateSketch19

Tools used:

  • Sketchbook: hand•book journal co.'s sketchbook
    I really like the weight and texture of the paper. It has just enough tooth that it takes ink and watercolor really well.

  • Brush pen: Kuretake Fountain Brush Pen
    I know this pen is a little pricier than the popular Pentel Pocket Brush Pen but the Kuretake's brush is shorter than Pentel's and this makes all the difference in giving me more control over the lines I make.

  • Ink: Platinum Carbon Pen Ink Cartridge
    I use this ink because it's waterproof.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Watercolor my World

It's the beginning of Spring here in Boston, a time of new beginnings and rebirth. There's no mistaking a change in the air when you get that one extra hour of sunlight! In the Spring, I start to reassess where I've been and where I'm going. This year I chose to focus on my art style. Lucky for me to find three talented ladies in the same boat!

As we previously mentioned, the goal of coming together on this blog is to help not only each other, but offer advice to anyone else who might need a lift. I'm thinking of it like a journal. Down the line, there's bound to be a story you'll connect with to help steer you in the right direction.

Here's my first story:

I studied oil painting in school by choice. 15 years ago, I had different goals and different influences, but things change. After school I got a job in the animation industry and suddenly I was a digital artist frantically learning new skills and software, letting my paints dry and crumble. How sad to forget about something you studied in such depth!?

A few months ago, tired of leaving them half full, I started to make myself draw in my sketchbooks. I thought it might be helpful to use Instagram to share photos of my sketches (social media "cheerleaders" are your best friends). Because of the reactions I got, I kept going. I learned to draw more freely and be less dependent on the Cmd+Z.


A few months into posting sketches, I pulled out my Pentel brush pen:


Having that solid pencil sketch made adding a more permanent line actually fun to do. Being able to manipulate a brush pen got me to thinking (uh-oh). 

Here's the conversation that happened in my head:

"I need to relearn how to paint."
"But oil paint is too messy."
"And smelly..."
"What if my cat eats the paint and dies?"
"There has to be another way."
"Water...
...Color"
"!"

It sounds so silly listed like that when actually, over time, I just developed new influences and became more fascinated in a particular picture book illustration style. (A style you just can't replicate in Photoshop, believe me I've tried!) My husband focused on watercolor in school and we had a "Painting Sunday" where he showed me some techniques. Our cat, Timmy, was happy I chose water over oil and so eager to pose:


I kept dabbling for a bit on my own:


Then I discovered a local watercolor class with illustrator, Dan Moynihan. I can't imagine taking a class these days unless the teacher is someone I greatly admire and want to learn from. Dan's style is cartoon. My style is cartoon. Perfect! I was relieved to find that class #1 had us starting from the very basics. There is absolutely no pressure to finish anything and make it look "perfect," which I have been trying to do for 15 years.

I've only been to a few classes so far, but taking a giant leap backwards has been extremely helpful. It can seem gruesome to have to start all over, but it's never too late if you don't freak out (*quote of the day). Patience is so hard to find, I know.

The reintroduction to value and hue studies is one of my particular favorites:


Through this simple test, I'm discovering what colors I like best and realizing I can probably subtract a few from my palette (i.e. second row from the top left - ultramarine and cobalt look close enough to probably choose just one):


My first palette (that I will eventually condense):
-Cobalt Blue
-Ultramarine
-Viridian Hue
-Sap Green
-Burnt Umber
-Yellow Ochre
-Quinacridone Gold
-Cadmium Yellow Hue
-Burnt Sienna
-Alizarin Crimson
-Cadmium Red Light Hue
-Cadmium Red


There you have it, the beginning of my sloooow, messy process of getting back into painting and the end of chapter one. If this ends up being a 25 chapter book, so be it. The second you stop learning is when the creativity stops as well, right? I'll do my best to share what I learn on this blog and I'll definitely keep posting frequent sketchbook photos on Instagram!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and so forth. I would love to keep the discussion alive!

Cheers!
~Renee