Sunday, 29 November 2009

Life drawing in charcoal

Charcoal is very much a hit and miss medium for me at the moment. Most of the time I find it difficult to control but every now and then something shapes up more than usual.
My first breakthrough was probably when I stopped using the charcoal as a pencil and started using the side of the stick. This brought about an intuitive shift of mind from thinking in terms of lines to focusing more on masses, and that's pretty much the whole idea behind this drawing.

It's amazing to see what masters like Henry Yan can achieve with the same primitive medium. His figure drawing book is on my ever-growing Amazon wish list.

It's been almost exactly a year since my first blog post on life drawing at The Shop in Cambridge, which is still where I go for life drawing. I'm glad to see that there seems to have been some improvement since then.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Leeds Thought Bubble 2009 wrap

This was my first time attending Leeds Thought Bubble festival with fellow Manga Shakespeare artist Faye Yong. I had heard good things about the show by people who'd caught it last year so there were certainly expectations but the show managed to be everything I'd hoped for and more!

The convention part of the show was a Saturday-only event and was held in the Savilles hall. Most of the day was spent at the SelfMadeHero table. 1st gen Manga Shakespeare artists Sonia Leong and Emma Vieceli took time from their own tables and popped by to do short signings for their titles (Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet/Much Ado respectively)around mid-day.

Doug from SelfMadeHero hooked us up with giant pads and markers so Faye and I went about sketching out crossovers of our characters from Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice.

Despite getting only about 4 hours of sleep the night before the Saturday evening party in the next-door casino was something that couldn't be missed. Apart from great people and a bar that was open until the early hours of the morning, they also arranged for comicker DJs and a burlesque drawing session.
Sadly I lost my camera at the casino so the few pictures that were taken seem lost forever. :( The only records I have left now are in my sketchbook.

The Sunday program consisted of workshops and talks. We went to one where Frank Quitely talked about his art and influences which was every interesting. I wasn't very familiar with his work before this but when he showed us a few sample pages with mind-bogging paneling it reminded me of how flexible the comic medium can be. The guy deserves serious respect... :)
Did a sketch of the man in the talk and as he was being interviewed by some students.

And that was the end of Thought Bubble. Many thanks to the wonderful organisers who made the event such a great show to be at! It will be the place to be this time next year so make an effort and GO! :D

Thursday, 19 November 2009

"Waking moment"

Some time ago the lovely Karen Lusted asked me to be a part of an artbook anthology that she was putting together. The artbook, Secret Colours, was not only going to showcase artwork from UK artists but also show steps in the image-making process.
I asked people on the Sweatdrop forums and on Deviant Art to come up with keywords or catch-phrases of what I should draw and later set up a poll for the final decision. The winning concept was "Waking moment".

I started out with doing a few rough thumbnails to explore the composition. After that I did a rough pencil in light blue over which a tighter pencil drawing was done as the final line art. The blue lines were easily removed in Photoshop, as described here.

The digital painting was done in Photoshop. Here's a small GIF animation showing different steps in the painting process.

Secret Colours can be ordered directly from Karen Lusted at There's some more information about the book, including preview photos in her DeviantArt journal.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Caricaturing likeness

Fashion designer Jasper Conran stood out to me while watching a program on Sweden's equivalent to BBC's iPlayer (available until 9th Dec, 2009). I thought he had such a caricature-friendly face.

It seems that capturing likenesses is easier if you push the caricature aspect.
It's quite liberating. Instead of meticulously trying to reproduce what you see in the exact relationships that you see it, focus on getting the prominent features down first (the chin and the nose in particular in this case) and working everything around that. It could bring it closer to home.
Caricature could be described as picking out and magnifying flaws, but I wouldn't necessarily think of prominent features as flaws. It's wonderful how different people are, let's celebrate that diversity!

Oh, here's another one of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest winner, Alexander Rybak (whose song I was rooting for from the moment I heard it, by the way - he has great energy!).

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Moon drops

Lullatone is an electronica/indie musical couple who describe their music as 'pajama-pop'. Quoted from the Spotify artist bio:
...Seymour moved to Nagoya with her about a year later, where they moved into a tiny apartment. It was there that he was inspired to start writing what he called "tiny songs." Seymour, who didn't sleep much at that time, would stay up late composing and recording lullabies for Tomida, making use of whatever he could get his hands on: xylophones, keyboards, music boxes, /.../ and, as Seymour put it, "a lot of daydreams."

Their songs make me think raindrops, sunshine and unicorns. If you're in the mood for that, check them out on Spotify where most of their albums are available. :)