digital painting

Forest Studies

In the interest of Improvement™ I’ve been warming up with little forest studies on the mornings that I’m working digitally. For one thing I was getting bored and frustrated with quick sketching human figures, and for another Wyrdhope has a lot of forest backgrounds, and I wanted to expand my mental library of woodland to make drawing them more interesting.

All of these were done in about 20-25 minutes, using my own vast library of Blurry And Poorly Lit Photographs of English Forests as reference. Some were done manually choosing colours, more were done by colour picking from the photograph. This process both gave me a bigger palette to work from in the future when painting forests, and also allowed me to focus on the act of painting, rather than agonising over getting the correct colours first.

What I’m looking for in each one is the quickest way to transfer what I see and feel from the photograph into a painting. I have a tendency, as pretty much anyone would agree, to overthink things. And painting forests is a nightmare for this – I look and can’t see the proverbial wood for the linguistical trees. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts like ‘There are how many leaves in this photo?’ and ‘I didn’t know that many shades of green and greenish brown even existed’. Doing these studies has forced me to loosen up and look for ways to speed up the process. Most of which has been getting to grips with the many brushes I have installed in photoshop that I avoid using because I have my favourites, dammit, and I like my comfort zone. But using a mix of pre-made leaf and tree brushes, alongside my faourite Kyle T Webster chunky chalk and soft watercolour, has really turned out some results I’m quite happy with.

The top four in this post are my earlier studies, the lower four more recent – the one I chose to feature is one I painted yesterday, and I think shows how much just these few minutes a day have helped me improve. Doing these has made me excited for the time when I get to paint forests again in Wyrdhope (for the unaware, the most recent pages have all been set inside, which is a nightmare and I hate it, even though it’s forcing me to get better at drawing interiors.)

So the forest warmups will continue, at least until I get bored and frustrated and switch to something else!

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Storm Witch

Let me just preface this with the fact that I didn’t intentionally follow up my first painting of a fiery demon with a water-themed witch. The elemental theme was entirely accidental but I’m gonna roll with it.

Once again I set out to challenge myself and learn new things with this one, and once again I succeeded and fought my way to finishing this. Painting water is hard, you guys. Like, really hard. Even more so when you’re using multiple unnatural light sources. *makes mental note to acquire coloured lights for reference-photo purposes*.

I’m happy with how much I learned from doing this, though, and the next time I have to paint water I’ll be a little more prepared. This one is closer to the way I want my paintings to go – this kind of semi-realism, painterly-but-not-overly-so kind of thing. Not 100% where I want to be yet, but that’s half the fun of making these.

You can get notebooks, stickers, prints etc HERE and HERE

The Daemoness

First painting of the year finished! This one is of my Daemoness character, who is just a warmongering, bloodthirsty warrior queen, travelling the universe to destroy planets and burn the remains. You know. Happy fun stuff.

And know for the process stuff. With each painting I do I want to try at least one new thing to push myself, and the main thing I wanted to try with this was a more complex perspective than what I usually do. Fifty photo references and a few hours of drawing later, I managed to get it down, and then spent the next two weeks fighting with the painting. What I want to do is push my flatter digital illustration style (the way it is in my fairy illustrations from last year), and this painterly style closer together. This one wandered way over into the painterly style, which is great because I’d love to get better at it, but also frustrating because I want to be pulling the styles together, not going further in one direction. Not sure whether the frustration is from how long this style currently takes me because I’m not that strong at it yet, or because I want to pull away from super painterly.

Other lessons learned: use reference. USE REFERENCE THE ENTIRE WAY THROUGH. I kept getting stuck and spending frustrated hours achieving nothing but muddying the canvas, only to realise that all I needed to do was grab my camera and snap a couple quick pictures, or grab a style inspiration pic from the many I have saved. I know I need to do these things, but it seems so easy to forget when you’re in the middle of a two-hour ‘let’s glare at photoshop angrily and wait for the painting to paint itself’ session.

I was going to put a process gif, but I realised I forgot to save any painting stages between ‘flat colour’ and ‘fully rendered’. Whoops. The initial sketch is up on my instagram, if you want to do an extreme before and after, and she’s up on my Redbubble if you want her (and will probably be up on my other stores at some point over the weekend)

Onto February! I have no idea what I’m going to paint this month, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Carrion

The second of my entries for ArtOrders Tiny Dragon contest! They added a Not So Tiny Dragons category, and this was what came to me – a tiny dragon that goes after the dead like a carrion bird. I imagine whole flocks of them descending on battlefields after the fighting is done, like pale ghosts that leave after a few hours, rising from skeletons picked clean with blood on their scales.

This one decided to be a challenge for me, and took a whole week longer than I thought it would but I got it done anyway, and that’s what matters. Lighting is unreasonably difficult to paint. Still, I’m pleased with how the head turned out at least, even if the rest of it doesn’t entirely make me happy. Progress, progress.

#DragonAesthetic

One of my entries for ArtOrders Tiny Dragon competition! Judging is going on this month I think so I’m crossing everything I have right now. This painting was inspired by the fact that if dragons existed there would absolutely be a whole Instagram community based around their aesthetic, and also the fact that I would be one million percent invested in it.

I’m actually pretty proud of how this turned out, given how little painting I’ve gotten done this year. One of my goals for 2018 is definitely to work on my digital painting skills, and who knows – maybe I’ll actually learn to paint in Real Life with Real Paints one of these days.

All This And Heaven Too – July Weekly Illustrations

The theme for July’s weekly illustration was Angels! In order of appearance, the prompts I gave myself were: Warrior of Heaven, Guardian Angel, Blessing, and Smiting. The Guardian Angel design is available on my Redbubble.

I enjoyed different aspects of making each of these, and trying to push a different element with each one. A bit in love with coloured lineart now though, so I expect there’ll be more of that in the future! For August, I’m going to be doing some Faerie illustrations, so be sure to follow my sketchblog to see those as I make them. And if you’re interested in warmup sketches and mediocre selfies, then you can follow my instagram too.

June Illustrations & Commissions Info!

Illustrations from the month of June! As you can probably tell, the theme was Demons and I had just as much fun as I thought I was going to. If I could draw spooky demons every month for the rest of my life I would be a happy artist…

Each image has some element of trying to push myself and try new things. Painting, for one of them, as well as playing with animation in an illustration. The two more regular illustrations I tried to incorporate more detail than I usually do, particularly with the background of the final illustration for the month. It was more fun than I thought it would be, as I have a tendency to want to finish things as fast as possible and get frustrated at doing a lot of fiddly bits that aren’t the main focus. But I’m learning! And next month the theme is Angels, so I’m sure I’ll get to test out my colour palette beyond Everything Is A Variation on Black, Red and Muddy Neutrals.

In other news, I have an official commission price list for my cartoon/comic-style illustrations and paintings! It’s up at my newly-revamped sketchblog, so you can go to this link and see if there’s anything you’d like! (Caveat: I am away from the 7th to about the 14th with family things, so any messages in that time won’t get a reply until I’m back). Hit me up via my email, or Twitter, or Tumblr or Facebook and I will Draw You Things For Money.