December 31, 2013

So how was your Christmas/Chanukka/Kwanza? Did you get what you wanted? How's the family? Your creepy uncle still creepy? Mine too!
Through the Christmas break... Not that I really got one. My full time job is working from home, making sure a toddler doesn't kill himself. Oh how he tries. I simply took some time away from horsin around (pony commissions) to do some illustration work.
And this is the one.

It's actually the 3rd in a series that's been in the imagination stage for ages. like most of my work.
Why the third first?
Pff... F if I know. It just started to flow the easiest. Besides I doubt It'll matter much what order the series is seen in. Who's to say all three will even be completed in my lifetime. Cause I'm that slow.
Here the sketch stage is just about complete. Then it gets printed and inked with a dip pen.
I know that sketch is probably static to look at. Some color blocking might help.

Here, have a detail shot for the road.

December 29, 2013

Sketchbook Sunday: From the 2012 Moleskin Knock-off book

This weeks Sketch was originally a simple dumb joke meant to amuse only myself. It did it's job, got a chuckle and the day went on like normal.
It is one of the few that went on to a finished piece.
Finished illustration here and print available here

December 15, 2013

Sketchbook Sunday: From the 2012 Moleskin knock-off book

From the 2012 Moleskin knock-off book

Pro tip!

Years ago I worked at a craft store. Working there gave me many chances to sift through craft and technique books. On the sly of course.
HA! If they knew how much they basically paid me to read store shelve books.
I remember skimming through a great polymer clay book. No idea of the title now. I think I even got shooed away like a park squirrel.
The book talked about different ways to add texture to your clay for affects and realism. It was genius! That S got locked away. and today I find myself using it a good bit. Most recently on a current custom pony commission, for a pair of fairy wings 

Now, one big thing to take into account here is that the Wing is sculpted from Magic sculpt. A two part epoxy clay. And the demonstration here is done with polymer clay.
Polymer clay is much simpler to work with. Your tools wont stick or get caught in it. So keep that water near by while working with the epoxy. Dip often!

The wing actually has four layers to it. Three layers to the top wire supports and a single on the bottom support.
Take note on the pony, how I have the bottom support wire bent drastically forward. This is to keep it out of the way while I work on the top three layers. And just as you see there a thin, thin sheet of clay is laid down first. Generally leftover clumps of clay from working on something else. Hence mine are laid in patches. Epoxy clay is too costly to waste. 

Not wanting to waste any also resulted in the skull-cap there.

The tools: Really, just the brush and cuticle tool were used. The needle is tossed in for an added texture effect. I don't know exactly where the cuticle tool came from. I snatched it years ago from one of my husbands' white elephant nail care gifts. One of us must get on every two years or so I swear. And I'll have you know my nails are snazzy clean with out them. Aww snap!

Natural hair brushes make great hair or fur textures. This brush came from a cheap pack of craft brushes. Cost something like $11 or $14 at Michaels. It's a big pack of mixed brushes. Natural hair, smooth nylon and acrylic bristles. Very cost friendly. I tend to go through one pack every couple months thanks to forgetting to clean them of paint or epoxy residue.
Tip within a tip: The longer the bristles the better the texture can be. You'll get long smooth lines with less break in the pattern.

Take special note at the shallow angle the pin is being held at. The shallower the better! With light to moderate (meh, you'll feel it out.) pressure drag the needle across the clay's surface. If the needle is held too upright it'll tear the surface of the clay. Try it just to see. Learn by doing ya'll.

Tip within a tip: Using the needle is like using a pencil or pen. If you have even a basic understanding of drawing fur direction your texture will benefit intensely. Don't just draw wild directionless lines or worse crosshatching. You'll have a mess that wont resemble mush of anything. 
You tube and Deviant art are smattered with fur rendering tutorials.

The cuticle tool is used as a "press" tool. Meaning to press the head of the tool in tracks rather than dragging it. Even if it (this particular tool) were held at a shallow angle it still has a tendency to tear at the clay.

Taa daa!

Try using sheets of fabric too. Canvas and burlap make fantastic effects.

December 8, 2013

Sketchbook Sunday GO!

I've always felt that a lot can be learned from examining a sketchbook.
You get to see into the thoughts and process and many variations that went on to build a finished piece. You even get a look at the artist's personality, beliefs and psyche.

A sketchbook often holds many subtle nuances that tend to get lost in the final work.

Therefore I deem Sundays to be...

Every Sunday or so I'll post a page from one of my sketchbooks. Could be a new sketch could be a sketch from early teen-hood. Might even be a page from a guest artist.

We'll kick it off with this: From my 2012 mole skin knock-off book.

December 4, 2013

Finished sketch

                           Finished Sketch...............Rough Pose & Character Work

This child has been dancing around in my head for a couple months now.

At first she appeared very far off in the distance. Pacing around the hazy edges of my consciousness. Gradually she started coming closer, more and more into focus each week. 
I'm still learning about her background and have a bit of it pieced together. Well, not so much her background but more so her situation. Kinda.
The things I don't know make up pretty long list. For instance: Why does her head float above her torso? I don't know that one yet. And what is she trying to do? I have my theories but I'm reserved to tell. Nine out of ten times an image looses it's power when the maker tells their meaning behind it. I'll see how well I can communicate what I know about her.
But I'm not sure how effectively I can tell her story in the paintings to come. If they ever come. There are a couple reoccurring themes she always has with her. Perhaps if I can display them properly to the viewer they can figure out just as much about her as I have.

I've just gotta do a bit of painting practice before I take her to the carved wood panel I have set aside.

For the heck of I did sparse inking with a pen holder and nib. I haven't touched a nib pen since... golly gee I guess way the F back in two-O-one (2001)
Totes out of practice. I got ink globs allover the place here. And shaky... you'd think I did this in an earthquake.
Although, In my older age (compared to the me in 2001) I now prefer a little shake and wonk to the lines. It lets you know something was indeed done by hand. It's a nice opposite to the easier perfection of a digital piece.
I'm not saying blood sweat and tears don't go into a digital illustration just as much as an anolog one. But it's certainly much easier to endlessly edit and correct on a computer than it is in life.
Bless you Ctrl+Z. Even when working in my sketchbook, my left hand twitches for your mercy.

December 2, 2013

2nd birthday card design

So here I thought I'd gotten out of making my son a card.

Me: (To my husband and mother-in-law) When should we have the Boogs' birthday?
Boogs-short for booger.
Ma-in-law: Oh, we're having the Family Christmas party on the 21st. You might as well lump it with that.
Me: Fantastic! Everything is taken care of then.
Swaggers away.

Everything was happening on his birthday anyway so it made sense. All I had to do was make get a cake.
The sailing was gonna be smooth this year.
But as it so happens in times of calm security... plans change, abruptly. The family shindig is now on a different date and the 21st is open for a toddler to have all to his sticky fingered self.

So I was back to work on the card with a tighter crunch time to do it in. You gotta send it out with enough time for folks to make plans after all.
And let me tell ya... The only reason it took more than three plus nights was because I am no good... Let me put that in all caps NO GOOD. Wait, let me bold it too. NO GOOD at copy writing.
Words bullied me in school. More than once they knocked my books out of my arms in the hallway and walked away laughing.

The credit for the wording goes to my (much clever than I) husband.

November 15, 2013

Whats on my plate.

Generally, I've always got several projects going at one time. Most sit in thumb nail hell. while any active works constantly rotate. 
If I get stuck on one I shift gears to another. The idea is to keep things moving, to constantly be making progress on something. Even if I only eek out a couple lines at a time. And It does progress that way sometimes.
Especially now that time has become such a rare resource, thanks to a toddler.
Here's What I'm currently staring at night after night.
  • Crowned Unicorn.
  • Brian Froud custom MLP 
  • Brain storming invite cards for Son's upcoming birthday.

I've gone and done it.

I've joined the masses and set up a blog.

With the hopes of accomplishing what? ...To be honest, I don't know.
I simply enjoy trying to make and do things. Anything. Some projects stick and become more. Some fade away into boredom. 
What I hope to do with this blog is to... Rather, what I think (as I sit here typing this now) I want to do. 

  • Simply see if I can keep up a blog. 
  • use it as a record of what I've accomplished in my work and especially as an affirmation of what I've learned. 
  • Allow others to learn with me or teach me a thing or two as they follow what I do. 

I used to be a very secretive artist. 
"Nuu, Copy right ME! Do not steal!!" 
Wha wha whaa. 
It's a mindset you see echoed all over artistic web communities. Sup Deviant art!
That your work is so original. Separate from everything else. That you must guard it at all costs or risk never attaining any kind of recognition. What you risk loosing are many life and career fulfilling links and friendships. 
In recent years I began to feel that sort of mindset to be a very immature, irritating and exhausting. If someone came to me with a question I would do my best to answer it and be helpful to them, but I would also try to keep back important tidbits. Then I came to realize how pointless it was.
It doesn't matter if somebody figures out how exactly you did something. Let them. In the end what they produce will be different from your work. Cause they aren't you. They have their own skill level, design sense and focus of interests. Some artist are secretive for fear of handing more skill and power over to someone that may or may not be better than them. Or deep down, they don't want to see someone rocket past them. 
Again, Let them have your knowledge. If it turns out they blow you away then turn around and learn from them instead. Take a close look and examine how they took the same tools and technique and made it work better.
So I suppose that's what this blog will be about. It'll serve as a vehicle for this developing frame of mind. Watch my mistakes in the hopes of avoiding them yourself. Watch my progress and triumphs and go accomplish the same, or more.