I’ve come to frequently use pose reference in my professional and personal illustration work, and there are a range of repositories and services out there for artists to use. One of the more fun resources is SenshiStock on DeviantArt, a pose reference account with a range of models and an outlook to convey the energy, heroism and sheer fun of popular Magical Girl manga / anime Sailor Moon.
SenshiStock ran an event in June challenging artists to draw a pose from reference every week day. Taking part, I found my digital drawing speed increasing, and I got more practised with the processes I came to use for building my drawings up.
Here’s a finished drawing next to the base I used to guide the line artwork:
I start by finding a Line of Action, although with this pose there was a choice of whether to draw it down the standing leg, or the raised one. My techniques are a pick-n-mix of different teachers’ recommendations, some Loomis, some Prokopenko, some from animation, some from fashion illustration classes and elsewhere. I like having an array of tools to deploy, and it’s refreshing to utilise them on a project focused on my personal learning, as well as having fun exploring.
It’s been a “back burner” project for the last year, but two-pager Malice/Aria, my anthology contribution of last summer, is now coloured and available to read online! Accompanying it, to round out the new section, is The Meditation on the Sacred Utterances, an intriguing monochrome work. Click here to read.
I’ve moved house lately so, although it was published on 15th May, it was earlier this month that I collected my artist’s copy of How to Draw Manga Made Easy. Last December I had the opportunity to submit some content toward this volume: pieces of artwork and sequential descriptions and images to explain tho process of making each of them. A fantastic list of artists who have decades of professional experience feature in the line-up among the pages here! Continue reading Published in “How to Draw Manga Made Easy”→
A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed an afternoon of meeting new and familiar faces and engaging with some (optional) drawing challenges in a friendly central London pub. I’d heard of the event via Twitter, eventually sourcing the chatter down to the @Art_Blitz Twitter account, through whom I registered (as there were limited spaces!)
Response to a challenge to reinvent an established comics character.
I was explaining what Takehiko Itou’s figure drawing style is like.
Inspired by a tomboyish Arya rendering on dA that I can’t find again…
Storm’s classic costume.
I found it refreshing to draw in the fun, social atmosphere, and it reminded me of the benefits and unwinding that forgetting your worries and simply doodling can do for an artist.
Art as play. Creative oxygen.
The Witchblade image has been coloured just today, using Manga Studio 5. I used a mix of the default tools, and some additional brushes by FRENDEN. Pleased to get nice results with tools I’m just getting acquainted with! Besides colours on that image, I’ve used a new Gillott 170 dip pen nib, the familiar stainless Japanese G-pen, and aquarelle pencils for colours on the ginger-haired boy.
Many thanks to Dean and Dave for organising the event. :)
On Thursday night I went to an event called #QuickDraw hosted by pre-launch arts organisation House of Illustration and established, free anthology comic Off Life. The latter have a good write-up of the event here, along with some choice drawings.
The format invited artists to respond to quirky, whimsical, or serious themes such as “My Daily Nemesis” or “A Message to the Government” with images created in 15 minute sprints. Combining imagery, skilful and popular guests, and hashtagging ensured a prominent social media footprint that I’m sure a lot of non-profits looking to market on a budget would envy.
Fifteen-minute challenge drawings. The MC shouts the topic, the artists get their pencils blazing in response at #QuickDraw !
Being in the thick of redesigning this very website, I didn’t stay until the end, but the above are my responses to the “What I Think About When I’m Drawing” and “My Daily Nemesis” prompts. (I banged my head into an Artist’s Block on the “Love in the 22nd Century” challenge, but sadly it didn’t contain a 1-Up.)
I also, happily, encountered a few friends, mentors, and inspirations:
Back in April and May I was working on these illustrations for posters for very different functions. One was another Surrey Christians in Science event, for which I chose the image of the hand of God from Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel dissolving into strands of DNA. The other was the map for the venue of Game Camp 5, a regular gaming UNconference based in London! For this my inspiration was the board of HeroQuest and schlocky dungeon paraphernalia like my own “Watcher in the Deep” on security!
While I was doing the “Hand of God” image I was thinking about illustration and the communication angle to it. All artists are communicators, but illustration has a certain expectation that it should have conveying a message at its core. I like projects that get me mining my knowledge for inspiration as well as using my eyes and imagination.
The Creation or Evolution – Do We Have To Choose? image uses the following stock images: Texture 003 by pacifist on flickr, Inkwater 5 and Inkwater 14 by AzureFalls on DeviantArt.
Note: The Keyworth Dungeon Map is 1.31MB so that the detail can be seen.
[Poster illustration from GameCamp 5 removed because the GameCamp 6 map, which you can see in the Gallery, is much nicer. ~24/4/2014]
This is a pair of illustrations, including the conbook cover, which I did for MinamiCon 18 in March 2012. Like with the illustration I did for Hallowe’en, I found that planning out the composition with the text and the imagery together early-on in the process helped lead to a better composition. It’s fun treating text as a visual element and having the flexibility of doing it by hand. I also collected reference photos of sportspeople as preparation for these and the basketball-playing faerie is particularly true to the reference image I used!
These pieces were sketched traditionally then scanned and inked in Manga Studio and coloured in Photoshop. Unusually, I used ZenBrush on my iPhone to create the calligraphic elements and Tweeted the images (Twitter handle @emeraldsong of course!) Then saved screenshots of those images to integrate into the artwork!
If you look at their hairstyles you could make the number “18” from them!
Some character artwork I’ve had on-the-go for over a year now! I got a bit overly-focused on complicated-to-render fabrics in her bow and top, but am pleased with the results. It’s a pleasure working on colouring inks that provide a solid foundation as with her smile and flowing tresses. I think this was inked in Photoshop tho’ and I’ve since found Manga Studio a lot nicer a tool for inking. During the process of colouring I learned how to use the Pen tool, which is a lot more efficient for blocking out areas for highlighting or shading than the method I used before.
I hope to reveal a lot more of this character over the course of 2012…
I had the opportunity to design a poster for a Christians in Science event coming up on 22nd November. The focus of the event is a talk called Science and Faith – Friends or Foes? and the speaker, Dr. Rodney Holder, is eminently qualified to speak about this as he’s a mathematician, astrophysicist and an ordained priest in the Church of England.
I chose to explore a style of illustration using photos and mixing imagery found on the internet such as photos under creative commons licenses. Designs that use photographic imagery can be very striking and have a wider massmarket appeal than cartoon style illustration, but take different techniques to put together than the skills I typically practice. This wasn’t something I’d tried before seriously, but I had a bit of guidance from a tutorial in the Imagine Publishing magazine Illustrate with Photoshop. Since I spent about three hours on the tutorial it justified the cover price and it’ll get better value from here onwards!
The event’s theme gave me a juicy big reason to search for some truly epic imagery to incorporate.
Here’s some artwork I made for Hallowe’en. I recently finished working as a caricature artist at a theme park. The work was fun and it helped me level-up my art skills a lot. You could draw a crowd, especially drawing in pen straight onto paper; that really wow’d some of the kids and teen visitors! Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!
emeraldsong is the creative practice of Emmeline Pui Ling Dobson