Exercise 1 – Draw, draw and draw again
Brief: Reference material – a photo
- Draw a 1st time – draw what is in the photo
- Draw a 2nd time – quicker, pick out important elements to focus on.
- Draw 3rd time – from memory with a drawing only as reference.
- Draw 4th time – no reference material at all.
I used a holiday picture of the Monk bar in York at the south entrance. I liked the architecture of it and the colours and for the time it was taken it was a crisp November morning.
Materials used were an A5 sketchbook, travel watercolour palette, colour pencils, waterproof ink pen and HB pencil.
By the 4th drawing I had loosened up and was clear on the shapes being used to create the image. I knew that there were prominent columns and rectangles with a lovely swerve on the road with circular sweeping motions being important to demonstrate that. I knew the sky was blue and the stone was not grey but warm tones. Overall I found that watercolour was more helpful in achieving a quick sketch of the image and an overall idea on what the structure was. I found coloured pencils to be helpful in softening the watercolour and giving some of the texture in the wall a bit of life. Using the black pen was not good and I didn’t like how it defined the drawing. It boxed it in. The colour pencil used in the same fashion also boxed in the shapes and it lost a bit of energy as a result.
Exercise 2 – Mixing and matching
Draw – using a photo reference of a cat café from Leeds I sketched the key elements from the photo and then scanned it. I took a photo on the ipad as a way to export it into Procreate quicker as the scanner using the printer was not showing up the black lines enough even with level adjustments.
This is the draw and scan coloured on Procreate.
I used basic brushes in Procreate to colour in the image. A layer in a coral pink with a layer adjusted to colour burn gave the original black lines a much softer edge and colour. The black line around the cat was deliberately done to give it definition as it was getting lost in the background without it.
This was print – draw – colour
I used the photo reference again and used Procreate to create a simple pencil drawing with a wash of tones. This was then printed and coloured with watercolours, pencils and crayons.
This is a print of the colour and a recolour
Testing whether the printer would print a true colour of the original from the 2nd part of the exercise, I found that it did not. All the colours were muted. So I went back over with watercolour and crayon to try and make it pop a bit. It didn’t really so I left it alone. Adding a different crayon colour did help a bit but maybe the quality of the paper didn’t support this experiment so much.
Scan – copy – repeat
This was a scan of the 2nd drawing and then the colours were adjusted to give a saturated effect and a single colour given with a grey cat as the contrast. The image was copied and rotated to see if a repeat pattern would work with it. It felt a little too busy and confusing, so it wasn’t successful in a repeat pattern form.
Scan – colour – print
This was back to original sketch and used as a template to draw over. The Procreate brushes were varied to give the same effects as the crayons and pencils. The colour palette was limited to 2 colours. There are some parts of the drawing that could be developed more, but this version of the original was the most successful one I feel. It has a bright and playful colour palette and there are no heavy lines outlining the cats or the objects. I was happy with this as too often as a way to define the image a line outline is put in and I’m trying to avoid doing that.
Have I learned anything from this? – Digital forms are not always the best way to go when creating an illustration, but they can be helpful in figuring out colour mixes and layouts before your commit in a painting perhaps. As a way to try some paints out it might be good to try out the image first and then print it for a reference when painting.
Exercise 3 – Less is more
Three colour palette
For this exercise I used a three colour then two colour palette. It started out with red, blue and yellow then was reduced to just red and blue.
Each item – beginning with C – cup/colendar/cutting board/can/cabbage – was designed using the 3 colours and then a single colour.
Materials – the sketchbook is a heavy paper (165gsm) but it can’t take a lot of water or markers. I used pencils, light watercolours, posca pens for a sharp and clean colour, biros, pencils and crayons. The aim was to use a variety of tools to create an image of the object rather than reproduce the object faithfully.
Learning log – watercolours were great for avoiding a line around the object. The suggestion of the object through leaving colour in or out, allowing for the white of the paper to come through or allow for the water to flow in a direction was something I enjoyed.
The posca pens were nice and strong in their colour but I didn’t like using them on the sketchbook paper. It was too rough and the nib kept catching. As a clean graphic image it was worth using.
The crayons worked very well in conjunction with the watercolours so I liked how the three colour palette of an object (can and cup) turned out.
Limiting the palette – this worked out very well I felt. Firstly, not having a colour to adhere to for the object meant that I could free up what I perceived the colour of the object to be. It was great as a background only and objects drawn onto it. The single colour limitation wasn’t a limitation, it was more freeing. A focus on degrees of colour occurred without me realizing it.
I tried it on characters drawn from watching a movie and I liked how it looked. Plain colour background and a full character fill in one colour instead of having a black and white image, was something I liked.
Exercise 4 – Visual Depth
2 point perspective (left) with 2 colour palette/ 1 point perspective of desk (watercolour & pencils)
2 point perspective and observations of a corner section of the room in 6 panels using 2 colour palette.
3 point perspective between room and hallway – procreate digital brushes
Isometric drawing with attempt at a room without furniture and Christmas themed (no exact reference as trial with perspective drawing in procreate)
Breaking the rules – a one point perspective with broken perspective on the coffee table and rug.
Drawing without perspective can make it difficult for the person observing to make sense of the objects if they are on the page without context. It can be distracting if someone draws an unsuccessful perspective, in effect it breaks the communication of the image and can distract from the image or message.
Sometimes however, a messy perspective is what makes the illustration work. In reportage illustrations it is important to get a sense of the place but a solid line for perspective isn’t needed. It is important to report what is seen rather than to accurately reproduce the surroundings.
Distorted perspective can also give an insight into the painter or artist and where their focus is or what they want your attention to go to. Knowing how to draw a perspective is an important skill to develop as knowing how to represent your environment well or with some accuracy means that if you want to play with the rules of perspective you are coming from a place of understanding how it works first. Knowing how to do that means breaking the rules is not random and you can hold the fabric of your illustration together in a deliberate manner.