Monday, 12 January 2015

Digital Manipulation

For our next assignment entitled 'digital manipulation', we were to take the extensive catalogue of drawings built up from our previous projects and develop them further using the digital cintiq. We were briefly introduced to the Wacom Cintiq in a short lesson where we were taught the very basics on how to use the pen stylus to draw with on photoshop. I did not feel at all confident with this project because I had never before worked like this, and was not familiar with the technology, or programme we used.

Wacom Cintiq (image found here)

I started by practicing with all of the different brush tools that are provided on Photoshop and experimented with the various effects and looks they could give as if I was testing out real brushes on paper:

Once I had a better idea of which affects work available to me to use I began gathering my sketchbooks from past subjects using them to draw from, and recreating them with this software. Here are some examples of the work I created, mostly focussing on people and characters, but mixing them up:

drawing of carly 
drawing of lucy
water bottle

gent o

based this on Jade

Lucy drawing

From the mayors of hartlepool

Old man on bus with browns

I used thin lines in most of these to replicar my fine liner in the original drawings, and I usually stuck with black in the colour scheme. Sometimes however I altered the colours to suit the original and drawings and also the thickness of the lines to suit whatever media I changed in the drawings.

In these, I experimented a little bit further with the size and opacity of the brushes as well as the colours and the mark making.
(same as what I based my lino print on)

Experimenting more from mayor drawings

Reportage plant


Because I did not feel that any of these techniques were working, I began using photographs of my studies and further editing these in photoshop. Here is how I did this:

I first edited the brightness and contrast of this image because I thought it looked
quite dull and I wanted it to appear cleaner to work with.
I then selected the filter gallery and looked at the many options that were
available to me.
After looking at each individual filter, I settled on this one to enhance the mark making of
my bear drawing.
I then again adjusted the brightness and contrast of the image to make the background
appear whiter and more natural.

To further clean the image, I used the brush tool in the white colour and cleaned up the
speckles that were surrounding the bear.

This was the finished result. 

 I then edited one of my final images for animals and creatures in the same way:

I began by editing the brightness and contrast again
I then chose a filter that I liked and adjusted the settings of this
I then cropped the image to finish to crop off the dirty paper marks
and bring the image closer together.
This was the end result.

I edited my painting of the parrot in the same way to make it look
as though I had used textured brush strokes rather than fluid marks.

I worked from an old photo to create this image and traced it. I then added text. The bolder lines were much different to how I was working straight onto the cintiq.

Artists who inspired me

When I was working on this project I found a few artists who work digitally and otherwise to inspire my work. Here are some of those artists:

Phillip Bannister 

I found inspiration from Phillip Bannister when I was working at enhancing the look of brushstrokes in studies that I wanted to look much more like paintings. He is a digital artist but his style and his pieces often look like traditional paintings, and I found this very admirable and inspiring to my work.

image found here

When looking at his work you would not assume that he had worked digitally and on software like I worked with for this project. I admire his skills in his work and in the parrot study I completed above, I looked to his studies for inspiration.

Helen Bullock

I also found some inspiration from Helen Bullock, whose art is quite quirky and simple as she only really uses simple lines, and so I took obvious inspiration from that for most of my studies. 

I really admire the simplicity of her work, and how she uses negative space in her studies. I took inspiration from these features, especially in my studies of people and the mayors.

She also often adds text to her pieces, which I admire as I like to work this way myself and added some to my own studies. I like the way she uses colour in her work, and how her studies differ from the usual kind of digital art. I also admire the way her studies have a range to them, they are usually quite limited in detail but sometimes she adds quite a lot of detail to one area of her work which is very nice, and leads our eye around the image as viewers.

I admire the above drawings. I like how the facial features in the above left are quite defined and although again the detail is very limited, they look accurately drawn. I like how the artist has quite a childlike way of drawing in some of her studies. (Images found here)

Katharina Drees

I found a great amount of inspiration from this artist as she creates beautiful line drawings through the digital process. Her art does vary, many of her studies are in full colour and are quite detailed, but I took most of my inspiration from her continuous line drawings of people. 

found here

I think the above drawing is stunning, as she has managed to capture the figure using busy lines only. I love how she has expressed more of the detail in the face, and then how this pulls out, again leading our eye around the image.

found here
 I also strongly admire the above study, it is much less detailed than the one discussed previously but still the character of the figure has been captured very well, and it's admirable how it has been produced digitally.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of experimenting with a new and modern form of illustration. I think that working digitally is an excellent way of producing art for todays world, and having the opportunity to experiment on the cintiqs was a very positive thing. However, I think that I would have benefited further from more tutorials on how to use the software, as my lack of knowledge on this subject let me down I believe. Also, I was not always fortunate enough to be able to use one of the cintiqs in the studio. I would like to further practice because of this, and because I enjoyed the procedure of working digitally. It is definitely important to practice with digital art in the modern world, although despite feeling as though I'd like to practice and further experiment with it I am not sure if it is something I am likely to use through choice in my art, as I prefer a more traditional approach.

Friday, 9 January 2015

People and characters

For our next major project on our course, we were given the opportunity to create a small exhibit within the folio gallery at our university, based on the theme of 'People and characters'. We were put into groups of five, (our group consisting of myself, Carly, Lucy, Kath and Lauren) and then together chose our own area of the folio that we would like to create our drawing installation onto.
To get our ideas flowing, and to begin getting used to the idea of drawing interesting characters, we were provided with a variety of workshops including life drawing sessions. I found to be very insightful towards this project because it allowed me to focus on a small variety of unique and intriguing characters.

Workshops and life drawing

The first workshop we were given was an outside life drawing session of a bearded man on a motorbike. I found it interesting to draw this man because of his outstanding qualities, and the fact that the man was sitting on his bike seemed to add a lot of story to the drawings. Here were some of my images from that session:
Concentrating on the face
Full page drawing
Experimenting with coloured pencil
Another session which I found helpful was when we were given the opportunity to draw another very interesting character called Chalky the Yorkie. I found this to be a really great session because it again let us focus on a quirky unusual person, and I felt more able to experiment with my media in this session because we were indoors:

fineliner sketch
Pencil sketch

Coloured pencil

Watercolours, graphite
Ink and watercolour
Watercolour, graphite, charcoal
and pencil.

Another life drawing session included a female model who was dressed very colourfully, from head to toe. This gave her very eye catching qualities and gave her a definite quirkiness. She appeared very lively and loud, and this gave away that she probably had a lot of personality. She was fun to draw because of this and as a group helped us to begin thinking of ideas to help us with our work. Here are some studies from this workshop:

coloured pencil

oil pastel


Scribbly marks

Lying down

We were also given in one workshop the opportunity to revisit the nearby taxidermy, where they held lots of official photographs of Hartlepools past mayors. They had a great selection of photographs where the leaders were wearing old fashioned clothing. This, as well as the aged feeling to the images was a great inspiration to our work as it enabled us to begin properly forming our ideas for the exhibit. Here are some of my studies from this workshop:

Sketchbook work

During the early weeks of this assignment I completed some sketchbook work of my own based on studies of people around me. This began when we joined groups; as we each sat and drew each other sometimes adding funny features and creating themed drawings to help us with our idea generation. After finding this a beneficial process to help myself personally in getting a better hand at capturing people, I began drawing characters in my sketchbooks outside too, like on the bus for example. Here are some of these studies:

man on bus, pencil
man on bus, fineliner
lucy, facial expressions
Girl on bus, fineliner
Friends laughing
On the bus drawings


Also when creating these quick studies of people around me I began to create some monoprints for the same purpose, mostly of my family members. I hoped that studying different faces and characters would help benefit our group by giving us more people to work from when it came to developing our ideas and our own characters. I studied people that I thought had interesting features to work with and that would potentially stand out somewhat within our presentation sometimes adding text and unusual colours. Here are some of my prints, and drawings of members of my family:

my brother / where and why
maybe tomorrow print

my cousin in stripes
brother in shades

my sister and mam with flowers
sister and flowers
sister reading

cousin / wait for me?

Our ideas

We began to generate ideas together in our group, all based around the theme of illustrating people in Hartlepool or people that we know outside and inside of university in a quirky way, giving them all a background and a story. Many of the ideas thought upon by the group had dark natures, which was something that I did not personally have a large amount of interest in. However, I saw this as a positive, because focussing on things that I am not particularly confident in could only strengthen my skills, and also give me a greater experience of being pushed out of my comfort zone when collaborating with others. We developed a list of strange ideas, shown here below: 

We considered the possibilities of each, but decided to expand more on the idea of 'pirates'. We thought that this idea had the most potential as it was very fitting towards our surroundings, with our university in Hartlepool being situated by many docks and ships and sea fronts. We also looked on our previous workshops as an exciting way to build up the pirate characters, due to the mayors classical clothing being close to what a pirate could be dressed in. After doing some research on old pirate stories and imagery, we were then able to combine this theme and the studies we had each individually created of people around us, by drawing out new, pirate people. Whilst developing our studies and ideas, it came to our notice that each person in the group had too unique a style to be combined with others when drawing. It was then decided that we would each focus on separate tasks to go toward the end piece. Our idea was planned out further and further, and we each got set on creating our own individual designs for the space. I was given the task of drawing some female pirates, and some fish for the installation. Having something to focus on and contribute to the piece of work enabled me to feel a lot more comfortable and confident with our unusual theme. I began sketching out my pirates for our collaboration basing them on my earlier studies. I basically worked with the same facial features of some of my drawings, sometimes including their more unique features, and then added some pirate qualities like their clothing. I also added words to some of the drawings and experimented with monoprinting for some. Here are some of the results: 

Male pirate
Pencil, female pirate
I used continuous lines a lot
More detail with the clothing/outfit of the pirate

More simple/limited detail

fine liner pirate study

My mind is an ocean... monoprint

We were able to each focus on our individual segments of the installation, but also contribute to one anothers areas of work when and if this was needed. This was especially important in order to keep on board and in time with the approaching deadline. Another thing I focussed on as a contribution to the installation was underwater creatures. I practiced a few different designs before we decided which would look best on the wall: 

adding bubbles and words

fish monoprint

scared fish in fineliner


'plenty more fish in the sea'


human faces on fish

squiggly lines


fineliner fish

The fish designs turned out to be quite an important part of the finished piece because it was a small area of the wall where three of us (myself, Lucy and Carly) each combined our own illustrations in a sort of story. This described Lucys drawings of her own fish people slowly making the transition (in my drawings) into mermaids - designed by Carly.

Putting it all together

We each began sketching out our designs in our wall space using pens of different thicknesses and adding bits of colour in certain areas, like the bubbles. Everybody focussed on their own areas, but we all pulled together and assisted each other to make sure we got to where we needed to be on time. 

My own area of the installation:   

Pirate faces

The fish transition 


Jelly fish / more fish and bubbles

Lucy's work

Carly's work

Lauren's work

The underwater pirates

Kaths work

The completed installation

Printing in this project

For this project we had to provide a print on the installation which Lucy covered with her fish people designs:

However I practiced a printing technique myself earlier in the project, and experienced lino printing for the first time. I found it quite a difficult process but I think that it would be quite interesting to practice this technique further and learn more about how to craft with the lino and create more successful prints. Here was my attempt using blue ink:

Overall, I felt that this whole experience of working from a live brief and collaborating with my peers to take part in this exhibition was crucial and incredibly useful towards my practice and my potential future as an illustrator. It enabled me to get a taste of what it might be like to work collectively with others on an important project, and tested my personal strengths and weaknesses. I feel like this task helped me to gain a lot more experience and it was very helpful for our group to collaborate together due to us all being so different artistically. I was pushed far out of my comfort zone, but I now know that in the future I would be able to work on big projects with others much more confidently, and put forward my own ideas and contributions to the piece or body of work. In the future if I am ever in the position of working from a live brief again which is likely, I would most definitely try to manage my time better, and encourage my team to do so with me, perhaps working out strategies and plans for getting jobs done on time. This is due to our group being very close to missing our deadline which is not an option in this kind of project.