Background noise.

As mentioned before on the blog there are always things going on in the background while work on the larger finished drawings is progressing. Sometimes this takes the form of working sketches which will form the basis of larger works, at other times they are small drawings that are used to practice techniques or develop an idea.

Above are a small group of what are known here as bikeheads. Invariably the larger drawings contain a character or two and it is often a challenge to get them looking right for the given context that they find themselves in. Finding the correct pose and body shape is never simple and the same goes for facial expression, and how this reflects the characters personality. The former are dealt with purely through sketching out varying forms but, the latter is harder, especially when you realise that even the slightest variation in line can change a facial expression completely. So as an aid to get things going I have started a kind of character bank in which to keep all the doodles of heads and faces that appear through the sketch sheets. It will then be easier to have a look through and find some inspiration when it’s needed. Adding some colour to these helps to bring out the character and keeps my colour pencil technique up to scratch too if it’s not being employed elsewhere.

Which leads me neatly onto this second group. Back in December a post contained some small groups of varying bike styles I was playing with at a reduced scale. Those had been completed in crayon and ink. These above were done purely to see what would happen if they were done using liquid inks and watercolours. To find out how intense the colours would be and how much of the detail could be held  given the very liquid nature of the medium and the coarser paper used. Very fine Rotring pen has been applied too, to firm up[ the outlines and add extra black where desired. The paper was fine for the paints but proved to be a bit too “wooly” for the finer stuff subsequently done with the pen. Next up will be a test on harder paper.

Some say you can’t learn to draw from a book. This may be so, or not, but a couple of really useful books I refer to regularly are Action Cartooning by Ben Caldwell, here, and Cartooning The Head & Figure by Jack Hamm, here. Both are invariably out on the desk when character sketching. Neither will teach you a style but, both will inform whatever your personal style may be. Great books.


Variety, part 1.

“Do you draw anything other than bikey stuff?”

It’s an often asked question and the answer is, yes I do. Currently the focus is very much on the bike stuff but, there is increasing feeling that a bit of diversity wouldn’t go amiss every now and then. Looking back through the admittedly rather scant archive here serves as a constant reminder that other subjects do indeed come under the Soulcraftcandy spotlight every so often.

Admittedly it’s not very frequently but, now and again I am asked to do a small commission, or an upcoming event such as a birthday prompts the creation of something different. Providing there is enough time to get things done, including coming up with the right idea, doing small commissions and gifts can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Not being a pro artist or illustrator means that engaging in these things is less pressured and remains fun.

Peoples reactions to them are often very positive and complimentary. If you are lucky enough and they are giving you some money in exchange for your labours, then usually this more than compensates for the ocassional hour or two you’ve spent burning the midnight oil to get it done in time. The rewards are also emotional, they feel good about receiving something unique, and you get a big buzz out of that and receiving the compliment. Lots of great Karma is shared.

So here are a couple of things retrieved from the archive which aren’t focused on big bikes, blokes and big engines. The one above was done some years ago for a charity auction. A very old friend, who ran a gallery at the time, asked a number of people she knew to donate or create a work to be sold at an auction to raise money for a charitable cause. If my memory serves me correctly it was called The Yellow Brick Road Foundation, a children’s charity, hence the subject of the picture. I don’t remember how much it raised, but it was very satisfying to know that it sold and the proceeds went to a good cause.

This second image is one of a number done over the years for my brother who runs a veterinary practice and likes to create a new brochure every now and again. Once the images have been scanned for printing he has them framed and placed around the surgery to add bit of light hearted interest to the place. It’s a nice touch and pleasing to know that many others get to enjoy the pictures on their visits. Here I was making a comment about the old adage that owners sometimes look like their pets, and vice versa.

If the archive is holding any other nuggets these will be posted too in the name of variety, which is the spice of life after all.

Both of the above were created using colour pencils and ink on cartridge paper, which was  pretty much my default setting for many years and remains a strong favourite.

Time well spent?

At last, managed to finish the first big scribble drawing last night. At last, because this thing took far, far longer to do than first imagined. Although the style might look quite quick (and it seemed as much at the start) it required a lot of time to move around the drawing, continuously teasing out the many details in order to create the right feeling of depth and movement. It is a very satisfying process but requires a lot of patience. This technique is definitely one where knowing when to stop is an undefined line somewhere amongst the thousands of little bits of shading.

Capturing the little sideways glances of the riders as they vie for supremacy is my favourite bit, although it’s a close run thing between that and the slightly out of focus nature of the image, which lends to the feeling of movement.

Another one has already been started (am I a glutton for punishment?), again using a fine nibbed Steadler 430 biro and an A2 sheet of 220 gsm heavyweight cartridge paper. What with all of the other things I’m playing with it may be a while before an update on its progress can be posted. Watch this space.