Two wheels on my wagon.

Biro drawing by Jon Tremlett for soulcraftcandy 2013.

Yes, I know, it’s not finished yet. But things have moved on somewhat from where it was for the last post. As you can see there are now some wheels present and the main underlying structure of the bike is pretty much done now. This is becoming a labour of love, but a very rewarding one given the amount of time I’m taking over it. The paper being used is a heavy weight kind of textured drawing paper which, whilst being great for delicate shading, requires much more work with the pen to achieve the true blackness you need for certain details. It’s starting to look really punchy though, and that bodes well for the final result. One must just make sure that one doesn’t overdo it with the background and swamp it, a lighter touch may be required for that. Here below is a detail shot of the drawing to give you a better idea of the technique I’m using.

drawing detail by Jon Tremlett at soulcraftcandy 2013

The last week has been spent drawing detail sketches for the design of a large piece of medical laboratory equipment, who says design isn’t exciting (!), so it will be a welcome relief to put some energy into this picture over the weekend and have a go at completing some other stuff that is just crying out to be finished. One such piece is this little fellow below. To be honest I started this ages ago and kind of lost heart a bit.

Drawing detail by Jon Tremlett at soulcraftcandy 2013

Lovely though it is, the dot technique is laborious to say the least, and I’ll readily admit that maintaining concentration when “dotting” is hard. My inner procrastinator tells me to just leave it alone, but that would be too easy, a cop out, the true test of things like this is to grit ones teeth and push to the finish and learn from the experience. Lots of creative projects suffer from mid-term blues, but rarely get to the end in the same state. So, one final lunge to the finish line should see it done, and who knows it might look quite good by then.




No wasted time.


Aahh, back to the blog, at last. It seems to be a never ending consequence of working freelance that just when you’re getting into the flow of something, another job comes along and completely consumes you and all of your creative energy. This time it was the construction of some very large card models in what’s known as poly-board, a foam cored board with thin card faces. In this case 10mm thick, they were really big models with large curving surfaces, which requires a very particular approach to construction and problem solving. I won’t go into any more detail here but, I’m of a mind to expand on the subject further in future posts. Needless to say the time scales for these kinds of work are short, the working days long and brain fatigue a constant companion. But it’s done now, until the next one.


So, while the above has served to get some income in, it has prevented me from getting on with a stack of drawing stuff that was all lined up. But this down time is never wasted. My trusty sketchbook, currently an A5 Moleskine with lovely creamy paper, comes with me to work every day and allows me the chance to have a scribble during my lunchbreaks. Armed with a couple of the ideas that were waiting to be developed further, these snatched chunks of time enable some thinking to occur and help to satisfy the daily drawing need.


These three little doodles are about trying to find a progression on the ideas I’ve been having lately about cropping and framing the images to create little story snapshots whilst still maintaining some dynamism to the pictures. At the moment they seem like glimpses, captured in a moment and an attempt to try and say more through showing less, if that makes sense. Currently they are all pretty small so working them up a bit at a larger size will help to give them a bit more purpose. With the Christmas break upon us one can never be too sure how much free time can be given to some quality drawing time but here’s hoping we can steam into the new year with a bunch of fresh and exciting ideas on the go.


Finally, it just remains for me to wish all of my followers and readers a very Happy Christmas and thank you to you all for staying with Soulcraftcandy over the past year.




Version 3, did it work?

The third version of this sketch is now complete as far as the main subject of the image is concerned. So as not to reduce the exercise to one of exact and complete copying I elected to change a couple of features about the central picture in an effort to try rendering certain details differently as much as to maintain my interest in it. So you’ll see that this time the main body of the engine is made to look black, the bike has taken on a two tone colour scheme and the rider figure has taken to wearing a check shirt amongst other small changes.


Third time around this was still a fun picture to create and the inclusion of a bit more detail in these small areas, such as the shirt material make it much more interesting to look at. It is often said that both God and the Devil live in the details and this is utterly true, ones treatment of detail can make or break a drawing or design, so a cautious approach is always a watch word when trying things like this. Is it successful? I’m not sure that success is the right word to describe it, though I would say that working at a larger scale, this drawing is only six inches wide, would help in depicting the finer points and relieve the need to try achieve things with a very small brush which is still too big.


This buff background arises from necessity as much as choice. I wanted to post the image before departing for a long weekend away so time is short. Some careful trimming of the scanned image and a block fill, with a little shadow, was the solution to time pressures. Judging ones own work is always tricky but in this instance I’d say it works quite well. The colours are suitably contrasty to give the drawing some “pop” and help it stand out. What really ticks the box though is the contrast offered between the very hand made nature of the painted image and the utterly smooth, flat nature of the machine made background. It would be interesting to see how this looks in printed form, something I’ll experiment with later perhaps, and equally, it would be interesting to see what happens when this flat colour is applied by hand using Gouache or Acrylic paints.


There is some black and white pen work which desperately needs attention lavishing on it so messing about with colour may have to take a back seat for a time. The challenge is whether this exercise has committed enough to memory for it all to move forward again the next time I pick up the brush.


Play with your paints.

To those of you visiting the blog it looks like nothing has been going on for some time. In some ways this is true and, in others, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all, at some stage or another victims of things that are beyond our control. Sometimes they are things which require our immediate attention, are complex problems that need solving, or often purely connected to the mundanity of modern life. In this case it has been the latter, the need to go out and earn a meagre living. This unhelpful chunk of freelance work, because I’d rather spend my time at home drawing, has been a bit of a distraction, one of those monsters with lots of problem solving thrown in to leave you drained at the end of every day.

Creative image making has not ground to a halt though, it has merely slowed a bit and this is mainly due to me getting my water colour paints out and having a play. Keeping any colour work and the monochrome stuff going concurrently is quite a challenge as they require you to switch between knowledge centres in your brain all the time and I find that quite tiring. But the colour experiments have been fun so far and I’ll get the results of this fiddling up here as soon as possible.

In the meantime enjoy the latest of my “bikeheads”. These are always quite small and so serve as a great way to warm up or practise a particular technique. Returning to the brushes even after a couple of days exposes some rustiness unless one is a consummate expert, and I am certainly not, so it’s a good way to get back into the swing of things. What is interesting about playing with the paints and inks is that the outcome is still often a surprise, invariably unexpected, both good and bad. The good ones prompt you to commit that small action to memory, putting it in the “do that next time” folder. The bad ones go in the “don’t do that” folder and usually make your eyes bleed. I’ve got one of those to show you next time.


Old habits die hard.

When I made the decision to share some of my output with the world and start this blog I had very little idea how difficult it would sometimes be to distill thoughts and processes into meaningful words. I suppose rather naively I didn’t realise that I would need to learn to cast a more critical eye over my work. What I mean is that normally when one is making an image you make judgements about what you’re doing all the time but, you don’t have to express them, the conversation happens in your head. Alterations and changes that you want to make are decided silently before proceeding.

Now, up until now I’d been drawing away to my hearts content and was pretty happy with how things seemed to be going. I’d realised that bikes were quite difficult things to draw, they are actually quite complicated things really, but had satisfied myself that I could stick with plain elevational views for the time being, while I learned more about them from a form perspective. Getting a drawing to look right in terms of shape and proportion was quite a challenge to start with. It was surprising that so many of the elements had to come and work together just so the thing looked like, well, a motorbike. There was a lot more involved than I first reckoned. So achieving a drawing which hung together and looked ok  just in line form turned out to be quite hard work to start with.

Fine, and then for some mad reason that even I can’t fathom I started colouring them in.

Great, but what was I thinking? I’m sure I had told myself to stay away from all the myriad colour pencils and pens that litter my workroom. I’m pretty sure I’d had a word with myself about reaching into the drawer for a circle guide or French Curve as well. But no, I couldn’t resist it.

I mentioned in the previous post that something reared it’s head and this was it. Big deal you might think but, it actually created more problems for me than I wanted, and influenced a number of things. For I start I began to think constantly about how I would render the drawing and this influenced the way I drew things at the outset. It also meant that I was covering the drawing in a kind of cloak of realism which I had initially intended to leave out until I’d built up a bit more confidence and competence. I was sat there thinking, “what colour should this bit be?” and “how many spokes should this wheel have?” If I wasn’t careful I’d be diving headlong into the realms of reflections and then there would be no end to it.



I’d done a few line drawings and suddenly found myself staring at a pile of colouring in. I got myself truly stuck in. I’d started with colour pencils as they are my kind of default medium, I’ve always been very comfortable with them, and started piling on the pigment. Here’s another one that got the treatment.

In isolation these aren’t bad drawings, even though I say that myself, but they were lacking something which had been very evident in the first drag bike cartoon. They were a bit dry and lacked a certain something, a dynamism? And there weren’t any people in them.

I was reminded of an old tutor I had when studying at the Central School of Art in London back in the early eighties. In his spare time he would sit at home and paint pictures of vintage cars in gouache and ink. They were impressive technically but, as dry as a bone visually. I looked at my drawings and got a feeling that I was headed, albeit slowly, down some road toward a similar end, spending days painstakingly recreating every last detail in perfect likeness. That was not what I wanted and so had to rein myself in somehow. I knew that there would be a time for lots of colour but it wasn’t now and it wasn’t like this either.

The learnings from this experience were interesting though. Quite unwittingly I’d found myself charging off down a path I had not readied myself to pursue. This is what I think happened. They say that old habits die hard and perhaps this is the case here. Over years of making images to illustrate design ideas one gets into a groove. Not only does each designer develop their own unique style, but I think they also embed within themselves certain ways of doing things. These are like creative habits. If I look back at some of my work from studio days I can clearly see that I went about things in a very particular way. In a sense that’s what I found myself doing now, doing it in a certain way. I was going from sketch to line drawing and then to colour etc etc. For things to be finished they had to be in colour, properly shaded and kind of looking “real”. Despite the fact that the images were not of real things I’d started to try and make them look as real as possible and had found myself “designing” them, which in it’s own way effected the lines I drew. I was sat there worrying about whether they looked real enough, when the whole idea in the first place had been for them not to be real at all. Most importantly the process had started to be less fun. I hadn’t got the mix of ingredients right. Time for a rethink.