Monday, 30 August 2010

Alternative techniques: white on black

Here is some more stuff from the Children's book illustration course. The teacher April spent some time introducing us to alternative techniques. Her rationale was that children's book illustration is highly competitive (like any field of illustration), so it was an advantage to have a wide range of techniques, so we spent a module on techniques that works white on black. 

Among other things we tried scraper board techniques.
I like the look, but this was a tedious technique and quickly made my neck ache. More fun, though also slightly more dangerous, was chlorid-based bleach on ink:

It is the kind of bleach you would use to clean your toilet or similar. First we painted a sheet of paper with ink, and then added the bleach. Because the ink is based on blue and orange, the bleached spots look somewhat yellowish or orange, according to how much ink and how much bleach was used. It looks quite nice, like lights in the night. However, the stuff is poisonous and a bit tricky to work with, so I don't think it is a method I will use again.

The thing about both of these techniques is that, well, you could probably do this much easier on computer. You probably wouldn't get exactly the same effect, but something that was similar enough, to make the effort in doing it by hand worthless. It is very difficult to get the "light in the night" effect with water colour, but you could probably make an ordinary watercolour drawing, scan it and subtly create the lights. As for the scraping board, see this beautiful webcomic, Digger, which is computer drawn. It doesn't look like scraper board, on the contrary, it has more layers than you could make with a scraper board. When I made the bird above, I realised I began to mimic the effects from digger in the chest area, but it was difficult to get the same multi-scratch effect without ripping the paper beneath.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Chomerac - Assignment

The colour drawing is the final drawing for this assignment. (Only one more before the end of this particular course.) It incorporates everything from the exercises I had to do, eg. landscapes, buildings, trees, statues, gates, a view through something, perspective (angular, linear and aerial), straight lined objects, natural forms and composition. We were instructed to add, delete or move objects to form a better composition and I deleted all the chimneys and pipes. The horizon view has been changed by bringing the mountains and fields 90 degrees to the left. (In reality, straight ahead, there is a lowered garden behind thick trees.) I moved the chateau 45 degrees to expose the facade with its orange shutters. I replaced a pool table with two pot plants from the R.H. garden and brought the foreground red flowers and lovely statue/fountain from behind to the front of the archway.

The jazz summer school students would recognise all the elements of the drawing but would know it is radically different to the real scene.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Chomerac - Water Bearer

Just back from Jazz Summer School in France. This is another favourite statue from the grounds of the Chateau Bijou where it is held each year. (I drew and smudged the image all over with a Derwent Onyx Medium then picked out the highlights with an eraser.)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Children's book illustration course on CSM

I am going to post some stuff from the children's book illustration course I was on last week.
We made these little rabbit figures in plasticine to draw from.

We drew them from different angles and used them to model postures for a simple story line.

I found this exercise really interesting. After writing the post about Jill Bosserts Children's illustration book, I ordered her two other books from amazon (they cost me about £5 each). They are very much recommended; like the one on children's books they show both the research and idea generation and the actual illustration technique. One things I wondered about was that a couple of the illustrators took the trouble to make little models to draw from. I thought that that was an awful lot of trouble to take, but now, after having seen how much you can get from modelling, it doesn't seem so unreasonable. I think it is especially an advantage if you are doing a lot of pictures of the same character from different angles.

Just a llittle more about  the course. The teacher on the course is April Wilson who has run the same course for many years. The course is very different from the Exploring Illustration course. No coffee breaks for one thing, and a very tight schedule. Each day is divided into two modules, morning and afternoon, and in each module we looked at a technique and tried to apply it in a simple assignment. I think, it is better to take this course as a 10 weeks course where you have a module a week so you will have time to finish the assignment. It was kind of frustrating never really to get finished before we had to move on.

I will post some more from the course the next couple of days.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Seeing this again on the news recently, it struck me that it is an instantly recognisable image but one would be hard pressed to describe it in detail so I decided to sketch it. (I didn't spend a long time on it, as you can see! It is 4"x4".)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A good book...

Sorry about not posting. I must admit, my drawing drive has completely left me. I try to draw, but my heart is not really in it and I can't get my drawings to work. Luckily, I am going on a children's book illustration course next week and I am sure that it will restore my drawing mojo.

So instead of posting a drawing, I thought that I would write about a really great book that I found at the library and found very inspiring. It is "Children's book illustration" by Jill Bossert. It is out of print, but can perhaps be found at the library. It is one of the best books on illustration I have seen, and actually also one of the best step by step guides. The author has interviewed nine very different children's book artists. They each describe a project they are working on, how they got the assignment and how they work together with the editor and the writer. The book then shows in detail how each artist creates an illustration for the book. The artists describe their research and how they approach the text. The amount of research that some of these artists do is really impressive. The artists also describe their illustration techniques and the tools and materials they prefer to work with.

The book is out of print and appears to be pretty difficult (and expensive) to get a copy of, so hopefully there is no harm in posting a couple of pictures from the book.

The book is one is one in a series of three; the other two are on advertising illustration and editorial illustration. If they are anything like the one on children's book illustration, they are worth looking for.