Category Archives: coloring

Working Traditionally

While I was temping a few months, I decided to start working with traditional mediums again, watercolors, gouache, markers and ink brushes. When I first started illustrating, I did traditional illustrations in acrylic.

I shared a table with Scott Brundage at New York Comic Con this year. He did a lot of commissioned drawings, and did quite well. Normally I’m not to interested in trying to sell the original art, because when it’s digital, there’s really nothing physical to sell.

But I thought I’d give it a try, and made a bunch of small spot drawings there. I sold one. But I liked it, and have been experimenting more with traditional medium. Here are some of the sketches and drawings.


Just when you thought you were done…

So, the last entry, I showed some goblins standing in a field near a forest. I thought the illustration was done, and sent it out to some friends for opinions. For the most part, they agreed it’s there, but that I could push it a little more. So I did. Here are the two versions, and the second version, I agree is much better.

However, The top one is closer to style of this illustration:

I wanted to stay closer to this flatter style of illustration. I did find myself getting more and more detailed as I worked on the goblins. Take the sleepy goblin in the back on the right hand side, he’s leaning against his spear. I had to go back and flatten his face some, because the level of lighting and details I had on it were more realistic in style then say the goblin sitting on the rock.

And I certainly feel that the grass moves much farther away from the style below.

Not that I think the after version is a failure. I love it. I’m glad I took those extra steps and pushed it even more. The far right goblin, picking his nose, I think his feet and legs are awesome. They have a real sense of space, direction and shape. I love the sitting goblin, his face, the legs. I feel I managed to really make each goblin have character.

What is lacking is any sense of story, as they are just standing around by some trees. So, now I have an idea to do a second drawing of these goblins around a camp fire, as if bedding down for the night. It will also let me do some lighting from a strong source, as I’m working to expand my skills and learn something about light and coloring.

Sticking with an idea.

The background was far harder to get right then each Goblin was. In fact, the Goblins were easy compared to the background. I had an idea of what I wanted in my head, but getting there took a lot of experimenting. I redid just about every aspect at least once, the tree trunks took about 4 tries to get to the stage I wanted them. First they where too tall and thin. I finally got the shape, size and texture right.

The foliage also took a lot to figure out. At one point the foliage and trunks were blending into each other. So I thought, lets darken the top of the trunks as if being shaded by the leaves, which lead to the thought of dappled light. That took a bit to get right. Eventually it all feel together.

I really learned a lot working on this, the background in particular. I had thought to try and do something different, like putting them inside a cave, as that would be easier, but I stuck with my idea, until I worked out a solution I was happy with.

Drawing vs Illustration

I’ve talked about the difference between having talent and developing that talent into skills. It’s hard to divide the two clearly. A person could have a natural talent for something like color arrangement, while someone learns it as a skill. Both may be equally adept at it, and it would be hard for a person to know that just looking at the finished work.

Below are some drawings I did over the last few days.

The final art however, were these illustrations:

The drawing displays my talent. I have a natural talent for drawing. (which can be seen in some of the other figure drawing I’ve posted in the past).

The illustration (And there is a difference between drawing and illustration), shows the skills I’ve developed over the years. With drawing, it’s more of letting myself free to work and to see what happens. Many times when I’m drawing, I will be really loose, and see what lines or shapes come out, and then go back and hi-lite those lines and shapes that I find help create the image. Some of my favorite characters have come about this way.

But when I go to take it to an illustration, There is much more thought up front. I find that if I spend time thinking about the final illustration before starting it, I get much better results. Often I will do a tight pencil drawing in between sketching and illustrating. This gives me time to think about the different aspects, how to approach them, what’s the best way to achieve the results I want, and more details just start filtering in.

The tight pencils are a blend of using my talent and skills. I let myself the freedom to explore with the pencil, but I also keep in mind the composition, what colors I might want to use, and more.

By the time I moved into doing the final illustration, I would say I’m mostly in the skills side of things. It’s skill that lets me get the shading how I want it, the texture of surfaces, and more. Is there some talent there? Yes sure, but I would say it’s in the passenger seat instead of driving.