Category: Tutorials

5-Step Drawing Walkthrough!

Today is many things: Daniel Boone Day, National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, and National VCR Day.

It is also the day I got around to a walk-through of the illustration below.

 

^ Here’s the final drawing. Click to make it bigger.

If you’re interested in reading and playing along, grab some paper, ballpoints, cheap watercolors, crayons/colored pencils, a Sharpie, and white acrylic paint.

Or you can just read, which is totally easier and involves practically zero effort. It’s what I typically do with other people’s tutorials. I toss cool ideas in the junk drawer of my skull. (Sometimes they even find their way back out.)

Here we go.

^ Optional prep work: Find a reference. You can draw from your imagination if you want, but I often use Flickr Commons (copyright-free images), Sktchy (a phone app, more info here), or Reddit Gets Drawn for starting points.

^ 1. Ballpoint. I used the girl’s face as a reference. Once I was done with the face, the page felt empty, so I drew some other crap. A Minnie Mouse thing happened.

^ 2. Watercolor. I used the source portrait to choose face colors. Afterward, I tried to carry those colors into the rest of the page.

I use a cheap-ass palette like this. It’s quick, easy, and under $5. I guess if I ever grow up, I’ll use the nice ones people have given me.

^ 3. Highlights & lowlights. The watercolor mushed everything into a mid-tone. I added white acrylic touches for highlights. A permanent marker delineated the blackest areas.

^ 4. Screw around. I felt like I needed to make the image more “interesting.” Sometimes doing this irrevocably fucks everything up.

I tried some color-changing crayons I bought on a whim at Target, and they were total trash. They were too waxy and kept snapping. They are dead to me now. After abandoning those crayons, I switched to tri-tone colored pencils my brother got me. They’re a million times better.

You can use anything you want for this part, or skip it altogether.

 ^ 5. Final touches. I went back in with white acrylic and dialed the background back. The “hero” of the piece was mouse-girl, not all that psychedelic dicking around.

You could argue that doing all that work in the background, then painting over it, is pointless. However, I think that the light variation in the background makes it much more interesting than just nothingness.

In Photoshop, I touched up the dark spots in the dress and on her cheek. They’re two small area tweaks, but this isn’t quite the drawing in my physical sketchbook. (See digression below).

I also made the image square so it’d turn out correctly in Instagram and back in Sktchy. (Gotta share it, especially with the girl who was the source material!)

Done!

Thanks for following along! Feel free to join me for a discussion below.

And now for a digression: Is Photoshop “cheating”? Should drawings be presented online exactly as they are in real life? Is the drawing I’ve presented here a “lie”?

When I was in college, a professor told us that our work would be seen online 99% of the time.

Most people are going to catch your latest creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, whatever. They’re never going to know you flubbed that line or fucked over your color scheme unless you tell them. The original work can be like me in middle school — untouched, unseen, unneeded. (I went through a really prolonged Ugly Duckling stage.)

I think that the most important thing is to show everyone whatever your vision is. If your materials or your hands betray you, that shouldn’t stop you from expression. So sure, fix those colors. Erase bits. Rearrange things. Split it apart and smash it back together. You aren’t entering the “I Did This By Hand And No Photoshop Came Into Play” contest.

Or are you? If so, ignore this part, you Cheaty McCheat-Pants. You’re a horrid person.

How I Handle Sketchbook Anxiety: 10 Tips

Sometimes, when I open my sketchbook, I feel a sense of dread. Do I deserve to be wasting this paper on my stupid doodles? Why is everything so ugly? Who is going to want to look at these?

Welcome to the world of Sketchbook Anxiety. It’s that thing where you slap your beautiful notebook — and your brain — shut and watch TV instead of doing the thing you love. Sometimes playing Candy Crush seems like a better alternative than failing at drawing.

Sketchbook Anxiety happens to everyone. Even people who are, like, super-good. I’ve met some. They talk about it, too.

I’ve come up with a list of things to do when Sketchbook Anxiety strikes! Let’s go:

1. If the niceness of your sketchbook is keeping you from using it, get a cheaper one. A cheap sketchbook you will actually use is better than an expensive sketchbook sitting idle. It’s a bunch of paper bound together. You can get another one at the store for under $20.  Sometimes it helps to have another sketchbook waiting in the wings so you can recognize how disposable they are.

2. Get over First Page Terror by writing a phrase there. Worried your first page will have a Bad Drawing? Don’t put a drawing there. I had a friend who wrote “I Invoke The Muse” on his first page. I tend to use that too. I also think “Here Goes Nothing” or perhaps “Strap In And Feel The G’s” might work nicely.

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3. Start a page with a closed-eyes left-handed scribble. Blank pages are daunting. Sometimes when I don’t know what to draw, I scribble for a bit in a lighter color, then “find” something in there. Whatever you draw on top of the scribble is going to be better than the scribble.

4. Ironically, limitations can be freeing. Picking a theme or medium at the beginning eliminates The Paradox of Choice. If you know this is your Ballpoint Pen journal, or your Watercolor journal, or your Collage journal, you won’t freeze up trying to figure out what to use. Or, if you’re using your journal to practice facial expressions, or draw landscapes, you already have a starting point for your next page.

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5. Drawing the same thing over and over again is okay. There might be certain things you like best. It’s okay to have a Thing. Georgia O’Keeffe liked flowers and bones. Frida Kahlo liked self-portraits. Andy Warhol had soup cans; Jasper Johns had bullseyes. Sometimes drawing the same motifs feels right.

6. Stuck? How about a little fanart? We won’t tell anyone what you’ve been watching. Doodle your favorite celebrity or a scene from a TV show. Do your own version of your favorite painting. The picture above left (page 102) references Season 2 of Penny Dreadful. Sometimes you’re expressing a grand, original vision — and sometimes you’re just doodling. You can fret about your magnum opus later.

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7. The drawings can totally crash into each other. Sometimes it works out. Like “Marcella,” above, wearing a mighty fine teacup hat.

8. A sketchbook is a fine place for stray lists and thoughts. The page above left (100) has a note “I went to the bathroom. Be right back!” When I look at that, I remember the nice guy in the coffee shop who agreed to keep an eye on my sketchbook while I was gone. (I live in a small town. It’s okay). The page below left (98) has a list of things I’ve been watching/reading so I’m not caught out when people ask.

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9. You don’t have to show everybody every page. Or any page. This page (below, 106) was a disaster. I was playing with a fountain pen — and ink dripped all over the place. Even before the ink spill, the page featured an anteater dragon and a guy with upside-down cats-eye glasses. This was never going to be a good page. If you want to pick and choose what you’re putting on your Instagram feed, that’s fine. Show yourself in your best light. Or don’t show anything at all. Nobody’s entitled to your sketchbook. 

10a. When you’re done, feel free to save your sketchbooks, light them on fire, or chop them up for future collages. Knowing that I’m going to wind up recycling my work into future collages makes me worry about the sketchbook itself less. I can snip out and reassemble the things that I like best. I can transfer the pages that work into one portfolio. If I want, I can just use my illustrations in a bonfire to heat up s’mores. That lazy attitude toward the sketchbook itself makes me freak out less about what to put down.

10b. However, for your own peace of mind, I do recommend photographing or scanning up the pages you like every once in a while. If you lose or destroy a sketchbook, you’ll always have the thoughts/ideas/shapes/inspiration on hand. It’s also nice to see how far you’ve come.

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A sketchbook is a great place to keep your life experiences, shapes, dreams, grocery lists, and more.

But it won’t work unless you open one up.

Make your own Bill Cipher Amigurumi!

If you’re depressed because Gravity Falls is over, you’re not alone.

Perhaps making a Bill Cipher will cheer you up!

Bill-Cipher

Supplies:
Yellow, black, & white yarn
F hook
Tapestry needle
Stuffing

Body (yellow):
Magic ring 6
Mark stitches 1 and 4.
Increase in 1, SC 2-3, Increase in 4, SC to beginning. Leave the markers in.
From here on out, you’re going to increase only at the ends (which you’ll be able to see because of the markers). You’ll be increasing 2 stitches every round, which will gradually increase in the triangle shape.
Keep going until it’s to the size you’d like. Stuff lightly. Then SC the bottom shut. You’ll have a puffy triangle.

Hat (black):
Magic ring 6.
Increase around (12).
SC in the front loops only (12).
Regular SC around until the hat is approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of the body’s height.
(SC, increase) around in back loops only (18).
Stuff hat lightly, sew onto top of triangle.

Limbs (black):
Chain to desired length. Chain 1 and SC back to beginning. Tie off, sew to body.
I made the legs the same length as the height of the triangle.
I made the arms about 3/4 the length of the legs.

Face (black & white):
Embroider white of eye first, then outline & four eyelashes on the top and bottom. (I did the black and filled it in, but this was a mistake. Do the white first).
The bow tie is just two triangles.

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Now that you’ve brought him into this dimension, you might be doomed. Best of luck.

Illustration Tutorial: Peeper, Part Two

If you missed the first part of this ride-along, click here!

Where we left off was a choppy bunch of shapes with some shading. Now it’s time to add some lines back in — but only the most important ones.

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I took the blobs and added in details to make the image more understandable. (You can see what I did isolated on the right.)

Examples: I enhanced his hair. I clarified the shape of the leaves. I defined the drape sashes.

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What’s next is a bunch of color-fiddling and texture-adding. I use a bunch of brushes and colors and filters to add oodles of layers on top. Each is subtle. It’s a trial-and-error thing.

A few examples of things I did here:
– I dialed back the orange of the walls. This allowed the pink and red of the pots and curtains to pop more.
– I added some cool tones to the shadows of the curtains and room to enrich their color spectrum.
– I made the plants in the foreground more blue. This helps separate them from the lime green background.
– I added my LL16 chop/date thing.

Aaaand….

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Here’s the finished product! I hope you enjoyed our journey.

Illustration Tutorial: Peeper, Part One

Today we’re going to do Part One of How I Illustrate! This process is spontaneous, fun, and colorful. You can try it at home!

Step 1: Inspiration. For this piece, my source material/idea is this image from RedditGetsDrawn. There’s something fascinating about the fact that the author calls this “my very cute boyfriend and our plants.” In any other context, this image looks like a screen grab from a horror movie.

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Step 2: Line art. I draw hella-simple line art. It can be smudgy or messy. This is where the composition is figured out. I moved the face to the other window to balance it out. I made the pots fun. I added in curtains.

Step 3: Basic colors. I locked the line art screen and set it to “multiply.” Then I added in shapes underneath. I used the Pen tool, but you could use the manual lasso or polygonal lasso and dump colors in places. When adding in colors, I make everything basically mid-toned.

Because I can’t quite see what I’m doing, the lines aren’t precisely matching up down there. I do not, under any circumstances, remove the line art screen at this point. Because I will begin to fuss. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

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Step 4: Highlights/shadows. I take the polygonal lasso tool, make a fresh layer, and start adding in highlights using a textured brush. Then I make another fresh layer and start adding in shadows using a textured brush.

Step 4 detail: Here’s how the highlight and shadow layers look on their own.

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Step 5: The Reveal: Completely delete the line layer. It is not coming back. (Bye, Felicia.) You’ll be left with something sort of funky. Stuff won’t line up. Nothing will be straight. You will notice your mistakes. You will despair. Too late.

Step 6: Levels and touches. Here’s the part where you add in some contrast and add in a few details to the spots that look weird. (I realized, for example, that the curtains didn’t have any shading.)

Click here for the final steps: adding in some line work, highlights, definition, and color adjustments.