Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

I read on a website that it was possible to use a gouache and Indian ink technique to  imitate a woodblock printing, complete with stray dots of black on it and rough edges! You can find the post here on Elfwood. You paint thick gouache on watercolour paper, let it dry, cover it with Indian ink (evenly, I discovered), and when dry rinse it thoroughly and the gouche lifts off the ink (mostly, leaving the famous dotty effect), and embeds itself in anything you left plain paper.

Needing a good distraction from cleaning the house or fathoming how to use Instagram on my desktop (have found that using Gramblr is the solution), I spent time over four days making four images – the pre-image (which I won’t show you) was a disaster, as I mistakenly used soluble ink. I then dug out the real stuff and had more success.


However, it is time consuming, if fun, and I need to get some editing done this week too. I was disappointed, also, not to get the really bright afterimage that the author of the Elfwood post did. Might be my limited selection of 3 cool and 3 warm of each of the primary colours. Mixing greens and oranges, for instance, led to one or the other ingredient rinsing off faster than the other, thus changing green to yellowy green pretty fast, and orange to a pale shadow of itself. Sad really.

I do like the vignetted edges I introduced, though, and I consider the time well spent 🙂

I have now also set myself up at eleanorpatrickillustrator on Instagram.


Grunging up a bit

Posted: June 17, 2016 in art style, learning, process
Tags: , ,

Have been experimenting with the artwork and textures I have amassed.

It’s no different really to drawing my children’s images by hand and finishing those off in Photoshop. Digital on its own is fine. But I really really like using both natural media or my own photos and then digital media on top.

This image is the first one I tried (and it’s very very bad indeed!), although I’ve done another couple now. The joins and changes were too obvious. I shot some of the street furniture around the village and used my own wild flower images on a watercolour group of trees too. Not sure what it means but it was fun. I will practise further, with the help of the PhotoArtistry website.

first grunge collage

This week, I’ve taken a pause in my learning about how to use Adobe Illustrator via Helen Bradley on Skillshare, and made some birthday cards while consolidating some of the techniques. These patterns all ship with Illustrator but I have also been learning to make my own. Think I might have exhausted this idea for now, but it actually inspires me to try a few silhouette ideas using real paint. Next up is learning to extrude – what a strange word that is when you think about it! – but for now here are the three silhouette birthday cards. They are matched to the recipients’ interests: 8 y.o. granddaughter, cycling friend, gardening friend. Hope you like them.

Lola dragonflies

Liz card

Ro card


A mouse dropped by

Posted: August 31, 2015 in courses, learning
Tags: , , ,

Last time, I was telling you how I was stuck with my comic cartoon page I have to do. I finally contacted my tutor about the assignment and got some encouragement. I then decided to do mice not bats (I’m into bats after reading The Silverwing Trilogy), and to have a mouse finding something instead – required by the assignment.

Right now, I’m not too happy that the thing he finds responds appropriately to the initial given wording about having to do something – a father would go willingly. So some tweaking of the idea is needed.

But for the record, I’ve been drawing mice most days in the last week, and at some point this is bound to pay off with the better idea that I need because I’m feeding my brain information that I need an idea on mice! Retinal activation system and all that.

Here are a few to amuse you. Just quick sketches. I wouldn’t, for instance, give the mouse these boots now, but that day I did!



cheese mouse

How did 12 days pass with no post? I’d best bare all!

For my next assignment for the London Art College Illustration Diploma, I have to move on now to sequential illustration – which includes comic strips, graphic novels, manga etc – anything where you draw more than one image and they follow on and encompass a story element, I guess. Obviously I don’t have to do all of these. There are two parts of the submission to complete, one given to us and one a free choice.

The problem is that I can’t find a place to start.

I’ve been given a skeleton structure of a scenario – briefly it includes a desert, some thoughts, some speech, a variety of shots needed at different times, an outcome. etc All of this can be interpreted in myriad ways – that’s deliberately left to us. Plus I have to produce several sketches of the character to submit alongside the page of panels, any medium, black and white or coloured. Are you now as overcome as me??

I think the block is in the freedom. And knowing where to start. Character? Frames? Story? And do I choose a character I can draw from different angles and distances? Or the best for the idea but maybe less well executed… Have fun? Be sensible? Cartoonish or real? I’m floundering.

Time to consult the tutor, methinks. Distance learning always presents a problem. I mostly do well if left to learn and study and practise and eventually submit. But just sometimes, like now, I need a helping hand to move forward. I think this is the most challenging part of the diploma for me – not quite my thing. The final assignments are around children’s illustration, which will be just my cup of tea 🙂

Anyway, while procrastinating and losing myself in a fog of indecision, I did a couple of pictures:

running girl col copy

Not sure I got her legs to body ratio right!

From a teaching book by Duncan Smith

From a teaching book by Duncan Smith – his was pencil, mine is biro and digital colour

Thanks for being alongside me in my fog for a few minutes!

Still in search of what feels best for me in terms of style (and I agree we might need flexibility and a few variations), I really love doing biro sketches. Instead of taking them into Photoshop or Manga Studio5, I’ve been experimenting with just adding a touch of colour with Neocolor 1, which are non-soluble wax crayons. I could have used Crayola either, because I get on with them quite well too and have 100 colours instead of the Neocolor’s 40!

I sketched a man on the telephone (a singularly old-fashioned one – a smartphone would have presented fewer problems) and then saw a picture of the author/illustrator Lynne Chapman – – apparently taken as she was leaving a SCBWI retreat (no idea who shot it but thanks – it was a super photo). She has given permission for me to put it online, so here are the two:

Adapted from a magazine picture I once saw

Adapted from a magazine picture I once saw

Author/illustrator Lynne Chapman, with permission

Author/illustrator Lynne Chapman, with permission

I’d really value your opinion as to whether this would be a valid way of colouring in a proper illustration. Casual but effective.

Someone asked which biro/ballpoint I use. The answer is not a Bic or similar from a stationers because they blob if used on their sides for drawing. I find that the Contour Argent pen – that is, they say, the most used charity pen in the country – is brilliant. I have saved a stack of them in case they disappear off the face of the earth just as I decide it’s my pen of the future.

Contour Argent ball point pen aka my 'biro' in generic terms

Contour Argent ballpoint pen aka my ‘biro’ in generic terms

I get my teaching and inspiration from a number of places at the moment. I just thought I’d mention here that Craftsy has three excellent courses for those who are trying to illustrate for children.

A while back I did The Art of the Picture Book, taught really well by Shadra Strickland. She generously shows us her process, her mini mock-ups and her sketch books, and talks us through the whys and wherefores of illustrating a given text.

Later, I watched Picture Book Illustration, taught by Eric Johnson. We were able to watch him paint his scenes, which was instructive as one of the things about illustrators is they work alone and you’re never quite sure that what you do is considered normal! It was a treat to see him at work and again be told how and why.

Finally, at the moment, I am part way through Doreen Mulryan’s class People in Picture Books: Developing Your Main Character. I found it hard to understand her speech at first but the content is proving good again.

I can’t say the same of all Craftsy classes. I tried a few others because I was tempted further afield than children’s illustrating. But for me, some are too boringly presented to watch. That’s just my personal opinion, of course.

Other art tutors on Craftsy that I really can recommend (if the course suits you, that is) are: Marc Taro Holmes, Matt Rota, Paul Heaston and Donald Yatomi. Many thanks to them too for inspiring me and helping me along.

These are some figures I sketched while watching Donald Yatomi’s concept art class. He starts with scribbles and sees what emerges – so I did too. He then develops them into the kind of character the brief asks for. So obviously he doesn’t develop different ones – they are all on the theme, say, fighters. Mine are, well, varied 🙂 website