Sunday, February 28, 2016

November- January Miscellaneous Color Illustrations

I end up creating a lot of illustrations when testing and reviewing art supplies.  Some of these were used for YouTube reviews or tutorials, and some are part of larger posts that will be shared here.  All of them take a significant amount of time to draw, ink, and render, and I thought they were worth showcasing on their own merit, as they often get lost in larger posts.

These are in no particular order, and some illustrations may end up rescanned and cleaned up for use elsewhere, as it was difficult to get the initial scan.

While breaking in my Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal, I decided to do some fun Line Tool inspired emotion stickers.  They're really cute in real life, but didn't scan very well, due to the watercolor sketchbook warping with use.

You can get your own Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal in a variety of sizes.  I used the 8.5"x5" journal for these watercolor doodles.

Based on the above illustration of Kara with cinnamon buns, I thought it would be cute to do some Line Tool style 'stickers' of various emotions.

Above:  Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal Paper, Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors.

Winsor and Newton non waterproof inks in Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal
After a long day, I decided to treat myself with a fun handlettering exercise- a letter b in daisies.  I inked this with Winsor and Newton non waterproof inks, and the process video is up on Youtube, if you'd like to check it out!

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink and Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors on Strathmore Visual Art Watercolor Journal
The above illustration is super tiny- 4"x4" tops.  It was inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brush pen (waterproof!) and painted with Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors.  I used a set I've assembled myself over the years, but you can get started today with this set.  This was the same set I started with years ago.

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Fluid 100 cotton rag watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors
Above is a watercolor test for Fluid's new cotton rag watercolor paper, Fluid 100.  That review is coming up soon, but I was really pleased with how this turned out!

Copics, Blick Studio Brush Markers, Prismacolor Brush markers, Shin Han Twin Touch markers on Strathmore 400 series Mixed Media paper
I recorded a time lapse video of the above Copic illustration (which scanned really dark), which should be up on my Youtube channel in a few weeks!  New stuff goes up once a week, and it's often a sneak peek into what I'll be reviewing on the blog!  This marker piece was completed on Strathmore's 400 series Mixed Media paper.

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Arches rough press watercolor block, Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors
This piece was a field test for the Kuretake Gambi Tansai watercolor set Heidi Black sent me as a Christmas present.  I inked it with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen, and used my normal sable and squirrel brushes to paint on Arches Rough watercolor paper.

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Winsor and Newton Pigment Marker Paper, Zig Brushables and Zig Art and Graphic Twin
This little illustration of Kara in lavender was completed as part of my review for Zig Brushables waterbased markers.  I loved how they handled on the Winsor and Newton Pigment paper, but didn't love that they reactivated my ink.  I've since found that pretty much ANYTHING will reactivate Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Pigment Marker Paper, so I'm giving the Brushables a shot on a couple different types of coated marker paper.
Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Winsor and Newton Pigment Marker paper, Copic markers
This is a Copic and Prismacolor marker test on the Pigment Marker Paper.  Alcohol markers will reactivate Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on this paper too, so be careful!  The full review for both Pigment Markers, and Pigment Marker papers will be coming up soon, so keep an eye out!

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Strathmore canvas paper, Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers
Strathmore's linen paper for acrylics turned out to handle the pigment markers best for how I like to render- no smeared ink, fairly easy to layer, drying times didn't matter as much.

Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors on Ranger's Distress Watercolor Cardstock
I've strongly hinted my feelings regarding craft supplies that over promise and under deliver in the past.  I'm putting Ranger's Distress Watercolor Cardstock under some strenuous testing to see if it makes the cut, and here are a couple field tests.  The top is a not yet color corrected portrait of my cat Bowie, below are some tasty chocolates I'd received as a Christmas present.
Sailor Mitsuo Aida Ink, Copic, Prismacolor, and Blick alcohol markers on Strathmore 400 series Mixed Media paper
The above illustration has an accompanying step by step process video in the works (editing takes forever!) so keep an eye out on my Youtube Channel for it.  I discuss Copic Wides, making your own Copic Misters, and general marker techniques!
Sailor Mitsuo Aida Ink, Copic, Prismacolor, and Blick alcohol markers on Strathmore 400 series mixed media paper.  Copic Opaque and Winsor and Newton Iridescence Medium sprayd and flicked on top
This illustration was created to test out Strathmore's 400 series Mixed Media paper- how it handles ink, alcohol markers, alcohol, water, and ink sprays.  There should be an upcoming time lapse video of the process, and I'm working on the overall review (so many!)

Sailor Mitsuo Aida ink on Strathmore Vellum Bristol Visual Art Journal paper.  Copic, Prismacolor, and Blick alcohol based markers.  Copic various ink in spray bottle.
I'd purchased several Strathmore Visual Journals for review purposes (watercolor, Bristol Vellum, Mixed Media) and here's an alcohol marker test on the Bristol Vellum.  I believe there should be an accompanying video at some point too.
2 layers.  Color Eno Soft Blue lead for bluelines (non visible), Kuretake Fudegokochi inks in Blick Studio sketchbook.  Winsor and Newton Pigment markers and Pigment marker paper.  Compiled in Photoshop
And lastly (for now), the assembled Pigment Marker and Ink illustration.  The two layers were completed separately, as ink tends to smear on Pigment Marker paper, and I wanted to get a true bead on how this paper handles.

I think that just about completes the majority of what I've been working on behind the scenes at Nattosoiup Studio.  I hope you found it a little bit inspiring, and I hope you're looking forward to these upcoming videos and reviews.  If you're interested in what I'm working on between posts, you should definitely check out my Instagram and Twitter, I post new art daily!


Friday, February 26, 2016

December and January Yoga Studies

I find gesture studies of people doing yoga to be HUGELY beneficial as it breaks me away from rigid poses and forces me to think in shapes, not just anatomy.

When doing gesture sketches, I try to find a basic overall shape and work within that.  I've found that with yoga, the majority of gestures are triangular- perhaps because this is one of the sturdiest shapes.

These gestures were sketched in my Blick Studio notebook with Prismacolor pencil colors, one of my favorite tools for quick sketches.

Warmups like these help reinforce a variety of important skills.  By practicing anatomy daily, I can easily whip out poses at conventions or on the go, times when I might not have easy access to reference material.  By continuously practicing from reference, I am training my eyes and brain to recognize what is 'right'.  By producing studies daily, I am training my hands to draw, so even when I'm not feeling well, I can still produce consistent work.  Daily study is an investment in my career as an artist, and I highly recommend it if you are serious about pursuing this line of work.

During this line of study, it's perfectly acceptable to make mistakes- make lots of them.  Get as many mistakes out of the way as possible.  One of the reasons I enjoy working in color pencil is it's relative permanence- I cannot easily erase, so I'm forced to either continue or abandon.  This is freeing for me- it's more difficult to waste time on a piece that's failing, I am allowed to be more decisive about what works and what doesn't.

You don't have to enjoy yoga to enjoy using yoga as inspiration and reference for your warmups, although I'm sure it would help.  There are plenty of resources and charts available online to use as reference, simply Google 'yoga poses' and away you go!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

January 2016 Watercolor Studies

I have important goals written on sticky notes surrounding my monitor, to serve as a long-term reminder of where I want to go when I start feeling downtrodden or depressed.   One of those goals is that I want to be known as a watercolorist in addition to being known as a watercolor comic artist, two titles that are more distinct than they appear at first glance. 

As a watercolor comic artist, I often need to mix my colors using set techniques- I utilize well palettes to mix up large batches of the same color that can be applied consistently throughout pages.  This technique, while very useful for a watercolor comic artist, is seen as a weakness for watercolorists, who aim to capture a realistic subject, even through interpretation.  For both types of watercolor artist, it's important to capture what FEELS right, but the application is very different.  Colors are mixed differently- not in individual wells, but on a large enamel butchers tray, and spontaneous interaction is encouraged.  My watercolor comics are painted fairly precisely, almost in a color by numbers fashion, but my watercolor studies are very spontaneous, and I'm always looking for interesting new techniques to add a spark of life.  My goal isn't to copy exactly what I see, but to capture a feeling, an emotion, or to practice a technique.

  I enjoy playing with a variety of papers as a watercolorist- handmade Shinzen, Winsor and Newton's mould made cold press, Fabriano's mould made Artistico.  For these studies, I enjoy using very rough papers.  On the other hand, my watercolor comic pages are very uniform- I always use Canson's cold press 140lb Montval in 10"x15" pads- it's economical, predictable, and runs through my printer.  I cannot achieve the same effects, cannot capture washes, cannot encourage beautiful bleeds, but my goals are very different as a watercolor comic artist.

On a few occasions, I've been snubbed by watercolorists for my work as a watercolor comic artist.  As their techniques are very rigidly guided, and what is 'good' is not nearly as subjective as comic art, I can see where they're coming from.  For them, watercolor is fairly specific- certain techniques are more highly regarded than others.  As a watercolorist, I have a lot to learn, and many areas where I need to improve, and I'm eager for new insight. 

Although my skills as a watercolor comic artist are detrimental to my neophyte skills as a watercolorist, I feel that improving as a watercolorist will help me improve my overall painting ability, so I think it's a goal worth pursuing.  I feel frustrated when people off-handily judge my comic work based on the style I use, without giving it a chance, and I find that these studies, which tend to be of flowers or nature, allow me to enjoy painting without concerning myself with the opinions of others.  I am eager for new opportunities to demonstrate my wide range of skills, and am eager to further hone them.

In the upcoming year, I think I'd like to take formal watercolor classes, mostly as a reassurance to my self taught background.  There's much I've missed in my attempts to hit the ground running.  I feel like more formal training would introduce new subject matter, new ideas, and new opportunities to display my work with a fresh context.

Below are a few of the watercolor studies I've completed in the past couple months.  Most of these were completed in a small Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal, which I don't recommend for heavy washes, blooms, or lots of layers (all of which I'm fond of).   It's fine for light washes, or lighthanded application of water.

Of course, I'm stubborn, and since I planned on reviewing the Strathmore Visual Watercolor Journal, I tried to push it to it's limits regularly.  The end result is that many of these studies are fairly muddy and overworked, and my papers started to warp to the point where scanning was really a challenge.  I may go back and attempt better quality scans of some of my favorites at a later date.

Foliage is a challenge for me, so I ended up painting several variations of the bouquet garni to level up my foliage skills.

Including very simple studies of the component ingredients.

Gestural study of lavender- my goal was to keep things as light and impressionistic as possible.

Fabriano studies

Large, detailed flowers are also a weakness of mine, so this is an area I'm going to have to focus on.  I'd also recently started exploring the use of masking liquid to mask certain areas.

Shinzen handmade watercolor paper has a lovely rough texture, and forces me to work larger (these are on 10"x10" handmade pieces), but you can't use masking liquid on Shinzen as it ruins the surface.

Floral studies on Winsor and Newton's watercolor paper

Peppers painted with Cotman half pans.  Cotman is very unsatisfying to paint with after having used Winsor and Newton professional grade half pans for years.  Cotman is considered student grade.