A sticker set that I did in collaboration with a Singaporean Stickers-As-A-Service company PicoCandy. Basically it means that for applications like Whatsapp or Line or Facebook Chat, you can purchase stickers created by your favourite artists. I’m not sure when their store officially opens, but the website it is up. Will inform you guys in the future!
夜樱 by 鹿菏
So I was chatting with the lovely Justin Oaksford yesterday, and he casually asked if I used photo reference for my recent Rolemodels piece- not as a bad thing, but because the pose and the camera angle read well. Pretty sure I grinned like an idiot when he brought it up because, goddammit, I’m proud that the work shows! I’ve felt like my work has been somewhat stilted as of late- I could feel myself subconsciously trending towards easier angles, easier poses, easier expressions just because it’s slightly less frustrating for my brain to process- so getting that confirmation from a colleague was pretty damn satisfying.
I think there’s a tendency for artists to take pride in being able to draw out of your head, and, while that’s an admittedly important skill, what’s actually important is what that skill implies- it implies that you’ve internalized reference. That you’ve spent so much time looking at the world around you, studying it, drawing from it, breaking it down, that you’ve amassed an extensive mental library that you can draw from. You are Google reborn in the shallow husk of a human being.
But heck, the world’s a big place- what are the chances that you ever get to a point that you’ve internalized all of it? Internalized it AND ALSO are never going to forget it ever? Probably no chance at all. Sorry buddy. So rather than bemoaning the fact that we don’t have impenetrable search engine cyborg brains- yet- you sure as hell better still be using reference to fill in/refresh those empty shelves in your mental library. You shouldn’t have worm-ridden books about dinosaur anatomy from the 60’s in there. Stegosauruses with brains in their tails? CLEAN THAT SHIT OUT.
So my general process for using reference of any sort is:
- loose thumbnails and brainstorming. If you have an idea, get that raw thing- unadulterated in it’s potential shittiness- onto paper. Good art is a combination of both instinct and discipline, so you don’t want to entirely discount those lightning strikes of brilliance. Or idiocy. Happens to all of us.
- research and reference. Start gathering and internalizing whatever reference is pertinent to your piece- could be diagrams, art, photos, good old-fashioned READIN’, whathaveyou. Please note that this doesn’t mean find one picture of a giraffe- this means find tons of photos of giraffes, read about giraffes, understand giraffes, and learn how to incorporate that knowledge into your art with purpose and intent (Justin uses the word “intent” a lot so I’m stealing it). Don’t blindly copy what you see, but understand how to integrate it in an interesting and informed manner.
- studies and practice. Could be lumped in with the previous step, granted, but it’s worth reiterating- if you’re drawing something new, it’s worth doing some studies. You discover things that you wouldn’t otherwise by just staring at them. It’s weird how I’m still learning this- “Gee golly, six-shooters are way easier to draw now that I’ve drawn a ton of them!” Yes wow Claire BRILLIANT. Gold star.
- go for the gold. Finally, I’m sure it goes without saying, you integrate all of that research and knowledge into your initial thumbnails. If you learned something about anatomy, or fashion, or color, or butts, now you can drastically improve your original idea with this newfound knowledge. Also, per the images above, this is also your chance to improve on the reference- photos are a fantastic tool, but trust your instincts. Cameras can’t make informed decisions.
…So that’s my soapbox- it’s pretty easy, and it’s totally worth it. Research and reference lets you stand on the shoulders of giants- it lends legitimacy, specificity, and allure to your work that wouldn’t be there if you were just drawing out of your head 100% of the time. To put it simply- it makes your work ownable. It makes you stand out.
It makes you a better artist. :)
I promised Lissa that I would take some process photos of how I draw rocks, because it is widely known that LISSA TREIMAN CAN’T DRAW ROCKS apparently, and so here they are! It’s no video tutorial, but it’s something. :)
So drawing rocks is kinda different from drawing other stuff.
What I love about drawing rocks is that they’re abstract, but they’re abstract with their own logic and history to them. Rocks look the way the do for a reason- sediments, erosion, eruption, human foot traffic, what have you- and it’s important to suss out those reasons while you’re drawing them. Sometimes you know why rocks look the way they do (maybe you are intimately familiar with the Colorado plateau, I don’t know your deal), but a lot of the time it’s up to you to silently observe trends and features in the rock that speak to a grander system.
Learning geology is gonna seriously boost your rock-drawing skills.
At Bryce Canyon (technically an amphitheater or pothole!), you’re staring at the Pink Cliffs of the Claron formation- limestone eroded into elaborate fins and hoodoos through an ongoing freeze/thaw cycle. Unlike the formations in Arches, where you can see elaborate upheavals and folds, Bryce’s sedimentary layers are blessedly flat- you can trace the layers across multiple hoodoos, each of them wearing differently according to their particular mineral composition. Knowing this, knowing what to look for when you’re drawing a particular formation, is a fantastic tool for you as an artist- as you’re laying in the overall shape, these tiered layers give you visual anchors to check the scale and proportions of the rocks. Thanks a lot, NATURE.
How I personally draw rocks.
A note about hatching- I generally prefer directional hatching, rather than flatter cross-hatching, when I’m working with pen. Cross-hatching happens in the process, it’s inevitable, but hatching in a direction consistent with the form you’re drawing tends to make for much more plausible 3D forms that sit well in space. Look to Franklin Booth and Charles Dana Gibson for some particularly expert hatching inspiration. Try not to cry. So! Onto the process itself:
- I start out with loose outlines, marking particularly important landmarks, change of planar direction, and any deep pits in the rock- they help to anchor the drawing down the line, and give me a nice base to work on top of. This is the stage when I panic and think the sketch is going to turn out horribly. It is an ugly stage.
- From there, I tend to (apparently, I don’t think this is something I’m considering at the time) block out sections of rock to render with more detail, working the entire surface and trying to keep broader value structures in mind. Those darker pits in the rock help ground me- they give me a “darkest dark” that I can work against as I’m laying down tones.
- As I start working on new sections of rock, I’ll jump back and forth to cohere the sections, make sure they sit well in the value structure, that the forms are reading across the rock, etc.
- While you sketch, make sure you aren’t overworking the surface of the rock- let your eyes go out of focus, and really prioritize where to add value, where to leave swaths of blank paper, etc.
- Once I’m nearing the end of the sketch, I’ll do a quick pass of overall hatching to make sure the piece reads as a whole. I love the local colour of the hoodoos- the transitions from pink to orange to white- and so I wanted to make sure there was a hint of that broad value structure in my sketch.
- Add plants, if available. Plants make everything better.
And you’re done! Or, well, you’re kinda cold and your butt’s going numb. Here’s the final piece I ended up with, alongside an in-focus photo of the rocks for comparison:
…it’s not perfect- I can start to pick it apart now that I have them side by side- but it’s pretty damn close! :)
Have fun drawing rocks ALL DAY LONG,
This big fella is on the postcard, and I showed some progress shots way back when I was painting him, but I figured maybe this would be a good time for some more detailed views of him. I’ve gotten kind of fond of my little buddy here.
No surprise, he’s heading for the Dubious Beasts: Symbiosis show in Cannon Beach next weekend.
(If you want to get a peek at what’s up with the other half of the DB:S show, here’s a nice piece about Shing at WonderCon!)
this is what we do this is who we are
hello my name is fleur, and this is my apartment
ok. you see. now listen. that bathtub
Detail of Michelangelo’s Effigy in marble of Giuliano de’ Medici
photo by Aurelio Amendola
and more !