digitizing calligraphy skillshare class review + free card to download

hi everyone! blogging has been pretty slow over the last few weeks as I have been busy with a few projects- I’ll share what I can here soon! In the meantime, I recently did Molly Suber Thorpe’s online skillshare class- “Digitizing Calligraphy- from sketch to vector” and thought I’d post a quick review for anyone who might be interested in doing the class or learning more about taking traditional lettering into digital format.

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merry christmas!

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pohutukawa- the new zealand christmas tree

 

wishing you (and your families) best wishes for the festive season! 

Its been a crazy few weeks in the lead up to christmas- as a result sadly no blog giveaway- as I alluded to in my last post– will be happening for christmas this year…

BUT, if you’re still in a gift-wrapping mood- here are my gift tags that you can download for free (here are the instructions from last year-including make your own stamped gift wrap!).

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I have spotted a number of my favourite artist/illustrators offering free gift tag downloads, so check these out for some beautiful decorations for your gifts:

Oana Befort

Phoebe Wahl

Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn (beautiful small sheets of wrapping paper to print!)

and

Meg Hunt (one of the 18 designs found at this link)

I’ll be taking a break over the next couple of weeks from posting, but will have a 2014 round up post later in the week.

Best wishes + have a merry christmas!

emma

natures ghosts animation

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the short film I “drew” for my sisters university assignment, just over a year ago. This small project made me realise the huge number of possibilities and ideas that could be brought to life through combining illustration, film and animation. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in, and I had the idea to perhaps do some biology and conservation based short animations, but hadn’t gotten around to doing anything yet.

Then earlier this year, I saw an advertisement for the Outlook for Someday film competition, which is to encourage film making specifically regarding sustainability, for young people. I thought it would the perfect competition to enter (and my last opportunity- next year I will be too old!) as it combined film (stop-motion animation in my case) with conservation. So I made a short stop-motion animated film on the subject of ecology and sustainability, using coloured paper cut-outs and live action drawing, and entered it. I found out a few weeks ago that my film was selected for the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award- and we got to attend the amazing awards ceremony last week.

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Here is the film- I called it Nature’s Ghosts because it is about the huge loss of species the earth is currently experiencing as a result of mans’ influence. It was created using a borrowed ipad and a basic stop motion app, then edited using Photoshop CS5 and Corel Video Studio, and my  sister kindly did the voice-over (recorded on the ipad using garageband).

Natures Ghosts from The Outlook for Someday on Vimeo.

The other films in the competition were amazing, a combination of animated films and real-life documentaries, and it was great to meet the other film makers on the night. You can check out the other films here. The overall winning film was this documentary ‘To the Rescue’ by Mason Cade Packer– an amazing film about food wastage and the charities that work to ‘rescue’ food and bring it to the people that need it.

I can’t wait to make some more biology/conservation animations. There are definitely things I would like to improve on next time and I am hoping to write up some more short films to animate in the new year. Thank you very much to the Outlook for Someday team that created such an awesome event and competition. If you or someone you know is into film and is under 24 years old, encourage them to enter next year– its an awesome thing to get involved in!

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I’ll be back later this week with some more posts and am hoping to do a blog giveaway before Christmas gets here!

emma

how-to: make a chalkboard (for hand-lettering!)

to make all your hand lettering dreams come true! (<–or something like that).

A couple of weeks ago I made up my own chalkboard to practice with as I was lucky enough to be asked to do some chalkboard hand-lettering for an event (you may have seen some of the photos of my practice I posted on instagram). I used to do the chalkboards every week at the bakery I used to work at, but have never done anything like this before so I was super-excited but also super-nervous! Hence the practice board.

SO, without further ado, here is what I did…

Quick Guide to making a Chalkboard (for hand-lettering practice)

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chalkboard quotes+ giveaway winner announced!

hey everyone,

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was spent working mostly- but I also got the chance to play with the new chalkboard I made last week. Here are a few pics of my chalkboard practice:

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SKILLSHARE MEMBERSHIP GIVEAWAY winner!

Today I am annoucing the winner of the skillshare giveaway- the randomly chosen winner is Maryam who is interested in taking photography and calligraphy classes! Maryam- I’ll send you an email to organise your prize!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and if you are interested in trying out skillshare, their new membership scheme makes it really easy to access and try out classes for free before you leap into a full on membership, as you can now watch up to 1 hour of classes for free every month.

See you all later in the week with some art and also another $1 book sale round-up!

emma

inktober complete+ NOVEMBER calendar download

happy november! last week was the last of inktober 😦 I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and definitely think I’ve discovered my favourite inking method (brush and india ink). In the past I’ve always avoided using ink because I can’t seem to get my head around the technique but this challenge was a good way to try to start conquering my ink fears!!

Due to other things going on, I only managed to get one ink drawing done this week:

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‘nature study’

AND I thought I’d make it into a free calendar for you to download! Just click the image below and you’ll be able to download the full resolution A3 image. Hope it helps with your end of year planning!!

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Hope you are enjoying your weekend. Check back tomorrow as I’ve got a very exciting giveaway (the first on this blog!!).

emma

inktober week 3 round-up

just one week left of the inktober challenge! I haven’t been inktober-ing every day of the week- mainly because I’ve been focussing on getting an illustration portfolio all made up (a big job!!)- but have been trying to make 3 or 4 inked pieces a week.

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more toucan drawings! a sort-of story line is developing with them…

This week I also got hold of a pack of Sharpie Brush tip markers in a bargain bin at the Warehouse Stationery (I think I’ll do a full review of these too at some stage). I’ve been trying them out a bit too as you can see below- I got the ‘fashion colors’ set; lovely bright colours of lime green, aqua, hot pink and purple.

 

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drawn onto a piece of recycled cardboard…those pens bleed right through regular paper!

then corrected in photoshop:

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All set for the last week of Inktober? I’ll be sad when its over!!

see you in a couple of days with a newly reviewed Illustrated book of the Month.

emma

digital illustration techniques- what I’ve learnt so far…

Though I much prefer the look (and the process of making) art using traditional materials, it has been a goal of mine for a little while now to learn more about digital illustration techniques. Digital techniques are an indispensible skill to have today, and lend themselves quite well to many scientific illustration applications. I also love the idea of combining traditional and digital techniques so that the final work is not 100% digital- as can be seen in one of my first completed Photoshop paintings ‘Journey’ done for IF challenge.

I am very much a beginner but I thought it might be useful to post some of the simple tips and useful tutorials that I have been most helpful in my attempt to teach myself to paint digitally. Hopefully it might be useful to some of you too!

I started off with trying out pure digital painting and then moving on to colouring traditionally drawn/painted stuff that I scanned in. I have discussed ideas for both techniques below.

Pure Digital Painting

Not my favourite mode of using PS but definitely important to know!

  • Blending the paint:  While I’ve played around the photoshop before, the major issue I had trouble getting my head around to start with was how to blend colours in a digital painting?? It seems like this should be really obvious but there wasn’t too much information that I could find- nothing mentioned in any of the digital painting books I have looked at. Some less sophisticated graphics programs the paint blends as if it is wet in real life, however in PS, you have to go about blending in another (more controlled method). I would be lost without the excellent tutorials on this from Ctrl-Paint – especially this one:

Digital Painting 101- (3 of 5) – Mixing Paint from matt kohr on Vimeo.

Essentially this is all you really need to get started playing with the program! Give it a go and see what you can come up with.

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this dusky dolphin illustration was painted in Photoshop after scanning in the original sketch

The other essential I think is finding a brush you like. Though I know there are people out there who manage to use the default hard round + airbrush brushes in PS with great success, in my hands they usually end up making my digital illustrations look, well, digital! I’m not a huge fan of the digital polished look (as shown in the above dolphin illustration), so instead have enjoyed using Drew Greens gouache brush and also have just started using Kyle T Websters watercolour brush. This is an area that I’m still discovering and trying to figure out what works best.

Colouring traditional line work+washes 

This is now my preferred approach to creating illustrations with (partially) digital methods. Its something that I am definitely experimenting with a lot at the moment. I’ve tried a few methods of colouring traditional work, and this is the best I have come up with so far…

To colour traditional line work and washes…I initially started off using the method of making your line work set as ‘Multiply’ blending mode- so you can then paint in the fill areas on a layer below the lines. To colour the lines themselves, I would apply a clipping mask to the lines layer and set the mode of the clipping mask to ‘Screen’, then paint on my colour to the clipping mask. BUT I found this method gave very patchy results, with ‘screen’ colours not showing up at full vibrance and the painting beneath the line work showing through the lines, making them look messy.

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I created this ‘Journey” illustration using the method described above

My new approach is one picked up from a couple of tutorials online- most helpful were these two:

 

Here’s a basic summary (total credit to the tutorials listed above- check them out for a full run-down on how to do this): to colour the line work/wash (also works really well with gradiented pencil or wash work) I remove any colours by desaturating the scanned image (make sure to convert it to RGB or CMYK mode first, if you scan in grayscale like I do, or it won’t work). Then go into channels menu (next to the layers tab) and CTRL+click the icon next to RGB channel. This selects all the white areas in your image. To invert the selection (ie select all your lines/washes etc) click Select–> Invert selection (or key board shortcut).

Next go back to the layers palette, create a new layer and fill it with your selected colour (you can use the quickly fill layers key shortcut described above). At this point you can also use your brush to paint in various colours in this layer. You will only be painting on the area selected by the marching ants.

Once you are done with colouring the linework/wash, you can deselect the linework, create a new layer and paint underneath the linework layer the fill in any white areas.

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this little poster I made using the “new” method

This is a great method because it produces solid coloured line work that can be manipulated in many ways. The variety of options is endless once you start to realise the things you can achieve by utilising layers as well!!

Some other little tips I have picked up:

  • If your brush tip disappears it means you have CTRL lock on…oops, no need for a panic attack
  • When you start making really big files with all your painted layers, don’t be alarmed when PS tells you the file exceeds the 2gb limit to be saved, simply save the file as a .PSB (large document format).
  • To reduce the size of your document you can merge the layers into each other (but only if you’ve finished working on them), or add a white-filled layer above all the others- which is supposed to reduce the document size considerably. Also if you scan your images in as 1200dpi grayscale tiffs as I do, when you place your grayscale scan into your working document, make sure to reduce the resolution (about 400-600dpi for colour images). This makes them much easier to handle.
  • Start to think in layers. If you haven’t used PS or Illustrator much before it is really useful to learn more about layers because they allow so much flexibility when you want to work on isolated areas of a painting without potentially ruining the rest of your illustration
  • Choosing colour palettes in Photoshop: I found this REALLY DIFFICULT until I found this awesome tutorial by Zoe Piel. She says that creating harmonious/limited colour palettes in PS is actually really difficult because you have an infinite number of colours to choose from (as opposed to a number of tubes of watercolour paint). Her tutorial makes total sense and has been so useful to me. She also has an awesome tutorial on making a blender tool in PS.
  • Kyle T Websters brushes. That is all. Check them out. I have the wet’n’wild watercolour brush and can’t wait to try out more.
  • To quickly fill a layer with a colour use ctrl+backspace to fill with the foreground colour, alt+backspace to fill with the background colour (those are the colours on those two little square swatches in the tool menu [screen shot it]
  • A really cool tip I picked up from Edible Perspective (awesome vegetarian recipes!!) was that you can change the background colour (that is the colour behind your canvas- I have CS5 and it is automatically grey) by right-clicking on the background and selecting custom colour. This can be useful to know if you need to change the background for editing or colour correction purposes.

I hope you enjoyed this quick run down of the various tutorials and tips I have found useful so far in learning about digital illustration techniques.

If you have any tips that you have found useful I’d love to know- leave a comment below!

Till next time,

emma

inktober challenge week 1

hey everyone!

here is a round up of the #inktober sketches from this week. I didn’t get around to doing one every day- that’s my goal for next week!!

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some of the most endangered species in the world, kuretake brush pen

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wish upon a star, asian calligraphy brush and india ink

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no man is an island, asian calligraphy brush and india ink / gouache

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basic leaf shapes for a small project idea I had, calligraphy brush and india ink

Lots of fun and so far I’m finding it a really useful way to create more stuff!

I’d love to hear if you too are getting involved in Inktober– leave a comment below.

hope you have a lovely weekend,

emma

AUGUST illustrated book of the month: A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Ashton and Sylvia Long

This week I thought I would post a new blog post that I am hoping will become an ongoing monthly series, where I will post a review of an awesome illustrated book I have recently come across. As you may know, I work in a library whose collection is slightly tailored toward childrens’ picture books and non fiction, so there are a lot of beautifully illustrated books available for the picking! So, here is the first illustrated picture book of the month post- I hope you enjoy and are able to take a look at some of these books in person.

This month, I am came across the wonderful book A Butterfly is Patient, by Dianna Hutts Ashton, and illustrated by Sylvia Long (you can view inside the book by following this link to the publishers page).

A Butterfly Is Patient
Source: Chronicle Books

This book is a junior non-fiction title (aimed at 5-10 year olds) that serves as an introduction to butterflies; describing various facts about butterflies and their lives, under the over-arching theme of metamorphosis (relating back to “patient” in the title). Every spread displays a different facet of a butterflies life, and is started off with ‘A butterfly is …’. One of my favourites spreads is the one that accompanies “A butterfly is not a moth”; it has various butterflies in a daylight composition, along with a variety of wonderfully illustrated moths on the facing page in the night time. The spreads are beautifully illustrated and each turn of the page provides a surprise, as the illustrations and text are quite diverse and the colourful illustrations are lovely.

a-butterfly-is-creative
From A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT by Dianna Hutts Ashton, illustrated by Sylvia Long ©2011 Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit http://www.ChronicleBooks.com

There are quite a lot of scientific concepts also introduced which I really liked. One of my favourite parts of the book are the endpapers- the front ones have lots of different species of caterpillars, the end ones lots of butterflies, supposedly having metamorphosed through the book’s story.

caterpillar-endpaper
From A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT by Dianna Hutts Ashton, illustrated by Sylvia Long ©2011 Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit http://www.ChronicleBooks.com
butterfly-endpaper
From A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT by Dianna Hutts Ashton, illustrated by Sylvia Long ©2011 Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit http://www.ChronicleBooks.com

The illustrations are what initially drew me to this book. According to Sylvia Longs’ website, she illustrates using pen and ink, overlaid with watercolour. Her illustrations in this book are amazing. They are clear, vibrant and sophisticated illustrations that are the perfect style for communicating natural history concepts to kids. I think they are the kind of illustrations that really  inspire wonder and interest in the natural world. I also loved the fact that the text is hand-lettered in a copperplate sort of style.

A-butterfly-is-poisonous
From A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT by Dianna Hutts Ashton, illustrated by Sylvia Long ©2011 Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit http://www.ChronicleBooks.com

This author-illustrator team have also collaborated on a number of other junior non fiction books in the same vein- including An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy, and a brand new title- A Rock is Lively. I would highly highly recommend checking all of these books out- even (or especially) if you aren’t in the kids age group and are interested in natural history and illustration- they are beautifully written and illustrated and I’m hoping they create even more books to add to the series.

Let me know what you think of A Butterfly is Patient if you have read it, in the comments below.

Check out Dianna Hutts Ashtons’ website here

and Sylvia Long’s website here.

See you next time with a process post!

emma

All images taken from A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT by Dianna Hutts Ashton, illustrated by Sylvia Long ©2011

Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco.

Visit www.ChronicleBooks.com