Five ways to prepare for #INKTOBER success

Are you taking part in Inktober this year? Theres just ONE WEEK left till the start of October, so I thought now would be a good time to post a few ideas to prep for Inktober success.

NOTE: Its worth noting that I have never actually COMPLETED an Inktober- however this year I am determined to complete the challenge, and I’m hoping doing these things will help achieve that. Hopefully they help you too!

1. Collect some inspiration/references
Start to collect some visual reference and look at ink artists that you admire for inspiration. Collecting in a pinterest board helps to pull together a variety of references.

Study your favourite artists ink technique and style, and see if there’s anything you’d like to try out technique-wise this year.

2. Create a theme and plan it out

  • Work out and plan what you are going to draw for the month. This could be a general theme, a specific prompt for each day of the month or using the month to work on a series of images that contribute toward a larger project.
    Having an idea of what you are going to draw each day will save time and make it easier to get started. This was a major hurdle for me in the past, so this year I am spending time planning it out well in advance. If you’d like prompts, Jake Parker has created an official list for this year!

  • I’m going an extra step and doing rough thumbnails in advance so I will have something to draw when it gets busy!! And I don’t have an excuse not to do it.
    I’m not sure if this is strictly within the ‘rules’ of Inktober, but I have decided to do this in order to stick to the challenge.

3. Gather your supplies.

This must be the easiest step! Inktober might be a good time to try out some new supplies and techniques. Prep some paper and ink supplies in advance so you are all ready to go on the 1st of October.

Current favourite pens are ZIG Mangaka flexible pen in black, a cheap Luxor fountain pen and my old secondhand technical pens (shown here is a Staedtler Marsmatic 700- a great pen!).
For paper I really like Zeta paper from Gordon Harris.

SUPPLIES_IMG_0306

4. Practice your technique:

Practice with your brush or pen, and different papers to find a combination you like and start to feel comfortable with. Inktober is a good time to perfect your technique, but having a bit of experience under your belt will help you to jump straight in to your first drawing with some confidence.

Some useful technique resources:

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur Guptill
How to Ink, class on SVS Learn
The Technical Pen by Gary Simmons (great if you use traditional technical pens, such as Rotring or Rapidograph)
Any books by Claudia Nice, especially this one.

inktober-example
trying out ink techniques in a previous inktober challenge

5. Plan a regular daily routine where you have time to draw.

This was one of the main tips Jake Parker mentioned in this video.
I’m planning to wake up early in the morning in order to squeeze in some extra time to complete the daily drawings


+AN EXTRA TIP!

Don’t expect too much from your drawings. I think its important to not put too much into the end result of each illustration- they don’t need to be perfect and you don’t need to post them online if you don’t feel comfortable doing so (though if you do- don’t forget to tag #Inktober and #Inktober2017)

I hope these tips help you- I’d love to know if you are taking part in Inktober, and if so, have you made any plans of what you are going to be drawing?

For more info check out the official website: http://inktober.com/

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Learning by copying

I have been using pen and ink a lot more lately (and am growing to really like it), but there are still things I find difficult, especially when it comes to executing certain very precise ink ‘styles’ required for scientific illustration (loose pen and ink work is a whole ‘nother board game!!). I think that’s where copying comes in handy. Taking an image in the style you are wanting to learn, enlarging it (so the lines are approximate to the original inked size) and then taping acetate film over the photocopy and copying the original drawing is a great learning exercise. I have found that trying to get all the nuances of the line and details the same as the original illustrator did in their illustration is a huge help in learning the muscle-memory required to execute the technique (or something similar) on your own work.

Here is an illustration of a Marginella pygmaea shell from Henry Suters ‘Manual of the New Zealand Mollusca‘. The original illustration is much reduced in the published work, so that the stippling is hardly visible (and the dots tend to merge).

suter-atlas-stipple009

Continue reading “Learning by copying”

Seals of New Zealand- free colouring sheet

I posted earlier this week on instagram that I would be releasing this ‘Seals of New Zealand’ colouring-in sheet as a free download on the blog- and finally its ready!

Equipment used: inked with a Hunt dip pen and detailed with Rapidograph isograph pens + Pigma micron. 

I thought it might be quite a fun and useful educational resource , as I don’t think the species of seals we have in New Zealand is very well known to the majority of people (myself included before doing this little project). SEALSofNZ-COLSHEET-final

Continue reading “Seals of New Zealand- free colouring sheet”

illustration friday: WARRIOR

this weeks challenge prompt for Illustration Friday was WARRIOR.

Here is what I came up with:

warrior-coloured-ver
inked and then digitally coloured

and a close up:

warrior-coloured-CU

It is loosely based on a few stories I read in a book about the cultural history of NZ birds- the New Zealand eagle (which was the largest known bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2.4m) was written throughout Maori myth and legend as a dangerous bird that preyed upon humans, and was also seen as a bad omen. In this drawing I tried to imagine children re-enacting the myths of warriors who fought against these giant birds of prey.

Here is the colour palette I used:

warrior-colour-palette
you can get the PSD file for this gamut mapper from deviantart!

hope you are all having a great weekend! Check back mid-week for another installment of NZ natural history artist- this weeks artist is Piers Hayman, an ornithological artist who did some really amazing work. Till next time! emma

the process of a scientific illustration

Here are some in progress and final illustrations from a recent project I worked on for Leilani Walker, who is studying Cambridgea foliata (NZ’s largest species of sheetweb spider) for her PhD at the University of Auckland.

Starting with sketches, here is my initial concept sketch for one of the illustrations:

first sketch concept of two spiders fighting
first sketch concept of two spiders fighting

then the revised sketch after some valuable feedback, changing the leg joint angles and body positioning relative to the web:

cambridgea-grappling-sketchv2

Once approved, here is the basic inked version (inked by hand):

cambridgea_grappling_basic-1

I then added in the back legs, which were inked on a seperate piece of mylar, and adjusted to a lower opacity in photoshop. The stippling was added last, also digitally:

Cambridgea_Grappling_final

A similar process was applied for the other behavioural interaction illustration, showing initial ‘no contact’ between the two spiders. Here is the final:

Cambridgea_NoContact_final

In real life, these images show the spiders upside-down- that is, they hang from the web as they carry out these interactions!

It was a pretty fun project to work on, and it was interesting to be able to combine digital and traditional inking to get the final product.

If you want to find out more about Leilani’s research, please check out her blog.

Till next time!

emma

All images copyright E. Scheltema 2015. Please respect my client (these illustrations are part of their research) and do not copy or use any of these images without permission. If you are interested in commissioning work or collaborating on a project like this please contact me 

rock pigeon- ink to digital process

here is the work in progress of a small illustration I did as a secret-santa gift for someone who loves pigeons. It was rendered in ink and then coloured digitally (same process as described here):

pigeon-print

 

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sketch
/ initial sketch – I wanted to originally make the pigeon a (punk) rock pigeon but as you see that didn’t quite end up that way! /

Continue reading “rock pigeon- ink to digital process”

from india ink to (digital) colour

since the last post about what I’d learnt about digital illustration techniques, I have been trialing the “new” method of colouring ink-wash paintings in photoshop (described at the end of that post).

Here are a couple of inktober illustrations that I coloured in photoshop, using the watercolour brush from Kyle T Webster.

toucan_coloured

 

toucamn-two-coloured

toucan_coloured-digitally

 

I had so much trouble using the watercolour brush because it was lagging so far behind my mouse pointer, but then I figured out that I hadn’t down-sampled the resolution of the B+W image after I tidied it up (I always scan at 1200dpi for B+W)- so if you are a total newbie like me and that happens to you, just place your high res tiff image into a lower resolution PSD file and you shouldn’t have any problems with the brush!! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few chalkboard lettering pics I have posted. Next time I’ll be sharing a quick how-to on how I made my chalkboard- so check back at the end of the week if that interests you!

emma

endangered species illustration+ skillshare giveaway!!

Today I am running this blog’s first giveaway- its for a service I really enjoy using myself and can’t wait to tell you more about it- read to the end to find out more!!

I am quite a fan of skillshare– I’ve referenced it a couple of times on the blog- and have done a few classes through the website. I think its a really useful and affordable way to learn from the pros in various creative areas. Recently I did a new class by Christine Fleming called “Scientific Illustration- conveying information with charm“. I wasn’t entirely sure what the class would be about, but lets just say I was in as soon as I read “scientific illustration”!!

This class teaches you to distill information from scientific fact into fun and educational illustrations. If you check out BuzzHootRoar (which “is a graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less”– for which Christine is the resident illustrator) you should get a feel for the sort of style/approach of the class. I found the class really fun and it opened up some options of combining traditional and digital tools that I hadn’t really considered. I also really enjoyed the short lecture on colour theory- which is an area that I really need to learn more about. As part of the class there was a challenge to create an illustration to celebrate National Wildlife Day. I thought it would be cool to illustrate the some of the most endangered species worldwide. I made a selection of ten of the most endangered species- making sure to include at least one NZ species (hint: kakapo!).

I decided to ink the final illustration using my kuretake brush pen, and then colour it digitally in Photoshop.

Here is my entry:

Inked…

endangered-species-illustration_inked

first attempt at colouring…

endangered-species-illustration-loweropacity

Continue reading “endangered species illustration+ skillshare giveaway!!”

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:

butterflies-nov008

‘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!!

November-calendar-drawingescape-web

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

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.

dusky-dolphin
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.

migration_digital-colour_webver
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.

leaf-shapes-diagram_labels-incl-webproper
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