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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Kahukura (red admiral) illustrations #tereo

Just quickly popping in to say hi and share these beautiful illustrations by Cliff Whiting from the maori childrens book Pūrerehua (Kahukura) by Hirini Melbourne, which is about the life cycle of the NZ Red Admiral. I thought it was quite fitting to share these today as we come to the end of Te wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week) here in NZ!! Kahukura-Hirini-Melbourne+Cliff-Whiting-05

Kahukura-Hirini-Melbourne+Cliff-Whiting-02
‘Lands, lands, on a stinging nettle’ | ‘It lays eggs; one, two, three, four’
Kahukura-Hirini-Melbourne+Cliff-Whiting-03
‘Wriggles and squirms and out pops four caterpillars’ | ‘Eat. eat, eat the leaves are gone, they are hanging dangling by one end’ 
Kahukura-Hirini-Melbourne+Cliff-Whiting-01
‘Butterfly flying on the wind. Fluttering wings, flying in the wind’ | ‘Go higher, reach the highest point, fluttering wings, flying on’ 

Images from: Melbourne, H., Whiting, Cliff, & New Zealand. School Publications Branch. (1979). Pūrerehua (Kahukura)(Purapura. Pīngao. A). Wellington, N.Z.]: Te Rōpu Whakamahipukapukakura.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

emma

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.

happy-birthday-card-purple-grunge

Continue reading “digitizing calligraphy skillshare class review + free card to download”

52 weeks of hand lettering

Sometimes I feel like there are so many different things I want to try and work on and have trouble focussing on just one thing to get better at it. While I have goals for all the different areas of illustration that interest me (children’s book, scientific, lettering, animation) it seems there just isn’t enough time to devote to all the areas consistently to get better at any of them. I think my major focus for this year will be to keep working on improving my basic drawing skills and developing more of a natural history + scientific illustration portfolio, but with a focus on communicating scientific concepts + research to children. Of course, I really want to keep all the other areas going as well! With that in mind, I thought it would also be fun to have a lettering goal for the year. It had to be relatively easy to achieve ( why I chose 1 per week instead of every day!) and low-pressure (ie it doesn’t matter if its not perfect- just to have fun!).

Here are my first two of the year- both took about 30mins, using tombow brush pens.

week1--thoreau030

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week2--freedom029

Continue reading “52 weeks of hand lettering”

2014- a year in review

well, its the end of another year! 2014 was the first year where I decided to really try to focus on illustration- I did the scientific illustration course, created a stop-motion animation that was science based, and developed a portfolio-which I submitted to a publisher. In the last month I also did my first market (selling cards and prints that I printed myself- a learning curve as well). Its been busy but I feel like the busier it got, the easier it was to create work and I feel like I started to definitely get into a stride of creating art consistently and regularly in the last few months of this year- something I have previously struggled with.

I also discovered a technique that I really like for doing picture book-style illustrations, and am excited to play around with that some more in 2015.

2014SummaryofArt

 

I saw this around tumblr in the past week and thought it would be a fun thing to do- you can find the original template here, and make one for yourself!

Continue reading “2014- a year in review”

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)

how-to-make

Continue reading “how-to: make a chalkboard (for hand-lettering!)”

OCTOBER illustrated book of the month: Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes

This month I wanted to highlight a beautifully illustrated identification guide to primates. Primates of the World: an illustrated guide by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes was published on 2010 in French, but has just been translated and published by Princeton University Press last year.

bookjacket

The primate illustrations in this guide, by french wildlife artist Francois Desbordes, are absolutely phenomenal- and I recommend checking out this book for them alone. There are 72 realistically rendered watercolour plates, as well as a number of looser watercolour sketches in the introductory section entitles ‘Fascinating Primates’- including a very colourful evolutionary tree diagram.

Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg59
RING-TAILED and BROWN LEMURS from Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg59
Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg11
Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg11

I have read other reviews that say some of the scientific information is slightly out of date now (that’s how fast species phenology can change) but it is a comprehensive guide of the major primate species of the world, sorted by continent.

Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg105
TARSIERS from Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg105

What I really liked about Mr Desbordes illustrations is that they not only show the animals morphology but also give some clue to the postures and behaviour of the different species. I couldn’t find much information about the illustrator however it appears he has illustrated a number of books about wildlife in French.

Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg177
GORILLAS from Primates of the World by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes, pg177

I highly recommend taking a look at this book- its a masterpiece.

emma

 

blog update: you may have noticed a new link in the right-side bar- best of drawing escape. I’ve  made a collection of the most popular posts from the drawing escape archives- you can check them out here!

TUTORIAL: make a custom mini sketchbook for sketching on-the-go!

If you followed along a couple of weeks ago- I did a week long sketch book challenge (all the sketches from the week are up now).  The sketches were done in my handmade sketchbook (made from recycled computer paper) with an HB pencil. Doing this challenge has made me realize how much more practice I need at using my sketchbook!! I think next I am going to try ballpoint pen sketching- check out the amazing sketchbook work of Pat Perry, for inspiration!!

This week I’m going to be showing you how I make these little pocket-sized sketchbooks so you can make one of your own. The only way to make sketching a habit is to have your paper and pencil with you at all times and then to use it (<–essential step). This little sketchbook fulfills at least one half of the equation- and is dirt cheap to boot. I think cheapness is the essential requirement in a sketchbook- as it means you are not so afraid to mess it up!

I came up with this design after trying a few bought journals as well as making a few of my own (see this post)– but this is the only little sketchbook that I really like using so far.

make-your-own-sketchbook

what-you-will-need

What you will need:

Paper: I used recycled computer paper (21 x 29.7cm- A4 size) from the bin at my work (most if it had hardly any printing on it at all)- which is lightweight (more pages) and fine for sketching (and the cheapness of it means you will be less afraid to mess it up- and therefore be more free with what you doodle). I would recommend trying this out first, but if you use a lot of watermedia for sketching, you can definitely try this same process out with watercolour paper (you will end up making less pages though as the paper is so much thicker).

You’ll need 6 A4 size pages if you follow this tutorial exactly.

Card: for cover. I used a piece of navy card stock I had lying around, probably around 300gsm at a guess? Its not very heavy-weight. You can definitely use thicker card but I quite like the flexibility of the cover on this one.

Thicker (decorative) paper for end papers- go crazy with patterns if you like! I just used some white or black card because I didn’t have anything else at the time.

A sharp needle

Strong thread (I used linen thread (this one), but heavy-duty furnishing thread will also work really well)

Sharp stanley/exacto knife

Cutting mat

Piece of foam (optional- helps in punching holes in paper signatures)

Ruler

Scissors

PVA glue+brush

a few bull clips

1. Assemble your printer paper (or other paper of choice), and mark off one sheet into thirds (make a mark at every 9.9cm) along the longest length. Cut into three sections using your exacto knife and ruler. if you are using paper of a different size to A4 the final dimensions of your pages should be 210mm x 99mm

cut-a4-paper

2. Fold each ‘page’ in half. You will end up with 18 folded pages- which you will then split into three lots of six. Stack each of the pages within one another to make three signatures of 6 folded pages each (12 leaves in each signature).

assemble-signatures

ready-to-bind

3. To mark off the points where you will be making holes for binding the signatures together, stack the three signatures on top of each other so they are well aligned. Its helpful to use a bulldog clip to hold them in position so they don’t move whilst you make your marks.

Then mark off five points along the ‘spine’- at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9cm (I do this by centring the ruler at 5 as the middle of the stack). Make your marks along the top signature in pencil, and then use a ruler to rule across the spine (over the three signatures) so each now has a pencil mark in the same position.

mark-off-your-spine

From this point on, try and keep the signatures in the same order and orientation through the following steps to make your resulting book look as nice as possible.

4. Now make your holes in each signature at the points previously marked off, using a sharp needle. Open up each signature of 6 pages and use the needle to make an even hole at each of the five marked off points. It can be really helpful to place a soft bit of foam behind the paper stack or something else you can pin into, so your holes get to the full size of the needle and look nice and neat.

make-holes

punching-holes

5. Now its time to stitch your signatures together. Instead of doing a terrible job of explaining how to do that here- check out the wonderful tutorial by Damask Love on creating a book block- these were the same instructions I used to bind this book and its the best instructions I’ve come across for the stitching process:

Bookbinding University: How to Make a Text Block from DamaskLove on Vimeo.

stitching

stitch-2

stitch-3

6. Now your book block is all bound together- its time to glue the spine to make it more sturdy. I applied PVA glue over the bound edge (after having clamped it with a bull clip) and let it dry. I did this twice to make it nice and strong. You have now created your own book block!

glue-the-spine

7. Time to cut your cover and endpapers. Cut an A4 piece of card length-ways into a strip 10cm wide.

cut-covers-and-endpapers

Score a line approximately in the middle of the strip (at ~15cm) and fold the card neatly. Then place your bound book block with the glued spine butted up against the 90 degree angle made by the card. Take a pencil and mark off the width of the book block spine. This gives you the width required for the spine of the cover.

measure-spine

Score along this line and fold. The cover edges will now stick out way past the book block- so trim them down to the exact size by opening one cover side and using a pencil to mark the edge of the book block on that side, then repeat for the other cover. Trim them down to size with your exacto knife.

cut-down-cover

You now have a cover ready to glue!

8. Before you can glue your book together, you need to make your end papers (which are pieces of paper that sit between your cover and the book block, and help to stick the book together).

You want your endpapers to be the same width as the regular pages, so in this case 9.9cm wide. I cut an A4 piece of card in half length-ways, which gives you two long strips that when folded will stick out of your book (between the cover and the book block) when you insert them. Leave them long for now.

This is what you’ll have so far:

parts-of-your-book
endpapers

9. Assembling your sketchbook: First step is to glue the endpapers onto your book block. Apply PVA glue onto one side of your endpaper from the folded edge (spine end) outward, about 2/3rds across the endpaper, towards the outer edge. Align your endpaper so the edges are equal with the edges of the book block, and press the endpaper firmly onto block. Apply the other endpaper in the same manner to the other side of the book block. Clamp this to dry overnight.

Once it is dry you can trim the long ends of the endpapers so they are flush with the pages of the textblock.

glue-endpaper

clamp

10. Now its time to glue your text block+endpapers into the cover. Apply glue over the inside of the cover of the sketchbook- from the spine outwards across ~1/3rd of the front and back covers. Put extra glue on the spine. Place your text block into the cover so all the sides of the block are well aligned with the cover.

endpaperrs-glued-on

glueoncover

Now your book block is fully glued into the cover, clamp the book together with a bull clip or two- or even better, place under a stack of heavy books (less chance of getting marks on your cover from the clips)- and leave to dry overnight.

You’ve made your own sketchbook!!

get-sketching

Let me know what you think of this tutorial!

emma

Sketch a day September 15-21- CHARACTER challenge

If you remember, I mentioned I was going to attempt to do a sketch daily challenge for a week during September. Well, the week is here, and so I am going to be posting a little random character that I came up with, one for every day this week. The idea is to come up with a character from your imagination (not drawing from life here) which is supposed to be a useful creative exercise.

Please join along if you would like to (send me an email with your sketch and I’ll post them on the blog too). Remember, these are sketches, not beautiful final art works!! I purposely use my very cheap recycled paper sketchbook that I made myself as this helps me to be less worried about what I am drawing and if its going to be perfect or not. (Notice that the eraser even took away some of the paper on the first page!). They don’t need to take long, quickly doodle something down while you’re waiting for the train, or watching tv etc.

I will be posting all the weeks sketches on this page, and at the end of the week, I’ll post a tutorial on how I made my little hand-bound sketchbook (which has been a huge help in getting me to sketch more often) so you can try it out yourself at home.

Without further ado, here is

DAY ONE- 

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 a little rabbit frolicking in the sun

DAY TWO-

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inspired by the red-footed tortoise in this story

DAY THREE

 daily_sketch_3003

saw my first puriri moth of the new season this morning!

DAY FOUR- oops been a bit slack with uploading the last few days sketches….

daily_sketch_challenge_1005

a little kitten after our own kitten Lily- she has a very subtle striped tail in some lights

and runs like a little squirrel whenever she escapes outside (which I wasn’t really able to get in this sketch…)

DAY FIVE-

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a little dog I saw waiting outside a cafe on my way to work. every time the door opened he tried to get in to find his owner.

DAY SIX-

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its freezing here so i drew a woolly mammoth for today….

DAY SEVEN-

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Last day! I drew a rhino because September 22nd is world rhino day #worldrhinoday

That was fun- good practice for Inktober, which is coming up in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned for my next post which will be a tutorial on binding your own mini sketch book!

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