Saturday, May 28, 2005

No posts for a week

We're about to go up to the caravan in Cumbria for a week, so there won't be any postings for a while after Friday. Hopefully I'll come back with my mind refreshed and my sketch books full! I did have a nice pastel of the caravan to upload in celebration of the holiday, but for some reason it doesn't want to upload to the blog

Monday, May 23, 2005

No rules. Just write.

Brenda Coulter asks that everyone who enjoys her blog No rules. Just write makes a mention of it in their blog today. Never one to shun a bit of free publicity for my own blog, I'm happy to oblige (though I suspect I won't be responsible for increasing her traffic count that much ...)

Anyway, Brenda is an author of inspirational romance fiction, and although I'm no great fan of the genre, and have never so much as seen one of her books in a bookshop, let alone read one, I do enjoy her blog.

Friday, May 20, 2005

It occasionally does no harm to post the sketches you're not so pleased with. I was flicking through the Sunday magazines last night when I came across a photograph of this lady which was ripe for sketching. Turns out she's the mother of jewellery photographer Jurgen Teller, and she's wearing something expensive round her neck, but I didn't realise that at the time. Anyway, for me, the whole photograph centred around her arms, so that's where I started the sketch. Consequently, her head is all out of proportion. That's the main thing I was unhappy about. Secondly, I put in the shadow down the left hand side, because it was there in the photo, but it just doesn't work in charcoal. Thirdly, for me, charcoal is all well and good for proofing something that I'm going to do again later, but I'm just not very good with it. I use it too much like I would use a thick, blunt pencil, which is just not the right way to treat charcoal, I know. I must learn more about the right way to use it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A pencil sketch drawn while on holiday in Cumbria last year. The highest branches of the tree opposite our caravan were thrown into silhouette by the brightness of the sky, and I was fascinated by the huge number of details in what I could see. I think maybe I captured a tenth of it here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Discovering the design process

We're having a swimming party as a joint birthday celebration for our girls this year, and I wanted to include some sketches on the invitations. What I had in mind was almost like a set of logos that could be scattered across the invitation: something very simple and bright that would have an immediate impact. But I wanted to go about this the "right" way, and produce something that was the product of a planned process, rather than a few off the cuff sketches.

I had previously been very inspired by a posting on Mike Rohde's weblog that describes his design process, and in particular how he developed a new logo for a company he was working with. Now, of course Mike does this sort of thing for a living, and I was just doing a few drawings for an invitation, but I could immediately see how his approach could have a big pay-off for what I was trying to achieve, and it was something I'd wanted to try for a while: this was a good excuse. So, armed with a sheet of quadrille paper (which fans of Douglas Johnstone's D*I*Y Planner might recognise), I jotted down a few initial ideas.

The only ideas that were firm in my mind were the overall simplicity of the figures, and that the head should be disconnected from the rest of the figure. This was personified by the figure with arms outstretched in the top left corner, which was the first I drew.

Based on this basic idea, I tried out a few different poses, and you can probably see which ones I liked and which I rejected. I rejected the diving and dive-bombing figures as soon as I drew them. The swimming figure went through a couple of versions before I decided I didn't like it.

There were some other details to get straight as well: how to draw the hands (I decided on no fingers), whether to include hair (no) and "speed lines" (no).

At this point I showed them to my wife. She pointed out that most of the guests would be girls so we should have a few swimming costumes: the figure on the bottom right is actually hers. Costumes meant colour, so I went back and added some colour to a few of the sketches. I didn't need to do much before I had a good idea of what I wanted.

On to the final versions. I decided to do "girl" and "boy" versions of my three favourite figures, as well as the splash figure. I drew them on decent sketching paper using a charcoal pencil and, because by this point I had a very firm idea of what I wanted, I was happy with the first version of each one. The colour was added using some old wax oil crayons (Caran D'Ache Neocolour if you're interested) that we had hanging around. After that, it was just a case of scanning each individual figure, cleaning it up a little in Photoshop Elements (to get rid of the minute specks of charcoal that had been scattered across the paper while drawing), mirroring them to give a few variations, and importing them into the invitation itself.

So that's it. A pretty simple design job, and not a lot of artistic effort, but I was fascinated by how the design process itself helped to solidify my ideas and give myself the freedom to play with forms without making any commitments. Thanks Mike!