Thursday, August 25, 2016

Draw It! Colour It! Beasts

The follow up to Draw It! Colour It! Creatures is going to be published in September by Macmillan Children's Books: Draw It! Colour It! Beasts! I'm proud to have been asked by Emily Ford to be part of this wonderful project once again. 

Just like the last one, this is beautifully realised activity book, with opportunities for colouring, drawing and inventing. I thought the last book was beautiful, and this can sit proudly next to it. In terms of follow-ups, this is definitely a Last Crusade rather than a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!

There is such a nice variety of spreads inside...

Add food to Bethan Woollvin's hungry croc! 

Draw underground animals in Lydia Coventry's picture!

What are Jools Bentley's monster gang eating?

Help Miss Medusa with her hair on Marta Alt├ęs's spread!

Colouring and sheep-completing with Steve Lenton's drawing! 

Who is Jim Field's Piuggle's owner? And what will Yasmeen Ismail's Fluffy look like with new hair?

What are Zak Simmonds-Hurn's characters running from in the ice??

Here's my spread! A cat circus, draw in alllll the extra cats!

Here's the one that I've done so far! Alexis Deacon's excellent monster page...

 * * * Beasts APLENTY! * * *

Draw It! Colour It! Beasts is published by Macmillan Children's Books this September.

Congratulations Emily and Macmillan!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life drawing round-up!

A couple of Fridays ago was the final day of the three-week Summer Figure Drawing course at Studio Escalier. I thought I would write a little bit about my experience, and put up my drawings to show the progress I made during my three weeks there.

My main experience of figure drawing until taking the course was during my second year at Kingston on the Illustration BA. That was great as it was so concentrated - we had a whole day once a week for a year. I've fallen out of the habit in the years since, attending only the odd evening class, so my skills are pretty rusty to say the least. I was looking for something intensive and a bit academic to throw me back into the way of drawing from life, and Studio Escalier fit the bill perfectly.

We met from 1-7pm every day in a lovely light studio in Montmartre with teacher Tobias Hall. Studio Escalier was set up in 2001, so there is a well-established routine, creating a calm, studious atmosphere for students to learn in. 

I've put my drawings in the order I made them below. I won't talk much about the techniques we learned beyond mentioning them, because I wouldn't be able to do a good job of it - but there is a book we spent some time with at the studio by Tony Ryder called The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, which explains in detail and which I will certainly be buying!


Very first drawing on the first day - nervous and self-conscious!

Then we started making drawings based on "movement curves". I found these pretty hard to get into at first.

Then we moved on to "blocking-in" - much more of a natural home to me as it involves the outline! We made an "envelope" to find the composition and where we wanted the figure to go, and from that we'd whittle it down, like carving a block of stone to get to the figure.


By the end of week one I was excited about the block-ins - they felt relatively natural to me, and the emphasis was on trusting our eyes rather than measuring, which I really prefer as I hate measuring and often it seems to get my drawings into trouble before I've begun!


In this week we got onto "modelling" - "shading" to me, up until then! This has always been a very weak area for me, and something that let my drawings down in the past. We carried on drawing in the same way, using block-ins and movement curves, but now we added in modelling and had longer poses to work from.

I think the above is a good example of my modelling issues - I'm going through the motions, but not making a nice drawing. I was looking what Toby calls locally rather than globally at all the shadows, drawing in tones but without any sense of light falling or coherence. Frustrating!

Toby helped with the one above!


I feel like I made a break-through in the last week, finding a way to really blend the areas of tone, and make them work together much more convincingly. And though I don't feel like I'll ever be someone who can see naturally in a tonal way (I'm very keen on line, which has long been my pursuit in illustration too), I do feel less blind to it than I did three weeks ago. I think this was the most exciting development for me. It happened on the third-to-last day! And it was very gratifying indeed.

All in all, this was a fantastic experience. The rigorous atmosphere of the course was just what I needed - I feel like I stretched myself and saw results as a reward. I'm not sure what's next for this side of things - I would like to do another of these courses in the future, but we'll see. But it reaffirmed the skill-based nature of drawing, and that although it often feels like you're coming up against your own inadequacy and nothing will change, it always does! A useful lesson to learn - even if for the hundreth time!