Whether they create an illusion, a sense of mystery, movement or anchor a subject firmly to the ground, shadows can be a useful device for an illustrator – just as they are for a painter or photographer.
I once bought the perfect artist’s sketch book – with a black leather-look cover and wonderful thick, acid-free pages. But when I unwrapped it and set it carefully on my art desk it would not work. Every time I opened the book blank pages stared at me – expressionless and fixedly white – until I closed its cover and placed it neatly on my shelf. There it observed life for a year or two, while I sketched happily on any other paper. Only when its spell had faded somewhat, did I open it again. Even then, I had to coax it into action by beginning journal style. On the first blank page, I washi-taped a smudged 2b thumbnail sketch (something I’d prepared earlier) on a ripped-edge scrap of lined foolscap. On the second blank page I taped a post-it note drawing of a smiling face. By the third page my drawings had escaped the additional scraps and sticky-notes – spreading outwards over the pages of that sketch book. Perhaps the hurdle was my conditioned love of …
Today, photos of two pencil drawings. Each with a different purpose – each a step towards print ready, finished art for a children’s literature poem – at different stages of my illustration process. The first photograph depicts a thumbnail sketch – combining layout and my initial spark of a visual idea. Here I’m focussing on the position of elements – the illustrative content and the text for a single page layout – both are intertwined. For the illustrations on the page, I’m focussing on characters and what they are doing – suggesting facial expressions – and any other important visual items. Often, I’ll highlight what I consider important elements with clarifying arrows and notes, because my ideas sketches are quick – mostly a reminder to myself – simply getting the idea down on paper. The second photograph also depicts the child from the thumbnail sketch in the first photo. Design and position on the paper are not important – here I’m focussing on rendering the child and reliant on reference pictures I have in my own photographic library. I shoot a lot of photos – subjects, people, animals, landscapes, …
Illustration with brush and ink demands focus on each line – its start, its length, its shape – yes a line has a shape when it’s made with a brush. This short video is my edit of a morning’s work – inking faces of characters I’d sketched earlier (see roughs in blue) – for a new series of illustrations. As soon as a brush touches paper, I must decide where it’s going – I have a line and there’s no erasing it. If my brush touches the paper and I’m still wondering where it will go – I see which direction the line leads. A face or it’s expression may vary or indeed change when you follow a line – but this approach can result in a happy accident – perhaps, a more expressive quality of line. © Annmarie Scott 2017
Welcome to my online illustration home – a window with an ever changing view of story. From the world of Children’s Books to small batch reproduction of illustrations for my online Etsy shop – and related topics inbetween – I’ll be writing and posting about it here. Everyday illustrated life – from inspirations and sketches to the function and story of illustration beyond the page Visit PaperCloudSky for Limited Edition archival art prints, cards, linen art tea towels and more.
On recent Summer holidays during time spent without wi-fi – in contrast to bay window views of a windswept New Zealand coastline with dolphins in the waves beyond the dunes – I found myself cat watching. A ball of contentment, my feline host made it clear that chair sitting (on velvet upholstery) was her everyday super power – and who could argue? Instead, I chose one of half a dozen vinyl perches. Then lulled by sounds of the sea, the cry of gulls and purring – I started to sketch. So, what is a sketch? Using my own super powers of observation, I picked up a ballpoint pen and began with those closed eyes and an amazing number of whiskers – referencing them and her nose. I positioned her ears; sketched the shape of her cheeks which lead to her tail tucked-in under her chin, there with her paws. After that, another sketchy flurry of light pen lines to suggest her overall shape, and I was back where I started. But it doesn’t end there! When does …
I am Bird Lady – with camouflage of Tawny Frogmouth, and stride of a Cockatoo. Habitat range? Ever outwards from the nest. Flightless I walk. Eyes watchful as a Currawong, I stand. I wait. Snap nature, pattern, texture, life. Observe, sketch, write -share moments of illustrated life in words and pictures. This is my superpower. The extraordinary in my everyday. Today, bird lady. Next week – perhaps – cat lady. Nature, and human interaction with it, can be a marvellous source of character inspiration. ©Annmarie Scott 2017 This post was written and illustrated in response to The Daily Post prompt Superpower
An illustrator’s tiny tale in words and pictures – rough drawings in pencil, pen and ink.
An illustration may connect with a viewer in an emotive way, expressing a mood or feeling
So why draw birds, or other back yard wildlife you may encounter? This kind of ‘life’ sketching is an exercise in observation – getting to know an unfamiliar subject. It’s a challenge – like the changing light. And like the wind blowing your paper, birds and wildlife move – constantly adjusting your point of view. This kind of drawing requires an amount of simplification – a kind of spontaneous editing of lines before the pen or pencil contacts the page. And the more you practice sketching your subject, the more intuitive simplification becomes. From the outset, you are there to observe – to filter visual information, keeping the important bits because you haven’t time for the rest – to see your subject as a series of shapes and quick lines. And perhaps…if you’re lucky, you may capture a little of it’s essence on paper. ©Annmarie Scott 2016