Monday, January 30, 2012

The virdict

In the previous two posts I took a measure of what I could achieve with the colors in my Prismacolor markers palette. I have had these markers in my cabinet for a while, but I never dared to use them on a full scale before, because I had too little experience with them and I was afraid of ruining my drawings. I knew the earth and grey tones work very well to establish backgrounds and to create a base that  keeps brighter colors from becoming overwhelming, in other words, to give unity to the drawing. 
However I had to plan ahead, for my own peace of mind, before making more ambitious attempts.

My impression at the end of this experiment is that Prismacolors are most definitely not equivalent to Copic markers. The colors that I would have instinctively picked for skin gave at first very scary results. Both Pale Peach and Eggshell (not to mention Light Peach) are way to orange-y and bright for my taste. In general all neutral combinations resulted too dark for my tastes. I usually like to start really light (with Copic R000, to give you an example), build progressively the skin-tones and shade/shadows, and have full control on how deep or intense they become. Here, after laying down the first "lighter"color I found myself regretting the choice and looking anxiously for a way of smoothing things down. 

Maybe I should have made bigger use of the colorless blender. I could have started laying color at the borders of the face and then I could have diluted the excessive brightness by blending it away toward the center of the face. I did not think to do this, because with Copics the blender is something I mostly ignore and pick up only to correct accidental smudges here and there. With Copics I always blend with other colors.

With Prismacolors blending is much more difficult and the effect is always to intensify whatever color you began with. I am sure part of the issue has to do with my choice of paper. I used Fabriano Artistico Watercolor paper, which usually works marvels with Copics. Looks like Prismacolors soak the paper too quickly and also that they dry much quicker than Copic, leaving a very tiny window for attempting to blend. I would like to see how they behave with Strathmore Bristol paper, which I have used in the past with alternate fortune.

Bottom line, while using this Fabriano Artistico (of which I have purchased several pads) I will happily used Prismacolors in some special occasions and like before for big areas (they go down really evenly and this is a great plus), but for delicate details like faces I will rely mainly on Copics.

What were your experiences comparing Copics and Prismacolors?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Skin Tones in Prismacolor Part 2: Cold hues

...And this is the second set of floating faces, with  more strange and unearthly colorings. I like some of these very much. Others came out a bit too over the top for my taste, but there might be occasion when these combinations could work.

Which ones are your favorites among these ones?
Mine are C1, C2, and D2. :)

Skin tones in Prismacolor Part 1: Neutrals

Here is the first part of my experiments with my new Prismacolors. I selected two groups of colors that could be suitable for skin tones, neutrals-warms and colds. I began with combining the warm colors and I have obtained 6 possible outcomes, that you can see below:

Which ones are your favorites?
Mine are A3 and B1. :)

Next, the 6 combination of cool colors.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mini projects WIP

These days, I am often tired when I come back from work. My only desire is to eat and go to sleep or watch a movie or read a book. I still want to draw, but I seem to lack time and energy to start a big project. So I decided to start a few smaller works.

I am preparing a new doll, which should have slightly bigger limbs than my previous ones (I always have the impression their head is a bit too big compare to the rest of their bodies). I am not showing her here because she is in very preliminary stages and I still have to make a few decisions on her....

Another mini-project is "Little Lady with dog". The idea for this came from watching the miniseries "Aristocrats", a BBC drama bout the lives of five sister great-granddaughters of Charles II in 18th century Britain.It's a very nice production with great costumes. The one for the characters as children were particularly cute...

It was also time for another mermaid....this one is in a bit of trouble...will anybody help her?

Finally, I have the floating heads project. Some time ago a bought Prismacolor markers, but I have not had a lot of practice with them. I mostly use the neutral tones and greys for large surfaces to spare my precious Copics. These days a practically ran out of the colors I rely most upon for skin tones and shading . I ordered them online, but while waiting I got bored and thought I should study which Prismacolors would work best as substitutes. This is why I drew these 3 "uncompleted" girls, The Diva, The Martyr, and the Gypsy.

Next post I'll show you my Prismacolor choices. Meanwhile, I hope the inks for my exhausted Copics will arrive soon. ;)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Monika Viktoria's gifts

They are here! Monika Viktoria (also known as Mayple) of The Long Lost Woods has sent me a beautiful watercolor gift, one of her ethereal, gentle ladies. Seen "live" her artwork is even more charming than in photo.I am in love with the sweet tentative expression of this character and the delicate shadowing of her features.

 The details are also exquisite but discreet. Look how beautiful the little flowers in her hair, the pearls, and the lace on the dress are!

As if this was not enough, Monika also added a hand-made moo business card (another original!) and 3 lovely postcards.
This young lady on the chair is one of my favorite: she looks mysterious, what is she up to?
Watercolor and card by Monika Victoria. Enchanted doll by Marina Bychkova. Dress by AnneUK

My Enchanted Doll Sophie "modeled" the third card. Somehow the girl who is studying the butterfly collection makes me think of the way I imagined  Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.
Well, I am so glad Monika chose to send me these wonderful gifts and relieved that they did not get lost in the mail. Thank you so much, dear!

Monika, who grew up in Australia and lived there until spring 2011, is currently based in Hungary and in less than a week will have a show in Győr, titled "A Mese Három Arca" January 20th, 2:30pm, Richter Terem Győr. If you happen to be in town I highly recommend it! If you cannot make it there, you can admire more of her art on her website, blog, and Flickr pages.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shakespeare-illus Before and after

So, the other day I thought I was done with Shakespeare-illus and I showed you the "final result". A couple of days later I had a look at the picture I posted here and on deviantart and I realized that 1) the shot I took of it was not very good; 2) There were problems that went beyond my poor skills as a photographer. In other words, the picture was far from complete.

The most egregious issue had to do with the fact the inks had faded under the several washes of colors. The faces were blurred and the details I liked so much in the pencils phase were practically invisible. This was particularly true for Othello, one of my favorite characters. The contours were so dim that all the characters looked flattened and the overall impression was pretty blah. I was also a bit unsatisfied with some of the shading and blending.

I had to do something about these defects. So in the weekend I worked a bit here and there to fix things up. It took longer than it should have because my inking pen (Copic Microliner 0.03) was getting dry and every single line was a pain (although I find that in these adverse conditions I tend to be more precise and the overall look of the lines is more steady...even if my hand is not! ;)).

Finally, I took a new photo of the drawing with better contrast and color balance. Here it is, together with the "before the treatment" version. I definitely thinks I have improved it quite a bit. ;)


 What do you think?

Now I have to find a nice frame and pack the gift for my friend.  ^^

Monday, January 2, 2012


I mentioned sometime ago that I was starting this new rather challanging project on Shakespeare and its characters as an excuse to portray my good friend GP. It's finally done and it took a while because I got stuck several times and almost lost while dealing with the smoke.

I don't really haveWIP pictures because I worked mostly in the evenings of very very busy days and there never was a good time or the proper light to take decent photographs.

However I can tell you that I worked character by character, starting with the lady Macbeth (does dhe look mean enough for you to recognize her? ;)). The most difficult part there was the tartan shawl, which I had to research quite a bit.

I then moved to Romeo and Juliet. I am rather happy with Romeo, but Juliet came out very different from how I imagined me she looks older than she should (Romeo has seduced her Granny by mistake) and her nightgown is definitely too blue (should have been white with bluish shadows)...oh well.

Hamlet is ok, I think...I referenced the costume Laurence Olivier wore in the 1948 movie here.

Next, I worked on Titania, which was pretty easy...I am used to draw fairies, so their queen was not too bad.

I dedided to skip Bottom for a while and to tackle Othello (my favorite), whose dark skin was of some concern to me, as I am not used to render it with markers. On the internet people recommended using the Chamois Copic as a base. I follow this recommendation and used Champagne and a varieties of blues (B91, especially) and blue-violets/greys for shadows and adjustments...

Then I worked on the flaming head of Ariel without too much trouble, fortunately.

Finally I went back to Bottom and added King Lear (right) and Falstaff on the left as figures emerging from the smoke and therefore not fully colored.

By my friend Shakespeare-illus, you can see a small version of Melpomene, the muse of Tragedy giving a few reccomendations (clearly he is not writing something funny at the moment).

The last character I painted was of course the protagonist. His shirt worried me a lot (folds and more folds)and so was the risk of altering his features by coloring the outlines (usually the opposite should happen, but you never know, also because the light source in the drawing was very different from the one of my reference picture).

At this point the hardest part, the background begun. In reality the window and the wall were pretty straight forward, but I knew I was running into troubles with the smoke. First I made it sickly pink, then I added B91 which unfortunately made it sort of uninteresting and flat. So i started adding grey shadows and colored highlights that picked up from the characters' outfits (for example, green from Lady Macbeth's dress, yellowish from Romeo's goden tunic, red from Othello's crimson cloak). Then I kept blending and adding depth with more Blue violets...until I thought a nice grey-green would work well in the mix. As often happens I was working in front of the TV and the light was dim, too dim as I realized next morning. I actually added to much green and the smoke coming from Shakespeare-illus' pen instead of appearing mysterious and intriguing looked rather toxic and stinky. Ooops. I spent quite a while trying to cover up this "minor" error (and I did not completely succeed in this, as you can see...sigh!).
Lesson learned: always use the brightest light while coloring, no matter how good the movie is! ;)
That's all I can tell you on the process...

This is the final version:

I look forward to see the reaction of my friend, who most definitely is not expecting this....;)