vrijdag 10 augustus 2012

Like a Fish out of Water

There's a fish swimming at the top of the picture which has beautiful blue patches and this is the next fish I decide to work on.

I lightly sketch in the shapes of the patches along the fish's back and tail using prussian blue.
Then applying the normal sequence of colors (spruce  green, oriental blue, juniper green, prussian blue, blue grey and chinese white) I fill in another area of water beside the fish, blending everything together in the usual way. The fish has a small patch of orange (middle chrome) near it's tail and again, to suggest movement I mix a little primrose yellow in the water beside the tail, blending well.

I draw in the scales, an irregular "diamond" pattern along the blue patches on the fish's back.
Then using prussian blue and lots of pressure I fill in the darker areas. When drawing, it's vital to pay attention to the shapes you see and the depth of colour, rather than trying to draw the object itself. That might not sound very logical, but any drawing is made up of shapes and colour (or negative space, if you like) and if all these are drawn accurately, an accurate drawing will be the result.
I add a few small pale orange (middle chrome) patches to the white areas of the fish's back, and continue adding more prussian blue to the fish's head.
Once again I draw over the lines of the fish scales...
... and deepen the darker areas along the dorsal fin, the back and the head of the fish. I'm fairly pleased with the result so far, but this fish looks like it's floating on top of the water, something I talked about in the last blog. I can see I'm going to have to give the water a lot more attention - at the moment it's too pale and lacking in depth, but I did know this already. I was keen to get a few fish drawn first and will probably tackle the water again when I next sit down to draw.
This is how it all looks at the moment... and yes, that blue-patched Koi in particular is looking "like a fish out of water"!

It's 1 hour and 45 minutes later (16 hours and 10 minutes in total) and I'm done for the day.

The next stage will be to deepen the colour of the water and put that fish back where it belongs!

1 + 1 = 1 Fish

I really must remember to write these blogs as soon as I'm finished a drawing session, I really must remember to write these blogs as soon as I'm finished a drawing session, I really must... Well, maybe next time I really will! In the meantime, this piece is about the session before last, a 2 hour sitting. Always prefering to begin with something new I decide to work on the pale fish in the lower lefthand corner. Also working from left to right will enable me to work without smudging anything with my hand and arm.

The most noticeable thing about this particular fish is it's beautiful blue markings on very pale whitish skin. Using sky blue I lightly pencil in the scales on the flank of the fish's body and then go over the whole area lightly with the same pencil (using the side of the tip to avoid drawing lines). Again, using the same pencil, but applying more pressure, I go over those scales which I want to stand out. It's important not to draw the scales very precisely in the expected "scale shape" and to draw paler, irregular and lighter and darker scales. The aim is to get as natural an effect as possible.

My attention then shifts to the area of water just above the fish. There's a small orange-coloured Koi in the water below and the suggestion of movement, so I use a middle chrome (orange) pencil, mixed with deep chrome to suggest this and oriental blue and juniper green for the water.
I blend these using the stumper and Chinese white.

Then it's time to fill in some more water, taking care to leave the area for the blue/white fish's fin blank for the moment.
There's a deep orange Koi fish underneath the golden-coloured fish that I've already drawn in, so I pencil in it's tail using deep chrome. and then continue with the surrounding water a small distance. I'll tackle this area again later as it borders on another fish.

And so my attention moves to the bright blue of the water in the lower lefthand corner. I fill this area in using oriental blue and sky blue, leaving some white "spots" where there are "bits"(for want of a better word) floating on the surface of the water.
This close-up shows the  irregular shapes and colour of the fish's scales, as mentioned earlier.
I then start to colour in the fleshy pink/pale orange of the fish's fins, using minimal pressure. The fins are very delicate and I need only suggest the folds with slightly greater pressure on the pencil.
A hint of middle chrome along the upper flank and flesh pink along the lower flank of the fish is also added. Note here too the details of the fish's head. I've suggested the bumpiness of the head with patches of softly applied sky blue. The eye is sky blue and the area around the eye a blend of sky blue and gunmetal grey.
Attention people! Fish need to swim in the water, not float on top of the water - a little prussian blue around the lower fin gives more depth and movement and already the tail end appears lower in the water.
A little more water above the fish's head and I'm nearing the delicate edge of another Koi's fin, so I keep the colour away for the moment...
... until I can draw in the ragged edge of the fin. Then I carefully join up the two areas of blue.

I deepen and blend the colours to achieve more depth. And so we have another fish swimming happily in the water! I've now spent a total of 14 hours and 25 minutes on this drawing and I'm thinking that there are many more hours to go - but I'm starting to enjoy it! This session was 1 hour, followed by the obligatory (short) tea break and then 1 more hour. Which just goes to prove, dear maths teachers,  that 1 + 1 = 1 Fish!

woensdag 1 augustus 2012

Water, Water Everywhere...

Another day, another bash at getting this drawing completed. In keeping with my wandering attention I decide to pay some to a tiny, light-coloured fish at the top of the drawing and (mostly) the surrounding water. Well, it has to be done, and I feel like using the blues and greens. So here goes...

I apply a layer of white (yes, Chinese - yawn!) to the area marked out for the little fish. It has a very light colour, really just whitish with a tinge of blue. I use prussian blue, a thin layer of primrose yellow which I subdue with more white, and then some sky blue and more white and blend them all together. A vague hint of light orange (chrome) suffices for around the nose area of the fish.

But the attention it will wander, so I start working on the surrounding water.

Sticking to the usual sequence of colours I apply a layer of  spruce green, drawing in horizontal strokes and using the side of the pencil tip. Always make sure to keep the tips of the coloured pencils well-sharpened - this gives more surface to draw/shade with and also prevents the paper from getting scratched and dented by the wood of the pencil, as will happen if allowed to become blunt.

Taking the stumper I blend the colour into the paper using downward strokes. (This is a little difficult to see in the photo to the left, but there's, as yet, little pigment on the paper. However, it does help to even everything out).
Again, using horizontal strokes and the side of the pencil I make a layer of oriental blue over the previous layer.
The stumper is once more useful in blending the colours together in the same way. Notice how the whiter areas in the grain of the paper are beginning to fill with pigment.
Now I mix in a little orange chrome near the tail of a large fish to the left. There's just an impression of a fish swimming underneath in the depths of the water and a slight blend of orange will suffice to show this.

Drawing, like life, is one big experiment from which we learn as we go along, so not satisfied with the results after adding layers of colour one-by-one I get impatient and decide to apply the rest of the colours - juniper green, prussian blue and blue grey - on top of each other (all horizontally) without blending in between.

This is much more satisfying! Yes, here comes the Chinese white again - it's a tried and trusted device so why change tactics now?! After sharpening the white pencil once again (there'll be nothing left of it soon) I shade in strokes at an angle to the colour layer.

There's enough pigment now to blend the colours nicely together and achieve a much smoother surface. I will return to this again later to create even more depth.

There's a clear division between the  water surrounding the small fish at the top and the water below, so this area will need lots more blending and more colour.

Time to sharpen the white pencil again. I really will have to invest in a bin! :-)
Using the white I make vertical strokes, dragging the colour from the top down into the paler area below.
Then, to further obscure the line between the two areas I re-apply all the normal sequence of colours to the whole area, blending them together with the stumper and more Chinese white, until the two areas become one homogeneous colour. Yay! We have water!

Time to move on to bigger fish - literally! It's very important to keep your drawing clean as you work. You'd be surprised how quickly a drawing can become grubby just from leaning on it with your arm. A great solution is to work with your hand resting on another clean sheet of paper - this protects the underlying drawing and prevents white areas from becoming smudged.

Of course, not being in the habit of always practicing what I preach (well, I never said I was perfect or had all the answers!) I forgot to do this this time. Oh well, there's always the eraser to resort to - and I do! I clean up inside the lines of a large Koi fish which is the next fish I'm going to draw. Don't be tempted to leave the cleaning and add colour on grubby paper - it will show through and you will be sorry!

With prussian blue I sketch in the outlines of the patches on the fish's back. Using light grey I add the shaded detail on the side fins. Things are moving along!
It's 1 hour and 15 minutes later (12 hours and 25 minutes in total) and this is the drawing so far - "water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink"... definitely time for a nice cup of tea!

Of a Wayward Blogger and Some Progress

Intending to write about my latest drawing session, having taken photos along the way, I discover when I go to put them on my computer that I've forgotten about documenting the previous drawing session. Yes, I am a wayward blogger, but I will mend my ways!

So this next bit I'm having to write purely from drawing conclusions from the photos I'd left on my camera and the record I keep of how long it all took.

This session takes 30 minutes, the obligatory coffee break and then a sitting of 1 hour and 40 minutes and this is how it approximately goes...

Once again my attention has shifted to another area of the drawing... well, my excuse is I want to feel like I'm making some progress and need to get away from drawing the water for a while so I can keep this whole project interesting for myself.

And so I tackle a small koi fish swimming deeper in the water and near the nose of the larger fish from the last session.  I start with trying to capture the movement of the tail, blending the orange and white of the tail with the blues and greens of the water. This is achieved by bringing the colours close to but not touching one another and then blending with the stumper and a little Chinese white.

Here I've avoided drawing a clear outline or shape to suggest movement.

For the next step I take the deep chrome (darker orange) pencil and fill in an area to the right of the tail to emphasize the twist in the moving tailfin.
The lighter part of the fish is of course the chrome pencil and again some white to blend the edges together.

At this point I step back and take a look at what I'm drawing - important to keep doing this from time to time to make sure that everything is looking convincing!

I'll be going back over all the water at a later stage to get the right colour and depth. It seems odd to wait but I'm finding it a bit difficult to get to grips with this drawing and so want to have a good general view of things before I decide where improvements are needed. My usual method is to get the details right straight away, working from the top lefthand corner, but as this drawing is of mostly one subject (water!) I need to see it as an almost finished "whole" before I can get everything balanced. We'll see if this new method works....

Anyway, as I said, I step back and scrutinize the drawing and notice an eddy of water over the tail of the previously drawn Koi fish. I quickly draw this in with the help of my trusted Chinese white pencil. It's just a question of applying a few strokes, blending the water and the orange and black of the fish together... looking goooood!
Some more white on the crests of the ripples in the water helps lift them up and add light where needed.
A touch more prussian blue between the ripples and the water starts to come to life.
But I must quit being so easily distracted! I return to the intended subject and lightly shade in the darker areas of the large Koi fish near the lower lefthand corner, using the middle chrome pencil. I pay attention here to the  darker lines of the fins, leaning harder on the pencil in those areas.
Then, using spectrum orange I mark, in lines, the shadows of the scales on the lower side of the fish and the darker shading of the lower fin.
I draw in the details of the head, leaving the appropriate areas white where light falls along the fish's back and head. Using ivory black I lightly mark in the eye. A touch of gold along the dorsal fin and towards the tail gives more depth to the ridge along the fish's back.
Finally, using gunmetal grey I pencil in some shadow along the lower side of the fish, add more gold along the upper side of the fish and do some more blending, seemingly undoing a lot of the detail of the scales... Fear not! This will be rectified later on. I know I keep saying that, but it will... you'll see! Have a little faith! A few more dots of grey here and there and we have another fish, and I am done for the day.

The drawing has taken 11 hours and 10 minutes so far. It seems I'm making some progress!