Dienstag, 4. November 2014

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (November)

New month, new topic :)
This months topic is:   
Environments/Concept Art/Landscape studies (traditional or digital)
   - at least five (Photo-)studies
   - one independent illustration

Here are some inspirational links:
traditional 1
traditional 2
traditional 3
traditional 4
traditional 5
digital 1
digital 2
digital 3
digital 4

I decided to work with oilpaint in this challenge. I wanted to experiment with thick brushstrokes and less clear figures.


I find it important to paint on a coloured canvas so no white spots lurk through the paint. That is why my first step always is to put a undercoat on the canvas. Therefor I often use a dark brown colour, because it does not grab too much attention. Also it is a middletone and allows you to work into light and dark areas.
Colourful underpaintings however can be very appealing, too. Keita Morimoto is a very good example of that. On deviantart I have seen some people use red underpaintings when they wanted to paint a mainly green picture. A underpainting in the complementary colour of your maincolour can help the colours to pop out more.
For the five studies I used both, brown and colourful underpaintings.
In this example I used yellow and black to create a very desaturated brown. Normally I work with actual brown paint, but I did not have my acrylics at hand and the shop did not have any brown colours. I used a very thick, flat and old brush to spread the paint. It is important to not use too much paint, so the texture of the canvas still is visible and the paint does not take too long too dry.

Step 2. 

As soon as the acrylic paint was dry, I started to work with the oilpaint. I used very cheap paint for the colour variety. I bought bigger and more expensive paint tubes of the colours I use more frequently (mainly white and different browns). As a thinner I used Diluent N from Schminke. Till now this is the medium I am most satisfied with. But working with thinner is not very healthy, so you should remenber to always work with a open window or, even better, outside. A while ago I also started to use rubber gloves, because the thinner dries out your skin and the constant washing after painting is not very good to your skin, either.
The brushes I used were very unexpensive, too. Most of them are not made of real hair. I would recommend not to use expensive brushes with oilcolours. The chemicals dry the brush out and destroy it. Often I can only use a brush 3-5 time with oilcolours until it is wasted.

Step 3.

I searched my vacation-folders for nice environmental pictures.
These are the references I used confronted with the finished studies.

I used a dark brownish underpainting. Then applied thin oilcolours with a medium-sized brush, defining the composition. I then used the palette knife to create interesting textures, more kontrast and nice saturated-looking colours.

Both following works were painted on a dark brown underpainting, too, the second one being a bit lighter and warmer. Both paintings are very small and were finished pretty fast, aproximately in 1-2 hours each. I used a medium-sized brush. At the beginning I used a lot of thinner and, when the composition was clear, worked with very thick and dry paint to create nice texure effects (this is where the canvas-texture comes in handy).

The process on this one was simillar to the both above, except the underpainting was a bright orange and the canvas is about three times as big.

This one was painted on a light blue underpainting. It has the same size as the one above. Painting-technique also simillar.

The final Illustration

This one took forever and gave me a rather hard time. The canvas is about Din A2 big, which is a very unusual size to me. At the beginning I tried to paint mainly with large brushes, creating a abstract look. That did not go very well, I changed the composition while working, and finally, after a day of frusration, I used the palette knife. I am still not completely happy with it, but the palette knive textures help a lot and now I feel it is ok to upload it. The light beige in the background is acutally white, but I had to take a picture in the night, only having a few lightsources in the room. I am going to take another picture in the daylight next weekend.

Dienstag, 9. September 2014

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (September)

Yay, it' September and it is my turn again to write a blogpost about the challenge and talk about my lessons learned.
This month's topic is: a ballpoint pen drawing inspired by Marco Mazzoni
Marco Mazzonis tumblr.
More links to his websites and articles about him are in my previous post.

examples of ballpoint pen works:
ballpoint 1
ballpoint 2
ballpoint 3
ballpoint 4
ballpoint 5
ballpoint 6
ballpoint 7
ballpoint 8
ballpoint 9
ballpoint 10

A ballpoint pen WIP:
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

I have to admit, that I have no clue yet what I want to do. But it is probably going to be a little piece with not that much details, due to a lot of university-stuff going on.
Nevertheless I am looking forward to it. I remember using ballpoint pens for drawings a few years ago and it was a lot of fun.

Step 1.

After I scraped my plans several times I finally decided to realise an idea I was having in mind for some time now. It is about a boy who can talk to pumpkins, a so called pumpkin whisperer. There is a little story to it that I am hopefully going to share soon, when I am done with university duties and have more time.

The steps I take are pretty much the same every time. At the beginning I made some pencil scribbles. In my head I had imagined the boy and the pumpkin drawn from the side without any perspective. While drawing I realised, that a low angle perspective would be way more interesting and give the piece a nice and mighty atmosphere. This first sketches were as big as the palm of my hand.

Step 2.

When I had found the composition I wanted to go for, I made another sketch about three times as big, trying to figure out how to accomplish the difficult perspective. The left hand and arm turned out to be especially difficult, considering that the hand is a lot nearer to the viewer than the body.

I did not work with a fotoreference in this one. I did however research hoodie folds, mens faces from a low angle perspective and pumpkins.  I also worked a lot with my mirror, especially concerning the hand problem.

Step 3.

After that I transferred the sketch to the final paper. It is a light beige coloured card in A4. I did not have my lighttable at hand so I did a completely new sketch, getting the last changes in.
As you can see, I did a very detailed pencil drawing. This part is up to yourself, it is more of a personal preference or the way you feel that day. Because ballpoint pen is permanent and I have not worked with it in a long time I felt rather insecure about the actual drawing process, so I wanted to take no chances.

Later I discovered that working on pencil lines with ballpoint pen is rather annoying, because the graphite kind of gets stuck in the ball and no ink is released at all. Which was pretty annoying because I had to draw constantly on a seperate paper to get the colour flowing again. So, either use a lighttable and do not sketch with pencil at all, or just sketch very lightly and use the art eraser to take all the spare graphite away.

Step 4.

Ink it. (Be careful, ballpointpen tends to make unwanted dots and strokes, so clean your pen on an other piece of paper every now and then.)

Step 5.

Scan it, photoshop it and upload it to the MARF Challenge folder.
Because my scanner tends to kill anything that looks like a papertexture, I added a free papertexture from the internet to give it more of a natural feeling. Also I adjusted the moon and the stars a little bit.

And that was it. I hope you enjoyed this months challenge, I certainly did.
Have a wonderful next month with the new challenge topic:
Fashionillustration with collage elements like feathers, petals, different papers, and so on.

Mittwoch, 6. August 2014

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (July)

So... there have been some changes at MARF  Productions. Jana wrote a few words about everything new on our facebook-page.

"Okay, prepare for some text … (and some English. Because of reasons (Which is a legit argument. I learned that in school. Politics, I think.))
Right. Maren and me had a talk about our monthly challenges and came to the conclusion, that it would be much more fun, if we could motivate other people (that's you, glorious reader) to join the jolly mess.

So some things that will change:

We'll introduce our challenges at the beginning of the month (This will also include tutorials or artists we've been inspired by) and conclude the challenge not only by our artworks, but with a small blog about the challenge, what we learned about it and a work in progress, so that interested folks might benefit, too. It's all about fun and learning, isn't it? (That's a lie of course. It's only for our personal amusement and egos. So there.)
In case you get inspired and work that paint and paper, you might just as well share it with the world (us, that is)...

Plus: We'd love to hear from you! Got inspired by something? Found a super cool new technique you want to try?
Just want to be mean and see how we manage a mural made of butterfly wings? Bring it on!

(Or do you have questions for us? Ideas? Hate mail? (We never got hate mail before. Have the honour and be the first …))

So far, so good …

A great week end to all of you magnificent people that stayed with me to the end of this little piece of writing (and to everybody else too, but I really don't care that much if their sunshine will be blocked out by heavy grey clouds.) May you not be eaten by the monsters (Unless you really want to. I hope it's fun, then.).

Go draw a pretty flower.
Or a banana.
or something."

Alright, lets get to the challenge-topic! Or should I say topics, because the topics of the next three months will all concern the italian artist Marco Mazzoni. His work is very inspiring and thematically circle around fantastic creatures and surreal portraits. His most frequently used tools of trade are coloured pencils (sometimes combined with ink) and the ballpoint pen.
Therefore this months topic will be: a coloured pencil drawing inspired by Marco Mazzoni

his websites:

articles about him:

a pen, a moleskin
Arte=Vita Martininterview - Marco Mazzoni (only italian)
Marco Mazzoni

Here you can find a brief description of his working process:
Renderin Light: Compositions With Colored Pencil

Step 1.

Brainstorming, first sketches, finding ideas.
What are you interested in at the moment? What fits the medium? I did not have a clue, what I wanted to draw for a long time. When we have artist-based topics I always try not to copy the artist too much, so it still turns out to be something from me that I can identify with. 

Step 2.

Search for reference-pictures. In this case I made one myself. It is a really crappy phone-picture taken with bad illumination. But it is enough to get an impression of the proportions and the perspective. When I have a reference, I pick the things that I like and decide, what I want to enhance or even exaggerate while I will ignore the things I do not like, and so on. A reference helps in the process but you should not try to copy it completely. Later I took another picture to decide where to set the shades and started to outline.

Step 3.

When you have decided on the composition and have layed down the sketch, you are ready to work on the details. Start to build up the picture, as if it was meant to be a detailed black and white drawing. Elaborate the shading and set contrasts. At this point I made some mistakes, because I was not really sure where the picture was heading. A better planning would have saved me a lot of time. On the other hand, during the process I come up with new ideas. While the picture is changing, the vision of it in my head is adapting in parallel.

Step 4.

Start colouring the black shading. At the beginning I worked with Faber Castell's. I already had them before the challenge. I really like to work with them, because you can use them with water colours as well. While working with them on the black drawing, I discovered that they are not suitable for this technique. They were not smooth enough and there did no stay enough colour on the page to cover up the black underlying colour. Later, when I was almost done with the picture, I bought a set of polychromos. Till then I had not really considered buying them, because they are high-priced and I usually do not work with coloured pencils that much (also they are waterproof and therefore not suitable to work with water colours). But you do indeed see the difference while working with them. They are very smooth and the colours pop.

You can follow my changes of mind about the composition in the various steps postet here. I wanted to have a black background with a character with creepy black eyes that shimmer in the light. But when I started to add colours later, I realised that the huge black area was killing the rest of the picture, because it was so uniform and not organic at all. So I erased as much as possible, with black stains remaining and coloured the background in a light blue that transformed into a dark blue and light black. Also I worked on the eyes and finally decided to go with very simpel blue eyes, so they would contrast to the detailed feathers.

Step 5.

Scan it.

Step 6.

The last step: Let the Photoshop-magic happen. It is very rare that I scan something and it looks the way it does in real. So I always use Photoshop, if only to set my logo on the piece.
At this point I also pimped the colours a bit and tried to cover the white gap between the two pages by using the stamp-tool.

In total I spent about 10 full work days time on this picture, which is rather a lot. If I worked more often this way, I am sure that I would learn to speed up the process. Nevertheless, I am very impressed of Mazzonis continous production of beautiful coloured pencils pictures in a very short amount of time.
Furthermore, I think this technique is not that easy to master. You should consider spending some of your money on polychromos, they just work better than cheaper pencils and bring the colours out. First start with little pieces, maybe size A6. Marco Mazzoni sometimes does work in this little size, too. It will limit the frustration that comes with a never-ending detailed work, which is even more essential to beginners. I had to learn to finish pieces, too, so do not burden yourself with too much at the start.

Freitag, 20. Juni 2014

May I introduce "The Trogglers"!

May I introduce "The Trogglers"!

Trogglers are a species that is very skilled in working with babys. Trogglers carry the children in their mouth,  where they are kept safe and warm at body temperature. In this way the newborn continues to be comfortable like it was in mother's womb.
Trogglers love the taste of babies, but they do not eat them - the very thought of actually swallowing a baby is one of the most disgusting things a Troggler can imagine. Also, scientists discovered that the digestive system of Trogglers is not adapted to little humans or any other kind of meat as a food source. So, even if putting a baby into the mouth of a Troggler might seem like a dangerous thing to do, a Troggler's tongue actually is a very comfortable and delightful place for a baby. Interestingly enough, small children love the smell of Troggler saliva; it seems to calm them down. The saliva in combination with the gentle wiggle of the Trogglers tongue is a perfekt way to ensure the babie's wellbeing and good sleep.
A further benefit is the automatic rain protection based on Troggler's reflexes. They puff up their bottom lip with their mouth closed in wet and windy weather. The stretched lip skin  becomes transparent so that the baby can look outside while being shielded from the rain. Trogglers are friendly and good company comparable to the family dog. Their service areas include baby transport, protection and care as well as amusement.

They are available for hire in many children's clothing and hardware stores as well as bike and car rental agencies. When you hire a Troggler, the special Troggler-buggy is automatically included. Car seats are also for rent, but do not fit into every vehicle (SUVs and Vans only).

Sonntag, 11. Mai 2014

Making my own Sketchbook

I occasionally buy books from the library flea market. Some of them I will not read anymore. I have seen some awesome book- and printed paper-recycling in the internet and I decided to make myself a litte sketchbook using such an old book.

Here is some inspiration, check it out:
Anja Uhren 1
Anja Uhren 2 
Dilkabear 1
Dilkabear 2
Art Journal

I took pictures of the process, so, if you want, you can make yourself one, too.
It is actually pretty simple. First you strip off the transparent foil and the bookcover, if you like. In this case it came off with the foil. In case it stays on you can probably use it on the book cover as a foundation for your own artwork. Remove paper and foil from the insides of the cover, too. Then Gesso everything to prepare the book pages for further work. I am using Guardi Gesso. I just discovered Gesso for me, never really heard of it before. Checanty recommended it to me, and it is actually pretty useful and not that expensive.

I gessoed some pages on the inside and started a little test-sketch with pencils. Then I worked over it with watercolours, gouache and graphit-powder mixed with water. After that I went over it with some transparent gel to fixate it and prepare the surface for my acrylic markers. These markers cover well and provide a nice sharp edge.