Montag, 7. Dezember 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (December)

The cold season has arrived, the last weeks of this year are passing and christmas is approaching quickly. Therefor Jana and I wanted to do something special and decided do design a christmascard as this months challenge.

I'm not quite sure yet, what it is going to be. Maybe an illustration of a classical childrens christmas book. Or maybe something completely different, focussing on a handcrafted, non-traditional multi-layered card.


Step 1.

I decided to make a painting of an old woman, as an allegory for mother nature and the last days of the year.

I worked with white gesso as a primer. Then drew the most important facial structures onto the paper, without going into detail. After that I got a big brush and painted the whole sheet with diluted grey-blue-ish ink, with the sketch still showing through. While the paint was still wet I set the basic shadows, without being to accurate – the messy parts are what make it interesting. With salt, towelpapers, dry strokes and alcohol I created textures (everywhere, also on the face). Then I let everything dry an start to highlighte, again, using gesso with a brush or white charcoal an coloured pencils. I repeated this process until I was satisfied. :D

 This is a early process shot:

This is a few layers later. Also, I am actually working in a sketchbook since some weeks. What normally isn't quite my thing but I always admired people who had a sketchbook, for so many reasons. So I am trying to establish the habit for my self.










Step 2.

I scanned it. And realised, that I accidently used the wrong medium (the gel-medium, not the transparent gesso -which is a lot shinier and reacts different with the other mediums). This gel-medium is a real pain to digitalise, either by camera or scanner, since it kills a lot of details and also creates many little white reflections.
Also, as you can see, the scanned image turned out super dark (my scanner is crap -.- ). So my first steps were to erase  the most annoying white reflections with the patch-tool and lighten up the image, while taking out a bit of the contrast.


Then I started adding more details with textured brushes. Readjusted the composition/size of the head.

Step 3.

A lot of Photoshop-magic and some added ink-textures later, this is what it looks like:

I hope you enjoyed this months challenge! Make sure to check out Jana's wonderful card-illustration for the winter solstice here. And, most importently, have a wonderful Christmas and New Years Eve, everybody! :) <3

Mittwoch, 7. Oktober 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (October)

This months topic: textures! a collection of self made textures and a simple illustration based on those textures

Inspiration: Daniel Egnéus

After talking to Jana, I decided to recreate our current header picture on facebook for this months challenge. The grey gradient that facebook adds to the header pictures looks quite awful on the mainly white image. The additional lack of contrast between the profil pic and the header is also an issue that was bothering me. So, this will be my mission for this month!!

So, lets talk about the topic. Since the main focus lies on textures you can get very playfull with different colours! To me it looks like Daniel Egnéus uses watercolour textures, acrylic textures and magazin cutouts to create interesting images. Judging by the very clean edges I would assume, that he then scans the textures and puts them together digitally.

The dimensions for cover photos on facebook are 851px wide by 315px high. I went with a bigger size, but the ratio remains the same.


I decided to do a more three-dimensional composition based on the original M-shaped Kolibri header (since it seemed to be a more interesting composition. and it would be more fun to draw).
So I picked a few reference images from the internet and started sketching. I knew that I was only going to work with the basic shapes and not much detail, because the textures overlaying the image would give enough details, already (and kill te underlying details).  

In the last months I created a habit of only working in black and white at first and then, when the basic colour levels and contrasts are set, get the colour in. This way it is a lot easier to focus on the composition and light effects I want to apply.

This are the textures I used:

This was the finished black and white version. I actually think, I like this one more. But I felt as if this image needed more colour, because it was supposed to be our next header.
Sooo, I got the colours in. And it is really cheesy, which probably is related to me studyinbg baroque art and architecture (all the coloured marble and fat babies with petals and gold and...jesus) at the moment. Maybe I am going to get the eyes to look a bit more demonical some time. But for now I think it is ok like this. 
(And I'm sorry, that this entry is so short, I am super busy at the moment. The next time it will be my turn to write a blogentry will be in december so I can promise the next one will be more elaborat.)

Mittwoch, 5. August 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (August)

This months topic: Gouache with coloured pencils and/or chalk pastels

Inspirational artist:
Michael Lauritano

example works:
Jimmy: Dream Sequenz 1
Jimmy: Dream Sequenz 5

Step 1.

So, Jana and I are currently in the last two weeks of our final exam. And I am startig to get rather nostalgic and emotional -thats why I decided to do a marf-themed illustration this month to hold this moment in time :D (which is not cheesy at all).
For some time now I've been fascinated by the super different body types Jana and I have. She is rather skinny and long, everything about her is thin and fragile. I, on the other hand, am rather short (my hands and feet are tiny), got a round face and a wider bodystructure.
We spoke about that one time and both agreeed it was a bit of a grandma weatherwax and nanny ogg thing going on. Making the sketches I also had to think of Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout (or Mrs Weasly). 
Well, anyway, I found that difference rather charming in kontrast so I decided to do an illustration about it. I also wanted to depict a pose jana often takes up that has just a lot of fun curves to draw. So yea...there you go, thats my topic for this month :)

Oh, and it is by all means totally how we look. Just kidding, it was a spontaneous decision to draw this and I had no reference whatsoever. So Janas pose looks in real life way cooler. And I dont have a signature pose yet, so thats just me standing there. I have to think about one, though. hm.

Step 2.

The painting-part. Since this challenge is focusing on gouache underpaintings i digged out my paints, as well as some water-soluble coloured pencils. (Blue coloured pencils are also very useful for sketching before painting - if you do not use to much force while drawing they almost completely vanish when getting in contact with water.)

Normally I start with applying a wet coat to the area that I want to paint on. Depending on which effects I want to create I either wait a short amount of time or a long one until applying the first colours. In this case I wanted a rather clean look, so I let it dry to the point that the colours did not fade anymore but did not get that super sharp edges, yet. Then I simply started adding colours, not going into much detail but creating the main underlaying colors and soft gradients.

Step 3.

Then I waited for it to dry and got my faber castells. I used to only work with very cheap coloured pencils and depending on which ones they totally did the deed. But they are often very hard and if you work on watercolor paper that is not completely dried (although the paper feels relatively dry after a short amount of time, it takes a few hours to dry completely) you only get rills in the paper and not much colour applied.

So, when the paper was dried, I mainly traced the outlines with different colours (red for skin, grey/brown for the dress, blue for the jeans) and got a few more details in it (hands, hair, face). I think that adding a coloured pencils layer onto a painting whatsoever is very time efficient and you often dont even have to do that much to get a great result. This took me about half an hour.

Step 4.

I scanned it and adjusted a little bit the colours. I could have cut out the background more smoothly, but for now its fine with me. All in all this one was done super quickly and that definitely is one of the reasons it made so much fun. I think this months technique can be nice for simple sketches and quick illustrations.

(I just realised, that the faces look a bit weird with both of them just staring happily past each other. Well, jana and I usually dont look each other in the eyes, anyway, because who does that...)

Freitag, 12. Juni 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (June)

This month's topic is: Illustrations based on rorschach tests

The topic is inspired by the wonderful L Filipe dos Santos.
Doodlers anonymous featured a wonderful article about some of his sketchbook works, check it out here.

I am really excited about this one and was waiting for it to come up! It reminds me of my atelier-classes from the first semesters of my study. The assignments were always very experimental and getting you out of your comfort zone, which was great! And it is something I do way to little at the moment, so yay to this months topic!! :D

Lets talk about the technique: You can bascially just mess around with watercolours (or gouache, acrylics, ink...whatever you feel comfortable with and which is suited for making an inkblot test) and then make an imprint of the wet colours. It is very playful and creates random patterns, which is a nice change for someone, who tends to plan and structure her workprocess too much (like i do... -.- ).
When the colours are dry you can work over it with wathever you like. L Filipe dos Santos used coloured pencils, black liners and sometimes watercolour again. So, do whatever feels right and worth trying out to you! And have fun! :D <3


Step 1.

In the beginning I gathered all the stuff I would need, including some old used sketch paper, the cheap acrylics I once bought (since I wanted to use a lot of paint, it didn't make sense to use the good ones. The problem with the cheap arylics is that they are kind of transparent if applied thinly. But since I intended to go wild with many layers of paint, that was no problem at all), some rubbergloves, a scraper, something to scratch lines into the paint (only if you intend to create this kind of textures) and a papertowel.
Then I laid a thin colour coat onto the paper. If you use a white paper and do not do that, the paper that will be pressed against the painted paper will have white stains between the imprints.

I used different paints to create different effects. I achieved the best results with a mixture of cheap glitter acrylics and coloured ink –the glitter acrylics are kind of sticky and dry really fast, but they are not that colourful. The ink on the other hand has vibrant colours but is very fluid and does not stick to the paper after folding and pressing it together. So a mixture of both is just the right amount of colour and stickyness.
With this materials you do not necessarily need to put a coloured layer beneath, because they are more fluid than the pure acrylics and when pressed together fill the holes or create nice transitions.
I also used thick white ink to drop into the free spaces, so the colours would mix and create a pastell-ish colourmix.

Step 2.

At this point I selected one inkblot I liked best and which inspired me the most. I scanned it and started to work in Photoshop on it, using a lot of textured brushes and the stamp-tool. I recorded the process and made a short video of the footage:

And here you have the final result:

As closing remarks I would like to encourage you on just going with the stuff you have at home and trying them out. They are probably not going to react the same way as the paints I used did, but that can be a good thing. Getting to know the perks of the materials is part of the fun. So, although I wrote a review about my workprocess for you guys to recreate, feel free to do things differently. And, of course, have fun! :)

Sonntag, 5. April 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (April)

This month's topic is: pastel coloured

I went through my deviantart favourites folder and picked some beautiful pastel coloured works to show you and hopefully inspire you, too. Since the colour scheme is what's important this month you are very free in terms of genre, theme and techniques! So... go wild! <3

bilopsis - Pale Blonde
bilopsis - black moor
bilopsis - gardenia
Frederik-Rattzen - Dreamteller 
Frederik-Rattzen -  Kids
mieze018 - CrashReport 
mieze018 - terabit 
gunnmgally - The Anel of Tamaha
gunnmgally - sketch
l0ll3 - f a i r y 
rogner5th - MUSHI-SAMURAI
raynneril - Muy cerce del ocaso
jenniferhom - A Midsummer Night's Dream 
ilikeyoursensitivity - ingrain 
ilikeyoursensitivity - 6696ilikeyoursensitivity - contextualist

Step 1.

At first I searched my mind, sketchbook and internet for ideas. This is something I often do alongside other things not related to the task, and that can spread over multiple days or even weeks, depending on the deadline and workflow. I ended up with a topic related to an assignment from universitiy, a somehow floating, ophelia-like figur. That was the point when I started to make some additinal sketches, trying to figure out the composition.

Step 2.

As soon as the motif was decided I collected my spray paint and a A2 sheet of paper and coloured it in blue, silver and black. I use spray paint for this technique, because you quickly get a smoothe and plain underground that is very tough and resilient. You should however wear a protective mask while spraying and only do it outside of the house.

Step 3.

Then I started to transfer the sketch to the sprayed paper. I used oilpastels and wax crayons from different manufacturers. At this point I tend to use a medium smoothe pen. Later on, when it is important to be able to smudge the colors with your fingers (I am wearing gloves, by the way), I am most comfortable with the very soft oilpastels from pentel, which are very affordable, too. Unfortunately they are so soft, that you have to be very careful not to smudge more, than you want to.

Oilpastel pens are rather thick and you can not get very detailed with them, unless you draw a bigger composition. When I use this pens, I tend to draw very big automatically, which got to be a problem on this one, since there was not enough space for everything. While sketching I really wanted the right arm to be in the picture, so I kept adjusting and fixing till it seemed somewhat acceptabel. I also was pretty sure, that I wanted to work with a lot of textures (inspired by Van Gogh, who's work I adore at the moment), which helps to hide some anatomical or logical flaws.

Step 4.

As soon as the sketch was layed out properly, I picked my softest pens and started to lay down colours. I used mainly white, peach and rosé for the skin, different shades of grey, blue, green and lilac for the background. At this point I do not smudge, but rather draw the colours on top of each other. When I have a colour coat on the whole picture, I start to smudge and adjust. The fun thing about the soft oilpastels is, that you can work them over finished colour coats, creating nice textures. But you have to be carefull, because there is a point, when the paper's surface is closed from the colours and you can not put anithing els on it anymore (similar to coloured pencils, I guess).

Step 5.

When the painting was done I scanned it. Since it is relatively huge and I only own a A3 scanner, I had to make two scans and than put them together in Photoshop.
Then I started to retouch it. There were several flaws I had to correct. The arm was way to short and just looked plain strange, so I pulled it a bit out, and created a better transition from the pink areas to the blue/grey ones. The face looked on the computer monitor very strange so I adjusted the nose, the shape of the face and the eyes. I also corrected the shoulder- and nuchal-area. Oh, and the mouth, to give her an overall friendlier expression.
When that was done I finally could turn to the colur adjustements, which always are a lot of fun. I pushed the blue a bit anddesaturated the pink. I think, I highlited the white, too.
And this is, what it looked like in the end:

I hope, this was helpful for someone. Next months topic will be: pastel

Montag, 9. März 2015

Useful websites for free textures

There are some very helpful websites about textures in the internet. I thought it could be interesting to collect the websites I use most frequently and prepare a list of useful links. I listed them in accordance to their relevanz, whereby I mainly use the first two websites and fall back on the other three, if I can't find what I am looking for. Sometimes it also can be helpful to do a google image-search –just be carefull with the terms of use! Speaking of, I checked the terms of use on every website I featured in this post. But to be safe, I recommend to check them yourself again!!


CGTextures is probably the most famous website providing textures. They are free for personal and commercial use, credits or links are appreciated but they are not required (CGTextures License). You need to make an account if you want to download images, but since it does not cost anything, it isn't a big deal at all. You can probably find almost everything on here.

Photos Public Domain

A website hosting royalty free photographs, images, pictures and clipart for any use including commercial. To me mostly the paper textures are interesting. For example the light yellow paper texture with flecks, which I used on the pumpkin whisperer. Furthermore the resolutions are very high and you do not have to create an account to download the images.

Free Stock Textures

This one was mainly interesting to me for its grunge textures. The terms of use are similar to the above two websites. So you are allowed to use the images for both personal and commercial purposes, but are not allowed to sell or redistribute these textures in any form. You do not need to create an user account!


Not my favourite texture resource site, but they have some nice grunge images. The images are royalty free and you can use them for commercial and non-commercial purposes. No account required.

Love Textures

I'm not really digging this sites layout, since you can not search for categorys, only with keywords. Therefore the search is more time consuming and not very efficient. But when you do find an image, it has a good quality and high resolution. No account required and free for personal and commercial use!

Freitag, 6. Februar 2015

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (February)

Hello dear creatives,

it's february and therefore it's my turn again to write a blogpost.
This month's topic is: working with paper (diorama, papercut)

As inspiration take a look at this awesome artists:
Camille Garoche (Princesse CamCam)
Morgana Wallace
Maki Hino

I am in the middle of some university-stuff, that has to be done by next week. So I'm probably gone update this blogentry on the next weekend. If you got questions to this months challenge or are already done and want to know how to post it on the MARF Production's website, write on our facebook page or send us a message there!


Search for inspiraton. In this case I already new, what I wanted do draw. It can help to keep a inspiration-folder on your computer, or, in my case, on a external hard disc drive. So if you have problems finding a motif, you can go through it and maybe end up with a new idea.


Then I did some raw sketches. As soon as I was satisfied with the pose, I transfered the sketch to transparent paper, flipped it, drew the lines on the back, too (with a smooth pencil, I think it was B6), flipped it again and placed it on a fresh new paper, where I traced the sketch again. This way I didn't get it mirror-inverted. I do this often when I am away from home (and the light table), or when it are simple things I want to transfer and I am too lazy, to get it out for that.

At this point I decided it would be helpful, if I planned enough space, to fold the paper later and glue it to the back of the drawing, so it would be more resilient (also mirrord stuff looks cool and is fun to do). Then I simply started working out the details.

The bookshelf in the back was a bit more time consuming, although I had decded to go with a less detailed (no illustrated bookspines) version. Since I had bought a box, where I wanted to place the items, I used the boxes measurements.


When the drawings were finished, I glued enother sheet of paper (or flipped the paper, when enough space) to the back to enhance stability. Then I cut the items out, sparing a little part that was supposed to help the pieces stand.


I got it in the box and took some photos.


I photoshopped it, mainly putting it in the right format and enhancing the contrast/sharpness.
Here are some before and after pictures.