Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Due to my recent health problems the remaining six hours are to be rescheduled to two three hour sessions. The first will run on Tuesday 15th July and the final class will run on Tuesday 22nd July.
if you cannot make it to thiese classes can you contact swarthmore on 0113 2432210 and let them know.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


I guess I really should finish recapping on week 4 before posting stuff from week 6 but  I wanted to get this up for anyone wanting to  fishing off the exercise.
I'll add some text later, for those who missed last night's class. Those who were there will only need the pics.
Before making a start on a final drawing , I like to have a quick warm up session of sketching to get a feel for the subject matter.

Below are the stages to help you sketch out the pose and composition

I know some of you find using  breakdown shapes of spheres and cylinders helpful when constructing a figure ( so, continue to do so if it is working for you) but I  tend to approach a figure by feeling mt way around the shape with the pencil, loosely skeching the flow and dynamic of the pose. Notice how the sketch is  mostly made up of curves and swirls. 

When drawing the wings, it is always useful to have a point of reference if you cannot  imagin it clearly in your head.  A bats wings make a good point of reference.

If you notice how the bat's wings are actually an arm and fingers just like a human's , only with longer fingers, and that the limbs bend  in the same way, you are on your way to having an understanding  of what you are drawing. Having an understanding of what you are drawing enables you to produce a better drawing.

Once I am reasonably hapy with the shape, composition, etc. I begin sketchig in the detail. At this stage you should stil be sketching very lightly, not applying too much pressure with your pencil, image shown here has been darkened so you can see clearly the develpment of the drawing. Keeping your prelinimary pencil work light enables you to adjust your drawing easily.

 From this point onwards the breakdowns are for producing the drawing in ink , pencil or marker etc on white paper. I quickly, and crudely, threw some  tone on in photoshop to demonstrate how I would create the lighting.

 I also produced a version of the sketch in  white pencil on black paper.
Remember what was discussed in class about working on black paper,  instead of applying the darker values of your drawing (because they already exist on the paper) you are applying only the lighter values and highlights that would  normally  be available on white paper. So, you are basically working in reverse.

Monday, 9 June 2014


During week 3 and 4 , we discussed  layout, lighting and composition.For those who missed it and for those who want a recap, I will go through the main points again and also add links to sites I think will be helpful.

When considering the layout of a drawing or sketch it is sometimes helpful to divide the page up into quarters or thirds, using faint lines
 This can help the artist determine the  overall ballance of the content and light and dark.
Using the grid method is also related to the "Rule Of Odds" I have mentioned a few times in class. More about the Rule Of Odds below. If I apply a grid to anything, I do not strictly follow the Rule Of Odds  but use it as a quick way of determining the ballance of  content.

 I have applied this method to two images below The first being Frank Frazetta's iconic Conan painting and a comic book cover by Tom Sutton. Notice how they fit the grid and how the main content also forms a triangular shape. The triagular shape when applied to composition is referred to as the "golden triangle"
Conan by Frank Frazetta

Ghostly Tales cover by Tom Sutton

The, Rule Of Odds (also known as  The Rule Of Thirds), is a method of composition that enables an illustrator or  photographer to compose an image that is visually dynamic and  pleasing to the eye.
Compositions using an odd umber of elements  often make for  a more dynamic images. The Rule Of Odds is used in advertising as a selling tool. Generally we are more stimulated by odd numbers of  things as opposed to even numbers.
There are many variations and examples of layout relating to this rule but as I did not invent this rule (I was taught it when I worked in advertsing) rather than compile a lengthy blog explaining it in depth, I thought I would include some links to sites and blogs that I think explain it simpler that I probably would. which will leave me room for more content relating to the past weeks work.



and this one

Notice how the Poseidon sketch drawn in class falls within the grid
 I will post a rough breakdown of this sketch sometime this week.

Here are some other examples of how the Rule Of Odds has produced  some memorable art.
 Mike Mignola - Creepy. 
Also notice the separation of black and white, just a simple cloud of mist in the background frames the trio and makes them clearly visible and the main point of interest.

 Frank Frazetta
Notice the girl in the center is the talest element, which , flanked by  the caps either side of her , creates the "golden triangle"

Another Frazetta composition but with an even number of elements. Frazetta uses the colour of  the panther and the chimpanzee and the poses to create a visual of one element. There are four elements but for an instant you only notice three shapes. Very clever.

Another by Frazetta. Here there are odd munbers, Five main elements (there are more smaller ones in the background but they are, basically, background)
Notice the shape and flow of the composition. Can you see it?
To be continued.....

Thursday, 29 May 2014


Like a sucker, I watched the Nick Cage double bill on Channel5, Ghost Rider and Drive Angry. I had seen Ghost Rider before and thought it was terrible but I actually enjoyed it this time around. Maybe  it had more to do with the fact my brain was fried from long hours  drawing storyboards
Anyway, the next day I felt compelled to draw the Ghost Rider in my sketchbook.

Obviously I am being highly irresponsible here setting fire to my sketch. Please don't copy my foolish behaviour

#Ghostrider #marvelzombies #marvel #fire #flames #hell

Wednesday, 28 May 2014


As most of you attending the class will know, I can't emphasise enough the importance of constantly practising figure drawing. The more hours you put in studying how the body works and transferring that down onto paper, the less you will have to ask "Steve, how  do I draw hands?", "Steve, I can't draw feet. what am I doing wrong?" , "how can I make my heads less wonky?". Of course these are all questions you now have to ask in class, because you are still at the stage where understanding this stuff is new and alien but if you put in the  time and concentration, you will no longer have to ask, you will know how.
Below I will present a few approaches to figure drawing that may be of help. Some will be a help, others may be a hindrance.  Try each one out  and see which works best for you.
The above sketch  is pretty much how I figure out a pose. I think of the shapes and  try and feel my way around the contours as a three dimensional object.
Some of you may find this approach helpfull and easier than plotting a pose using cylinders and blocks.
I think the best way to begin is by thinking about the skeleton. As I have mentioned before, I don't know the ame of every bone, just the major ones but unless you are having to explain the skeleton to anyone, you don't need to know al the names, just how the frame  responds to moment.
  If soemthing looks a bit too complicated, try to simplify it so that breaking down he information is simpler. The skeleton can be simplified to a basic stick form, using oval type shapes to represent the head, rib cage and pelvis. The rib cage  will give you the foundations for the upper body and the pevis will enable to position the legs correctly.

Using the stick form is a quick way to guage a pose and work out how the structure responds to movement such as the tilt of the hips and shoulder

  I often use a mirror to study how my own body works in various poses. I find it very helpful as it is not always possible to find the exact reference material for a drawing.

After becoming aquainted with the stick figue you may find that fleshing the figure out using cylinders and blocks  is a helpfull method of making the figue more three dinemnsional.
Some find that by applying these shapes , it is easier to achieve a realistic outer shape.
Of course, this will not be easy for everyone. An understanding of the muscle structure wil lalso help you produce a better figure drawing., unless you do, the above  diagram may be a little difficult to navigate.
Getting hold a  good solid book on anatomy  for bone and muscle scructure will go a long way in helping your figure drawing progress.

Here are some break downs of poses. Just  focus on the bits that are helpful. No need to draw every stage if it is not helping you.

here's another

The image below is an  example of how I quickly sketch out a pose. I aim for capturing the pose/shape in as few  lines as possible. I also keep the sketching , nice and light. By applying less pressure, it allows the pencil to flow fluidly across the paper  I find it helps capture movement more successfully.

 Here are some links to some books that you may find usefull.
DYNAMIC ANATOMY by Burne Hogarth
There are loads of books on antomy. You can probably pick some cheap ones up in The Works bookshop or even study  diagrams online.
I personally learned from this book.
It's out of print but this book might be just as  good.
I've not read it so I can't really vouch for it.
Ok, the ends part 2 of the half term  post. More to come soon.