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All Posts in Illustration

28th April 2020

Desk mate

Plywood model of a character called I made to accompany me whilst I work from home

Ever since I first started sketching Peblo, I had this idea of how he might look in 3D. Rather than a round and soft shape, I always imagined him being faceted. That way he had a very distinct silhouette and could allow me to sit him on different sides when it came to animation.

A physical version could be made from all sorts of materials. A block of wood sanded down in an assortment of angles to make a faceted shape or cast in concrete. I never liked the idea of creating a cgi version of him. Yet, the biggest issue I had was tooling up. Sanding a block of wood would look great but getting access to a standup sander was tricky. Sadly I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same effect doing it by hand.

Early sketches and inspiration

So to keep things simple, I toyed with the idea of making him out of concrete or resin. In order to do that, I’d need a mould which meant making a model of him first out of Balsa wood. Balsa wood because it’s cheap to buy and easy to cut with a fine saw.

It was actually quite difficult to sculpt because I didn’t realise how brittle balsa is. So achieving clean lines proved pretty challenging. After a couple iterations, I’m happy with the texture but might try sculpting a potato (yep I said potato) to achieve sharper lines. Then I can cover it in silicone to make a reusable mould.

Sculpting a block of balsa wood

The many incarnations of Peblo!

How he looks nowadays

I love these types of projects because you just need to get stuck in to find your way. Often you make mistakes, but that’s all part of it! Just playing it by ear is so much fun. It’s refreshing and such a contrast to my day job where you only have so much time. Deadline-free, I thought: as long as there was a similar texture and charm to the illustrated version then I’m happy. Otherwise it’s not a Peblo.

So when I had set aside some leftover plywood for my van, thinking I’d make a table out of it....I thought how often am I really going to use it?! Instead let’s make 2x huge versions of Peblo. That way I could experiment a bit, choose the best and maybe sell/gift the other one. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted by that face every day - especially during lockdown!

Getting started

I did some loose sketches by hand. I’d not drawn Peblo this big before and wasn’t too precious about him looking exactly like the illustration. So did some rough planning in pencil before cutting.

Cut once. Measure twice.

I don’t own a work bench so I have to make do with this ledge in the garden. I’ve cut everything this way. It can a bit laborious! So maybe I’ll indulge in a proper work bench later down the line. I’m sure the neighbours would appreciate something less echoey!

Coarse Sand. Fine sand.

After some sought after advice from a chippy, I used a coarse grit sand first then finished in a finer grit. I’d never really paid much attention to grit level before - but it makes a hell of a difference when you’re painting wood.

White wash

I was keen to find a way to paint the wood but not fully cover the grain because there was some really nice texture coming through. A white wash was the answer. You just water down the paint your using, and use a cloth to rub into the wood. Also it doesn’t have to be white paint, it can be any colour you like. I used some scraps to test the paint colours I bought along with ways to apply it such as a cloth, toothbrush, wire wool and brushes.

The real deal

Then it was time to get stuck in. I masked off shapes so I could make it look faceted. You couldn’t keep the tape on there for too long - otherwise you created quite strange borders. I took my time to build up the layers of colours. Switching between the light and darker colours to add depth and mimic the illustration. I added texture with a toothbrush - either flicking it to make specks or dragging it across the surface.

Painted edges

The edges looked a little odd left natural, so I finished them in the dark paint.

Finishing touch

Equally the most important aspect was Peblo’s face. I used a couple penny’s to map out where the eyes should go. 1p size so I could paint circles larger and not leave any pencil marks behind. Painting his smile and eyes was absolutely nerve racking. I haven’t got a steady hand! But I’m quite happy with how one of them turned out. It’s the circles that are a struggle, with a paint brush you ended up making so many mistakes you have keep going back over what you’ve done.

Sure enough since making him, I’ve had my photograph taken with Peblo - a neighbour is taking portraits of self isolators in Southville as part of a photography project. Interested to see how that turns out!

28th January 2020

Blue Monday

In light of Blue Monday last week - considered the most depressing day of the year by those heads of consumerism - I thought I'd inject a little fun into my day. I've been obsessed with watching tutorials on how to dance the Lindyhop recently (a late 20's swing type dance that was huge in America). It's such a joyful thing to watch and listen to. Wish me luck with the dancing!

Illustration_LindyHop

It was refreshing to draw people like this. I'd usually stay clear of anything that involves people. I found some great imagery online to use as reference - otherwise the people would have looked a little more blob like.

16th October 2019

Olympus OM2n doodle

Illustration_Camera

Last night, I managed to set aside some time to do some drawing. It's been a little while so I felt a bit rusty using layers and choosing which brushes to shade with but I got there in the end. This is a very loose drawing (with no true perspective or source of lighting) of my Olympus film camera - I particularly like the subtle texture I've managed to create on the lens ring. It's deliberately made to look strange, creating a 3d shape in 2d form is where the fun bit comes in.

27th July 2019

Happy Go Skate Day

To help celebrate Happy Go Skate Day last month I put this jolly little animation together for it. My workplace, Six shared it on Instagram as quite a few of us either grew up skating or still do it to this day so it seemed like a fitting tribute. Fortunately, I managed to finish the whole thing in just one sitting (which is unusual for me!). That said if I took any longer, I would have missed putting it out on the day so having tight deadlines are good because you are realistic with what you can do and commit to.

With that in mind, the simpler the better. Most importantly it had have soul and capture some aspect of skateboarding. I used the half pipe shape to draw a big smiley on the page, then thought about how the skateboarder should skate. One aspect I thought of was based on something I've recently been learning which is to go up and back down the ramp effortlessly and let gravity do the hard work for you. It sounds so basic and easy when you talk through it and technically it is really. All it involves is a little trust in how you're moving and patience. So when you go up a ramp, naturally you'll get to a point where you've stopped propelling and gravity will help bring you back down to Earth (excuse my very basic Science lingo), at this point you want to relax and turn your head back down the ramp to turn your board and ride away clean. Here's a much better way to explain what I just mentioned along with a video.

It was that smooth, gradual and floaty movement that I wanted to mimic in my animation. When the character races across the bottom of the ramp, I stretched his body to exaggerate his movement which is a technique I've wanted to toy with for a while.

All in all, I'm really happy with how this turned out!

23rd June 2019

Night captain!

Night Boat Illustration

I really love how this illustration turned out. I decided to revisit an old sketchbook again and pick up a boat doodle I had drawn whilst on holiday in Port Isaac. Recreating it in Procreate, this time I decided to do it a completely different style and make it feel as if it was night time. The colour way is super simple for that reason, and I tried working with the same textures as I had used in my last blog post.