Animated birds

Seagull Pelican Sparrow Eagle
Early last year I worked on a home-made music video for local artist Gone Troppo, drawing four bird animations for the clip Make This Thing Fly. Unfortunately I couldn’t animate them as well as I desired due to limitations with the editing software that I had available, so I’ve now created these animated GIFs to show them off as intended.

They’re all hand illustrations, with the seagull drawn with a brush pen on paper and the remaining three all drawn on my Wacom tablet directly into Photoshop.

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Year of the Snake

2013: Year of the Snake

The Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, begins on February 1oth 2013 and will continue until January 30th 2014. This follows the Year of the (Black) Dragon in 2012, a year which was predicted to be unpredictable.

2013 is the Year of the Snake – or, more accurately, the Year of the Black Water Snake – a year to show caution, plan diligently, act responsibly, and work towards your greater goals.

The snake is the 6th of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. Snakes are considered to be a good omen, and people born in the Year of the Snake are considered to bring good luck and prosperity to a household; it is said that having a snake in the house will never see you short of food on the table. Beware though – for all their financial thoughtfulness, careful planning, charm and intuition, snakes can also be somewhat devious, materialistic and greedy.

The snake mainly contains the fire element from the 5 elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) in Chinese Astrology, and is therefore in the fire group. As 2013 is a water year and the snake is a fire element, it is possible that both good and bad fortune may be experienced – so, what else is new!

My illustration celebrating the New Year is a coiled snake symbol, created with an ink brush pen on Canson Pastel paper. This sketched design was scanned into Photoshop, where I used various layer styles to highlight the ink effects of the original sketch (areas of wetter, heavier ink coverage showed as a separate tone on the scan), and I also added additional textures to create the finished effect I desired.

Also included in this design were references to two of the lucky components for the snake: the colours of yellow and red, and the directions of southwest and northeast (as seen in the background texture patterns).

Redhead: brush pen sketch

I recently purchased some Pentel Pocket Brush Pens after reading a number of positive comments about them online, and have started to sketch a few simple pieces to get a feel for exactly how to use this type of pen. They feature a nicely flexible and controllable brush tip, and use replaceable cartridges of permanent pigment ink. A pleasing amount of variance in line width is easily achievable – I’ll just need a little more practice to be able to maintain the level of control required to form really beautiful lines.

The sketch above was quickly drawn directly onto tinted watercolour paper and then scanned into Photoshop, where the colour was easily added. Due to limited opportunities to work on larger, more intensive projects at this time, I’m mainly creating smaller, less complex illustrations and designs, which then allow me to use my available time a bit more effectively. Working on my overall drawing skills and improving my technique by hand is something I’m quite keen to do at this point, so I’ll continue to use these brush pens for a range of illustrated ideas. Also, another positive aspect about using these pens is that they take me away from the computer and back to the drawing table – always a good thing in my opinion!