Connect with us

Arts and Crafts

A Guide to Portraiture

Published

on

Good day, Beartarians! Today I’ll lead you through a step by step guide of portraiture. In this example, I am using a hybrid of painting and drawing. I found the model on the vast ether but I encourage you to seek out your own model reference and follow along with me. I suggest referencing from an image, in profile position at first.

I’ve uploaded the full process video to youtube for your reference. Note that I am using an iPad and the app Procreate as my tools, but this guide can apply to traditional mediums as well.

If you would like to contribute any how-tos, guides, or simple overviews of your artistic process, please send your content directly to Arts@beartariatimes.com.

Step One: Roughing out the Shapes

Using a light pencil, I outlined the rough profile in the middle of my canvas. I constructed the basic proportions of the head using very simple shapes. This allowed me to get a feel for the general composition as well as the proportions of the head. Keep it loose and allow your pencil to flow as you rough out your composition.

Step Two: Defining the Features

Once the general proportions were set, I started defining the facial features. Pay attention to the eyes, nose, lips, and ears. How do they exist in proximity to one another? Don’t add unnecessary details or value at this point. Strictly use this stage to improve upon your shapes and align the facial features. I suggest drawing guidelines to help with placement and proportion.

Step Three: Improving Shapes

After the features were well defined, I started adding value and color to help improve the facial features. You will want to use this stage to double-check the accuracy of your proportions as well as make any large corrections to your composition. As you mass in the darks and mid-tones, you will start to recognize the individual you are referencing. Continually take a step back and make sure you are capturing the mood the individual is expressing.

Step Four: Massing in Color

Since my canvas was dark, I massed in the lighter skin tones. This helped me to further define the facial features and provide an under base. You can use this stage to start layering in all the light to mid-tones and further contrast the darker shapes. I can’t stress enough how important an under base is when it comes to painting. As you start adding flesh tones, the under base serves as a primer and adds to the vibrancy and contrast of colors on top.

Step Five: Adding Flesh Colors

Adding flesh colors is my favorite part of the process. I added in light reds and yellows as well as a darker brown umber. As you are adding in color, continue to modify and iterate the proportions of the figure. Your own personal style can be used here so don’t be afraid to experiment. I used a thinner pencil and a technique known as contour hatching.

Step Five: Developing Richer Colors

After setting up the proportions, values, and general style, I focused on developing richer colors. I was constantly improving upon the drawing by checking the proportion and alignment but it was now time to start adding in colors to elevate the final piece. Colors that you would not normally think existed in skin tones such as purples, greens, and oranges, are necessary to help bring your portrait to life. Take some time to focus on your reference, and see how these secondary colors can be applied.

Step Seven: Details

The final step in the process is deciding how much detail you would like to add for your final piece. As you move further towards the final piece, use smaller tool strokes for emphasis. In this example I chose to keep some of the areas undeveloped. This is a technique to add a focal point to your composition. I wanted the viewer to focus in on the Nose, lips, eyes, and jaw so I left the rest of the portrait less detailed.

Don’t get too hung up on mistakes at this point. Practice makes perfect and no piece of art is truly finished. You have to learn when to move on to your next piece.

If you have any questions or would like to share some art with us, please reach out to us at Arts@beartariatimes.com.

Thank you,

MC-Bear (Nero)

Arts and Crafts

A Pointed Pen Calligraphy Tutorial

The fun thing about calligraphy is that there are many scripts, many pens, and many styles to learn.

Published

on

By: Snow White Bear

Pointed pens have pointed tips. They come in straight and oblique holders.

Some pens can do both. Choose whichever is more comfortable.

First, clean your nib by putting it in your mouth for a few seconds (older calligraphers still do this), or get a potato from your garden and stick all your nibs in it (a minute should be enough, but some do this overnight) or my favorite using up all the unnatural toothpaste the dentist gives you to clean your nibs. If you skip this step, I’ll get a message from you saying, “Snow White Bear, I tried to write, but the ink won’t come out.”  For ink, any calligraphy ink will work. Thinner ink is easier to work with; slowly add distilled or filtered water. Walnut ink can be made at home or bought and is easy to work with. Iron gall ink is tremendous but slowly eats at the nib. “Dinky dips” are popular for pouring ink in.

Don’t use printer paper.  Any paper that is 32lbs or more (Hp 32lbs is popular) and smooth will work. Some like resume paper even though it has a slight texture. I print calligraphy guidelines I find online on these papers then I’m ready to practice.

Pointed pens are great at Copperplate script. Here are the basic strokes: 

Always write using guidelines. Traditionally Copperplate is written at 55 degrees. Practice the basic strokes until you can do them at least 80% consistently. Now it’s time to move on to letters. Letters are made up of basic strokes. The basic strokes usually group the letters they are composed of. 

Practice and practice writing letters and practice writing them slowly. You know when you’re going too fast when your pen keeps scratching or skipping on the page. Clean your pen with water and a paper towel every once in a while when writing after letters are mastered, and practice many words with attention to letter connections (I’ve seen this be a whole course) and spacing. Traditionally calligraphers are taught to practice pangrams like “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Writing long phrases can help master spacing and words more quickly. Next, majuscules and capital letters are learned, and unfortunately, they use different basic strokes and spacing than the minuscules or lower cases letters.

There are other scripts one can write with a pointed pen. Spencerian, a script invented in America by Platt Rogers Spencer, is the second most popular. My favorites are Engrosser Script, Italian Hand, and Open-Shaded Script. 

Modern calligraphy is based on traditional calligraphy but stylized differently. Although you don’t have to learn traditional calligraphy first, many calligraphers recommend it. What’s fun about modern is that after you practice hard and learn the rules, you make your own style. 

The fun thing about calligraphy is that they are many scripts, many pens, and many styles to learn. I only mentioned a few. It’s technical art that is limitless, and you keep improving your script every time you practice. 

My favorite calligraphy resources:

Traditional calligraphy online lessons:

logoscalligraphy.com

Dreaming in Script by David Grimes 

https://www.dreaminginscript.com/

zanerian.com has free lessons

Modern calligraphy online lessons:

The happy ever crafter on youtube

Calligraphy supplies:

https://www.johnnealbooks.com/

https://www.paperinkarts.com/

Join your local Calligraphy guild.

-Snow White Bear

Continue Reading

Arts and Crafts

Illustrating a Children’s Book

Show your work early and often. In your communications with the writer, show them your thumbnails, scribbles, and roughs. As artists, we have a tendency to cloister away until we have a polished piece of art; this tendency is detrimental to collaborations.

Published

on

Illustrating a Children’s Book

So you wrote a children’s book, now what? This article will help writers understand the illustration process and help artists come up with a plan to tackle a picture book project. After working on quite a few children’s books in the past two years, I’d like to share some tips on the process of creating them.

First, you must answer a few questions:

How many pages?

Traditionally, the standard picture book format has 32 inside pages, with the first 4 taken up by copyright, barcodes, and other interesting bits and bobs. That means we have a total of 28 pages to work with in terms of illustrations.

But since the advent of print-on-demand publishing, book lengths have become much more flexible. However, it’s good to keep in mind that the traditional length is what parents and children (a.k.a. your potential readers) are used to, and deviating from it may be a jarring reading experience.

What trim size?

(A few of the available trim sizes.)

Trim size is basically the size of the book. Square books are popular for children, but letter size is also a respectable format. Horizontal picture books are very classy, but not many print-on-demand services offer them. It’s best to research the printers you want to use (KDP, Ingram Spark, Lulu, Blurb, etc.) and then decide which is best for the project.

How many illustrations?

It may be tempting to want a picture on every page, but the picture-to-text ratio is determined primarily by the intended age of the reader. As a rule of thumb, the younger the target audience, the more pictures you’ll want in the book.

Color or black and white?

(Black and white interior illustration for “The Lion Who Forgot”)

You may be wondering why a children’s book would not have color, but as we discussed above, older children often don’t need hyper-colorful images to hold their attention. If you’re illustrating for the 9-12 age range, some stylish black and white ink drawings may be more appropriate, depending on the subject matter.

There are exceptions to this rule; young children are sensitive to high contrasting images, so simple black and white images such as in “The Lion Who Forgot” will work well. 

Another consideration is that color printing will be more expensive than black and white; the more vibrant and intricate the illustrations, the better printing quality you’ll need to use.

Is your style a good fit for the book?

Younger kids like big heads and big eyes that emote clearly; older children can appreciate more sophisticated compositions and moods in a landscape. What’s your strong suit?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten when I was starting out in art was to never accept a project that doesn’t jive with your style because each project builds your portfolio in a direction you don’t really enjoy. And since you’ll be hired based on your portfolio, your career might take a turn in a direction different from your true talent.

Once you’ve answered these questions and have determined to accept the job, it’s time to take the next step.

The planning phase

1. Thumbnails— your Roadmap

(Thumbnails for “The King’s Colt”)

There are many places online where you can download a thumbnails template. These make it easy for you to see the whole story at a glance and spot obvious story flow issues early.

This is also the best time to work out your creative differences with the writer and avoid the nightmare of revising a fully finished illustration because you didn’t hash it out early.

Thumbnails guide you as you illustrate your way through the manuscript and gives you an easy way to scope out the project and count the cost before building the tower, if you will.

2. The test page and character designs

From the thumbnails, pick a page that has the main character(s), and take it all the way to the finalized stage. Take note of the techniques you’ve used and how long it took you to do them. This allows you to figure out your process and accurately assess the total amount of work involved in the project. From this one exercise, you can extrapolate the amount of time needed for the whole book, the budget the writer will need to come up with for hiring you, and as a bonus, the main character’s design is now hammered out too.

If the writer agrees to go ahead with the style, design, budget, and estimated timeline determined by the test page, you are now safe to dig into the production phase of the illustrations.

3. Streamline your art process

If you’ve paid proper attention to your process during the test page, you should be able to replicate that process for each book page. However, there is inevitably a style shift when a project spans weeks and months, and I’ve found the easiest way to keep the whole book cohesive, and the style consistent is to streamline the process.

This means doing the rough drafts of all the pages, then the line art of all the pages, and finally the color and paint of each page. This may look different for you, but the principle holds; finish the whole book in one stage before moving on to the next.

4. A few technical considerations

When designing your illustrations, keep in mind the following:

• The spine will pinch the middle of the book, so each page has a strip at the spine that will be hidden. That is called the “gutter.”

• Around each page, there is a border that may get accidentally trimmed. It’s best to keep essential bits like faces and text away from that border; this is called the “margin” or “safety.”

• Do your images go all the way to the edge of the page? If so, you’ll need to include an extra “bleed” border around your page, where the image continues to bleed past the edge of the trim size.

The printing service you use should be able to provide a template peculiar to your book’s specifications. Download that template and follow it to the pixel.

5. Formatting the text

(Contrasting text example from “The Peanut Trap”)

There are a few options when it comes to displaying the text. Firstly, your pictures should be composed with the text in mind to integrate nicely. To make the text legible, you’ll need to have the background in a contrasting tone to the text—i.e., dark text, light background, or light text, dark background. There are a few ways of achieving this. If your illustrations don’t have that contrast, you can use a box, a banner, or a speech bubble. 

Another often overlooked option is to format the whole book to have a blank facing page dedicated to text. This is actually an excellent option for all ages, so make sure to discuss the option with the writer you’re working with.

(Example of facing-page text and text on banner)

Some final thoughts

Show your work early and often. In your communications with the writer, show them your thumbnails, scribbles, and roughs. As artists, we have a tendency to cloister away until we have a polished piece of art; this tendency is detrimental to collaborations.

(Hilarious simple thumbnail to final for “Aurora Bearialis”)

The writer may not understand your thumbnails at the outset, but as you take them through your process, they will acquire more and more educated eyes. I can confidently say that the writers of “Aurora Bearialis” are able to decipher my scribbles now.

I hope you found this article useful. Of course, there’s nothing like lessons learned by doing, so go forth and create, my brothers and sisters!

-HandDrawnBear   

http://www.handdrawnbear.com

Continue Reading

Arts and Crafts

Drawing the Line

Published

on

A written guide by Handdrawnbear

What is a line?

Lines don’t exist in nature, it is a two-dimensional construct of the mind in an attempt to understand and represent three-dimensionality.

One might be tempted to think of edges as lines, that is how we describe a cube after all, but there are plenty of objects such as a ball, which has no edges, that also must be described by lines.

Lines are statements about where one surface ends and the next surface begins from our point of view. A line is used to define the limit of our perception, when an object or surface goes beyond our view; like the horizon line, it means we can see this much and no further.

How do we use a line?

It’s more a question of where, rather than how. Lines can be used to describe any object, but first, determine your level of magnification. How lines are used will differ whether we’re drawing a forest, a single tree, one branch, or just one solitary leaf.

We are informing the viewer where the edges of our perceptions are for this particular drawing, which will be defined by the level of magnification of the subject.

Drawing a forest means defining the edges and boundaries of the forest, therefore we must not concern ourselves with defining the edges and boundaries of each leaf.

Likewise, drawing a chicken means we can’t be tempted to define each feather; drawing a bear precludes us from focusing on every hair. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Handdrawnbear’s approach to drawing.

I can only speak for myself here, but the approach I take with any drawing is to use the least amount of lines possible, and start with the most important lines. Just as brevity is to wit, economy of lines is to a drawing. No one likes a line-salad of a drawing.

Let me explain. Say we’re drawing a bear, if you could only use one line to describe that bear, what would that line look like? I usually choose the line of the spine from nose to heel, which describes the posture of the animal.

Next, if you could only describe the bear using two lines, which line would you add? I’d put in the head in this instance. And then from there we continue to build the drawing from most important to least important lines, also known as drawing from the general to the specific.

This approach not only helps organize the drawing process, but also ensures that if we’re drawing from life and the subject moves or wanders away, we have put down as much essential information on paper as possible.

These methods have served me well over the years, and I hope you find them helpful, too.

-Handdrawnbear

Continue Reading

Trending

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.