My Digital Art Process & Digital Coloring Tutorial

Hey everyone! Hope you’re doing well today and that you’re having a fantastic weekend. I’m a day late with this one, but here is a small tutorial with some insights on how I work on a digital painting. Let me know if this helps you or if you have any questions as you’re reading. How do you work through your digital painting process?

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All the best of luck!

Drawn Together, Episode 01 - Getting Started

Hey everyone!! I'm so excited to finally post this podcast. It goes into a little more detail regarding the topic of my first blog post (https://oxcoxa.tumblr.com/post/164341254258/getting-started). Each point is dissected a little more though the podcast, and I hope it proves useful to you during your art journey!

So many thanks to Chance Thrash (https://soundcloud.com/man_huh) on SoundCloud for letting me use his beautiful guitar piece “Late Night Earl Grey” used for the intro to this podcast! We’re both huge fans of tea and it’s such a pleasure to hear the Earl Grey riff in the intro. THANK YOU!!!!

Please let me know how you like the podcast, and if you'd like to hear more about the process of drawing and art through podcasts in the future. Also, let me know what helps get you started on a drawing, I'd love to hear from you. Until next time! 

My Very Favorite Markers

Hey everybody, it’s good to be back! Hope you’re having a fantastic day and that life is going well for you. Right now I’m actually visiting my hometown and I’ve been spending a lot of time drawing in my childhood bedroom, which has been a lot of fun. Between spending time with family and helping out my friend prepare for her wedding, it’s been hard to keep up with the digital blogging realm, but don’t fear! I haven’t forgotten you and I’m here to give you an update.

Today I’m going to share my very favorite markers on the market. I know there are a lot of kinds, brands, sizes, and types of markers out there, but after years of trying out a bunch of them I’ve come to favor a one specific brand and an approach to choosing colors. I’ll start out by mentioning my mainstay choice, Copic Markers. 

Copic Markers are alcohol based and have the most pleasant/subtle smell of most markers I’ve tried in the past. Sometimes I can be really sensitive to smells, so this is something that is really important to my drawing experience. If I’m worried about the terrible smell of an alcohol marker, I won’t be really focused on drawing, right? So after trying multiple brands, Copic is my very favorite, mainly for the smell factor, but also because of their smooth application of ink and beautiful pen nibs. Each Copic sketch marker is double sided with a chisel nib on one end and a brush nib on the other. I frequently use the brush nib and it keeps its quality through tons of use. Once in awhile if I need really precise applications, I’ll use the chisel nib end -- so it comes in handy. I usually travel with a set of at least 5 sketch markers to use in my sketchbook, just in case I have an idea during the day. 

Now, there are so many different colors available between each of the marker brands (Copic, Winsor & Newton, Prismacolor, Dick Blick, etc) that it can be a bit of a challenge to decide what colors to use. 

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Right now my approach is as follows, along with the names of current markers I’m carrying around in my backpack: 

1. One very high value color (the most light gray or just-barely-there pastel).

Copic B60 - Pale Blue Gray

2. One very low value color (such as a deep, rich, dark color, ooh-la-la) -- this can be high intensity or low intensity, depending on your preferences. 

Copic B18 - Lapis Lazuli

3. One complementary color (if the palette is in a cool range, and mainly made up of blues and greens for example, I’ll choose a warmer color that is opposite of the average intensity of all the other markers I’ve already chosen)

Copic Y26 - Mustard

4. One additional marker that is slightly closer to the complementary hue, but still mainly intimate with the other, dominant hue range.

Copic BG11 - Moon White

5. Round it out with another pastel hue that fits in the dominant color story.

Copic V20 - Wisteria

This is my approach, but it really all depends on what you like! Preferences change over time as well, and in the past I’ve always loved warmer palettes, but lately I’m all about cool hues of blues and neutrals. 

What kinds of color palettes do you prefer? I love experimenting with complementary colors together when I draw, but there are so many different ways to use color to express yourself. 

Please check out my instagram @oxcoxa where I religiously post drawings and process videos. If you’d like, leave a comment and I’ll take a look at your work as well!

Until next time, have fun in your drawing adventure!

3 Essential Books to Learn How To Draw

Hello everybody! Hope things are going good for you today, and that you’re down to hear about these essential drawing book recommendations. These are 3 personal favorite books of mine that always inspire me or kick my artist brain into gear, and I hope they do the same for you. So without further ado, let’s get on with this review!

1. How to Draw the Human Figure by Louise Gordon

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Starting out, I want to feature a beautiful, brief, and knowledge-packed book on figure drawing that was written by a medical illustrator! Louise Gordon graduated from the University of Toronto’s medical illustration program back when it was called “Art as Applied to Medicine.” For those who don’t know, medical illustrators have a unique background in biology, anatomy, medicine, and art that use their skills to visually explain or feature parts of each of those disciplines, either for textbooks, animations, or sculpture. 

This book is helpful as it does not overwhelm the reader with too much information. The content presented in this book is highly curated to help artists identify important anatomical landmarks in a variety of poses and points of view. Each structure is presented in relationship to the other main structures in each region, and the bones and muscles are shown both hidden and revealed in gorgeous figure illustrations done by Gordon herself. 

This is one of my go to books when I have a doubt about anatomy in a drawing. Its short format makes it easy to find answers, and the beautiful illustrations provide tons of inspiration. 

You can find Gordon’s book, new or used, here: https://www.amazon.com/How-Draw-Human-Figure-Anatomical/dp/0140464778/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503688962&sr=8-1&keywords=louise+gordon

2. The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

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First published in 1917, this is an older book that is (SURPRISE!) text heavy and not reliant on illustrations or figures to talk about the process and art of learning how to draw. In an unconventional way, this book provides the artist with a new way of learning about and consuming information about drawing, which is dominantly explained visually. The figures that are included in the book are concise and essential to understanding the text, which breaks down the process of drawing, seeing, and ways to train yourself to think like an artist. Though it can be a challenging read (especially for those of us who prefer learning visually), it can open your mind to ideas about drawing that you wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise. It can simplify your approach to drawing, and help you to anticipate set-backs or challenges while you practice.

My opinion is that this book is essentially magic, and makes me feel happy that the author is just as curious as I am about the mysterious process of learning how to draw. Read just one chapter and watch how your knowledge evolves over time. 

You can find Speed’s book, new or used, here: https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Science-Drawing-Dover-Instruction/dp/0486228703/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503690566&sr=1-2&keywords=the+practice+and+science+of+drawing

3. Sketchbook for the Artist by Sarah Simblet

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Sketchbook for the Artist is, in my opinion, like the holy grail of drawing books. This book is so well designed and well organized, and is choc full of concise information that introduces the reader to the essential technical, but also conceptual, points of drawing. Simblet covers materials, subject matter, and how-tos on basic to more advanced aspects of drawing, including portraiture and perspective. I can’t stress enough how helpful this book has been to my process over the years. I look back at it from time to time to refresh my brain on art and drawing concepts that may be a bit fuzzy, and always find that I leave inspired and ready to work. 

As a bonus, Simblet provides many of her own drawings (even one from her childhood) to help explain and illuminate concepts in the text. Her sketches and drawings are incredible and she provides engaging explanations for each part of her process. It’s a perfect book to spend time with if you are an artist interested in mastering your craft.

You can find Simblet’s book, new or used, here: https://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Book-Artist-Sarah-Simblet/dp/0756651417/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503690609&sr=1-1&keywords=sketchbook+for+the+artist

So that’s about it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite books on drawing, and hope you will try and explore these books someday in the future. Remember to check if they are available at your local library if you don’t want to spend the cash! 

What are some of your favorite drawing books, and why do you find them useful? I’d love to hear about your “holy grail” books, too. :)

Remember to check out my instagram @oxcoxa where I religiously post drawings and process videos. Leave a comment and I’ll check out your work as well! 

Until next time, happy sketching!

Getting started

Hi everyone! My name’s Kate. It’s super nice to meet you! I’m an artist and this is my first blog post. I hope this blog will be focused on what I’ve been up to, and more importantly, sharing some of my process and experiences related to the world of illustration. 

Here’s a gif of me introducing myself...!

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I thought I’d start out by talking about a fitting subject matter, how to get started on a drawing.

So, how do you get started? There can be a lot of roadblocks in creative work of any kind, and I want to share a few things that help me get going and/or bring a project to completion. When we get started on the process of creative work, we might have a ton of motivation, we might feel inspired, or we might not be feeling it but we are forced to start (either from self-discipline or usually in the case of a client project). 

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Acknowledging that this can be a challenging process, there are a few strategies that I use to get through moments of hesitation. 

For me, using one or more of these 5 thought directives can help to jumpstart my imagination and get me through the workday.

1. Activate the blank page.

Some people might call this warming up, but since I may or may not take initial scribbles and sketches all the way to the end of the process, I like to describe it as “activation”. Since I like drawing characters, I’ll usually start by blocking in extremely general shapes and lines that describe a gesture for the character. Since I’m not overly committed to any of these marks at the start, it makes the starting approach a little more manageable. Using an eraser and light pencil marks that don’t push into and damage the paper (if you want really clean lines, don’t leave any dents as it will interrupt your surface), we can play around with emotive poses and postures that describe the body language of the character. If we find a series of lines that we feel work for the drawing, we can begin to commit to those lines and continue building up value over time. Eventually, this will lead to a more realized image that is built on expressive line and bold experimentation. And, added bonus, your hand will be all warmed up too!

2. Look through old sketchbooks and revive old ideas.

Though it can be somewhat painful to leaf through old sketchbooks, it can be worth it when we’ve hit a creative roadblock and need something to re-energize our process. Sometimes, we may find a past drawing that challenges us to re-create it from a - new and improved - present perspective. This can be really empowering because we can, point blank, see where we have improved over time and where we may be stagnant in our quest for artistic improvement. Since we have already had some experience with drawing the subject matter in our old sketch, we can reinforce the lessons we’ve learned since creating the initial drawing. The new drawing is bound to impress upon its completion, since you will be able to see all of your improvements, and this is super satisfying. Sharing the images on social media also promotes your progress as an artist, and will likely serve as inspiration to other artists who aspire to improve as well. Giving back to the community is always good, and you might get some pats on the back along the way!

3. Have faith that things will improve.

Making art is hard. That’s why it takes practice and discipline! As we bolster our skill through day-to-day drawing and painting and take the time to improve how we see the world, our progress may not always be so obvious. It is always really satisfying when a drawing just goes the way we want it to, but that is not always the reality of practice. When we have faith in ourselves and are determined not to give up on our work despite the challenges, we always come out learning something that we will use in the future, whether we like it or not. If a drawing isn’t going the way we planned, it doesn’t mean you won’t learn something along the way about how to achieve your goal in the future. In fact, persistent practice can be a way for us to learn about the specifics of our goals and motivation. Which leads me to my next point...!

4. You do you.

Sometimes people may have strong opinions about who they expect you to be as an artist. My advice is to draw what you want to draw and don’t let anybody bully you into creating work about something other than what you love. It’s great to take on challenges and open up your subject matter when you feel things might be getting stagnant, or if you want to improve on something that doesn’t come naturally to you. But, don’t be bullied into not drawing because someone believes you should only be making one kind of art. You’ll learn leagues more from drawing something, anything, that you are truly interested in, than if you try and force yourself into another person’s idea of who you are as an artist. Sketching can be a way of processing and understanding our thoughts, which otherwise only exist in our mental space. We can begin to understand ourselves, our goals, and our place in the world through this process, so don’t let anyone thwart you or bully you out of it! It’s too valuable and personal of an experience to let someone just take it away.

5.  You don’t always need a purpose or goal.

Related to point 4, we don’t always need a goal to get started. Sometimes creating artwork with a specific meaning behind it can be super motivating, such as in any kind of activist art. But, one of the magical parts of sketching and drawing is that it can reveal things about who we are and what we care about. It can be a way of determining what our goals are and how we might execute them in the future. Listen to your instincts while making work, and let yourself draw from many sources as you go. If we trust ourselves and have patience, we will sort out our goals over time, which can continue to serve us motivation.

Time to get started! Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and I really hope these tips help you along in your illustration and art journey as much as they have helped me.

Let me know what helps to get you started on an illustration or drawing!

Don’t forget to add me on instagram @oxcoxa, where I frequently post progress videos and finished drawings in all their glory! 

Let me know if you liked this post, and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day. Until next time!