Hello! If you read last week’s post you’ll know I’ve just started a new project, 100 days of drawing Japan. So each day, I’m trying to draw something related to Japan, and attempt to learn more about Japanese language and culture along the way. I’m trying to depict little everyday moments and things that interest me, as a way of virtually travelling there and exploring.
This first week has been really fun! I think making time each day to sit and just draw something that interests me is great for my mood, and I’ve actually found I’ve been more productive with other work too. It’s like drawing is exercise for my brain, and once it’s been warmed up by doing my daily sketch, I’m able to get going on other things easier.
Here's the drawings I did this week...
Day 1 - Koi Carp
This is quite unlike my usual style as I don’t normally use watercolours as wet as this, letting the colours all bleed together, but I think it was honestly the most fun to do! I love how loose and sketchy the fish are - later in the week I got a bit too finicky with details, think I prefer the more relaxed inky style I did here.
Day 2 - Bonsai Trees
I used a calligraphy pen for these which I do enjoy, as you can get lovely variations in line weight. Bonsai trees are so great, I’ve been really into gardening & plants lately so think that inspired this choice.
Day 3 - Currency (Yen)
I’m always interested in what coins and bank notes look like in different countries, and when I researched I found Japan has beautiful designs on theirs, so I had to sketch them. This was the first of a lot of Japanese writing I attempted throughout the week, and some characters were so small to draw in this illustration that I resorted to squiggles!
Day 4 - Post Box
With 100 days to fill I'm sure I'll end up drawing more obvious things from Japanese culture, but I'm always intrigued by everyday moments in other cultures, like posting a letter in a little red box surrounded by hydrangea flowers! I normally start with my lineart and wash with watercolour over the top, but I mixed things up this time.
Day 5 - Bento
This was the quickest drawing of the week but possibly my favourite. I love drawing food, and I ended up labelling the different components of the bento box, which I enjoyed too. I think this one just felt more spontaneous, quickly sketching down the food and noting down the ingredients.
Day 6 - Vending Machine
This one became fiddly and laborious real fast! I think I got too perfectionistic with it, but I’m pleased with the end result, even though it took ages! A lot of Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji here which were fun to practise (I used reference photos, I don’t know very much myself yet!) so here’s hoping they all look correct - it’s meant to say ‘Vending Machine’ down the side.
Day 7 - Pocky
Again, pleased with the end result but lots more fiddly details and I ended up straining my eyes! I think the box looks a bit stiff because I used a ruler, I usually draw things freehand and like the wobbly-ness! I think my favourite part is the strawberries, really makes me feel summery.
I’m pleased with how the first few have come out, although my advice to myself for the rest of the 100 days is to loosen up more!
I was filming all the drawings at the start of the week, but that got to be a bit too much work so I’m taking a break from that. Also, it was starting to limit what time of the day I had to get them done by, due to the lighting on my desk, and I wasn’t able to relax much as I drew them. I am pleased I made a few videos though, as it’s taught me more about video editing. The videos are all over on my YouTube channel if you fancy checking them out!
If you’d like a print of any of the illustrations, just ask - I am aiming to get prints of some of them up in my Etsy shop each week rather than waiting and doing a big update at the end of the project, which would take forever. Keep an eye out in the shop for prints soon!
I’m looking forward to the upcoming week, got lots of ideas for more Japan themed drawings! Any suggestions of course I’d love to hear, and thanks so much for reading!
I'm going to be challenging myself to take part in the 100 day project! It's pretty simple, you just do a creative activity every day for 100 days, and it starts today, 1st June. I think this is the boost I need to get me feeling inspired again, as I've got out of the habit of daily drawing lately, something I very much love to do! Read more about the project at www.100daysscotland.co.uk.
My theme is just simply going to be Japan. Literally anything to do with Japan, which will keep it varied enough so I stay interested. I’m thinking of little shop fronts with signs in Japanese, pagodas and temples and shrines, and allllll the food. I’ve started a list of possible prompts but any ideas are welcome! I’m really interested in Japan and it’s culture, and hope to visit someday! I constantly listen to podcasts and watch videos about it, and dabbled with learning a bit of the language (although I haven’t got very far!) It'll be a good way to tide myself over until I can finally visit Japan, and learn more about the culture along the way.
I’ve decided to work on loose sheets for this project, so to make myself commit I bought a huge stack of paper! I got A3 and A4 pads so I can vary up the paper size, and cut them down to make A5 too. Even though I use watercolours a lot I rarely use actual watercolour paper (I really should!) so I've gone for these very reasonable Cass Art pads, recommended to me by a few people so I'm excited to try them out.
I’ll share some of the illustrations over on my Instagram page, but it probably won’t be every day, as I don't want to pressure myself. This project is mostly about getting myself back into the habit of daily drawing, without rushing to create things just to post on social media. I want to be able to really enjoy illustrating each piece and get as much out of the experience as possible. I am planning on writing blog posts weekly updating how the project is going and showing all the drawings from that week, and chatting about them, so keep your eyes peeled here on my blog for those!
I quite often get asked what materials I use in my drawings, so this blog post is an attempt to go over a few of the things I like to use, and some little tips for things that I've found work well. I do a lot of sketching on the go, in coffee shops or outside on location, so I like to have art materials that are portable, quick to use and not too messy!
(I'm not paid to mention any brands or anything, these are just all things I like to use in my work)
Here's a quick look at some new things I got in my last Jacksons Art order. I really like their site, it has everything I need in one place and it's good to support more independent businesses. I had just finished my sketchbook (I have a full flip through video here) and needed a replacement, and of course ended up getting a few other things I had my eye on. I think the only thing I haven't used much yet is the recycled A4 paper pad, as I found it didn't take wet media that well, so I'll keep it for pencil and marker drawings. I don't often do loose sheet work as I much prefer a sketchbook usually.
Pencils - I'm a recent convert, I never used to use pencils but lately I can't stop buying new colours! They're just so convenient, you get instant colour without any mixing or blending. I have a mix of a few different types, including Caran D'Ache Luminance and Holbein Artists which are both so great to use. I won't go into comparisons as I'm no pencil expert but I'm enjoying trying them out so far! I also love Derwent pencils, I have some Coloursoft and Lightfast, as well as the water soluble ones Graphitint and Inktense. These are so so great as you've got some amazing pigments without needing a full set of inks or watercolours!
I also like to 'swatch' all the colours of pencils I have in the back or front of my sketchbook, so that when I'm sketching I have a quick reference of the colours so I can easily pick out which I need. Also a pencil roll is way easier in my opinion than a case for pencils as I can see what I've got, and they don't tip out everywhere!
Sketchbooks - Right now I'm using a Seawhite travel journal, A5, hard covers with 130gsm paper. I just filled one of the same type so decided to get another, it's great for mixed media and the paper is just thick enough that things don't go through. If I had one criticism I'd say sometimes it goes a little bit grainy when using wet media like watercolours, and they don't looks as saturated as on other paper I've used. Overall though it's still one of the best sketchbooks I've tried, especially for outside as it's a portable size with nice rounded corners!
I also have another Seawhite on the go, but an A4 landscape watercolour paper book. I really like lanscape orientated sketchbooks for on location sketching, but they're a bit more cumbersome to hold especially if you're sketching stood up. The paper in this one takes the watercolour so much better, and my fave Pentel ink brush pen, which tends to bleed out on thinner paper. I guess watercolour paper is more absorbent so it can take the wetness of the ink.
Pens - I could go on about pens all day but for now I'll just give you my top 3! Firstly, the Pentel pocket ink brush pen, I love the inky effects you can get with this, it's refillable, and waterproof so you can add watercolour over the top! I've had it for years and it's always been a staple of my pencil case. Secondly, the Tombow Fudenosuke calligraphy pen with soft point, I think this is the one I use the most and it's perfect for detail but still has that lovely variable line you get from calligraphy pens. Perfect for writing as well as drawing, and once again waterproof. Thirdly, a chunky Artline calligraphy pen, really good for a variation of line and filling in darker areas quickly, almost doubles as a marker. There's a theme here, again it's waterproof - I have no time for inks that run! I often cheat a little and add colour to sketches onces I get home, so the lineart needs to be waterproof for me.
Paints - I'm a big fan of using watercolours; my old reliable set I use at home is a Windsor and Newton 24 pan set. Again I prefer quick sketches so usually go for pans over tubes. I also dabble with gouache once in a while, and found that Arteza gouache colour tubes are really good quality.
For outside painting, I made myself a messy little watercolour set using an empty tin and some pans from an old set. I also keep a tiny paintbrush in there, and a tube of white gouache for any mistakes. I also have this round set which is kinda cool and portable as you can separate the layers of colours, but the paint quality isn't quite as good - ok for quick washes though!
Water - I'm often using watercolour paints or water soluble pencils, so this (now rather battered) pop up water cup is one of my fave bits of kit! I got it years ago, I think it was by Faber Castell, and I've used it so much- as you can tell. I love the bumpy top edge to keep brushes from rolling off! If I'm painting outside I still use it and just fill it up from my drinking bottle I always have in my bag (stay hydrated kids!) However, a recent game changer is this Caran D'Ache water brush, with an extra reservoir tank that holds a decent amount of water- so useful for quick work.
Markers - so useful for quick sketching as you can fill a space up with really saturated colour so easily. I have a handful of Tombow ABT water based markers, which are a bit blendable if you add water, which can create some nice effects. I prefer water based to alchohol based markers as I like to draw on both sides of the pages in my sketchbook, and alchohol ones go through the page. Water based don't blend together as well as alchohol based but I quite like the loose, textural style of layered colours they can give. As a budget friendly alternative to the Tombow ones I have some WHSmith ones that are similar, great to start out with.
Finally, I always have a couple of bulldog clips for windy days so the pages don't blow about, and of course a pencil sharpener and eraser! Hopefully this was helpful, and any questions about specific materials or techniques please ask! :)
Making a repeat pattern is such a simple yet effective way to present your artwork or illustrations, and great for surface pattern design or textiles projects. Seamless tiled patterns always look impressive as you can't see where they connect, so the images can really flow together.
I used to make patterns with a free version of photoshop I had, and managed to teach myself the process of making a repeating tile. Nowadays, I have an iPad & Apple pencil and use Procreate, as so many illustrators do - it's a fantastic programme and honestly I've no idea how I did without it before! When making repeat patterns though, there's no offset tool like in Photoshop so you have to make repeat patterns a slightly different way. Once I cracked it, I found it even easier, and it meant I didn't need to constantly export my work between Procreate and Photoshop.
So here's a quick little tutorial on how I make repeat patterns! Hope it's helpful, and any questions don't hesitate to ask. (Also I'm no expert so apologies if I've missed anything or got anything wrong!)
Before we start a quick look at what my finished pattern looks like, so you can visualise what we're aiming for. I used some of my coffee illustrations as they're all quite nice shapes and sizes, and the coffee beans and writing are useful smaller elements to fill gaps.
Step 1 - Open a new canvas, making sure it's square. Any size is fine, it just depends how large your elements are. I went for 1800px at first but later increased it to 2000px because my elements were larger than anticipated. Also consider at this stage your DPI, 300 for print is probably best as you can always reduce it later for on screen, but you can't increase it later or it'll just be blurry.
Step 2 - Add a drawing guide from the Actions menu in the top left. Select 'Symmetry' then choose 'Quadrant', and turn off Assisted Drawing. (I took this screenshot before turning it off!) You should now have faint lines dividing your canvas into quarters.
Step 3 - Import your artwork elements by using the Actions Menu > Add > Insert a file, photo, or paste from another Procreate file. Chop the different elements up so they are all on individual layers, and set them all to 'Multiply' - this means the white bubbles where you've cut around them won't be visible. It doesn't matter where they are placed or if they're overlapping at this stage!
This makes a pattern with a white background - much easier as you can just put everything on 'Multiply'. However, if you did want a colour background, you'd just need to spend a bit more time carefully cutting around the images so there was no white bits around them, and then just change your background colour to whatever you like. This is a bit fiddly to do so I haven't shown it in this tutorial, but can be worth the time to have your desired background colour.
Step 4 - Now use some of the elements and start to arrange them, making as close to a cross shape as possible using the Drawing Guide we set up earlier as a guide. As you can see I've placed elements in the centre, but left the corners of the canvas blank. You may need to do some trial and error and come back to this stage and tweak things to get everything where you want it in the end.
The other so far unused elements should just be left with visibility off for now, we'll need them in a sec.
Step 5 - Select the Actions Menu, Copy Canvas, and then Paste.
Step 6 - Pasting the copied canvas should have made a new layer called 'Inserted image'. Next, turn off visibility of all other layers, by unticking the little boxes on the right of the layer name. For organisation, I made all the layers containing elements I'd already used into a group, just so I didn't end up using elements twice.
Step 7 - Duplicate the 'Inserted Image' layer so you have 4 copies in total of that layer. Press the 'Transform' arrow, and firstly make sure you have 'Snapping' enabled in the bottom left. This is very important as we need the layers to 'snap' to our drawing guide so that there's no gaps in the repeat.
Starting with the first of the 4 'Inserted Image' layers, drag the image down to the bottom right, so the top left corner snaps to the centre of the canvas. The lines light up orange/yellow when it's perfectly aligned.
Step 8 - Then we're going to do the same with the other 3 layers, but each to a different corner of the canvas. As you can see this crops the layers, so we've now made 4 new quarters, arranged so the image is inverted. This means the elements we placed before are now around the edges, and the blank space is now in the centre - ready to fill with the rest of the elements!
Step 9 - Use the rest of the elements that were left over earlier to fill the blank space in the centre. I usually find this is where little elements (like the coffee beans in my pattern) come in useful as the blank space can be oddly shaped due to the negative space of the elements around the edges. This is the finished tile which will repeat perfectly!
Step 10 - To test your repeating tile, make 4 copies again in the same way we did before - Copy Canvas, Paste makes a new layer, duplicate the layer 4 times. This time though, making sure 'Uniform' is selected at the bottom menu on Transformation mode, shrink each layer to half the size (my canvas is 2000px square, so 1000px for me) and as you do this again the snapping should put them in the correct place.
All finished! The pattern should repeat seamlessly with no white lines in between the tiles (turn the drawing guide off to check) and is so useful for printing textiles, or any surface pattern design projects.
I hope this was useful and clear enough to follow, and any other questions just give me a shout!
Hello and welcome to my new blog! Here I'll be posting updates and things I'm working on.
I've been working digitally on a lot of projects lately, and definitely missing my sketchbook and traditional materials. So armed with a handful of marker pens and my watercolours, I joined an online drawing party organised by illustrator Melanie Chadwick. It was so nice to draw and chill, but with a bit of structure, and the theme was old, vintage bottles.
I've wanted to go to one of Mel's workshops ever since I discovered her work online, but Cornwall is rather far from me (also #1 on my list of UK places I want to visit so maybe someday!) So an online version was great! It reminded me of life drawing classes at uni which I always enjoyed, with timed drawings and challenged to loosen you up. Some 30 second drawings, drawing without looking at the paper, continuous line, and with your non-dominant hand (which is why some look rather wobbly!)
I had fun and it was just what I needed to inspire me for the work I've got on this month, so thankyou Melanie!