Ground Control To Major Tom

I’ve been slacking, I know. It’s strange how I feel so reluctant to start drawing, and yet when I do I always realize just how much I enjoy it. That’s a hurdle I need to work on.

Otherwise, the marks are in for my course, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t been kicked out (sweat wiped from brow). With the end of work, both for me and everyone else at Uni, comes plenty of celebration, and this week and just whizzed by, as they do. I can hardly believe it’s already Friday. Today I had a brief, but successful, drawing session. The style of my book is starting to really show itself, almost entirely organically. It’s so refreshing to draw with actual implements, rather than doing everything digitally as I usually do, and I really wish I would spend more time playing with this new style I’m discovering. I transferred them to the computer today to see how they faired on the screen, and the rendered results are a joy to look at – the pen and ink translates beautifully on the screen. I created a small test page for my book, and it’s looking just as I had hoped. Whether or not this is the final page,  I’ve yet to decide. I want the style to look deliberately sketchy and rushed, but also I think this picture looks almost as though Mo is half the size of tree, when really he’s meant to be the size of a toad.

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Looks really nice though, I can’t wait to do more. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, I also drew a tree (as I was supposed to be this past couple weeks), and it’s super fun drawing trees in this medium, since you’re really able to let your hand fall loose, and a tree will very naturally start to form.

IMG_0759It’s great to almost be able to draw a tree and be confident in sharing it as a final piece. This one is still far from perfect, but it’s starting to look like what I wanted to be able to accomplish.

I have a number of interesting projects to complete over the summer for my course, as well as plenty of reading. What’s most exciting though is that we’re asked to create a zine which we will then sell at the Bristol Zine Fair (you may recall I went there last year) in competition with the Illustration course at my university, to see who sells the most zines. If there was ever an incentive to finish my book in-time for coming back from summer, this is it, as I’ll have two self-published zines ready to sell to whoever’s buying – and I might even get my own table! It’d be so cool if some of my work would end up in someone else’s collection, my first real drip into the real world. For now though, I need to keep drawing.

 

Don’t Tap It, Whack It

Deciding it was time to wash the sheets on my bed, I rather liberally threw my bedding off, having previously concluded nothing was on the bed, only to hear an unsettling ‘clunk’ noise. I looked down to see my iPad on the floor, having flown from my bed onto the floor. I thought nothing of it; I’ve dropped the thing on wooden floors and stepped on it with full accidental force before – a tumble from the bed shouldn’t do it any more harm.

So I went to bed in my now very clean, comforting sheets. The next morning I got hold of my iPad, only to find the colours most akin to what I can only describe as ‘like an 80s television gone wrong’. I didn’t take any pictures of it at the time, but I found an image online that best matched the issue, just imagine it with more green and pink:

What a terrible way to wake up. My beloved iPad that has served me now for almost four years happened to have just fallen the wrong way this once, and now it’s effective life has been ripped from its proverbial hands. Almost made worse is the fact that I won this iPad at one of Manchester’s Animation competitions, so it was like watching a trophy fade away from my life.

Taking it to the Apple Store in hope that they might be nice enough to fix it for free, gave the more expected answer of asking for £199 for a fix, or £399 for a new one. How encouraging. So I did what any person with a problem that needs a solution would do: I googled it. Hundreds of articles and forum posts had what seemed to be the exact problem I had, but what was even more surprising was the thousands of comments and posts all confirming the exact same solution, most of which were made in simple amazement that this strange fix actually worked. It was fairly simple – whack it, three times, with some force, on the back. The ‘science’ behind this is to emulate the fall it previously had and jolt things back into the right place. Deciding that I had nothing to lose at this point except an already broken iPad, I aggressively smacked the back of it, likely hundreds of times, in hope it would return to its former self. Alas, each smack brought with it no progress. I even dropped it on my floor from at least waist height, as some people swore would fix it up, but again: no results.

Three days have passed, and today I thought I would return to what had become a ritual of smacking my iPad until I felt sorry for it (or my own hands). But today, things would be different. This time, hurling my iPad onto a hard surface, the screen flickered, and the screen returned to normal. I was almost speechless. It felt fantastic to see my old friend brought back to life despite almost losing hope (even googling replacement tablets the same day). Who knew such an old technique as ‘hitting it till it works’ would still be relevant today on something as seemingly sophisticated as an iPad. It’s not perfect, it still struggles to correctly present a few lighter colours of pixels, showing them instead as bits of light green, but it’s as perfect as I’m willing to let it be before I dare hurl it at my floor again. What a brilliant turn of events!

Shake Your Ink

I recently got my hands on a large square sketchbook, and it’s an absolutely pleasure to work with. I’ve almost exclusively worked with A4 sketchbooks in the past, but the larger and unconventional size makes it feel strangely special to clear a space for on your desk and get to work inside. I hope to fill it up with as many mistakes and ideas as I can over the coming weeks.

Today I was working on some test sketches for my story using nib pens as I mentioned earlier. Although when they first arrived in the mail they worked flawlessly, this time I absolutely couldn’t get the ink to flow off the nib. You’ll see my frustration what I scratched the pen against the paper in the bottom right, and where the ink occasionally spilled onto the drawing itself. A real shame. Having thought hard about why the pens were so much less responsive, I realized that it might be that I’m using a different ink. I read the bottle ‘Shake before use’, and after shaking the bottle, the ink flowed perfectly again – what a treat! I decided to draw a tree with leaves using the nib pen, and I’m very excited with the way it turned out, almost exactly as I want it – not too realistic but not too stylized either, a perfect compromise. The little practice that I have made is actually starting to show through. Here’s the page with a little glimpse into a character or two in my story for the first time, although you’ll get to know them better in the near future.

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The Great Expanse Of Summer

Well, it’s still technically spring, but that’s the strange thing about it. It’s been seven years since I last had a whole year in education without an external exam. To tell you the truth, it feel strange, finishing the year not by walking out of exam hall with ink stains on my left hand, but instead by simply placing my portfolio on the table, thanking the tutors, and walking out of the room. That was it, and my holidays have already begun. It hardly feels like I’ve even earnt, but I remind myself that my work hard has been accomplished over the last nine months, rather than in the few weeks before exams. Hopefully anyway. If I come out of it with a terrible mark, then it hasn’t been worth it.

I’m feeling okay about it though, and I’ll discover my marks in just a few weeks (another big change-up from having to wait a few months). But it’s time to clear my mind now, stop thinking about what’s in the past and think about what I can accomplish over the holidays. In celebration, me and the others all went to an all you can eat buffet for lunch of almost any style of cuisine you can imagine. I ate six meals (mostly lamb curries) and spent the rest of the day recovering – the perfect way to clear your mind, when you have nothing to worry about but sleeping.

What are my aims for the summer? Well, I have two goals specifically in mind. The first is already half completed. Over the last few months I have written a children’s story that I’m really excited to share with you guys. I wanted to create something that would both be read and enjoyed by children and adults, so in many ways it’s a children’s book designed for adults, as I wanted it to never feel patronising, and I have plans for it to discuss meaningful, perhaps even philosophical ideas in the future. The writing and character designs are now complete, it’s just a case of illustrating the pages. I will be illustrating each page by hand using a nib pen and indian ink, a method which I have recently found myself really enjoying after I used one in  a workshop. I’m hoping that I will be able to share a few pages with you before I ultimately release it. I have plans to release it both online for free, but also in physical copy which I will publish and mail personally for those who want one. Fingers crossed we’ll be seeing progress soon!

The second is to simply create an animation. It’s something I haven’t done in years, and with the longest summer I’ve ever head ahead of me, now is a better time than ever. I have a few ideas already, I just need to finalize them and start working. I can’t say much more than that, except it’s been to long, and it’s still something I love.

And yes, I hope I can continue my daily tree, which I completed today to try and get back in the swing of things. Today’s tree is a little bit goofier than my last one, but it shows signs of progress. Next I need to work on the trunk of tree, and the larger branches coming off from it, at the moment it looks too formulaic.

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Maybe soon I’ll be adding leaves.

Relay Roundup

And so our time relaying work has come to an end, as I finish this semester and year of University. Here are the last relay entries.

After seeing my ‘galaxy glasses’ Fran created a bold poster with a powerful quote inspired by the universe theme. I particularly like the choice of black and white, and I like the placement of the text where the ‘U’ sits infront of the brightest star, creating an interesting relationship between the photo and the text.

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In response, I kept the galaxy theme and this time decided to make a sound piece, rather than a visual one. I wanted to capture the sense of exploring the universe, so I made it very calming and spacious, with some synths in the background for a futuristic feel. The piece builds gradually, but never explodes, always remaining quite tranquil. Check it out below:

Since my work was quite calming, Fran matched that mood with an image of rainfall that she then manipulated to appear more akin to rays of light. The bright colour here really captures that sense of peace, this piece almost looks heavenly.

11204690_10153243778329326_1428048853_oI decided to do something in my style this time around, and created a short animated gif of a character holding an umbrella wherein the rain is falling from within the umbrella, rather than outside of it. Maybe he’d prefer the rain.

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Finally, Fran created a short film surrounding a poem, also about rain. I loved how it drew attention to the rain and gave it it’s own character. I don’t have an online version of the film to share with you just yet, I’m hoping one will be uploaded soon! I thought I could literally give the rain character by drawing some small faces on each raindrop, as though each one had it’s own personality. It wasn’t quite as successful as I hoped, as droplets close up tend to take very awkward shapes rather than neat circles as we would like to believe. Still, it might make you smile:

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks finalizing my first year at University, and it’s alien to think that my summer holidays essentially begin tomorrow. It’s been a wild ride that I hope to reflect on in the next couple of days, and I’ll be sure to bring back my daily tree drawings in the process. For now, however, I think it’s time I got some well-deserved kip.

See you on Wednesday.