Top picks for October: art tutorials

Top picks for October: art tutorials

how to draw aladdin (disney)

my entire childhood.

If you’re anything like me (and you probably are not, because I’m completely strange unique), then you like to find tutorials on the web and try them out. Or, you know, buy those Disney “How to Draw” books. Does anyone else remember those? Are those still a thing? I need to see if I still have mine. I’m pretty sure I got twenty.

(No, that wasn’t a reference to Little Mermaid. I swear.)

Ehem. Anyway, the point being, I love tutorials. And so, I’ve scoured the web for days on end (translation: I googled for about ten minutes) and found a list of art tutorials and projects that I love and want to try — and I hope you try them, too!

  • Tips for drawing backgrounds: I will be the first to admit that I hate drawing backgrounds. I don’t know why, but I do. So, that of course means that I should be practicing drawing backgrounds as much as possible because if it’s not something you love doing, you aren’t going to do it, then it’s going to suck, and then all your art is going to suck, and then you’re going to curl up in a ball and cry. So.
  • Step-by-Step Digital Painting Tutorial: Not only do I love this artist’s style, but the infographic-style of this tutorial is beautiful to look at and extremely thorough. I already follow several of her steps, so it will be easy for me to try this one out and tweak my current process!
  • 13 Short Guides That Will Make You a Color Expert: These articles are short and sweet, but jam-packed with great information!
  • Head over to Clementine Creative for a list of 12 watercolor tutorials that you can check out. (I, for one, want to strengthen my weak skill in watercolor. It’s a medium where you kind of have to let go — which I have a hard time with!!)
  • I love this extremely thorough guide on How to Draw Complex Folds and Ruffles in Fabric and Clothing. Nothing beats live reference material, and the first thing this article shows is photographed, real fabrics folded and bunched up to give you a truer sense of just how fabric works.

Talking about references… Looking at other artist’s work to help your skill along is never a bad thing (we all do it, and these tutorials are a great example). But, when at all possible, use live references (or at least photographs of live references).

Not only will you ensure that your style remains your own, you will also make sure you don’t inadvertently pick up any bad habits from other artists, either. (Sorry. We ALL have them.)

  • Along the same vein as clothing, shoes are something I am always trying to improve on. Well, feet and shoes. And I was going to look for a specific tutorial when I came across this link to a bazillion (okay maybe not quite that much, but close) tutorials and references on Pinterest. So, why try to invent the wheel?

Another aside on clothing: this book by John Peacock is amazing! I have one of its older siblings, but I may have to upgrade. It’s a great reference on different clothing styles throughout (most) of history.

  • One final tutorial on drawing figures – this article on Design Your Way has a ton of video tutorials on everything from eyes, to faces, to gesture drawing and poses.

You can also  view more art references and tutorials on my Pinterest board, Art Reference – I update fairly frequently.

So, about those tutorials… Seriously. Try them. And let me know how they are in the comments.

I’ll wait. 😉

(P.S. If you have Netflix, they now have the entire Bob Ross series available to stream. That man fostered my obsession with art at a very early age. And, c’mon. Bob Ross. I dare you to watch it and not laugh you @$$ off or end up in a good mood by the end!)

bobross

Supercharge your skills with nano sketching!

Supercharge your skills with nano sketching!

I have always stressed the importance of keeping a sketchbook. My studio at home is jam-packed full of sketchbooks – big ones, small ones, skinny ones, fat ones, (yes, this is sounding like a Dr. Seuss book…)

Karen Elaine’s idea of nano sketching, though. I admit I fell in love with this idea as soon as I read about it! Sketchbooks, minified! Sort of like flash fiction, only for art. And like flash fiction does for writing, nano sketching condenses your art into a small, confined area, which helps to tighten skills and sharpen focus.

So, what is a nano sketch?

Nano sketches are quick gesture drawings done with a pencil (no erasing) keeping the lines loose light and free.

Sounds pretty simple. We used to do exercises like this in art school. Sometimes we would have to look only at the subject and never down at the paper – you know, if you want to take this to an even more advanced level. Or are a bit of a masochist. Either way.

Nano sketches are quick and usually done in a public place.

Since the journals themselves tend to be so small, this makes sense. Think of the possibilities! I would love to take one of these on vacation with me and do sort of a sketch-journal about my experiences!

A real useful trick is to photograph your subject first so you have an image to refer to when things change (and they always do) and if you want to complete the sketch at a later time.

I love the above piece of advice. I almost never finish a sketch in time — and when I am drawing active scenes, it’s great to grab a shot of the instance for future reference. I don’t know about you, but it’s kind of difficult for me to sketch someone jumping in mid-air in the nanosecond it takes them to jump up and then hit the ground again.

If you can do that, you must be some sort of superhero, and you should be out fighting crime instead of sketching.

Making time for nano sketches every day is a quick and easy way to practice drawing and painting skills and to observe the world in an entirely different way. 

Challenge accepted!

Seriously, though, I have been trying to make it a goal to draw something daily. Even more so, to draw things I actually see (as opposed to things from my crazy ADHD mind) to help hone and refine my skills. Art is kind of like riding a bike. If you stop riding, you start to lose the basics and you don’t ride nearly as well as if you had ridden daily.

Or something like that. I’m bad at metaphors.

Anyway, I highly recommend you check this guest post out at Doodlewash! Karen goes into much more detail, and her sketches are lovely! (I mean, just look at that cat. So adorable!)

Scroll down to the end of the post for the link to the full article. And, enjoy!


Greetings, my name is Karen Elaine and I am an artist, author and teacher living in the mountains near Sedona, Arizona living with my husband and cat (follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and visit my website!). I’m the author of Origami Card Craft and The Art of Kumomi as well as other books on paper crafting […]

via GUEST DOODLEWASH: Nano-Sketching by Karen Elaine — Doodlewash

Seven reasons to keep a sketchbook

Seven reasons to keep a sketchbook

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”

Jack London

The importance of sketching: artists hear it all the time. (No? Just me?) We should sketch every chance we get, they say.

Well, they’re not wrong.

Think of sketching like riding a bike. It takes practice to gain enough skill to stay on the bike, even more so to get it to move forward. We must practice to learn to stop. We must practice to do wheelies. When we don’t practice, we lose the skills we have learned. They grow rusty. Harder to perform.

So, yes, sketching is important, and below I’ve outlined my top seven reasons to keep a sketchbook with you at all times and practice, practice, practice! (Why seven? Because I’m a rebel like that. Take that, number ten! I do what I want!)

  1. Sketchbooks are snapshots in time
    • Think of a sketchbook as a type of journal. Each time you sketch something in it, you are capturing – immortalizing – a moment in time. Journals do the same, just with words.
  2. Sketching reduces stress

    • I can’t speak for everyone, but when I start drawing, I tend to get lost in my own world. Everything around me fades. My worries melt away. I fall into a zen-like state where nothing exists but that very moment. And, when I finish, I feel at ease and I am filled with satisfaction.
  3. Sketching improves skill
    • Sketching, as mentioned above, allows us to practice and improve our skills. By sketching the things around us, we see the world with an artistic eye and a different perspective.
  4. Sketching fights boredom
    • Before the time of smart phones, I never left home without a book (or two or three), a sketchbook, and my pencils. Waiting at the doctor, standing in a line, waiting for class to start (though that one was a quite a while ago…), you would see me with my nose in a book or else feverishly drawing something in my sketchbook. The time always passed much quicker, then – and unlike with smart phones, I actually had something to show for it at the end. 🙂
  5. Sketchbooks store thoughts and ideas
    • I’ve actually got what I call a scratch-book in my purse at all times. It is sort of a sketchbook on steroids. I sketch, jot down ideas, mind-map (more on that at a later date). It helps me better organize my scatterbrained ideas.
  6. Sketching makes us think
    • Sketching opens me up to whole new ways of thinking. When I start drawing, I look at things in a different perspective and in a new light. I ask questions. These questions lead to ideas. I jot the ideas down on paper and sketch them out. So the cycle continues.
  7. Sketching allows us to truly experience the world around us
    • We have multiple senses for a reason. Use them. Never assume that because drawings and paintings are a visual medium that other senses don’t come into play. On the contrary. They evoke memory and personal experience. While a person may not actually smell a drawing of the sea, a well-done artwork will evoke a strong memory that transports the viewer into the scene. That is the power of experience.

What reasons do you have for keeping a sketchbook? Or, if you don’t draw, what sorts of tools do you use to experience the world around you? I’d love to hear them, so be sure to post them in the comments below!

A few of my favorite art supplies

A few of my favorite art supplies

As artists, we get asked this question a lot: “What is your favorite medium?” or, slightly similar: “What art tools do you prefer?”

Well, my lovelies, I have decided to compile a list of my absolute favorite tools of the trade, and why I love them, just for you. 🙂

Traditional media

  1. Watercolor paint.
    • I am a huge fan of mixed media art. For me, no one medium does absolutely everything I want it to do — but combined… well, then all bets are off. By itself, I’m not a huge fan of watercolor. I appreciate the beauty of the medium and I love looking at watercolor illustrations. But, it’s too fluid, and it doesn’t do what I want it to. (Stubborn, remember?)
    • However, watercolor paint makes a wonderful, ethereal backdrop and I will often use it to start color blocking my pieces. (I also reserve watercolor for larger pieces.)
  2. Copic markers.
    • Copic markers are like watercolor’s richer, denser cousin. Still liquid, still easily blended, but much more saturated. I usually start off with neutral gray hues to shade my piece and tone down the colors so that they look more natural. Then, I layer up the colors to add life to the piece.
  3. Colored pencils.
    • This is my third tool of choice. Colored pencils are a great way to add detail to an illustration and to further pull out the colors that lay underneath.
  4. Acrylic paints.
    • I don’t always use acrylic paints, but sometimes an illustration needs a little extra texture and lift. Acrylics allow me to really pull out the highlights and give the piece an extra 3-dimensional quality.
  5. Hot-press watercolor paper.
    • This is my preferred surface to work on. Watercolor paper holds all of the liquid media well, minimizes bleeding, and allows for easy blending. I prefer hot-press because there is a little less texture and tooth to the paper. However, I have used both and sometimes the extra texture is a good thing!

Digital media

  1. Wacom tablets.
    • As a die-hard digital painting fan, I cannot even begin to remember what it was like before pen tablets. My preferred brand is Wacom, the industry leader in tablets for professional artists. I personally have the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Medium Tablet (CTH680) and I couldn’t be happier. Well, that’s not completely true. I have been eyeing that Cintiq Companion 2 Intel® Core™ for a while now. Maybe Christmas? (I’m looking at you, dear husband…)
  2. Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2.
    • I have recently become more interested in sketching out drawings digitally. Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely do away with good old pencil and paper for my initial sketches. But I have found the iPad to be a freeing way to sketch — especially when coupled with good drawing apps that can transfer easily to Photoshop (more about that below).
    • I love this stylus for drawing on the iPad. It’s easy to use, it has pressure-sensitivity, and it moves like butter across the screen. (Not that I’m putting butter on my iPad. That’s just gross.)
  3. Apple iPad.
    • I know there are lots of other tablets out there nowadays, but I admit I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to digital art and computers. While PC has come a long way, I’m just way too in love with Apple (all you PC fans, don’t freak out too hard — I love PC, too. I AM a Microsoft developer, after all. I do all my paintings on the PC!).
    • With retina display for stunning high-quality visuals, and mixed with the stylus I mentioned above and Adobe’s Photoshop Sketch app, the iPad is pretty tough to beat, in my opinion!
    • The only downside (currently) is that the drawings done on the iPad are not high-resolution. This isn’t an issue if you’re just sketching and moving into Photoshop for the final piece — but it would be nice to see this become available at some point in the future…
  4. Adobe Creative Suite.
    • What digital art list would be complete without good old Adobe (especially Photoshop and Illustrator)? I love the new creative suite and how it gives you cloud space. It’s a great way to keep projects available on more than one device! For instance, I can start a sketch on my iPad when I’m out and about, save it, and load it into Photoshop later to start doing the detail work!