Month: January 2014

The Fun of Illustrating

Watercolour and ink idea for a cover for the first book.

Watercolour and ink idea for a cover for the first book.

I couldn’t say I was a great artist, but I am having a lot of fun learning to illustrate the Splidge books. Like most people, when I was younger I enjoyed drawing and painting. I wasn’t very good at it and never really perused it further, although now that I have started writing the adventures of Splidge and his friends in Gud, I wish I had. I loved to doodle and make little characters and colour them in crayon or felt tip pen. I used to find paint always went wrong for me.

Now that I have started to draw again and have discovered the magic of watercolour, I am hooked on paint. I do like using a black pen for the outline and then filling the rest with layers of watercolour. I like it because it is a transparent paint. In other words, it is very thin and you can see through it, so if it goes wrong, you can add more water to thin it out more. You do need to use thicker paper and that can be a little bit more expensive.

Splidge and Snotty take a ride in the newly invented hot air balloon.

Splidge and Snotty take a ride in the newly invented hot air balloon.

What I tend to do is work out what I am going to draw (usually a scene from the book I am writing) and then do a very simple sketch in pencil. I keep a plain paper note book for those sketches. I rough out the idea of the drawing and just keep adding detail as I go. Sometimes, I even ink over the pencil and try out some paint to see how it will look. When I am happy with it, I then grab my watercolour paper and copy my sketch. I do not always stick to exactly the same lines. I find it always changes slightly and that’s ok. I go with it.

After the pencil bit is done, again I draw over with an ink pen. I have started trying out one of those pens that have a nib and bottle of ink to dip it in, but of course, it doesn’t have to be that. When the ink is dry I use a rubber to erase the pencil before I start to paint. I try to fill the large spaces first, like the sky and usually the lightest colour. If I mess it up I can always go over it. If it is too dark, that’s not so easy.

I enjoy this bit the most, because this is where the painting starts to come alive. I usually finish of with painting in the faces with a pinky skin tone colour and then adding shadow to try and make the image looker three dimensional.

I need to do lots of paintings to improve, but slowly I am getting there.