Tips that Yoga can teach us in Illustration

For my new Twitter/Google+ header I thought doing a series of movements of a character would be a great way to fill up that rectangle space, which got me to pull out some books I have on animation. While I was reading through, brushing up on all the fantastic tips and techniques, it got me thinking of how there is an overlap between doing illustrations and Yoga, two of my favourite hobbies (and soon to be professions as I will be doing a Yoga teacher’s course next year – very excited!).

So what can we learn from drawing and Yoga?

Yoga IllustrationYoga: Inhale/Exhale

Illustrations: Stretch/Squash

When you watch a Yogi doing sun salutations, they will inhale when their bodies expand and exhale when their bodies contract. So for example, if they go into a cobra pose, they will breath in and expand their chest. They might afterwards bend inwards, lift their hips, lean forward, touching the ground with their feet and hands while exhaling and go into downward dog pose.

In illustrating we must do the same. Illustrations should never be the phase between poses, it should be the pose. So characters must either be breathing out and squashing, or breathing in and stretching. When they stretch, their full body goes into it. If they were to point it wouldn’t just be a finger, it would the finger, the hand, the arm, the shoulder, the whole moment. If the character jumps, they would stretch as they flew in the air, and then squash as they land on the ground.
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Learning the (Publishing) Lingo

Publishing lingo
Publishing lingo

Starting out as an illustrator might be a bit daunting. Every industry has its terms and phrases that can throw one a little when you’ve just joined. I remember when I first heard about ‘Doc Martens’ with some fellow illustrators, I thought they were talking about the shoe. I couldn’t understand why everyone was insisting on drawing with these boots, and why these boots and not other boots like Caterpillars or something. Perhaps it was a new technique, or style, like drawing with feathers or sticks? As soon as everyone’s backs were turned I quickly took out my phone and googled it. As I am sure you probably know reading this, ‘Doc Martens’ was actually ‘Dr. Ph. Martin which is a brand of liquid watercolors. So we learn everyday.

In publishing there are a lot of terms that we all have to familiarise ourselves with, even as freelancers and illustrators. Below I’ve highlighted some of the more common terms. Free free to add your own experiences in the comments, or if there is a term you don’t know then ask as well.
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Using Google Search Tools Advance for Illustrators

Using Google Images can be really useful if you are an illustrator. Before the ‘Google Times’ illustrators would flock to libraries to gather images. They would go to different locations, take photos and have endless subscriptions to magazines with lots of photos and keep them as reference. Buying magazines and books is still a great habit to have and if you know of a source, it is also a good idea to go and experience, but being able to use Google Images is becoming more and more part of the ‘average’ illustrator’s skill set.

In a previous blog post about How to use Google for Illustrators I covered on how to optimise your search phrases and terms. Now I am going to expand that and tell you a little more the Advance Search Tool option in Google Images.

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Google Search Tips for Illustrators

Below are some tips and techniques on how to optimise your search and find what you are looking for in Google and Google Images. In another post I’ll discuss the ‘Advanced Search’ for Google Images, but today I’m just going to focus on optimising your search terms. A lot of the examples below demonstrate in Google Search, but you can use the same techniques in Google Images.

Before getting into some advanced search techniques, remember that Google pulls up results using the keywords you searched for. So the first thing to think about is how the website you are looking for is going to be categorised. For example, if you have a headache, instead of searching for ‘my head hurts‘ rather search ‘how to fix a headache‘ or ‘headache relief‘ as that is probably the title of the article you are looking for. Another example is instead of searching for ‘I have a flat tire‘, search for ‘how to repair a flat tire‘.

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Children Proportions for Illustrations & Drawings

Rough Sketch of Toddler
Rough Sketch of Toddler

Recently I went to a workshop around critiquing, which if you are an illustrator you would know is a fairly brave thing to do. Basically you take your portfolio, which consists of probably 10 to 15 illustrations. Well that’s not entirely true, 10 to 15 of your best illustrations. Then you sit by, smiling and nodding while someone goes through your hard work, your sweat and tears, your time and freedom and basically tells you what’s wrong with them.

This is somehow distressing. Its one thing if a client asks for changes or tweaks – that is easy and you can just say ‘yeah, sure.’ But a critique is a different story. It’s something personal, but you’re not allowed to take it personally, which takes a lot of practice. I am a little out of practice. When I was a student, critiques happened every other week, but now? Phew. It was a good thing to experience and I think it is something we should go through every now and then.

One thing that did come up during the day’s discussion was children anatomy. The lecturer then showed us all the difference between adults and children and I thought it would be a good idea for a blog post. For those of you who aspire to be illustrators, it is always good to have a few children drawings in your portfolio. For those of you who draw children all the time, it’s also a good refresher of the basics.
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Coffee Art

A lot of people like to use the excuse that they don’t have the resources to start great art projects. They don’t have the paints, the portfolio bag, the mannequin, etc. Well, you might remember me blogging about how I attended a workshop recently where we painted with coffee? It seems this isn’t a unique thing. There are artists out there who just use coffee to do amazing illustrations. Which means that if you are one of those who look at paper and say ‘well I would paint, but I don’t have those expensive Windsor paints yet, then I say forget about the paints, make yourself a cup of coffee and get inspired.

 

Coffee Art
Coffee Art

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Bring Reality into Your Imagination

Imaginative RealismIt all started with a book called Imaginative Realism by James Gurney. What a book. Now, I am in no way a realism painter. It’s not my thing. But just like I am sure a lot of artists out there, drawing from your imagination is always a little tricky. And I’m not talking here about simple things, like banana’s or post boxes, but being able to create worlds or creatures that don’t exist.

Gurney illustrated a book about dinosaurs and men co-existing in one world. I’m not too familiar with it, but creating entire worlds and characters, most of which have died millions of years ago, was a problem he encountered. In the book I read, he revealed some insight into how he got around it, as well as how he manages to draw all his other fantastic art. I’m not going to go into detail here, (feel free to go buy the book!) but I wanted to share with you my experience with some of the techniques here.

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Illustrating Unique Monsters

I used to love drawing fun monsters, until Monster’s Inc came out. My favourite monster I used to draw, looks pretty much like the main character, with blue fur, warthog tusks and top heavy. I might almost feel obliged to sue, but if you think about it, what I have described – other than the blue colour – could pretty much describe most of the monsters in ‘The Wild Things.’

Which brings back the concept that there is no such thing as unique, really.

Monster Illustration

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Refurnishing Monsters

Monster IllustrationOccasionally it happens. You explore, research and design a character with life, character and style and the client rather wants their daughter’s stick characters she made on her tablet. So your drawer is full of fluffy, scaly, feathery creatures from your imagination that are never used. Well not today.

I have been absent as I have been working on a very exciting book where I have had to explore my black and white illustration style. It has been a good challenge, especially since the main characters (and most of his friends) are a type of animal that I usually try to avoid. Have you ever tried to draw a loved one? Like a family member, or a friend? Then discovered it came out horrible because you know their face too well? Well it is the same for me with this particular animal/pet. I’m sure you can work out which type of pet I am talking about… Continue Reading