Helix Industries Height Chart (WIP – Silhouettes)

I decided to make a height chart for some of the characters from Helix Industries. It quickly turned into something resembling a police line-up, which is fitting because I think only three of the characters here aren’t criminals in one way or another (and two of them are fairly amoral).

It’s still a work in progress. I decided to try a tip I was given a long time ago and draw the characters’ silhouettes first – this is something I often struggle with doing because I worry too much about proportions, but I found that a) starting with vague stick figures, and b) having the height markers in the background, helped a lot with that.

I’m not going to tell you who the characters are right now, but I’ll give you some more info when I post the final version.

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Spring

…is at least on the way, if not quite here yet. And we had sun this afternoon, so that was nice. I walked into town – I really do love walking and did a lot of it last term, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it when it’s winter – and took this photograph of some lovely blossom while I was on the way.

I also took a number of photographs of roadsigns for the unit I’ve just started at uni. The link will take you to my project blog for said unit, where you can find more information and watch my creative process as it happens, if that’s your sort of thing.

 

The Bloody Chamber

I’ve just recently finished my Narrative project for uni – I chose to produce a series of illustrations for Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – and thought I’d post the results here.

The first six illustrations are all for the title story, and were created with acrylic paint and oil pastels. The first image was created earlier than the others – it was an entry for a competition to illustrate this book for the Folio Society. (I did not win.)

For this competition we had to create three images, each for a different story, plus a rough binding design, so the last two images are for the other stories we were asked to illustrate: The Company of Wolves and Puss in Boots.

EDIT: Because a friend asked me on Facebook – yes, The Bloody Chamber is a retelling of Bluebeard. The Company of Wolves is a version of Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots is probably a bit obvious. 🙂

Helix Redux

I’m working on re-doing my old webcomic, Helix Industries. So far I have a bunch of thumbnails (about an inch and a half tall and mostly consisting of stick figures, but thumbnails nonetheless) and I’m working on character designs. Here are a couple of portraits of the two protagonists that I did a little while ago now – I’ll try and post more development work when I do it.

There’s probably a lot more I could say about this redux and the difficulties of re-writing an idea I’ve had in one form or another since I was about ten years old, but it will have to wait for a later blog post when I’m not quite as ill as I am at the moment.

A Surfeit of Inspiration

Ever feel like you have too many ideas?

It’s not something I ever expected to find myself complaining about. A lot of the time, inspiration is fairly thin on the ground for me, and producing anything at all is a struggle. I live for the other times. When inspiration is plentiful – when ideas are coming thick and fast – that’s when I feel like I’m flying, and I remember why I love creating art, writing stories, whatever I happen to be trying my hand at.

Today, I decided I was going to sit down and work on my coursework (and yes, I did manage to get some done). As soon as I picked up my pencil, I felt full of inspiration – for every possible project except the one I was working on. Yup. All these ideas, and not one of them remotely related to what I was supposed to be drawing.

Part of my problem is that my ideas tend to come in packs – I get inspiration for about a dozen new projects at once, and have to restrain myself from starting every single one of them, since I know I’ll never have time to finish them all. There is also the fact that developing these ideas is much more difficult. I have one particular concept for a story that’s been brewing in my head for at least a year now, but it’s never gone beyond that embryonic form – it keeps coming up, in various different guises (different settings, different characters, different ideas for what will happen next) but I never seem to really develop further. It’s definitely an idea I want to move forward with, but actually doing so is another matter.

I don’t know. It feels ungrateful, almost, to complain about having too much inspiration – just recently I was moaning about having none at all. But it’s certainly distracting when you have a number of illustrations of a set text to complete and concepts for a horror/mystery story are waving their little hands at you.

On another note, happy winter solstice, everyone! I walked along the sea front today – the sky was absolutely gorgeous. Shortest day of the year; utterly beautiful sunset. 🙂

Watercolours

So I’ve been really into using watercolour paints this year. It’s an interesting medium, if a little frustrating at times – I have to be very patient waiting for paint to dry so I don’t end up with all my colours running into each other. The way I paint involves using layers of very thin paint and gradually building up a deeper colour, so it can take a long time, and if I screw up (by not waiting for it to dry, or by using too much pigment, for example) it’s very hard to fix it, so it’s a little nerve-wracking as well.

I’ve used watercolour on and off pretty much since I was a child, but it’s really become a focus lately and I think I’ve improved quite a lot. (It’s amazing what a bit of practice will do.) It’s something I’d like to continue developing – maybe get some proper lessons in using them, or at least do some reading on the subject, since I’m pretty much just learning by experimentation here.

The House in the Woods (ver 2)

Anyway, here’s a piece I finished recently. (It’s version two because it’s based on a digital speedpaint of mine.) It’s mostly in watercolour, although I’ve edited it a bit in photoshop as well – I guess you’d call it mixed media. I made some prints of this to sell at a market stall my class was arranging – no idea how well they sold, if at all, since I was sitting on a train that day, but it was an interesting first attempt at making commercial work.

EDIT: Apparently this is my fifteenth post on this blog. WordPress is flashing a little sidebar at me that says, “Goal of fifteen posts completed!” I was not aware that this was a goal.

In Which I Continue to Whine

So, a couple of months ago I posted about the difficulties I’ve been having adjusting to second year. Unfortunately, these problems have failed to get much better… Most of the time I feel okay – I like living here, I like my classes, and I like hanging out with my friends – and I’ve had a lot of fun over the past few months, but it’s like there’s this… thing lurking beneath the surface.

I feel very insecure about my work. Maybe that doesn’t quite describe it – I feel like a lot of the things I’m doing just aren’t working, and it’s frustrating me. Sure, some times I produce things I’m proud of, but a lot of the time (like this evening) it feels like nothing’s coming out quite right. On top of that, I know I’m not putting in nearly as much work as I should to do well on this course. I try, but I have so little enthusiasm for my uni work right now. This may be to do with my choice of project, but I doubt it – I find the stories I’m illustrating plently interesting, and in fact I’m usually sufficiently enthusiastic about a piece until I actually start on it, at which point I become sick of it (and work in general) after about half an hour.

The upshot of this is that I’m taking a very long time to produce a comparitively small amount of work – something I can’t keep doing if I want to succeed with this project. This just adds to my frustrations – not am I not happy with the work I’m producing, I’m taking forever to finish it. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time (it doesn’t help that I have a tendency to procrastinate, but I feel I wouldn’t procrastinate so much if I didn’t have so much trouble staying interested in my work).

Obviously I’m not thinking about this all the time, but every now and then something will set me off and I’ll spend the evening in a horrible negative spiral where I hate my work, I hate my life, and I wonder what the hell I’m doing on this course. I’ve done a lot of wondering along these lines lately – probably not the best thing for my state of mind, but once you start it’s hard to stop. At times I feel like I’m not cut out to be here at all. Other times, I feel like maybe illustration was the wrong course for me – but all I really want to do with my life is draw comics and tell stories, so if not illustration, what then? Changing to another field would mean needing to essentially re-do all my education from around age 16 onwards (my sixth-form choices were entirely geared towards getting me on to an illustration degree course as early as possible), and that just feels like so much of a waste that I’m not ready to accept it – besides, I genuinely do have a passion for illustration.

I don’t have such an enthusiasm problem with my personal work, but the problem with that is that it never gets finished. It would be possible, I’m sure – in fact, I know at least one person who’s doing it – for me to combine these personal projects with my uni work, but aside from copyright issues (the university takes copyright of the work we submit, if I recall correctly, and while I doubt they’d prevent me from continuing to do things with said work I would feel highly uncomfortable with it) I feel like it’s the pressure of working towards a submission that’s killing my enthusiasm – I don’t want to have my personal projects ruined by that.

So, I work. And I look at my work, and I wonder why I spent so much time getting so little done. I have no idea how to get out of this funk – I though finishing something, anything, might help, but it’s so hard getting there when halfway through you’re thinking, “This is absolute crap.” I need a way out if I want to move forward – if I want to succeed – but I can’t find one, and I don’t know what else to try.