Mooncake

Mooncake is the most recent painting I did and I wanted to share some thoughts and pictures of the process.

I had this sketch for a long time but I wasn’t ready for it. Sometimes you don’t feel confident enough to make something and that’s ok, as long as you continue to practice.

 

After I’ve made couple of mini paintings for an exhibit and with no day job, I thought it was the time. As always, I’ve started with the fun parts. I made the typo in gold and started the mooncake with colored pencils with washes of acrylics. It’s been a while I wanted to mix both. I’ve drawn most of the left cat with pencils at this point and try bits of cloud background.

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I couldn’t push the inevitable any longer, the background. I hate doing backgrounds mostly because all my life I’ve focused on characters (maybe to avoid it). Now I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to add some background to add more dimensions in my art. I just fear to fail it and be disappointed with what I’ve done. I’ve started to make an underpainting and contouring everything I’ve already done. Bad idea I know, I should have started with the background but hey, I had to make this mistake to understand! That’s why at some point, I’ve painting over the typo instead of contouring it. On the photo you can see the first layer. It took couples of layers and many tries to figure out how to paint these clouds.

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On the next picture, you can see a comparison between the process. The first cat is only made with colored pencils and the other one is fully painted. I found it very helpful to have pencils before painting.

 

I chose to repaint the typo in cream instead of gold. I love gold but it never looks good in picture and it’s pretty deceiving when printed. At the last moment I added the word mooncake in chinese characters (thank god I haven’t misspelled it). I felt some corners were a bit empty and now it looks more like an advert poster which I love.

Now I can say I’m proud of this one and it helped me to gain some reassurance with paint. I may have reached a little step. It could have been a disappointment but it turns well so please guys, always keep practicing and enjoy every little success you get. Things come easier with time and that’s true for many things.

mooncake

How I work with Yupo paper

It’s been almost a year since the last time I wrote a post. I’ve been overwhelmed by a day job giving me very few times to create. Let say blogging take much more time and effort than I first thought. I’ll do my best to be more consistent this time. 🙂

Last February I made the challenge of drawing a dessert a day created by @the.petite.planner and @bulletjournaljunkie on Instagram. It was the perfect challenge for me! I chose to use Yupo paper because I had much fun with it in October and the mabsdrawlloween challenge. Because I got many questions about it, I’ve took pictures of my process with Yupo paper. So it usually goes like this :

1- Very small doodle of an idea, I always draw a quick doodle when I got an idea and this one looks interesting enough to be developed.

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2- I use translucent Yupo paper so I make the sketch already the good size. I draw some outlines to place the character and make proportions right. (This is why I work with a 4H pencil, I erase a lot and it leaves almost no trace)

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3- Final sketch. Yupo paper doesn’t like to be erased. It alters the blackness of graphite so I make sure my sketch is good.

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4- Tracing the drawing with a 0.3 pencil

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5- When the tracing is done, I now work on a white sheet and complete the graphite part. I use a 0.5 pencil with a 2B graphite lead and draw a bigger outline and I put some shadows.

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6- I put colored pencils on the verso. The colors are brights there but they will become soft on the recto side. Colored pencils work much better than markers on this paper. I often use a small piece of Yupo paper to test the colors.

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7- To make colors pop out more, I block them with white acrylic. I usually put 2 or 3 layers.

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8- In this one, I’ve drawn the cherry with a 4h pencil to guide me with color so I erased its outlines and tada! I usually take the picture of it on a white sheet and adjust colors in Photoshop. I don’t recommend varnishing the graphite part because it seems to ”stick” on the glass when framed so be just careful when manipulating it.

Early Bird Coffee Sketch Wip

As I’m working on the painting, I thought to share with you how I made the sketch for it.

20170707_111638Everything starts with my sketchbooks. In the last year, I found it useful to work on 2 or 3 sketchbooks in the same time instead of turning pages. My sketch books are like my encyclopedia. Each time I do research or I’m looking for new ideas, I put everything in there. I take notes, translations of words, quick doodle of ideas or symbols. A small doodle of yesterday can become a painting in a couple of months. I always work with a 4H graphite pencil so sorry for the lack of contrast.

 

So this is a typical way I start brainstorming for an idea. I didn’t want to work on my quack medicine yet, I just wanted something simple. I found this page where I wrote a few notes a couple month ago. I felt inspired by doing something about coffee. So I start finding inspiration on Pinterest.

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On another sketchbook I’ve started writing texts I could write on it and doodling some ideas. I quickly drew them with borders until I find something I like. Then I sketch the small border and refine it until it looks good.


Since I now have a good idea where I’m going, it’s time to make the final sketch. I start with characters because they are the heart of my paintings so they must be good.

Then I work on the borders with typos. While doing it, I keep looking in my image bank for inspiration and I try to not forget sizes of wood panel I have here. If it doesn’t fit exactly a wood panel, I’ll make some resizing later. I usually make the big typos by hand but the small ones are made with computer.

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Now that I have everything I need, time to scan the sketches and to go in Illustrator and Photoshop! First I redo the borders and typos in Illustrator. This is easier to make a symmetrical border and I can find a perfect wood panel size and adjust it if needed. I prefer to work typos here because I can vectorise existing typos and play with them.

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Now I import the lines in Photoshop and put the leaves and characters on it. These are the outlines I’ll use for my paintings. Sometimes when I’m not sure about what color palette to use, I make some color tests in Photoshop with this document and keep it as a guide.

So, this is how I always prepare my paintings. Unless if it’s a very small canvas I can trace on it, I always proceed like that. It may look tedious but when I start putting paint on a canvas, I need that everything is decided. I really hate the feeling of hating a work you’ve just done because it’s not centered or the proportions are wrong. Sometimes I would love to be like those artists who can start directly on canvas and just let things happen. I guess I’m too cartesian for it!

Early Bird CoffeeAnd here’s the results! You can see how much the painting looks like the color tests. Only the background have a blue tint in it. For the painting execution, the process is basically the same than the last post. I hope this post was helpful in any way and let me know if there’s some subjects you want me to post about! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Freunde fur Immer wip

Since I was young, I have been exploring many mediums. It is natural to me to mix medias together and I did it a lot when I did my first paintings. Because I had a lot of troubles doing great gradients with paint (especially with acrylics), I chose to use gouache and add layers of colored pencils on it. I eventually switched for acrylics years later. I worried about the longevity of the gouache and had interaction problems between mediums and varnishes.

Anyway I thought of sharing my process for a piece I did last year. For most of my paintings, I make a study I use as a guide. I made a lot of research about strawberry and its leaves and flowers. It helps me to place lights and choose colors. Actually I do a lot of research on everything and I keep the reference pictures in a personal image bank divided in a lot of folders. It mostly made of photos but sometimes I add pictures of other artists works.

 

Photoshop is very helpful to create the perfect layout for the painting. I have scanned the sketch outlines of my characters. I made the typo and scanned it too. Then I try different layout fitting with a size of wood panel I have in stock. In this case, a 18×12 in panel was the best. When the composition is looking good, I print the outline and transfer it on my panel. For this one, I wanted to color the background and keep the wood grain. Some artists would make washes of acrylics but I felt more comfortable using dry pastels. I used a cloth to smooth the pastel and remove the excess and then I put a layer of workable vanish.

I love putting gold o my artwork. And I always prefer doing the background before the characters. It helps to adjust colors and sometimes I feel intimidated by acrylics. I have this little fear that I may not be able to complete my work. This is a strange feeling which will disappear with time and experience. This is why doing background before helps me to approach slowly the work.

* for the borders, I used a gold ink because it is more opaque. The only problem with is I have to spray varnish on it because it is not permanent and it will dissolve when I’ll add acrylic varnish at the end. Now I use gold acrylic. I have to paint more layers to achieve the same opacity but it is stable.

Now the typo. There is no real trick for doing crisp typo. You need to have tight outlines, a tiny brush and a lot of patience. I love doing this part, I can let my mind to wander.

Now the characters. I always keep the hard work for the end. I put flat layers of colors on each part before building with lights and shadows. I work with hi flow acrylics so it feels like ink. That’s why I put flat layers of color before.


Then 2 or 3 layers of acrylics varnish and tada! I did a painting! So this is mostly how I do my paintings. Next post I’ll try to share my process for the step before painting, how I make my sketch ready for a painting.