The Artist’s Way Through Art Anxiety – My First Interview on Leonie’s HermitBurpcast

Hey look, it’s my very first podcast interview!

HermitBurpcast#07 The Artist's Way Through Art Anxiety

Back in June I had the pleasure of being Leonie Yue’s very first guest on her Hermit Burpcast. In this podcast (starting roughly 30mins in) we discuss our own experiences with art anxiety and our thoughts on Julia Cameron’s self-help book “The Artist’s Way”.

If you’ve been struggling with art anxiety or what’s commonly called “Artist’s Block”, I recommend having a listen. We share some lessons that might just help.

(I’d even say it’s worth a listen just to hear us geeking out about Pokemon!)

Enjoy, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our discussion.

x Kristy Kate

Self-Portrait, September 2015

My last profile picture was feeling a little outdated, so I figured it was time for a new self-portrait:

Self-portrait of Kristy Kate

To create this self-portrait I used a mix of recent photos as reference. I sketched and digitally painted the full illustration in Photoshop, finishing with a few paint textures from Texture Mate.

After such a long break, it feels great to be getting back into art again.

Until next time!
x Kristy Kate

Hello World. Long time, no see!

Hello World!

Hello and Happy 2015!
(…I think I missed the “Happy New Year” window. Oops!)

It has been a long time between posts, my friends, and for that I apologise. Does anyone else feel like the past 4 months have flown by in an instant? I had to flip through my diary to figure out where on Earth it went.

Turns out I’ve been busy. Ha! Lame excuse, I know.

I’ve had all the best intentions to post, but work and family commitments meant I had to shelve blogging for a while. My little sister got married and I had a bunch of awesome projects to work on, including designing stationery for the wedding and a co-hosting gig with Pencil Kings on their Perspective Drawing Challenge and Figure Drawing Challenge. It has been a busy time, but an exciting one too!

Then art anxiety decided to come and bite me on the butt. Because it’s cool like that.

I won’t delve into the intricacies of it today, but let’s just say it really blew the wind out of my sails. Anxiety is terribly exhausting, and as a result I’ve had to save my energy for client work and making a recovery. It’s left very little time to pursue my own projects, including this blog.

The good news is, it’s helped me see that I need to scale back. Simplify. Be selective about what I really want and need to do.

With small baby steps, I will work towards a return in regular blogging, studies and creating art again. It will require a good deal of patience and persistence, but I look to the road ahead with great optimism. I’ve got this.

Thank you for your kind support along the way. 🙂

Until next time,
x Kristy Kate

Merry Christmas!

Illustration of birds on a Christmas wreath

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

It’s been such a busy end to the year and some time between posts, but since the festive season is upon us, I’d like to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll be back in the new year to fill in the gaps of what’s been happening on my end over the past few months, but in the meantime,

May your holidays be filled with peace, love and joy, and 2015 be your greatest year yet!

All the best,
Kristy xox

SDC – Shading the Face

For the month of September I’m taking part in Pencil Kings Shading Drawing Challenge, with instruction from the lovely Diane Kraus. You can see Diane’s work on her website www.dianekraus.com.

This post covers my studies from Lesson 6: Shading the Face in Full Value. My earlier studies can be viewed in the following posts:
Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC)
SDC – Planes and Blocking in the Shadow Value
SDC – Shading Simple Objects
* SDC – Learning the Planes of the Head
* SDC – Blocking in the Shadow Value of the Head

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Shading the Face in Full Value

Another week has come to a close which means it’s time to celebrate by shading the face in full value! Hooray!

I set myself the challenge to fully shade all the faces given to us as reference during the week. It was quite a big undertaking, but I found following the process of tackling each value one-by-one made the task a lot simpler to manage.

Here’s the typical method I follow:

  1. Block in the shadow value
  2. Fill in the rest of the form with the mid tone
  3. Add the core shadow
  4. Add the cast shadow
  5. Add the reflected light
  6. Fill in the light areas
  7. Blend
  8. Refine edges (watch for soft and hard edges)
  9. Add highlights and small details

The order of these may change from time to time but essentially the simplest approach to shading the face (or any object for that matter) is by blocking in the large areas of light and shadow first before blending and then adding the highlights and finer details last. Think big to small.

(Note: Creating the underlying sketch has been omitted from this list as we’ve been provided with templates for the Shading Drawing Challenge in order to focus solely on values and shading.)

Below are the finished studies as well as a couple of .gifs showing the steps in my rendering. Click on the images if you’d like to view a larger version (they will open in a new window).

Full value study of the head.

Step by step digital painting process of a sculpture

Drawing in the planes before shading, provides a good guide for defining the form with value in later steps.

Step by step digital painting process of a sculpture

Full value study of the head.

While shading the above statues I quickly discovered that curls are difficult to manage (ie. evil). It can be really tricky to keep track of where you’re up to and after a while your eyes get boggled. To help me keep track I decided to mask sections of their hair with a big black box, moving it along to reveal new sections of hair only once the current area was shaded. Crisis averted!

(Similarly, a grid can be used to plot out the curls too, but I personally find that they can add to the detail ‘noise’.)

Full value study of the head.

While shading these faces, I took the opportunity to play with texture brushes. In the above and below studies I used a mix of the Photoshop Hard Round and Charcoal brushes. I like how they break up that smooth, overly glossy look that’s hard to avoid with straight up digital painting — consider these my first steps into finding a more ‘painterly’ feel!

Full value study of the head.

The girl in the above image is a great example of when learning the planes of the face can be especially handy. The reference photo had flattened the values, making her face appear very smooth and therefore tricky to define the form (this is very common in magazine photos). Thanks to using the planes as a guide, I was able to see the form and add volume back into her face. I’ve included a step-by-step image of her below:

Step by step digital painting process of a face

Up next, we dive into a new week, this time covering the planes and shading of the human figure.

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.

SDC – Blocking in the Shadow Value of the Head

For the month of September I’m taking part in Pencil Kings Shading Drawing Challenge, with instruction from the lovely Diane Kraus. You can see Diane’s work on her website www.dianekraus.com.

This post covers my studies from Lesson 5: Blocking in the Shadows of the Head. My earlier studies can be viewed in the following posts:
Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC)
SDC – Planes and Blocking in the Shadow Value
SDC – Shading Simple Objects
* SDC – Learning the Planes of the Head

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Blocking in the Shadow Value of the Head

I’m going to keep this post short today, as I feel much of the concept of ‘blocking in the shadows’ was already covered in my earlier post SDC – Planes and Blocking in the Shadow Value.

Lesson 5: Blocking in the Shadows of the Head is essentially a stepping stone activity between learning the planes and fully shading the head. Not a bad thing at all as it got me thinking about what planes of the head would receive light and shadow under different lighting conditions.

Blocking in Shadows Using the Planes of the Head

Applying the basic area of shadow really helped me to see how the planes turn and curve and come together as a whole. It also made me more conscious of the position of the light source.

Blocking in Shadows Using the Planes of the Head

Looking back over these studies, I can see I missed a few shadows here and there. It pays to keep in mind that when blocking in the shadow value you are covering all shadows, including the core shadow, cast shadow and reflected light. Reflected light can sometimes be misleading and look like the mid tone or an area of light.

Look out for where the mid tone turns to shadow or core shadow too. The transition can be quite smooth, so in that situation I tend to block in the shadow up to the core shadow.

Blocking in Shadows Using the Planes of the Head

Since we’ve been using the templates and reference photos Diane supplied a lot, it was fun to break away in the final exercise of the lesson and sketch out our own templates to apply the planes and shadow area to (see above image). I selected stock photos from Marcus Ranum’s collection (check out mjranum-stock.deviantart.com) to use as reference. It felt a little surreal sketching again… I suppose I have been concentrating on area and painting instead of line!

I think a great supplemental activity to this lesson would be to experiment creating your own lighting and apply it to the planes of the head. Perhaps create a template of the head (constructed out of planes) from the front and side view, duplicate it a dozen times and start blocking in the shadows from different lighting set ups. It would be a great way to test your knowledge of the planes and have a future reference for painting from imagination. (I’ll have to try it myself when I have time).

Up next is the best part of the week, rendering the entire head in SDC Lesson 6: Shading the Face in Full Value.

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.

SDC – Learning the Planes of the Head

For the month of September I’m taking part in Pencil Kings Shading Drawing Challenge, with instruction from the lovely Diane Kraus. You can see Diane’s work on her website www.dianekraus.com.

This post covers my studies from Lesson 4: The Planes of the Head. My earlier studies can be viewed in the following posts:
Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC)
SDC – Planes and Blocking in the Shadow Value
SDC – Shading Simple Objects

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Shading Drawing Challenge – Week 2

Going into Week 2 of the Shading Drawing Challenge, I’m super excited. It was great to revisit the basics, but here is where the real learning and growth begins for me. It’s time to jump back into anatomy and learn how to render the human form!

The Planes of the Head

Lesson 4: The Planes of the Head, covered exactly as the title suggests – drawing in the planes of the head. Planes are used to establish the form of an object and act as guidelines for accurate representation of light and shadow. The human face/head is quite a complicated object so learning how to simplify it with planes makes it much easier to tackle in the shading process.

Diane supplied a great step by step video of how to draw the planes, as well as reference images and templates so we could follow along.

Drawing the Planes of the Head

However, after completing the first exercises, I felt a little confused as to what exactly I was drawing.

I didn’t want to make the mistake of just redrawing what I saw and was told to do. I should be really thinking about what I’m observing, asking questions and coming to a level of understanding of why things appear the way they do.

So I grabbed my Loomis and Bridgman anatomy books (lifesavers!) and made some additional sketches.

Drawing the Planes of the Head

As you can see in the image above, I didn’t go overboard with sketches. Simply observing different artists’ approach to the planes of the head made a huge difference.

I was primarily confused by the diagonal line going from the bottom of the jaw to the area on the cheek. What is it indicating? How is that creating two separate planes?

Looking at Bridgman and Loomis confirmed to me that:

  • The diagonal line starts at the base of the jawline and ends at the bottom, outer edge of the cheekbone
  • This line indicates the transition of the widest part of the skull (cheekbones and jaw) to the narrowest (chin)
  • It also marks the vertical sloping of the cheeks
  • Therefore the form of the head turns along the jawline at the point of the bottom of the jaw to the bottom of the cheekbone
  • = the change in planes.

Another thing I noticed was that I was being thrown off by the cube that surrounds the head. It’s purpose is to help place the head in perspective, learn the proportions (hairline, brow, nose, chin) and be a simple guide to the sides of the head.

If you look at the top row of “boxed” heads in the above image, you’ll see that the faces have become flattened against the front side of the cube. So it’s worth noting that the features such as the nose and chin can extend past the boundary of the cube and the side of the face doesn’t stick to the edges of the cube. The cube is a guide only.

Oh, and a tip on where to place the cube so the edges fit more accurately to the front and side of the face – the cube is the same width as the brows from end to end. The cheekbones do come out a little wider, but note that the rest of the face more closely matches the brow in width.

Drawing the Planes of the Head

It was nice to discover that drawing planes actually help with memorizing the placement of facial features too. Little observations such as:

  • The outer edge of the nostrils line up with the inner corner (tear ducts) of the eyes.
  • The brow line, when drawn around the head, typically touches the top of the ears.
  • The bottom of the ears typically line up with the bottom of the nose.
  • Drawing lines down from the outer edge of the nostrils define the width of the chin.
  • The temple curves away from the outer edge of the brow.
  • The top half of the eye socket terminates on the same line as the corners of the eyes.

Simple things, but they really bring together the jigsaw puzzle of the head!

The final exercise was to sketch some heads in our own style and draw the planes over the top:

Drawing the Planes of the Head

Under every character sketch lies a creepy robot.

This was such a fantastic exercise for thinking more about the construction of a character’s face and how it will function. I was curious how the planes would work on faces with more exaggerated features. To me, it made them more believable. For instance, discovering that the bridge of the chibi-style girl’s nose would have to be dropped down, otherwise it would look overly long and broken.

I will have to make a note of this exercise so I can try it again after the challenge ends. You should give it a go too!

Up next, adding some dimension to the planes of the head with SDC Lesson 5: Blocking in the Shadows of the Head.

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.

SDC – Shading Simple Objects

For the month of September I’m taking part in Pencil Kings Shading Drawing Challenge, with instruction from the lovely Diane Kraus. You can see Diane’s work on her website www.dianekraus.com.

This post covers my studies from Lesson 3: Shading Simple Objects. My earlier studies can be viewed in the following posts:
Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC)
SDC – Planes and Blocking in the Shadow Value

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Shading Simple Objects

In Lesson 3: Shading Simple Objects, the fun really began as we took what we learned from the previous two lessons and applied it to shading objects with the full value scale.

Full value scale rendering of cubes, cylinders, cones and spheres

The recommended approach to shading objects is to concentrate on each major dark and light element of the form one-by-one before blending. Starting with blocking in the shadow to separate light and shade, and then adding the midtone, core shadow, cast shadow and light tone. Highlights are added last, after the other values have been blended.

Full value scale rendering of simple still life objects

Full value scale rendering of simple still life objects

Below is a quick step-by-step process I used for shading one of the still life examples (photo reference supplied by our instructor, Diane). At the point I created this .gif I had already flattened a bunch of layers in Photoshop, but it still gives a pretty good idea of how I approach digital painting. (I’ll create another step-by-step demonstration in a future post).

Demonstration of layers used to build shading of full value scale still life painting.

In the process of digital painting, I like to keep things flexible by working on multiple layers. I typically flatten or group the layers as I go, depending on the needs of the project.

In the above image you can see that I’ve grouped two layers into the folder labelled “Group 4”. They are the blocked in shadow and midtone. On top of this are a stack of layers set as clipping masks. They are applied to Group 4, which means these new layers won’t allow paint outside the blocked in shadow and midtone areas.

This is especially handy because I can then paint in big strokes without painting “outside the lines”. By using the layers, any unwanted brush work within the painted area can also be simply removed with the eraser tool – and won’t harm any of the work in the layers below.

As for blending with Photoshop brushes; I currently use the Hard Round brush for most of my painting. The key is in altering it’s features. I have the Size and Opacity set to pressure (a great benefit of using a tablet!) and am constantly changing the hardness of the brush edge using the shortcut Shift + [ or ] (the size of the brush can also be scaled up or down with [ or ] ). Beyond that, I might manually change the Opacity and Flow for a subtle, gradual build up of paint for those super soft transitions, but otherwise, that’s about it.

Here’s the final, with a couple of other still life set ups.

Full value scale rendering of grouped still life objects

Well, this marks the end of Week 1. I’m super excited because up next is SDC Lesson 4: The Planes of the Head – yes! Back to anatomy!

Bring on the challenge!

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.

SDC – Planes & Blocking in the Shadow Value

For the month of September I’m taking part in Pencil Kings Shading Drawing Challenge, with instruction from the lovely Diane Kraus. You can see Diane’s work on her website www.dianekraus.com.

This post covers my studies from Lesson 2: Blocking in the Shadow. My studies from Lesson 1:  Understanding the Value Scale can be viewed in my earlier post Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC).

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Seeing Form with Planes

In Lesson 2: Blocking in the Shadow, we explored placing value on simple forms, starting with the cube, cylinder, cone and sphere. Learning to shade the form of these basic shapes is essential to understanding the form of more complex objects. When simplified, all objects are made up of one or a combination of these basic shapes.

Before blocking in the shadow we sketched in the planes of the objects. This is to better understand the form and how light and shadow fall across it.

Simple shapes with blocked in shadows

Hopefully the planes in the above image are fairly self-explanatory, but for reference;

  • The Cube has a flat surface. The planes have defined edges, so changes in value are distinct.
  • Cylinders and Cones are smooth, rounded forms (not counting their bases). Light and shadow wrap around the form.
  • The planes of the Cylinder move straight up and down (indicating how light and shadow appear on the form).
  • The planes of the Cone radiate from it’s peak to the base (indicating how light and shadow appear on the form).
  • The Sphere is a completely rounded form. The planes are laid out like latitude and longitude lines you see on a globe. There are no sharp changes in form, so values blend smoothly, unlike the cube.

After studying these basic shapes, it was time to put them into action by blocking in the shadows on some still life objects.

Simple still life studies with blocked in shadows

As you can see, the bowl in the above image is a half sphere and the pot is made up of cones, spheres, and if you imagine lines going from the edges of the lid down to the base, a cylinder too.

The objects can get a bit more complicated (for example, the flattened cone in the dress of the figure below), but the same shading rules still apply.

Still life studies with blocked in shadows

If you’re wondering why the shadows are only one value, it’s to establish the separation of light from the shadow area (reiterating from my last post – values from the light range don’t appear in the areas of shadow and vice versa).

And to wrap up, blocking in the shadows of a still life set up.

Still life studies with blocked in shadows

Up next, SDC Lesson 3: Shading Simple Objects.

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.

Learning Values with the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC)

Hi there!

Before we jump into the studies for the week, I want to give a quick heads up that I’m trialing a different approach to the weekly study posts. Instead of naming each post after the week I’m up to (eg. This week would be “Week 24 Studies”) and dumping everything from the week in there, I’ll be dedicating posts to specific studies and naming them accordingly. Hopefully this small change will make searching older posts a lot less confusing!

Now, onto the studies.

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Shading Drawing Challenge – Week 1

Last week I started Pencil Kings new 30 day challenge, the Shading Drawing Challenge (SDC). I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – leading up to the new challenge there was a vote for what figure drawing topic we’d like to learn. Shading was probably my least ‘favourite’ option (I voted for Perspective) but I signed up anyway. If this new challenge is anything like the Figure Drawing Challenge, it’s bound to be great!

Value Scales

Week 1 focused on the basics of shading. Simple stuff, but I’m happy for it, as apart from a few of my own value studies and tips I’ve picked up here and there, I can’t say I’ve really studied or been taught this subject in depth.

Understanding the value scale, 7 steps and blended

Lesson 1: Understanding Values involved creating a 7 Step Value Scale and a blended scale of the 7 values. This is a basic scale, going from (almost) white to black.

Value scales change from image to image depending on the level of lighting. Images with low key lighting contain darker values, while high key lighting have lighter values. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that the value range of lighting (highlight, light tone, midtone, reflected light, shadow, core shadow and cast shadow) in an image can expand, contract and move up and down within the full (white to black) value scale to create a particular mood.

It’s also worth noting that the values for areas of light and shadow should remain separate. That is, none of the values from the light range (in the image above, 1-3) should be used in the areas of shadow (4-7 on the scale) and vice versa.

Locating value scale on reference images

After establishing the 7 Step Value Scale, the final exercise was to identify and label the types of lightning, using the supplied reference images.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each represents:

  1. Highlight – The reflection of the light source.
  2. Light tone – The area of the object that’s receiving light from the light source.
  3. Midtone – The value that sits between light and dark.
  4. Reflected light – Light that has bounced off other surfaces and lights the shadow area.
  5. Shadow – Area not receiving any light.
  6. Core shadow – The darkest area of the shadow, appearing on edges, where the plane turns away from the light.
  7. Cast shadow – The darkest value, where light is entirely obscured (typically where the object touches a surface).

Well, that about covers everything I learnt from the first two days of SDC. Even if it looks basic and you’ve studied it before, it’s worth going over and completing some value studies to rejog the memory. We all know it can be easy for the foundations to become a little foggy if you haven’t practiced them in a while!

Up next, SDC Lesson 2: Blocking in the Shadows.

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Enjoy art? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me by leaving a comment or getting in contact via Twitter or Facebook.