Can you tell I’ve been looking at a lot of Mobius? So this was done in my sketchbook, took roughly ten hours. It’s pen and inkwash, and this week I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my process or at least a chance to see what these sorts of things look like along the way, so I took a couple of scans at the major transitional points. For the final stage I used a light sumi wash, at least 20 parts water to one part ink. And worked it in many many laters on the page. Really this stage would have been fairly quick, two or three hours of time spent with brush in hand, except for the drying times.The paper used, while a decent 98lb wasn’t really wet media paper and I was conscious not to overload it with too much liquid at one time. I also keep a small hairdryer handy to speed up the process.
And because it’s fun to move back through time whenever possible: The pen. Which this time was a Copic #3. Not really much to say about this stage. This is actually the bulk of the work. Probably took around 6 hours. Lots and lots of little marks.
The pencil: mostly 2H and HB. This stage takes only a couple of hours or so. I did do a couple of thumbnails before starting the pencil. Which I don’t always do, but once I had the idea I knew that the compositional elements needed to be somewhat tight to make this picture work. I had two major elements in the picture (The man and the window) and two is almost always the hardest number to balance visually without resorting to symmetry, and I also wasn’t sure if the horizontal or vertical aspect ratio was to be best.
Well, I’ve been mulling this decision over for a long time now, and am finally making it. I am discontinuing the Weekly Whirly exercise. I thought about postponing this announcement until next week, and doing one more Whirly, but I feel that’s been the mental process for a about a month now, and for two of those weeks I didn’t have time to do one. Which leads to the reasons behind the decision. I’d say first and foremost is that I feel I’ve learned what I needed to learn from drawing them. I look back at the last year of weekly drawings and I can clearly see significant improvement, and that makes me very happy! Seeing improvement is one of the best feeling one can get as an image maker. When I started the project I had almost no experience drawing with felt tip artists pens. I know it’s a bit backward, but I had almost never drawn with them, when I started doing ink drawings and comics I went straight to brush, I was just immediately drawn the the physical qualities of black ink, and the brush was the most visceral tool and the mark-making with the brush seemed to have the most connection to that visceral quality. I noticed a couple of leaning in those drawings though. Firstly, I was getting really into small details, something that brush ink doesn’t lend itself well too, and second, I had more and more desire to work freehand and without pencils to guide me. Like so many things, the best way to get better at freehand drawing was to practice practice practice. (just to be completely clear, in most of the whirly drawings I didn’t do freehand pen.) And while I did some with the brush ink sans graphite planning, the limitation of having to be at the drawing table definitely slowed me down. So I got in the habit of carrying around a Fabercastel felt tip and small sketchbook. One of the first things I drew was a funny little helicopter.
I have to say I was maybe a bit snooty about pens when I was doing all that work with brushes, but now that I’ve spent some real time with them, I really like them. I enjoy the speed at which I can draw with them, the way I can zip or wander across the page. With a brush you have to be very conscious of your positioning. The angle of the brush, the angle of the paper, the tilt, how the bristles are hitting the page. True you can do a lot with that, but you gotta be ready for it, and sometimes you just want to cruise and draw something cool. I also found that I could get some nice variety in the marks. I started out using of those super small 0.01 or 0.03 size pens (in Fabercastel nomenclature they are the F or SX sizes), before long I when up to the large gauges because I discovered that a light touch with a larger pen I could actually get a thinner line if I needed it. Now I’ve moved on to using Copic pens and have primarily stuck to the larger, 0.3 and 0.7 sizes. Man, I am totally digressing. I started this article to talk about whirlies and the future and now I’m talking about brushes and pens, sheesh. Time to get back on track.
The other big reason that I’m discontinuing the weekly series is time. It’s the constant battle, the most precious commodity, the one thing that you can never get back once you’ve spent it. In a perfect world I would have time to do one of these every week, absolutely, without a doubt. They are fun, and I’ve got a whole lot more flying around in my head! Unfortunately they can sometimes take several hours. Actually, they often take several hours because I get lost in them, you wouldn’t believe how long I spend pushing colors back and forth in those final stages. I’m not complaining or anything, but it’s true, they consume time. And I got projects ta do! Projects that you’ll probably be interested in. Projects worth doing. Projects I’ve been neglecting because I just couldn’t seem to find the time to work on them. Hmmmm. Okay, number one project on that list for you: Junker. Guess what, it’s a comic based on the weekly whirly drawings. I’m in script and concept phase, have been for some time, but I am super excited about it. I’ve been building this world copter by copter this year, and I’ve been doing a lot of research on the golden age of flight, historical fliers, and the like. I’ve also got a kids book in the works, that one is commissioned so I can’t say to much about it, but I should be finishing the art in March or April and it could come out by the end of 2013. I’ve also some plans for One Android: Stories, can’t go into to much detail on this yet, but I’ve got some ideas, so some of you fans of those books need not fret, there is more happening.
So with all those projects, and my newly habitual weekly bursts of sharing, I am planning to keep posting every Wednesday. It’s good to have a schedule, helps keep momentum. So be sure to check back, I’ll be posting more concept art, status updates, sketches, doodles, comic strips, and probably some finished art as it comes along. Annnnd you never know, there just might another whirly or two headed your way.
Whale in the Machine- Ink pen (no pencil)
This Week: The Campolina
Like to cruise in style? Consider nabbing yourself a Campolina. These mid-sized two or four seated whirlies boast a number of features. Patten leather bench seats, wood-panel interior, AM/FM/CB four speaker stereo radio, wood paneled interior, cruise control, air-conditioning, carpeted floor mats.
So no Whirly this week. I’ve been a little pressed for time working on other projects at the moment. Instead I have here a couple of concept art pieces from Junker. The new comic that I’m working on that takes place in the world of whirlies. These two pieces are stage settings for the story. I don’t want to say too much more at this point, but you can guess that much of the story takes place on a farm.
These drawings with done with pen and ink, and marker. I don’t have a lot of experience with markers so this was a fun opportunity to practice with them.
This Week: The Dragon
Few copters are as beautiful to behold soaring through the sky as the Dragon. Equipped with one very powerful rotar in it’s hind section and a forward rotar for stability this copter is capable of high flying acrobatics. It’s flexible body design adds extra maneuverability which comes in useful when navigating urban areas and busy airways.
This Week: The Bumblecopter
This sturdy mid-sized copter bot is not an uncommon sight in the airways above metropolitan areas. The Bumblecopter is quite flexible and it’s autonomous programable behavior lends it to be used across a spectrum of functions. This whirlygig is often used for pleasure cruising (without the hassle of learning how to fly or hire a pilot) as an airborne patrol system, delivery bot, or even as every kiddies favorite pram. While not particularly fast, it is very stable and reliable, outfitted with four landing legs which allow it land on extremely small perches, and it can be equipped with a variety of top loaded utilities, including cabs, cargo holds, scientific equipment, and a whole lot more.
This week: The Pocket-Copter
While you couldn’t actually fit a pocket copter in your pocket it’s hard to imagine a whirly-bird smaller than this little guy. Pocket-copters are outfitted with a single prop, a movable viewing sensor, and a fin that doubles as landing gear. Typically these copters are sold as toys, but they have been known to be used for surveillance purposes. Though they can’t fly particularly high, they can fit in tight spaces, like through open windows and into your bedroom. They have the added benefit of being very cheap to build as they don’t often last very long, especially considering what happens to pocket-copters when they enter ones home uninvited.
And in case you were wondering I’m still having a sale at my Etsy shop. EVERYTHING is 25% off. Just enter the code: WHIRLY HOLIDAY when you check out.