Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Well hello there...(and a long-winded self-reflection post...all from a quick sketch of a chubby penguin)

sketch at 100% size
Hope you're all having a wonderful week so far! Over the weekend, I was sketching late one night, and this little little guy came about. In the morning, I decided to take him into Photoshop by using my camera phone..something very new for me as I just stepped into the 21st century about a month ago. YAY for being able to receive emails on your phone! I took a snapshot of the sketch, then sent that sketch via my phone to my email account, downloaded the file, took the file into Photoshop and set it as a top layer set at "multiply". I then added another layer below that layer and then just started having fun coloring with brushes in Photoshop. I used my mouse as I don't have a wacom or stylus, so I just started eeking out the shapes and colors with the mouse and brushes. Adding more layers and setting them to "multiply" at different opacities and such allowed me to "play." I think this spontaneous project helped me to "see" the entire picture color-wise in ways that a traditional painting hasn't allowed me to. Not over-thinking, and just "going for it" while testing colors and layers and opacities helped me to just focus on lighting, mood, and overall feel of the piece. I plan to do more of these "quick sketch-to-color" illustrations along with my traditional work to keep building up the skills that are so hazy since my college years. As time flies, I know I've gotten so rusty at color, value, shading, anatomy, etc.

The upshod for me is that sketching and "playing" and just experimenting with techniques is one way to keep fresh and excited about your work. As the days and years pass by, it's neat to see which skills you rely upon to guide you as you create and to see where those skills need some polishing. In some ways it reinforces your confidence in your inate "style" and I think that is something that helps you stay inherently you. Our ability to view others' work and be influenced via the internet and social media on a daily (some even hourly) basis, is sometimes a blessing and a curse. As an artist who had never happily shown her work to others until just about 3 years ago, I can attest that keeping your vision and confidence about your work is something that needs constant nurturing. It's so easy to get lost in a world of so much talent and inspiration. Keep on creating and being you, and that voice will ultimately be heard. I truly believe this.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


  1. I love the resulting colour image from your experiment with media. And what a great little character! Well done.

  2. Why am I so happy reading this? I think it is because I am reading about your discovery and journey. I always love reading about "Aha!" moments of people I care about. Hehehe! The outcome is particularly endearing. The snow is so fluffy, I want to eat a marshmallow right now but I only have tootsie roll pops and life saver candies.

    Shirley, your illustrations sometimes make me cry because they trigger nostalgic feelings and memories. I don't know why I see myself running, a little girl, and my sisters, brothers and parents are nearby, laughing, smiling. So I cry because it is a happy scene. That is good isn't it? Even though I am crying because you make me remember the good things in my life.

    Thank you very much.

    As for 21st century, I am still way back in the 1800s when people were stuck with oils and pen and ink. My sisters want me to draw and color in Photoshop and Illustrator and I refuse because I am already full of gadgets. My professional work is filled with rules and conditions that I, as a stubborn anti-modernist, am forced to automate and computerize!!! Besides, it will make me sit down more.

    Thank you my dearest friend. Your illustrations remind me of my happy childhood. I feel blessed. Thank you!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing your process! I've been inking my drawings by hand before scanning them in but am also thinking if just using photos of my sketches to ink in Photoshop before moving to adding color. Oh technology: both liberating and intimidating at the same time ;)

  4. Aw!!! So adorable and huggable! Am pretty much the same with the scan and phootshop method...

  5. This was a fun read to learn a little about your discovery and play with photoshop. I completely agree about the internet, Shirley. It provides so much inspiration, and at the same time can just leave you feeling hopeless. What I usually tell myself when I have those moments is that even though I may not be as good as I want to be, I remind myself that even the true masters were also always chasing the same ideal. The only art race that exists is that in our minds, and the only one that really matters is the one in which we run against our former selves. And then I also remind myself of the other alternative - in which I just give up and not even try! But that would be like suffocating myself so then the only recourse becomes just picking up the proverbial pencil and continuing on my journey. Because that is what we were born to do :)

  6. Looks great, Shirley. I've always equated working in Photoshop to getting my very first etch-a-sketch as a kid on Christmas morning. I can't wait to scan my drawings and start working on them. Photoshop is SO forgiving and fun.

    You did that with just a mouse? Shirley, you are so good that whatever medium you choose to work in it will sing.
    I drew with a wacom pad for a long time before getting my first Cintiq. Once you draw with the Cintiq there is no going back. It's amazing.

  7. I'm surprised that you only started happily showing your work to others 3 yrs. ago. You have such a universally delightful style. The computer is just one more paintbrush in your set of tools. I completely agree with you that the internet gives us so much to be inspired by and at the same time can be intimidating. Keep playing and keep painting :)

  8. Awe, Big Penguin Love!

    **happy smiles**

  9. Eeeeeee, so adorable! I find it hard to believe you have reservations about showing your work! Right now I am looking at your red London double decker bus postcard and it is one of my very favorite illustrations from my two years (so far) of visiting art blogs! But I have also gotten great compliments on things where I can always see how it could have been better, so I know just what you mean.

    I'm still avoiding digital art (aside from the occasional background), but it's great to hear about artists trying new things, or returning to old things, or generally getting a renewed outlook. Recently I did an art card swap where we mimicked famous artists, and that was hard! But very rewarding. We just have to keep at it, and keep it interesting. :)

  10. So glad to hear that you had fun playing with technology. I do love my technology but there is nothing like watercolor on paper and yours are always so beautifully done. (((HUGS)))

  11. gque c'est joli !! vraiment mignon.

  12. Awww! So cute! I am actually more behind the times than you are! No emailing with my phone! And I play in Photoshop the same way - with the brush tools!! You've gotten great results here!

  13. Hi Shirley! Great post...I can relate to a lot of your observations. I love the original sketch and the adorable final version as well. Happy summer!

  14. Oh Shirley, cheers to trying out new things, he is absolutely adorable!!
    I love your new banner too. And the little animated apple gif in your sidebar - such a cutie, did you make him? I'd love to learn how to make little gifs, was it tricky? Did you make him in Photoshop?
    Hugs, Alisa

  15. Great outcome for you penguin! So sweet! Yes playing around with different tools only helps you grow in seeing what tools you can master. I am the same way with showing people my stuff. It is hard to just post something. I feel like I am internally yelling at myself to "just do it!" but I am still trying to be social. The extreme introvert in me is screaming now! hee hee. Your work always makes me smile! Thanks for sharing it :)


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