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Coloring Skin

February 9, 2018

I cracked open my toned sketchbook today. I’m frugal with using it because I don’t want to draw things that work just fine on white paper. I like to make the most of drawing on brown paper.

Coloring the boy on the left was supposed to be a low-key warm up while my sister recorded a voice over for our Youtube video. There were a few things I wasn’t happy with and wanted to improve upon. Mainly I wanted to integrate the shadows with the main skin color.  The transition between the midtown and the core shadow is very strong, which is fine, but I could have shown a little restraint. I also wanted to avoid the trap of not showing enough shadows. Even though I’m coloring very light skin, they still need to have anatomical form.

The drawings of the girls show more build up between the the midtown and shadow. Also I went little easier on the ultramarine in the shadows for the lower half of the face. It’s realistic to have areas of blue shadow but it I should build up slower. I added the warms of their cheeks and cools under their eyes and in the shadows then values. In all medium I’ve been trying out different order and that always turns out the best. Color temperature isn’t an after thought and can be used to show form, especially in areas with low contrast. The first two were inked and then colored, the last girl was colored first. I’m going to use that light of a hand when I ink more often because it looks less cartoony and supports the shadows better. My new rule of thumb is to ink before I think I’m done. I’m going to do more drawings trying these out.



November 30, 2017

The painting is named after the idea of chasing fireflies on a summer night. In this case these are tiny drones instead. The character follows one and is led into an old garden with two more it’s counterparts. She doesn’t know who directs them and what their intentions is. I imagined this to be the start of an adventure.  “Fireflies” is an acrylic wash and ink. You can watch me ink the background foliage in this video.


“Fireflies,” Ink and Acrylic Wash, 2017

Master Copies

November 9, 2017
Master Copies

Bouguereau Studies

A couple of times of week I draw something academic to keep my skills sharp. As a refresher I made a couple of Bougeureau master copies. Each one was 30 minutes long. I’ve also been working my way through “Constructive Anatomy” by George Bridgeman. I’ve been staying on heads and faces for the last month.

Bridgeman 1

Studies from “Constructive Anatomy”

I’ve been drawing faces for years but every time I sit down to study I discover something new. It’s the subtle forms in faces that add more 3 dimensional form and take the drawing up another level. I like to study from artists whose work has qualities I admire. While I’m study facial construction from the Bridgeman’s book, I study classical artists for context. Drawing face planes is useful but I don’t want to lose the subtlety of a real human portrait. During these study sessions, I also draw from photos, life, and memory just to make sure I’m learning it.

Bridgeman 2

Drawings based off the Bridgeman method

Props and Backgrounds

November 2, 2017

I started out drawing characters with minimal or no background. When I was younger, I thought backgrounds where boring and tedious. I wanted to get to the fun part, drawing people. However in the past few years I’ve come to appreciate the narrative potential of backgrounds. The environment communicates so much about a painting. It adds a lot to give characters a thought out world to live in.

Environments are almost characters themselves. Using shapes, details, designs to reinforce the story. Not everything fits on a character so the backgrounds adds more room for exposition. Background props function as accessories, just like a character’s clothes and body language. Lately, I’ve been drawing studies a few times a week. Usually I draw objects relating to the projects for the day. Sometimes pictures of objects, sometimes things I have laying around the house. It helps add to my visual library and puts me in right frame of mind for work.  Making drawings of small objects sounds boring, but I can brush up on fundamentals in a way that’s relevant to finished work. In the end it also helps me to create less generic backgrounds.

background 2

Inktober 2017 Followup

October 26, 2017


Inktober 2017

Ink drawings by Taisa Willoughby

A few weeks ago I drummed up a lot of excitement for Inktober. Well, October is mostly done and I’ve been updating at Jaunty Cat Art on Instagram.

I’ve been loosely following the official prompt to create a narrative. Every drawing feels like making a panel of a comic. I sometimes layout all my Inktober drawings next to each other and it looks like a storyboard. A fully complete story can be made from them all and I make sure there is some thread of continuity between them. For example in the first two drawings, the sky is visible but I make sure all other environments are underground. Incidentally, October splits into almost perfect thirds so I’m working out a three act structure. Perfect for creating a story most people would recognize; that’s how most media tells stories. This year I am working on my ability to pay attention to small narrative details.


Avoiding Same-Face Syndrome

September 28, 2017

different faces

“Same Face Syndrome” is when an artists draws characters with similar facial features. Sometimes characters have the exact same face so the different subjects look like one person with different hair and clothing. Every artist has a default set of features based on what they find appealing and how they learned to draw faces. As a warm up I drew variations so I wouldn’t use the same features as a crutch. It’s quick an easy to draw generic thumbnail sketches but when I design various characters I want them to look like different people.

Inktober 2017 Hype

September 21, 2017

Blond Father and Daughter Ink Drawing

September is coming to a close, which that means Inktober is right around the corner. Inktober is an art event created by illustrator Jake Parker. It started as a challenge to improve and build good habits but since then, artists all over the world pick up the pen and show our ink work. I’ve participated the last two years and can’t wait to make it three. Examples in the tag to the left.

I’ve drawn in pen since I was a teenager but to push myself to use ink regularly is a different ballgame. Nothing forces you to constantly reevaluate your workflow and artwork like rapidfire creating. Every year I get better results and learn something new. My newest painting “Family Dinner” is an improved version of an Inktober 2016 drawing. And that’s just the beginning, you canNOT draw that often without hemorrhaging ideas. The ideas generated from Inktober will keep me busy for years.

It’s also fun to see what other artists come up with. It sounds like the art would be limited due to being ink only, but the variation of Inktober entries is mindblowing. It’s hilarious how millions of people can take one medium and one prompt and come up with countless different results. And because the event encourages artists to post our work, people are more prompt to update their pages so it’s a wonderful way to be exposed to new artists.

So if you want to participate, all you have to do is draw something in ink, post it somewhere, and include #inktober and #inktober2017. I know I will. My entries will be on the Jauntycat Graphics Instagram page and on this blog.

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