Making an Arty Sketch Book – ART VLOG

I recently used up all the pages of my first hand bound sketch book, and decided to make a new one.

I’ve been working on this project for a while now (due to crazy life stuff) and finally finished it off this week. The book itself has a similar design to the first, (mainly because I wanted to use the suade fabric and not waste it). However, I also wanted to push my creativity. Instead of drawing the cover design, like I did with the previous one, I wanted to experiment by sculpting it.

CLICK to view.

I recorded some of the processes and made an Art Vlog video. Please have a look. Some of the videos were recorded live via live streaming, some with my iPhone. I couldn’t record everything due to needing to concentrate on the task at hand, but hopefully the write up below explains anything I missed out from the video.

Paper:

I dyed some heavy paper stock (A4 sized, 200gsm) in a mixure of tea, coffee and bicarb soda. Then I dried each page in the oven. I really like this decorative touch. The pages get dark coffee stains and burn lines from the oven racks making each of them look unique and different. I really love this. Pure white paper sometimes intimidates me. When the paper is too clean and precious, it can stop you from experimenting, but when the paper is already marked and soiled, it takes the pressure off of being perfect and it allows you to experiment and be more relaxed when sketching. At least, that’s how I feel.

Binding:

The book binding process is still a bit challenging for me. I’m not at the stage where I can bind by heart and still need to use tutorials for reference. Book binding is a very specialised craft that takes a lot of practice to master. I don’t feel bad about not being perfect. Compared to my previous books, I think this one came out more refined. In comparison to my previous attempts, I’ve definitly improved.

Cover:

The materials for the cover were left overs from my first book, (the cardstock and suade fabric). Instead of wasting the resources, I decided to use the same materials, and adapt my design to suit them. I used an A4 piece of paper as a template and added a few milimeters around it. For the spine I measured the width of the text block, and glued everything together. During all stages of the process, I kept putting the paper back into my home made book press to squish the paper down. I think one of the major time eaters of this project was waiting for things to dry and sit in the paper press.

Decorative Design:

Last year I went to the aquarium and was inspired by a clown fish I saw, especially since the reef was lit up with a black light and made everything underwater look neon. I first drew up a sketch of how I wanted the cover to look and used it as the base. When I was ready to sculpt, I put a piece of baking paper on top of the sketch to protect it. I used Super Sculpty to follow the design and shape of the anemone, clown fish and shells. I think Super Sculpty is the best clay to use for detailed sculpting. Even thought it’s more expensive than its competetors, I think the price is worth it. When making the 3D rock shapes, I used aluminium foil to make the basic shape, then I added clay on top. This technique allows you to make your sculptures lighter and not use too much clay. I also used an assortment of clay shaping tools that I bought from a dollar shop. It’s possible to shape clay with your hands alone, but it becomes more difficult to refine the details. Unlike the clay, I don’t think brand name matters as much when it comes to the tools.

I probably spent about 4 hours sculpting. Depending on the layers, you may have to bake the clay several times before you’re happy with the result. Then I used a black acrylic paint mixed with some quick drying medium to paint all the layers. Once that was dried, I used acrylic paints to paint the colours. I added some metalic gold dry bushing to make it match the neon colours from the aquarium and then used some glittery nail polish on the tips of the anemone and shells to give them some more detail.

Once all the decorations were done I used some strong two parts resin glue. Because of the difference in materials, it was important to choose a very strong clue to make sure the parts stuck to the suade cover well.

Reflection:

I used some thin decorative craft paper for the inside of the book cover. However, the paper dried a bit wrinkly, which was due to the book changing position when it opens and closes. Next time, I may have to pay better attention to how the paper dries to avoid this issue.

The cover decorations look amazing. I feel a bit nervous putting it in my backpack like my previous notebooks incase it gets damaged, so it’s just been in my room for now. As I start using this sketch book more often, I’ll have a chance to see how well the decorative pieces can restist constant wear.

What I do know from my first book is that it feels so special to have my own hand made sketch books. I feel so proud and inspired when I use them, which is so different to using store bought books. I like to use my sketch books as personal diaries so the book themselves end up contributing to my history as well.

Making Mixed Media Decorative Plates – Art Process

This project was experimental and took many months to complete. This is a journal explaining my creative process experimenting to find the best solution.

THE IDEA:

One day I saw some plates in my grandparent’s antique shop by the 20th century Danish artist Bjorn Wiinblad, who specialised in whimsical fairy tale styled ceramics and was captivated by them. The plates had such a unique style and had their own stories within them. I felt inspired and wanted to make something like that in my own way.

At first, I considered getting unfired pre-glazed plates and etching my designs into them, but I didn’t know where to source them. I took ceramic classes in university when I did my undergrad where I had access to the kiln, specialty equipment, supplies and experts. But outside of that world, it’s very dificult to do ceramics especially since it’s not my speciality.

This was at the start of 2020 and the world had just gone into lockdown because of COVID-19. Therefore, going to an external ceramics studio was not an option anymore. I changed my approach. Instead of creating something that was pure ceramics, I thought, ‘why don’t I try something experimental using other techniques?’

DESIGNING:

WATCH to see how the drawing was made…
WATCH to see how the drawing was made…

Since I specialise in digital art and drawing, I first experimented with creating narative illustrations in the shape of plates. Because I was using Photoshop to draw, I had the flexibility to sample different colours and effects to achieve my desired outcome.

I made five plate designs in total. For the theme, I took inspiration from my novel “The Wish Bringer” and characters from my upcoming books.

WATCH to see how the drawing was made…

The first three plates, Lapis and the Dream Girl; The Gem Forger; The Dream Girl, were heavly stylised from the references. The colour choices were very minimal and the skin was left white to match the colour of unpainted porcelain. I drew the facial features with black armond shaped eyes, bigger noses and tiny mouths.

Once I got used to this new stylistic approach, I tried new techniques for the other two designs. The Time Jumper‘s design was based on a character who could travel in time. I wanted the image to have more energy and movement than the previous designs. For this work I was ‘thinking like an animator’ and designed the background to look like it was distorted from motion.

The final plate design, Boy and the Beast, has a different style again. Before lockdowns, I went to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and saw a painting that was in Pointillism style. (Applying small strokes of colour that blend together and look cohesive from a distance.) It looked like such an interesting technique that I wanted to try it myself. The story in this plate is about a boy who is able to tame beasts and monsters, so I used the pointillism technique to give the Beast’s fur a mystical texture that would set it appart from other types of animals.

The illustrations looked fine on their own, but I still wanted to make them into real 3D plates, but first, I had to plan and experiment a lot to accommodate my access to materials and working spaces.

PROCESS:

CLICK on the video to see the full documented process of how I made the mixed media plates
  • I bought some ready-made dinner plates and measured the diameter.
  • Then, I printed the coloured illustrations acording to the dimentions on a sticker adhesive paper.
  • After cleaning the plates properly, I removed some of the backing paper in the center and aligned the design.
  • Starting from the centre, I stuck the design down.
  • Because of the curved shapre of the plates, I had to make cuts around the paper so the design would sit flat.
  • Once the design was in place, I sprayed it with a setting spray to preserve the design.

  • Using tweezers and glue, I carefully placed down sequins to add dimention and dusted glitter to enhance areas of the design.
  • After that, I went around the plate rims with gold paint.
  • Once the details were finished, I mixed up liquid resin with different shades of glitter and sealed off the plates.
  • Because of the curved shape of the plates, the resign would always pool at the bottom, therefore I kept having to work in multiple thin layers and turn the plates often so the sides would be coated well.
  • Each resin coat had different types of glitter and they built up shimmering layers that added holographic effects to each work.

Problems I faced included: I was working in winter, so the resin wouldn’t cure properly. (I had to calculate using extra hardner to compensate.) I also live in a small appartment, meaning that it was toxic working with the chemicals without proper ventilation. I made sure to use gloves, an apron and facemask when working and would often put the plates in my shower with the ceiling fan on or would put them on the balcony when I slept so I wouldn’t breath the fumes, (despite the weather being too cold.) The process took a lot longer because of these challenges and would have been better in a more controled work environment.

Once the fronts were finished, I painted the back of the plates black and sealed them in resin as well, this was to provide a strong contrast so the fronts could stand out without distraction. In order to present them, I got some deep, square sized picture frames in white and glued the plates to them. The white colour unifies the series and provides a clean backdrop so the bright colours and textures of the plates can really stand out well.

The frames allow the plates to be displayed in a elegant way like 3D paintings that can be displayed on shelves or hung on walls. The plates are so shiny and holographic from the different layers of resin and glitter that when you see them in real life, you have to move your head around and see them from different angles to appreciate the textures. You many wonder, why I painted the backs if you cant see them, but because the plates are 3D, when you look at them from the side, you can see the back. Even it’s a tiny bit, the detail helps.

In the end, I’m happy with the outcome. There are areas where I could improve. However, in relation to the challenges and obsticles I faced, I think the results were good. I believe that the nature of experimentation is trying new things without knowing the exact results, so having a few errors is part of the charm. I think what’s more important, is being inspired to create and turning that inspiration into fuel to make something new. One day, I could try making cermaic plates, though it doesn’t really matter. I just go where ever the inspiration flows~

3 Ways to Use Models as Reference Animation & Comics

Drawing backgrounds and different angles are often challenges for artist, which include animators, storyboarders, comic artists and mangaka to name a few. I’ve come up with 3 easy ways to help and take your art to the next level. Using Dolls and Toys, Making Paper background Models, and Using Digital 3d software and games

This article is accompanied by a video tutorial:

Using Dolls and Toys

When wanting to draw characters from different angles, it’s useful to use posable dolls as reference. In the example below, I wanted to draw a cut where a knight was charging towards another knight on his horse. I also wanted the ‘camera’ to pan around the character as he ran to make the shot more dynamic. Drawing the charging scene itself is a challenge, because horses are difficult to draw for most people. However, drawing a camera pan really adds another layer of complexity to the design.

I got a posable Harry Potter doll and sat him upon a horse statue with a pencil in his hand, placed them on top of a Lazy Suzan turn table and took videos from different angles and positions. I then used a dragon shaped piggy bank over to the side as scale reference.

This is solution is extremely easy and cheap to re-create. I didn’t need reference for details, so it didn’t matter to me what kind of toy I used as long as I could move the limbs to the position I liked. Artists are known for using the wooden mannequins as pose reference. However, some toys have a lot more articulation and have the added benefits of coming with face, hair and clothes, which gives you more points of reference.

After that, I can import the footage to my computer and watch it in slow motion to study the poses. Depending on your artistic style, you can copy the poses in your own style, or draw directly over the videos and rotoscope it.

Making Paper background Models

When I was a little kid, I remember making paper doll houses with my cousin Stephie. The process was extremely easy, all you had to do was fold paper to make boxes and trays. This became the inspiration for the next process.

Drawing backgrounds to scale is a real skill. I’ve read plenty of books and know the formular of how to draw perspective, but let’s face it, drawing accurate perspective is BORING. Haha, (soz background artists :p). Here is another very easy way to create reference that you can use multiple times for backgrounds and settings.

In this example, I wanted to draw the inside cloister of a cathedral. The architecture is very repetitive in that there are arches, symmetrical windows and columns. While it is possible to copy photos and have a still background image, what if you want to walk down the halls or see the corridors from different perspectives? The answer is having a 3D model where you can go around it from all angles!

To do this, I went into photoshop and made an A4 canvas (the size of my printer paper), and on the long plane, I drew the basic shapes of the corridor. I drew an arch with symmetrical windows and columns and copy and pasted them next to each other. Using the ruler tool, I made rectangle and square shapes as guides. That way I could print out the shapes, cut along the dotted line and glue the parts together. I made several of these rectangular cuboids and placed them in the position I wanted. I placed the models on top of my cutting mat, which had a grid on it. Using the grid can be useful too because it shows the lines moving towards the Vanishing Point, which can be an extra point of reference. After that I used a Go-Pro type camera with a warped fish-eye lens to go down the corridors. (You can just as easily use your phone or webcam to do the same thing.)

In the same method above, you can export the footage to your computer and use the shots for reference by copying the footage or rotoscoping it.

BONUS TIP: If you want to draw a scene in different times of the day, or with special lighting, you can position desk lamps around your models and study the way light and shadow hits them.

Using Digital 3d software and games

This method is a bit more difficult, because it depends on having extra skills and computer software. If you know how to do it, you can create 3D models on a digital animation software and use that as reference. I personally, I can’t use 3D software, because I get motion sickness. Instead, I use the Sims 4 to help create scenarios. In the Sims you can create houses and buildings and have your Sim character perform actions like dancing or eating. You can either take screenshots or using a screen capture software, record what’s happening. This can be useful for everyday life scenarios. However, if you want something more complex, like a plane taking off, you wouldn’t be able to do that seeing as there are restrictions within the game. Though, if you are making a fantasy type story, you could always use a fantasy style 3D game as reference too.

WARNING: I’ve noticed that a lot of Webtoon/ webcomic artists have been using Google Sketch Up in their comics. However, instead of using it as reference, they have been tracing over the shape in such a precise way that the backgrounds end up looking very boring. I would suggest that you use these methods as guidelines, but to

Background Art For A VTUBER – Speed Draw!

I’ve been using Adobe Character Animator CC to create a virtual vtuber avatar of myself to record myself speaking for some of my most recent videos. I think it’s great and really fun to use. For me, I get really nervous recording myself directly in front of a camera, (and it’s even worse having to edit the footage). Therefore, I think it’s amazing to have the opportunity to use my art to create a character of myself, which eliminates some of the stress, and lets me focus on the more important stuff – sharing my art making process and techniques with you guys. This speed drawing video is about how I designed the background art, based off my real desk. I hope you enjoy it!

Please CLICK on the video below to see the drawing process on how I created this background, which includes spoken commentary.

ART & VIDEO:
Website: http://www.jess-mcl.com
Youtube: @Rocket Child
https://www.youtube.com/c/RocketChild
Instagram: @rocket1111child
https://www.instagram.com/rocket1111child/
Facebook: @rocket1111child
https://www.facebook.com/rocket1111child/

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MUSIC:
“March 3 Song” – Jessica McLeod-Yu

Art Law Basics – Part 2

Art Law Basics -part 2

Originally Posted 23/04/2013

 Art and the Law? Part 1 

Starbucks Logo

Design art is different to copyright because it patents the shape, pattern and ornamentation
of the design, enabling the designer/ company to monopolize that particular design for 10 years.

Trade marks or   patents names and logos.  It is important to register your business name or domain main before someone else takes it and says you stole their name.

When enabling people to use or hand over patenting  rights you need a contract. Contracts can be oral, in writing, partly written partly orally or implied by people’s conducts or actions, but the best way is a written contract.

Contracts are like promises, which are legally binding and hold consequences if broken.  They are used to flush out issues and let each party know what is happening, without misunderstandings.

Licensing (giving permission Assignment rights (ownership)
Written contract yes yes
Verbal contract yes no
Retain ownership yes no
Time limit yes no
Royalties payed yes no
Geographic area yes yes
Moral rights yes yes

moral rights chart

Business structure

This was the area that I got a bit lost in, so I hope I can explain it ok (@.@)

You can either structure yourself as an unincorporated or incorporated business, which means is your business run by you as an individual or is the business an entity in itself.  Some examples of an unincorporated business (who works for profit) are sole traders, partnerships or joint venture and for incorporated it’s proprietary Ltd company and co-operative.

A person who is a hobbyist can earn income and doesn’t have to pay taxes, but at the same time they can’t deduct expenses from tax.  If they happen to make over a certain amount then they have to become a professional.

 The next point that was addressed was being an employee in a company compared to a contractor from another company/ or free lancer.  If you are an employee you have to work a certain amount of maximum hours, you have payed leave, workers compensation, tax and superannuation.  Also anything you create at work is copyrighted by the company you work in compared to as an individual.

Finally, the last point was on using your art for prizes and competitions.

  • They have their own terms and conditions
  • Are you eligible for it?
  • Is there an entrance fee?
  • What happens if you don’t win? (Do you keep your copyright?)
  • Do you license or assign your copyright
  • Non-exclusive licence
  • Moral rights
  • The use of your name and personal information (Do they give you credit for the final product?)
  • Warranties
  • Attendance at events (at your own expense)

 

Here’s an example of how artists can be tricked into signing off the ownership of their copyright. Presented by Catherine Moffat a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Ourimbah campus:

Say for example, some of your friends are in a band and want you to design their logo, in return they will pay you a few dollars or buy you a few drinks, or something like that and because you’re friends, you say ok.  All is going well until your friends make it big and start touring, meaning that the original logo that you designed is now being printed on merchandise such as CD covers, t-shirts, hats etc…  After seeing this, you then ask your friends if you could get some royalties, but they then tell you that they have signed their rights off to their recording company.  The recording company then says that you have no rights to the image anymore because you sold it off for those few beers in the beginning.

The moral of the story is when agreeing to design something for your friends (or clients), make a licencing contract in writing, which states that you still own the copyright, but you give them permission to use your image.  If one day they get famous or use your image for profit, they would then have to pay you back royalties.  

“Personal Branding; The art of good business”

“Personal Branding; The art of good business” – Directed Study Reflection.

As some of you may know from one of my previous blog posts, I created this website for one of my university courses (Directed Study).  I didn’t set myself a specific outcome, but rather treated this project as an experiment to try bunch of new things and see the results.

My aim included:

  • Defining myself as an artist by defining my own brand
  • To create a professional online portfolio
  • To create social media accounts and establish a stronger web presence
  • Collaborate with other artists
  • Learn employment skills to use in the work force.

 

Looking back, I have successfully achieved all these goals.

One of the obvious outcomes is the creation of this website. I used a visual style template to set everything out and an ordered structure.  Not only that, but the WordPress back room features make maintaining the website easy to use and manage, and the support forum was very helpful whenever I had questions.  I even learned about analysing web traffic and statistics to know which posts were popular, and who my readers are.

What I would change in the future is the web layout.  At first I though that the highly visual and graphic template was a good choice, however I think it’s too confusing.  There are too many elements going on that a first time visitor might not realise what my website is for (to be a portfolio).  So next time I would make the home page simple and to the point was a visible menu bar.

I also learnt that all social media websites function differently.  Some are easy to use, while others are complicated.  Also, each social community has it’s own features and systems which affect the activity and interaction of my accounts.  While I know that all the sites are different, i’m still trying to figure out what makes them different, and how I can use these systems to my advantage.


I’ll combine these next two points together since they’re so similar.  Collaborating with other artists and defining my own brand.  A few month ago my friend Manon and I collaborated and did a performance artwork together called Kamikaze Sisters, which I wrote about in a previous post.  This work was about showing our creative styles in both our daily lives and through our artistic practices.

I am pretty versatile and work in a variety of creative mediums ( Drawing, modellingphotos and installations, writing, animations and more), so during this time, i’ve been working on unifying all their styles into a singular brand.  This is also a continuous process since i’m still developing and growing, however this experience has taught me to reflect on what I consider to be my style and which mediums I like using the best.

In some ways I feel as though my art is very scattered and confused like my website layout, yet in others I can see unifying themes.  Because I’ve done so much already, I don’t think the solution is doing something new again, but rather refining what I have.  Picking and choosing which aspects of my art that I like, and discarding what I don’t need.  This is another project that will take some time, but it’s good to keep in mind.

Over all I’m satisfied with all the work i’ve done so far with this project.  Because of it, I’ve been able to go further than I have before by learning more about myself and my goals for the future.

Don’t worry though, just because this class is over, doesn’t mean my blog is.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future updates.

-Jess

Touring an Animation Studio!

Two weeks ago I was privileged to visit the Sticky Pictures animation studio in Sydney for a tour.

Sticky Pictures is an Australian animation company who specialises in children’s programs such as: Pearlie, The Dukes of Bröxstônia and Pirate Express, which is currently in development.

As some of you know, one of my passions is art and animation, however sometimes it can get disheartening sitting in my room all by myself being overwhelmed by such huge tasks, and not knowing whether I’m doing the right thing or not.

Therefor it was great being able to see how the professionals work within the animation industry.

At Sticky I met a lot of the team including Michael; one of the script writers who personally guided me around explaining their processes, Stu; one of the producers and script writers and Suren; one of the animators who sat down with me to critique my portfolio, as well as giving constructive advice on how I could get better.

At the time that I visited they were working on a new series called Pirate Express, which is cute cartoon about pirates mixed with Greek mythological influences.

The studio was set up with a bunch of computer stations with pirate reference materials around the room in timelines, planners and concept art hung up on the walls.

When I was there the animators were creating character and prop sheets for Pirate Express using Photoshop and Flash. These sheets are then used as reference (for the animators in Canada , whom they were working with this time).  These sheets are then used so that the characters and props are consistent in colour and size, when the actual animating takes place.  Michael then explained that because they are a small company, Sticky collaborates with other companies overseas in the UK and Canada, and delegates the work depending on the type of project they’re working on.

Over all I can say, it was a pretty cool adventure, and I’ll continue to work hard at improving my own art!