Sunday, February 9, 2014

Skull-Fellows: A How-To (and some Materials)
A short but kind email with questions prompted me to post this long answer:
The process of a media combination that's been occupying me for some time.
It's pretty easy and a lot of fun!

First I drew a few thumbnails (they got me through the unending train of commercials
during the playoff game). 
Here are some details:

This one took on a fairly nice Frankenstein quality, but outgrew the square.
I had to pump up the contrast on these examples as they were all done on tracing vellum--hence the weird smeariness. (There's no particular reason that I used tracing vellum for these sketches, other than I had the pad in my pack, and wasn't at home when I drew them.)
Finally, the game ended and I went back to the studio.

Two bone-head ideas leaned forward out of the small crowd of sketches. 
For this one, I carefully and lightly drew it freehand onto a piece of toned paper.
(Sometimes I transfer a completed drawing onto the final paper, but not in this case--the final skull sort of morphed from all of the sketches as I drew it.) 

A small brush dipped in India ink was used to outline, and when it was dry the pencil was erased. 
Using a combination of  a crow quill nib and a Rapidograph pen, I layered up the values with India ink...

...then added highlights using waterproof white ink and some gesso too.
I often go back and forth at this stage, working in more dark values, and adding more white.

The colors are acrylic inks, mixed together and diluted, then washed in with a brush. These details are blown up quite a bit--the original is only 3" x 3".

I used an Alvin Pro-Matic pencil with H graphite
Winsor & Newton University Series brush #0 for the outline (a #3 was used for the color)
Rapidograph with a .25 nib
Hunts Crow quill #102 nib
The paper is Kona Classic Premium Toned paper (a favorite because it takes liquid well)
The India and colored inks are Daler Rowney FW Acrylic inks

The complete, tiny piece:

Here's the other little bone-head; this time on watercolor paper.
Now I need to make time to paint it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


  1. That's funny , Tom! Lately we spoke about unfinished work, and now, I like how you build up this image and how the image is changing through the whole process. Ink drawing, unfinished one ( without white ink) looks like an engraving from 18 century book, while the finished one looks more contemporary, just color make huge difference. I like both of them though they call up different feel .

    1. Thanks very much, Ludek--I'm glad you like this progression, and I'm flattered by the comparison to an 18th century engraving, because I love that stuff! I don't know which I like better, but the unfinished one is covered up now, so I may have to draw another :)


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