Sunday, 1 November 2020

Inktober 2020

So at the end of September I finally made the leap into DIGITAL DRAWING! I've been feeling for some time like my current all-by-hand approach might be inefficient and limiting, but having never got on with screenless tablets, my only options seemed like an expensive wacom or similar, or an ipad. I opted for the latter as I know many people vouch for them as a solid drawing platform, and because it's multipurpose (I'm having to do a lot more reading of PDFs and websites with my MA, and it's nice to have an easier way of lying in bed to do that)

Anyway, I love the iPad, and the apple pencil I got to go with it, and I got the whole lot for just under £350 second-hand from CEX. A bit of an indulgance, but I have had a huge amount of use out of them already, so it's really feeling very worthwhile.

Anyway, the software that most people seemed to recommend for drawing was Procreate, so I decided to commit to doing a month of inktober prompts to get some concerted practice in. 

I hadn't seen any on social media that particularly inspired me, so I did a quick google for 'Inktober prompts', and eventually settled on this list — I'm not normally into 'worlds'/imaginery landscapes, but I'd been playing so much zelda recently that I felt inspired (though quickly regretted it)

I'm going to share ALL my drawings here — the medicore, the bad and the ugly (there are no good, lol), because I figure it might be kind of interesting to some people, maybe. 

So, firstly: 

Overgrown ruins

My first attempt, and it's.... bad?! Who knew this was going to be so hard? (Though my apple pencil hadn't arrived yet, so I did this all with my finger, which maybe explains some of that) Even though I suspect the prompts focus on a more mystical, rural world, I ended up coming to most of these from a decidedly realist viewpoint, because that's what I am interested in, and what I have the most experience of/visual reference for. So here's some slightly grimy orange brick tumbledown buildings with ubiquitous Buddleia and some very silly graffiti. About a million layers, all very sloppy and ugly, bad colour selections, oh dear.

Nature Untouched

A little waterfall? Probably somewhere near Hebden Bridge? I don't know. This is ugly as hell, mainly because I got really carried away when I discovered all the fancy texture brushes. It took me a few days to realise that they're just not really very... me?!

Ancient Tree

I really love treehouses, so I tried to draw a treehouse with no visual reference (I did google 'ancient tree' though it really doesn't look like a tree at all). More texture overkill. Desperate attempts at shadows which fail. Blegh.

Deep in the woods

More woods?!!? Come on you're killing me here. This is BORING. I decided to take a different approach for this one, with more of a focus on clean lines and lighting. It's still not good, but it's... different?! (Also I discovered how to draw straight lines, YAY)

Cave entrance

Inspired by the previous days use of cleaner lines, I went hard on the minimalism, and this might actually be one of my favourites of the whole month? Mostly because I love the seaside, but also because I love the way the shadows fall. Fianlly, something I don't hate!

Rocky ruins

Given the previous day's success with the sea, I decided to revisit that in as similar a style as I could muster. It's not as good, but it's something, and I kind of like it. I decided that my 'world' has only orange bricks. Gotta try and build in SOME themes here I guess?

Puzzled Platforms

What even is this prompt? Platfoms?! The only thing which sprung to mind for that was train platorms, so here's a minimal but overgrown abandoned train station.

Hall of Deities

 Ooh, we're INDOORS for the first time, that's exciting. Got massively over carried away in a google image reference search for 'flying buttresses'. Enjoyed mixing clean lines with the softer pencil/charcol brushes for sketching here. It's not perfect but it's definitely kind of cool and I don't hate it. Excellent!

Ancient Altar Room

Ugh, bit similar to the previous day? Come on prompt writer. I avoided it yesterday but I decided to try and create a God/Deity for this world, mostly based on my cute little York Ghost model from Dav and Justin. I don't love this, but I did it during a long zoom meeting, so at least I was multi tasking, eh :)

Windmills and grasslands

This one is pretty whatever, but my world is definitely powered by renewables. 

Abnormal Formations

I've always wanted to visit one of those beautiful beaches with a stone archway. Enjoyed playing with the pencil brush in this one. Still prone to getting a bit texture happy though (it's just all very new as someone who mostly just does line-work). Going back to this I definitely would add some shadows on the beach too, and then I think it might actually be quite good.

Path along the water

Channeling my longing with a seaside shore defence/promenade that could be any one of many beaches that I have loved. I miss the ocean. Enjoyed minimalism and shadows here.

Underwater temple

Not really that interested in this prompt, so went hard on CORAL (there is a temple there too though). Enjoyed trying to convey depth and light shining through water, even though I've got a long way to go with both those things.

Buried Statues


My world's 'God' making an Easter Island Head style appearance on a beach. Trying to experiment with different times of day/colours, but guys, did you know, this stuff is real hard?!

Market Place

Fun fact, this is based on Halifax's Peace Hall! Experimenting more with the pencil tool, which I increasingly enjoy, and wibbly lines.

Merchant's Store

Totally uninpsired by this prompt, and the drawing is shit as a result. Would have probably liked to attempt a murky interior with hundreds of exciting items hanging and standing on display, but didn't have the time or a reference shot, so you can have this, and it's bad.

Town Square

An evening square. I'd like to go on holiday here I think. Heavily based on a reference photo of possibly Provence?

Inn in the middle of nowhere

This is one of the worst of the whole month, but just trying something new. Wasn't super excited by the prompt so loosely tried to recreate somewhere in my imagination, and failed miserably. It's really nice here though, I promise!

Shanty Town

This is bad, but it took me ages and I didn't realise it was bad until the very end. Sometimes it be like that!

By the Docks

This is based on somewhere in Cornwall. A different style, much too sloppy but I like it in some ways (the colour of the sea, the little boats, the shadowing)

By the beach

Kinda nice. Pencil tool in WHITE! This is based on beaches from my childhood home of Anglesey in North Wales. I mostly don't like it there very much, but the beaches are probably the best part.

Exotic Flora

A diferent style again, but quite a different kind of prompt. Thinking about flowers I saw in LA (which is a place I DO like)


At this point mostly thinking 'why did I choose these prompts?! They all suck!' (for me anyway, at least). I don't want to draw a cemetary. So here's a very close up on an old gravestone covered in lovely lichens!

Deserted Drylands

It's night time in the desert! This is real sloppy if you look close up, but from a distance I'm really pleased with it. Some cool stylised sand dunes with a watercolour night sky.

Summoning Altar

My 'God' makes another appearance! This is probably the closest of anything I've done this month to my regular style of illustration. Normally in analogue mediums I'm limited by what colours/materials I have, but in procreate I can have any colour! Any material! Decided to revert back to a single colour approach as a reminder that that also is possible, and sometimes better.

Volcanic Terrain

Ugggghhhhh these prompts are HAAARD and impossible to do justice with my skill level. Opting for a more abstract style here to get past that. It's not good but it's something.

Crystal coves

Man, could I have made those crystals any gaudier colours? This month of exercises really made me realise that my colour intuition is very under-practiced digitally, so leaning into that ugliness here with a big loud sunset.

Freezing Fjord

Attempting a return to earlier minimalist approaches, but uh, too minimalist here. Spiky mountains. Nice chilly colours and a good glacier though...

Eldritch Forest

Ugh, MORE FORESTS. Come ON. Decided to return to some of the more textured brushes with the benefit of a month of practice, and this is less bad. Enjoyed trying to create a foggy vibe. Also very ready for this to be over now though.

Idle Portal

Look, this prompt sucks, I had a long day at uni, it's a very crude lake hole, okay? I'm tired.

Astral Plains

Spent ages trying to draw a good galaxy sky then discovered there's a galaxy texture brush in procrete. Phoned it in. We're done here.

All in all though, despite my grumbling, this was a really good way to get to grips with drawing digitally and using Procreate. I'm feeling excited about commencing with some work I'm actually passionate about :)

Saturday, 31 October 2020

October 2020

Weirdly, October feels like it’s been the longest month this year so far... I guess probably because some things have actually been happening in my life, which makes a change from most of 2020...

Even though everything has been awful, I’m thankful that I’m at least on what feels like the right path for now. Everything is paused and scary, but compared with how things were a couple of years ago, I feel weightless and free, which feels strange to recognise given everything that’s going on.

Just a rainy Battersea park.

So I got an iPad, primarily for drawing reasons though it’s proved super useful in loads of respects and I’m finding it so much more useful than I expected to. The drawings side of things though? Reeeeeal hard. I decided to work through some Inktober prompts for practice, and it’s been fun but really challenging, and at times a bit demoralising. It’s kind of learning to draw in a totally new way though, with a lot of tools at my disposal that I didn’t previously have, so understandably it’s a learning curve.

For about the millionth time since lockdown, trying to find positive focus and routine, this time with a bit more focussed intent, building up to the start of my MA.

Bad omens? Cute omens?

Went to Borough market on a rare outing beyond Battersea and my fortnightly volunteering shift. Got wildly over excited — Borough market is GREAT. So many delicious, beautiful treats! My friend Michael came too, and we had a nice catchup over outdoor street food lunch.

Lots of people were doing tweets about what their ‘loot drop’ would be, so here’s mine (often in video games when you kill a monster or bad guy, when they die they’ll drop two or three items which you can pick up, typically representative of their personality)

Treated myself to another outing to drop off copies of the Resistance Lab taser report zines south Housmans and a couple of other radical bookshops. Got to see the incredible Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics at Tottenham Court Road (and it was quiet enough that I could stand and admire them for a while)

A year into living here and I have finally found the perfect vegetable chow main within walking distance of my house 🙌🏻

Freelance work has picked up a bit this month, and with my MA starting soon, and probably another lockdown before Christmas, I realised this might be my last chance to see the sea for some time. I still feel weird/bad about socialising, so I decided to go to a sea where I don’t know anyone, and fairly arbitrarily chose Whitstable, as it’s not too far on the train. Had an even nicer day out that I expected to. Felt nourished and refreshed (and full of chips)

Even taking that one day off threw me massively out work-schedule wise, and I haven’t even started my studies left. Started to feel A BIT STRESSED

Charlie had his first physio appointment, and politely dealt with it just fine, as he does with pretty much everything life throws at him (still a very achey boy though)

I’m using Procreate to learn to draw on the iPad and it’s still hard but also REALLY FUN


Autumn sucks 😞

Finally plucked up the courage to DEFEAT GANON (I.e. finish the Legend of Zelda game I’ve poured nearly 200 hours into since June). It was big and exciting and I feel a bit emotional that it’s over (though I am still wandering round the world finishing up side quests)

And then... it’s time! We kicked off the MA (graphic media design at LCC) with a full intense day of introductions and lectures and brief setting. (All online). Afterwards I had to take a good long walk in the dark evening to try and process it all.

The course is very heavily focussed on research, which is kind of new to me, though in some ways I do research in my existing work, formalising it is a strange and slightly conflicted process for me. I want to engage with my work more critically and get to better solutions, but that means forcing myself to engage with processes I’d maybe sometimes rather avoid (like the Harvard referencing system, and READING)

Every Thursday we get to actually go on site to the campus at Elephant and Castle, which is a real treat. I’ve missed art college. Spent a happy half hour after our morning lecture was over sneaking round looking in through the doors of all the facilities I now have access to. I thought Brighton uni where I did my undergrad was good, but LCC is WILD. It’s all a bit tainted though, as both due to COVID regulations limiting access, and my own split focus on ongoing paid work alongside, I worry I won’t have time to make the most of it all. Here’s hoping I can!

Gonna be a lot of these onnnnnnnessssss... (I’m hoping things will ease as the course progresses... right now there’s a LOT of timetabled development sessions as well as super short turnaround projects, and it’s all feeling like quite a lot)

TL;DR, Studio Masachuka make the best ones.

Managing the many headed hydra that is a super short turnaround group project with two people you don’t know who all have very different ideas and styles. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....

These are my NEURONS trying to hold together complicated ideas (trying and failing)

One of my guiding principles going into this course is that even when working with complex concepts and processes, I want to communicate my ideas in plain legible English, and create accessible, unpretentious design that serves a diverse range of communities... My one main worry is the focus on dense, heavy, academic language which seems to want to guide us into creating quite opaque, challenging work. I don’t think the goals of the course are fundamentally at odds with my own, but I do hope I can stand firm in my ideals while still operating at an MA worthy level of study.

Who knows though. I’m not gonna say it’s been all plain sailing so far.

One other bonus of going to LCC is that I get to enjoy one of my favourite tube stations, Elephant and Castle!

My housemate Tabitha is really great and I’m lucky to have her as a soothing and optimistic presence around the house.

Got a big warm coat n I’m ready to face November! November where I’m not really allowed to leave the house! 👍🏻