Friday, December 27, 2019

Sketchbook tour

I forgot to share it sooner, but I finally posted a sketchbook tour for YouTube! I've actually got another one waiting to be uploaded too, as this video took me so long to edit. I'm looking forward to getting more into YouTube in 2020.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Recent artworks

joker joaquin phoenix portrait sketch
mika ballpoint portrait sketch
aaron tveit ballpoint portrait sketch

I've been drawing a lot of portraits lately as I find it fun and it's good to draw things for me, but it's something I always feel a little unsure of sharing as although I'm proud of them I don't want people thinking it's part of my 'brand' as an illustrator. It's a whole side of art business that I struggle with honestly, as it feels nowadays like you have to have your one aesthetic and stick to it but I'd get so bored! And honestly I think it's good to be versatile. But saying that, I don't think I'd ever want to do portraits as commissions as it'd no doubt lead to drawing people I don't care about which wouldn't be fun for me, so I keep them as just a hobby.

I used to draw portraits quite a lot with pencils, but because I'm a perfectionist I hated them if they weren't super photo realistic and it really sucked the fun out of it. So last year I began drawing them with ballpoint pens, something that scared me silly at the beginning as it's so permanent so there's obviously no way of erasing if you make a mistake, but it's actually really liberating and I feel I've learnt a lot from being forced to work with my mistakes. Because these are just for fun, they're all in my sketchbook. The top is Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, as it's turned out to be my favourite movie of the year and I'm lowkey obsessed. Second is Mika which is mt favourite of the three (look at those pinstripes!!), and lastly is Aaron Tveit which whilst I like, I had issues with my pen blobbing while I was drawing it (why do they do this though??)

And here's two other illustrations I've been working on. Above is from the Broadway adaptation of Moulin Rouge, and it's how they end Act 1 with Elephant Love Medley. I'm not keen on how the song has been reworked honestly, but visually it's amazing, and I had fun trying to translate specific people into my art style whilst still making it look like them, as usually I draw fictional characters so likeness isn't so important.

And this is from the finale scene of Wicked, and uh, spoiler alert? But Fiyero gets turned into the Scarecrow and I've always felt like he gets vastly overlooked within fan circles when this is a huge thing he goes through and a major sacrifice. I've always felt particularly attached to Fiyero though after reading the novel, his character is a lot more developed in that so I guess if you haven't read it it's easy not to care about what happens to him as he doesn't have a lot of stage time. This is actually a reworking of an art piece I did a year ago, which was in the midst of when I was finding my style, and because I was working on so much artwork at that time it felt outdated for how I was working even then. I really loved the concept though, and knew I wanted to revisit it at some point so I'm glad I now have a version to be proud of and feels more cohesive with my body of work.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Completing Inktober

I've completed Inktober! I can't quite believe it to be honest, I didn't actually have much hope that I'd complete the whole month. I figured I'd manage to keep up with the first week then fall behind, get overwhelmed, and quit. And I didn't! And what's more, I've really enjoyed my Inktober experience. Like I explained in my previous post, I haven't technically done Inktober 'properly' - I ignored the prompt list for two thirds of the month, and I've worked in more mediums than just ink (but I did mostly use ink). But mastering ink was never my goal, sticking to a prompt list was never my goal and was only there to fall back on. My goals were to simply draw every day to get back into a more productive workflow and just see where that took me, and hopefully through the act of drawing every day to become less of a perfectionist with my work. And now I'm at the other end of it looking back, I thought I'd share what the experience has taught me, along with a selection of the pieces I've created.

Top: 04 + 05 - Pruitt from Big Sky | Bottom: 02 - Inktober prompt 'mindless'

The biggest lesson of all this month was simply that sitting down to draw doesn't have to be a big deal. Often I'll procrastinate opening my sketchbook as I only have an hour or so and feel like that's not enough time, but I've realised that it is more than enough so long as I use that time wisely. I've also realised that even if I don't feel like drawing when I begin, I will once I actually start. And because drawing is no longer such a big deal, it's resulted in me drawing more. I've knocked out two portraits this month, which is usually something I'd think about for about a week prior and feel like I had to set aside a full day to create, but I just got on and did it and I really enjoyed the process. I guess I'm just learning to let go and doodle better instead of only drawing full-blown illustrations, and that's definitely a good thing!

07 + 08 - Inktober prompts 'enchanted' and 'snow'

Because my drawing time had been so sporadic and it had usually been a few weeks since I last drew anything, I'd always start by feeling rusty and unsure of my abilities and so wasted time warming up. This not only ate into my drawing time, but it also meant that I had to come up with ideas for a warm up sketch on top of what I already wanted to draw, and the whole process resulted with me feeling exhausted before I'd even begun. Getting into the habit of drawing every day has definitely loosened me up, and because of this ideas have been coming much more freely as I can just jump straight in with whatever I want to do. I didn't end up using too many of the Inktober prompts as they were only there for days I got stuck, and I didn't end up having many of those because the more I was drawing, the more ideas I was having, and because my work was looser I was able to crack out more ideas than I ever felt possible.

Top: 14 - Inktober prompt 'dragon' | Bottom: 17 + 18 - Joker inspired illustrations

I did find myself struggling for ideas here and there, but during those times I allowed inspiration to come from life and the things around me instead of going looking for ideas and becoming frustrated. For example, the Joker movie gave me a lot of inspiration this month as I absolutely loved it and wanted to draw fan art. And by allowing myself to draw things that I cared about, I wanted to draw more and more rather than feeling like I was only drawing because I had to. I'm really glad I decided to exclude social media presence from my challenge too, as that allowed me to be completely self-indulgent with what I was creating without any judgement!

I think the biggest surprise for me throughout this month is just how much work I've managed to create, which I know sounds a little silly as it was obvious from the very beginning that I'd have around 31 pieces of art if I managed to complete it, but saying that versus physically seeing that work in my sketchbook is an entirely different kettle of fish. I've never filled out a sketchbook at this speed, and it's an exhilarating feeling! I'm used to flicking back over my sketchbook and seeing work I've created months ago, not weeks or even days ago! I also like how it's helping me keep track of time. Often months pass by in a flash and I wonder where the time has gone, but I feel October has gone at a much slower pace as every single day I've been taking note of the date and been fully present as a result. And as someone who suffers with severe anxiety, that's been a really nice side effect and helped my mental health a lot!

Top: 20 - reference of vintage ballet dancers from Pinterest. 21 - Inktober prompt 'treasure'
Bottom: 24 - Illustration inspired by Joker

Parts of Inktober have definitely been a little stressful at times, but it was entirely self-inflicted. Part of the draw of the challenge for me was to fill up a good chunk of my sketchbook quickly, and that was actually a good drive as I was actively measuring my progress by how much I'd completed. But it also meant that I was getting a bit stressed when I had to miss days as I wasn't filling my sketchbook fast enough, and the pressure I put on myself to draw every day meant that other hobbies and interests had to be put aside.

I really want to continue drawing after October. Not every day, but I've shown myself what I can do and I don't want to lose these good habits that I've built. I'm a little nervous I'll run out of ideas, but I'd rather cross that bridge if and when I come to it! Plus I have a whole heap of things I want to digitally colour and turn into proper illustrations from all of this, so there's always that too!

Top: 25 - An OC. 26 - Fiyero inspired (I drew a lot of scarecrows, I guess I was inspired by autumn ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Middle: 27 - Autumn inspired motifs, and practising Cyrillic
Bottom: 27 + 28 - Joker inspired illustrations. I said there was a lot!

Monday, September 30, 2019

#Harvest Tales + New Shop Items

There hasn't been much activity from me on the art front lately as August was mostly spent planning, preparing for and then travelling to New York, followed by being terribly ill for a full month after I got back! So I haven't really felt much like drawing and have been trying to ease myself back into the habit while I got better, especially as I plan on doing Inktober this year for the first time ever.

Inktober's not something I've ever taken part in before as I'm usually put off by how competitive and commercialised it's gotten, I'm really not interested in any of that side of it and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In fact October is probably my least favourite time to be an artist on social media as I'm so bored with the whole concept after three days of it filling up my entire feed! But I happened upon the prompt list and for once I actually felt quite inspired by it, and as I've had such a dry spell it feels like a good way to improve my practise and build good habits. And when I think of it like that, I'm really excited for it!

I don't plan on sharing all of my illustrations throughout the month as I think it can be toxic to share everything and I think that's why so many turn it into a competition, whether intentionally or not. My biggest learning curve this past year has been that not everything I create has to be up for public consumption, and it's much more liberating to create things for my own eyes only. When you don't have that pressure of needing to share, you're more inclined to take risks and experiment, which is exactly the point of the Inktober challenge to me, not to pre-prepare 31 perfect illustrations in advance which I see no artistic merit to.

Throughout September there's been an art tag on Instagram called #HarvestTales which felt right up my alley, and as it only required one artwork per week it felt like a perfect way to ease myself into designing illustrations around prompt words. I tried to keep it themed by having a central character of a Scarecrow (who may or may not look familiar from my Fiyero drawings...), which I liked as having that allowed me to think of the prompts within that character, and I hoped it might feel a bit more narrative driven than by simply having four separate illustrations. One of my favourite works I've created so far is my Folktale Week sketchbook from last November, and I think a big part of why it works for me is because it has so much cohesion. I didn't want to turn this into as huge a project as that was though, as that wouldn't be easing myself into things at all!

This was my first illustration, with the prompt "flowers and herbs". To be honest I don't love it. I was determined to work traditionally as I didn't want it to be as polished as digital, and also as my previous Folktale Week artworks had been traditional and I used the same methods. But honestly I don't like how this illustration came out that much!! I don't know if I've over shaded it or tried to be too detailed, but it feels like I've taken 10 steps back in my style into territory I've tried to get away from. This year I've really worked on simplifying my work away from the realistic perfectionist mindset I was trapped in before and I really love where it's taken me, but this just isn't it. I still like the idea of the sunflowers comforting the sad Scarecrow (I was inspired by the Pink Floyd song Scarecrow, especially the line "The black and green scarecrow is sadder than me, But now he's resigned to his fate" which I've always related to Fiyero's story arc) and the general idea, just not the execution in this case. Even the colours just don't feel right.

I actually skipped week 2 which had the prompt word "Scarecrow", partly as I was really ill that week, partly because I was feeling kind of disheartened from the previous week, so technically this illustration is week 3 which had the prompt "night creature". I wanted to really take advantage of the challenge being called harvest tales, whilst also making it slightly spooky as I felt the prompts were leaning in that direction (and honestly "spooky harvest" sums up my whole aesthetic!). I stripped the style right back to absolute simplicity, and was inspired by a video by DrawingWiffWaffles where she'd drawn with a coloured ballpoint pen and coloured it with pastel Copic markers to create a monotone effect. And it proved to be just the inspiration I needed as I love how this turned out, and used the same method for the final illustration but knocked it up a gear.

The prompt was "spirits", and I added a little white gel pen and yellow colouring pencil. It's definitely my favourite of the lot! I'm even thinking of only using ballpoint pen for the whole of Inktober as it's ink, and I've really fallen in love with the versatility and simplicity of it. Who needs overly expensive Inktober targeted art supplies when you can just use a 50p biro!

I've also had an exciting shipment of products I ordered! I've wanted to create charms for a while, and my Wicked illustrations felt like they'd lend themselves perfectly. They're 6cm tall acrylic charms with holographic effect on one side (so as not to obscure the illustration too much, but still keeping it sparkly!) I'm delighted with how they've turned out! There's 5 designs in total, and I have a limited quantity right now because it's kind of terrifying plunging money into stock when you don't know when you'll earn that money back! So the more I sell, the more I can invest back into my shop with even more exciting products. I hope you like them as much as I do, they're available in my Etsy store now!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Elphaba + Glinda

"And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend"

Available on RedBubble here.

It's rare for me, but this is one illustration I specifically drew to turn into products. Usually I work the other way around and try and figure out how to fit finished pieces into certain items. I'm very excited to get this made into what I have in mind, but in the meantime you can order it on a few bits on RedBubble. I've actually placed an order with RedBubble myself, so I'll be sure to report back with a review of their products soon!

Friday, July 12, 2019


These are a few Wicked pieces I've been working on that I'd forgotten to update with here, and will bring my blog up to date with my current work. I like to have it all over here as I can better record my thought processes than in a simple Instagram caption.

This is fairly straight forward, a scene from the musical after 'For Good'. I don't really consider it a spoiler as it happens in The Wizard of Oz too! I just think it's incredibly sad that, as far as Glinda is aware her best friend and only true ally is dead and she has to hide and pretend she isn't there whilst it happens. Glinda's story arc is so heartbreaking, and it's sad how she's so often dismissed as just being a ditz. Elphaba and Fiyero may be fugitives, but at least they get to go on and live their own lives together. Whereas Glinda's left thinking everyone she's ever loved is dead, and has to watch everyone celebrating that fact whilst keeping the lie alive.

This was drawn from a production still. I kind of set the wrong mood for it with them smiling, as they're literally plastering on smiles over their own heartbreaks BUT I drew this whilst watching Eurovision so I think you can understand why I was distracted from the tone. Also quite frankly I drew it as I wanted something cute and pretty of my favourite characters and wasn't trying to draw anything deep. It was my first go at colouring them with my Copic markers too, so that was fun trying to translate my digital palette.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Snow Queen

This is a bit of a throw back, but I realised when scrolling through my Instagram feed that there's a few pieces I forgot to share over here, so the next few posts will be of older pieces to get caught up.

For this post I just wanted to share this illustration from back in winter. I have a long personal history with the original story of The Snow Queen, certainly long before Frozen stole my heart. It's always been my favourite fairy tale for no deep reason other than it's a good adventure tale, and I've collected various book editions and film adaptations of it throughout the years. In my foundation degree back in 2010, to finish the course we had to write our own brief and mine was to illustrate a full 32 page book of The Snow Queen. Which ended up taking me on quite an adventure, as it even involved traveling around the country to see some real life reindeer to study as well as translating and condensing Andersen's original text whilst still keeping the integrity of the original story (as it was a picture book so had to be simplified)

I still have that book somewhere, and I have a lot of mixed feelings looking at it. I put so much work into it, but obviously being over 9 years ago now my style and ability has drastically improved so it's a little embarrassing in some respects. This piece was drawn straight into my iPad (I usually draw the initial sketch traditionally) and was just revisiting the character of The Snow Queen herself. I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it other than trying to improve upon my original idea, whilst also trying NOT to subconsciously make it resemble Elsa.

I'd love to finalise some designs some day, perhaps with Gerda and Kai too. Maybe I'll even redo my whole book!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Blue diamonds

Just a paint doodle that both provided practice with some different Procreate techniques, as well as exploring Fiyero's tattoo designs.

In the original novel Fiyero's marked with distinctive tattoos/body paint (it's described as both interchangeably so could be either), but other than being "a pattern of diamonds" and "sulfurous" blue and being on his face, chest and hands, there isn't much description as to what it actually looks like.

These are supposed to be tattoos that mark him to his specific tribe in the Vinkus, rather than tattooing for aesthetic purposes, and are really important to his character as it 'other's him and is one of the things he gets made fun of for. I did some research into body art in various indigenous cultures, including Native American (which I've always imagined to be Fiyero's ethnicity) and First Nations, Polynesian, Māori, and Inuit which was a little help. I couldn't find anything geometric enough to take direct inspiration from, but it certainly helped me consider placement (such as avoiding the chin which in various cultures around the world seems to be a feminine practice). Sometimes it's just really interesting the avenues art can take you down. This isn't finalised or anything, I'm just playing around and seeing what works. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be as it's so easy to make it look crap, I can see now why the musical scrapped it!

Although most of my Wicked art is based in the world of the musical, I really want to explore scenes from the book more, especially as it was what made me really fall in love with these characters more so than the musical. I want to eventually come to place where the two are kind of blended together seamlessly, which is why I still drew Fiyero in his outfit from the musical.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Poppy Fields

Elphaba: "Can I say one more thing? You could have walked away back there."
Fiyero: "So?"
Elphaba: "So no matter how shallow and self-absorbed you pretend to be—"
Fiyero: "Excuse me, there’s no pretense here: I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow."
Elphaba: "No you’re not. Or you wouldn’t be so unhappy."
Fiyero: "Fine if you don’t want my help—"
Elphaba: "No, I do! ... His heart is pounding. I didn’t mean to frighten him."
Fiyero: "What did you mean to do? And why was I the only one you didn’t do it to?"
Elphaba: "Oh look, you're must have scratched you."
Fiyero: "Yeah...or maybe it scratched me or something."

I saw Wicked again on Saturday, and then spent Sunday in a coffee shop finishing off this drawing that's been in my drafts for about 6 months. It was actually one of the very first illustrations I did of Wicked, and spent ages as a hastily sketched thumbnail on my phone. I'd been working on it intermittently to get it finished recently, but seeing the show gave me the push I needed to get it completed. I'm trying to clear out a lot of my backlog as I have so many ideas lately and not enough time to see everything through to completion! Which isn't a situation I'm complaining about in the slightest, after the amount of art block I've had it feels great.

I really love this scene in the musical. I have a lot of feelings about Fiyero, and as much as I love it the musical really does him a huge disservice. I kind of get that they don't want to spend much stage time developing him as he's not the focus of the narrative, but there's no reason to make him a bit of a jackass at the beginning. In the book he's a tribal person of colour seeking an education so he can integrate better with the people of Oz and help his people in the modern age, and is generally a fish out of water who doesn't feel comfortable at Shiz and gets picked on for being brown and having tribal tattoos. And as much as Dancing Through Life is a bop, it's kind of insulting that he got reduced to a spoiled rich kid bouncing from boarding school to boarding school. And I like this scene because they make an attempt to tear that image down a little and show that he's a bit deeper than he seemed five minutes ago, and hint at the deep connection he and Elphaba share in the book.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Aaron Tveit

I've been experimenting with drawing with a simple Bic Original Fine ballpoint pen, and really enjoying it! I was originally inspired by a video by DrawingWiffWaffles where she mentioned that she went through a period of only drawing with ballpoint pen and she felt it helped her to improve her work due to the permanence of the marks forcing her to be more light handed with her sketching. It makes a lot of sense, right? I've also felt heavily inspired by TheGothicAlice's sketchbook tours (and I kind of credit her with getting me out of my art block tbh, whenever I feel uninspired I rewatch those videos and it reminds me of my purpose for drawing in the first place). TheGothicAlice does a lot of pen work too, often portraits, and as I've drawn a lot of portraits in the past and it's something I'm comfortable doing I figured trying it in ballpoint pen would make it a new challenge for me.

The first time I sat down to draw with the pen I was suddenly terrified of getting it wrong (which is pretty silly, it's only in my sketchbook and it's only experimentation anyway). The issue was I'd never used a pen for anything other than writing and outlining and didn't really know how to make it do anything else. So I did what I usually do in these moments and turned to YouTube for instruction and discovered Alphonso Dunn's channel - this guy is not only an incredible artist, but I really love his no frills approach. The trouble with YouTube is there's too many tutorials by people who don't know how to teach and too busy trying to be a personality, so you end up just watching them do the thing and feel no more knowledgeable at the end of it than before you watched it. Alphonso really explains what he's doing, and also the why and the art theory behind what he's telling you so it makes sense and you end up with the background knowledge to be able to transfer the skills to your own work.

Basically I entirely credit this guy with teaching me the skills to create this portrait. Also this is the second ever portrait I've drawn with a ballpoint, so I'm pretty proud of it just for that. My first one is a bit of a mess in comparison, but it obviously paid off as an experiment - which is why it's so important to create imperfect art.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Anna and Kristoff

I basically just felt like drawing something cute, and really there's nothing cuter than these two together. I also realised when drawing it that it's the first time I've ever drawn Kristoff, so that was fun. He doesn't get much love from me, but I do really like him as a character. I think the trouble with Frozen is that the characters are so strongly developed that you can't help but pick your favourites and the others end up falling by the wayside a little.

One thing I liked about drawing this is it's a much brighter colour scheme than I usually use. I realised this when I uploaded it to my grid on Instagram. I don't work with white backgrounds much, but I love how it's come out so I might have to do more of it!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sketchbook update

I really love working in my sketchbook, which isn't something I thought I'd be saying anytime soon as I've found sketchbooks quite stressful for a few years as my perfectionism and anxieties ate away at me from watching so many curated sketchbook tours online. It took me far longer than it should have to realise that that’s an unrealistic way to work, and that I don’t owe anyone a peek inside my sketchbook. It’s just for me unless I decide otherwise, and now I’ve reclaimed that boundary it’s become my favourite place to work!

One of the biggest issues I had before was feeling like my art would never live up to the niceness of either the sketchbook I was using, nor my work that had come before it. I'd spend ages making a pretty first page, only to then be too scared to draw on the second page and 'mess' it up! I dealt with this firstly by using a sketchbook I bought a few years ago that I absolutely hated. It's a Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook, a brand I was drawn to as it looked just like my beloved Moleskine but with a wider selection of cover options and I'd heard only positive reviews. But I hated it. I still do, although I still might be tempted to by a new one when I'm done with it (those covers!). My issue with it is simply that the paper is weird - it seems to be coated in something and so doesn't take watercolours or gouache at all, alcohol markers bleed worse than anything I've ever seen before, and it repels graphite. Compared to my previous Moleskine sketchbook which could take any medium I threw at it, this was really disappointing and I originally abandoned the sketchbook just a few pages in. And both of these things are what helped me to get over my sketchbook phobia. I'd already 'ruined' the sketchbook by messing up the first few pages, so all of the following pages looked much less scary. And because the paper is crap quality I'm not trying to fill it with finished art pieces like I used to - it's literally just a book of sketches. And that's why I might get another one of the same brand when I've filled this one, as although I hate it and it's poor quality, it's taught me that that's exactly what I need to get out of my comfort zone and lose my anxieties!

Despite just saying that I don't create finished pieces in this sketchbook, here are two finished pieces! Sometimes things just develop organically and it seems silly to transfer them and lose the fluidity of the original sketch, which is why I thought I'd share these pages. Because this sketchbook hates all of my favourite art mediums, I've had to go back what feels like basics and use coloured pencils which I'm really loving! I've got a super old set of Prismacolor Premiere pencils, and I'm loving using them again. I usually use the pencil brushes on Procreate to create texture in my digital work, so it feels good to create that texture for real!

I was inspired to draw Rapunzel as she's one of my favourites and I'd watched Tangled recently which reminded me how much I enjoy it. And the Elsa and Hans drawing was something I worked on bit by bit over a period as stress relief. My art has always been hugely important to my mental health and is almost a form of meditation to me, so sometimes there's nothing better than just switching off my brain and doodling my favourite characters. Sometimes I get a bit caught up in feeling like art has to have some kind of narrative or action involved, so it's nice to remind myself that's not the case and that there's nothing wrong with drawing characters just to create a pretty image with no deeper meaning than that.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Frozen custom dolls

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Anna Elsa Hans

Here's something a little different, but I was recently drawn into the the world of doll customization! It's something I've only been interested in for literally a couple of weeks, and all began when I was Googling for Frozen dolls and came across the most beautiful doll of Anna. I'm not actually a doll person, or at least I wasn't until this past month; even as a little girl I preferred plushies and cute animals and things to Barbie, so although I vaguely knew doll customization was a thing that people did I'd never given it any thought until I saw this Anna doll that cost a few hundred and figured surely I could make my own? After all I'm an illustrator and dressmaker so surely I have a leg up already. I began watching doll face ups on YouTube out of interest and I was shocked to learn it's mostly coloured pencils and very little painting at all, which is great for me as I adore coloured pencils and hate intricate paint work. I eBayed a cheap set of Frozen dolls that had clearly been well played with as I figured I won't mind so much if I messed them up, and I set to work. And it ended up being a lot of fun! It's so weird to sketch on something 3D as I'm obviously used to flat paper, but otherwise I feel I took to the hobby pretty quickly and am really pleased with my first attempts. Customizing these dolls made me feel a lot like that old guy in Toy Story 2 who fixes up Woody.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Anna

My very first attempt was Anna, I don't know why I picked her first but I felt inspired by her frizzy hair and threadbare clothes and wanted to make her look like a princess again. You can see a before of her here. I started by soaking her hair in fabric softener which I'd read helped with frizzy doll hair, and it did precisely nothing. I then tentatively tried my straighteners on a low heat and quickly learnt that her hair isn't heatproof! Boiling water straight out of the kettle ended up being what worked - I simply sat her in the sink and poured the water straight on her head and left it to air dry. I then trimmed any remaining frizz out, styled her braids and gave her a white streak, cut in a more screen accurate fringe and trimmed the tips of the braids so they looked more natural and less doll-like.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Anna
Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Anna

I then moved onto her cape, stitching tiny pom pom trim around the edges which I dyed with my Copic markers as I couldn't buy it in the right shade of purple, and I added some basic hand embroidery. I wasn't too bothered about the embroidery being screen accurate as long as it resembled it - and it was plain originally so I figured anything I did was a step up from that! I also painted over some of the printed details on her dress, trimmed away any fraying, and added some detailing to her blouse (which is hidden by her cape, but the attention to detail is there anyway!) She didn't come with her cap, but if I can find some felt in the right shade of magenta I might have to make her one at some point, and perhaps knit her some tiny mittens! I was really pleased with how effortlessly her face up came together through simply using chalk pastels, watercolour pencils, and the all important Mr Super Clear sealant.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Anna Elsa

Next was Elsa, who is my personal favourite of the two sisters, and I had a lot of fun with her as I'd learnt so much from Anna so had a better idea of what I was doing. You can see Elsa's before picture here. Her hair was originally scrapped back into a tight plait, and as we all know Elsa's hairstyle is much more loose and relaxed so first thing I did was give her hair some layers. I then curled those layers by using cut up straws like rollers and pouring boiling water over the top and allowing it to dry naturally. It's given her hair some much needed volume at the top of her head, and allowed me to section pieces off for a more screen accurate style. I used Got2be Glued hairspray, and styled it much the same as I did my cosplay wig, only on a much smaller scale. I didn't have any snowflake clips small enough, so I just glued some rhinestones onto her braid to give a similar effect.

She'd obviously been well played with and her dress was practically falling apart so required stitching back together first and foremost. Her dress was plain blue, so I mostly focused on adding sparkle to her bodice simply by gluing rhinestones and glitter onto it with fabric glue. I used glitter and fabric glue to add detailing to her sleeves, and gave her full outfit a subtle sprinkle of glitter (using a light spritz of hairspray to keep it in place - a good tip to use for any glittery clothing you may have too!) Her face felt fairly basic, as it's almost the same as Anna's just in a different colour scheme.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Elsa

Next up was Hans. I was working my way up to the male dolls as I feel less confident drawing male characters in general (something I'm working hard to improve on in my art the past couple of months), and I wasn't sure how to draw his features without making it look like he's wearing makeup. Also I was intimidated by the molded hair and how I might approach that. For Anna and Elsa I'd obviously only had to draw their eyebrows and was able to build up a natural looking texture on the flat surface of their foreheads, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get the same texture for Hans' sideburns for example. I took a lot more pictures of Hans in the before stages as I'd forgotten to with the girls and regretted it after it was too late, so here's what he looked like originally. He was actually in really nice condition and I'm guessing he didn't get played with much - kids just don't understand the complexity of an antagonist! He had some light staining to his jacket, but most of the flaws in the doll were done by Disney. Hans is my favourite character along with Elsa, so it felt important for me to get this doll right.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans
Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

I kind of did everything at once with Hans, and as a result managed to get him finished in a couple of days rather than a full week like the others. While I was waiting for the sealant on his face to dry before I could add another layer of pencil I was working on his clothes, and while I was waiting for fabric glue and clay to dry I was drawing up his face.

Firstly I obviously wanted to remove the horrendous paint job. His freckles looked more like moles, and whilst he's very clearly a redhead in the movie they'd decided to paint his hair dark brown and metallic(!?!). It all had to go.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

I couldn't get in all of the crevices of his molded hair with the acetone so some of the original paint remained, but I wasn't that bothered as I figured it would give the impression of depth and shadow in his hair. I simply brushed layers upon layers of orange and sienna brown chalk pastels until I had the right shade of auburn for our ginger prince, using a fine paintbrush to make sure it was covering the paint I couldn't remove. I also lightly brushed the pigment over his sideburns, but left most of those to the coloured pencils.

I also really hated how cheap his outfit looked, so I knew it needed some serious work. First thing I did was simply iron some interfacing to the inside of his jacket to give it some structure. Such an easy fix and it made the world of difference to how his clothes fitted him. I also hated the painted on buttons, and after searching around online for something that might work, I decided to just make my own. I had some rhinestones in the right sizes, so I simply painted them with acrylic paints before giving them a coat of clear nail varnish to make them shiny and level. I also used the acrylic paint I'd mixed to extend the design around the back of his jacket - it's not completely screen accurate as I didn't want it to touch the existing pattern on the front of his jacket as it would make it obvious it wasn't the same.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans
Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

I made the aiglets using Fimo clay that I painted gold, and glued it onto gold embroidery thread to emulate real aiguillettes. The gold braid that came on the doll I stitched into place to join up with the embroidery thread and glued a 'button' over the top, both to hide the join and also as the real Hans has a button right there for his aiguillettes too.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

Lastly, I bought a thin strip of ribbon in the same shade of blue as his shirt collar (getting some very funny looks in the craft shop as I pulled the miniature outfit out of my pocket to colour match!) and carefully hand-stitched it down the legs of his trousers. Fin! (I do wish he had proper gloves instead of mittens - seriously how can he be threatening wearing those? But he doesn't have individual fingers and they're what he came with so I figured they should stay as their important to his character)

I'm really proud of how these dolls came out, especially considering I've never done anything like this before. I always go easy on myself with new pursuits as it's inevitable you won't be perfect first time, so it's a real confidence boost when it all goes right! I do still have a Kristoff doll to customize, but I'm itching to pick my neglected sketchbook back up so he'll just have to wait for now.

Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans
Disney Frozen doll customization face ups - Hans

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Wickedness must be punished, Kill the Witch!

I kind of dreamed this up and had it as a thumbnail in my sketchbook for the longest time. I was going back through my rough drafts recently and decided to get it actually drawn up as I like the idea, even if it is a bit dark. It's difficult to imagine Elphaba and Fiyero could escape the Emerald City without the Gale Force being close behind, watching (especially if you're familiar with the book, I was definitely inspired by Fiyero's final scene)

It was harder to draw than I anticipated, mostly just trying to work out how much 'there' was just the right amount for the Gale Force. They needed to be visible enough for the viewer to see them lurking, but not clear enough that Elphaba and Fiyero just appear stupidly oblivious. Hopefully I got the balance right!

This was one of the few art pieces I've done recently where I was thinking of an end product while I was creating it, which was mostly poster design and thinking in terms of movie posters and the like. Something narrative driven, that can still be understood by those unfamiliar with the plot and exists wholly within the one illustration. Which I think is why I feel like I don't have a whole lot to say about this piece, as I intended it to talk for me and require no explanation. Hopefully it should make a nice print!

© a soot sprite. Design by FCD.