Project

#GE14Sketches: Drawing Malaysia's 14th General Elections

I'll be reporting from the ground for New Naratif, contributing sketches along with stories all through the campaigning period to polling day and beyond.

Read more here (list updated as more sketches are published):

2-5 May 2018
A Tale of Three Ceramahs: from Penang to Seremban, sights from rallies for the opposition coalition. 


6-7 May 2018
A Little Night Music: what do Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan ceramahs have in common? Music, it would seem.


9 May 2018
A Nation Votes: sights from the polling station. 


Follow @newnaratif and @charisloke on Instagram for more updates. 

From Sketch to Sorcerers

In this post: a walkthrough of the completed 'Sorcerer to the Crown' cover illustration, from inks to digital colours.

PART 1: Sorcerers, Studies, and SmArt School
PART 2: Creatures and Characters

It's been a while since I last wrote about this project, but here is an update! Previously I'd described the process up to the value sketch (read about it here); this post will take you through the colour studies, line drawing, ink and painting, and final digital adjustments.

COLOUR STUDIES: Exploring different options.

I was a fan of the more graphic, limited colours I accidentally generated when working on the colour studies, and #3 and #4 could also be interesting directions to pursue, but I decided to go with a cross between #6 and #8.

DIGITAL LINE DRAWING: Fleshing out elements, figuring out the face.

DIGITAL LINE DRAWING: Fleshing out elements, figuring out the face.

Next up was to make a more detailed line drawing, where I worked out how different elements looked like in the image. I went through different iterations of the face as well; I tend to not draw particularly expressive faces, so I tried to push here to get an appropriately irreverent expression for Prunella. This won't be the end of the faces.

I printed out the digital lines, and transferred them to Arches watercolour paper using pastel pencil on the reverse of the printer paper - I scribbled out a layer of pastel, then turned it over and, using a pen to press down on it, traced out the lines. Much careful inking then followed; I'm using Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink here - a mix of sepia and black, diluted accordingly. Inking is therapeutic. There are few things more soothing than the sound of a brush going over paper, and the physical motions of making careful strokes. I loved drawing the map. But I managed to ink the face wrongly!

Thankfully, there's Photoshop.

I then laid down more ink washes to establish values on the piece, as much as it pains me to paint over those map lines. Next, I scanned the piece in portions, then stitched it using Photoshop's File > Automate > Photomerge command. The next big part to tackle was adding colours, layer after layer, making use mostly of Multiply, Overlay, and Screen modes. Justin Gerard's post on Muddy Colors here goes over the basics and I highly recommend reading it.

And Prunella's face gets redrawn! I sample some of the paper texture from the background to ensure that the new layers of (digital) ink and colour blend into the image. Taking a step back and leaving it for a few days helps; when I return, I get to tackling the lighting.

Many, many layers and adjustment layers later, we arrive at:

The whites of her skirt have been toned down, thanks to feedback in class from Marc, and the focus is on Prunella's face now. A few more touches of detail - the embroidery on Zacharias' coat, swirling vines on the green fabric of Prunella's dress, some rays of light and texture on the map - and our Sorcerers Royal are complete.

Creatures and Characters

In this post: character studies and sketches for a personal project, illustrating 'Sorcerer to the Crown'.

PART 1: Sorcerers, Studies, and SmArt School
PART 2: Creatures and Characters
PART 3: From Sketch to Sorcerers

It's been a month since I last wrote about how the 'Sorcerer' illustrations were going! Here's an update:

In between working on the cover, I also tried sketching the characters to see how they would look like on paper. Our solemn protagonist, Zacharias Wythe, who in the book is clean-shaven (though here I experimented with adding a bit of facial hair):

FW Acrylic inks on paper, digitally painted over.

And Prunella Gentleman, normally possessed of much more vigor and sass, in a somber state at the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, FW Acrylic ink, on a Moleskine watercolour notebook.

Digital painting over the scanned image.

Each sorcerer is accompanied by a familiar, a magical being. Prunella comes into possession of three: a garuda, a qilin, and an elflet. There are a myriad of ways to depict these three - the garuda is a holy bird found in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology, as well as in the legends of Southeast Asia. Indonesia's take on the garuda is less anthropomorphic, and based on the Javanese hawk eagle. Since Tjandra is specifically described as posessing the face of a child with a golden beak where its nose and mouth should be, I've gone with that, while keeping to more bird-like features elsewhere.

Pilot Brushpen on a recycled paper notebook.

Same materials as the ones for Prunella's character study,

More flames and feathers to come!