Brian Gallagher – Beautiful sky and buildings

Every so often I return to Brian Gallagher’s illustration blog, and I’m always captivated by his handling of buildings. I like how the rendering is actually fairly simple, but they really convey a lot of feeling to me. They are nicely designed and the values are great. I thought this scene was especially nice. The sky has a lot of interesting movement:

Russ McMullin – Owls, tree, and stars – progress and finish

My latest scratchboard is more illustrative than realistic.

owls-trees-and-stars

For it I borrowed the basic design of an owl that my sister burned into a wooden spoon.

michelle-spoon-owls

I wasn’t trying to achieve realism, but I wanted to include at least a hint of it. I started out by doing some sketches

owl-in-tree-sketch

owls-rough-sketch

And then I started refining:

owls-sketch-photoshop

owls-refined-sketch

Once I settled on the design, I transferred it to a 5×7 board with Chaco paper and red ballpoint pen:

owls-transfer

For scratching I used a sharpened steel point that a friend made for me. It works great and has stayed sharp.

my-newest-scratchboard-tools

Initially the leaves were way too bright and competed with the owls for attention. I inked over them with a Faber Castell PITT artist pen brush, waited for them to dry, and re-scratched them. Even then they seemed too bright:

two-owls-bright-leaves

So, I pushed them back a little further with a diluted ink wash using Ampersand “black repair” that comes with their set of scratchbord inks:

owls-trees-and-stars

The stars came last to give a background that wouldn’t compete with the owls. I’m feeling pretty good about the result. Now I’m trying to decide if I’m going to add some color.

Excellent scratchboard videos by Cristina Penescu

Cristina Penescu’s work is about as good as it gets in the genre of realistic scratchboard. I can’t think of anyone who has a more consistent portfolio of excellent work.

What sets her work apart from most is her attention to composition and light. She isn’t just taking a photograph and doing her best to mimic it in scratchboard. It’s obvious she is carefully choosing the reference photograph and planning the way it will be presented in the composition, including the background. Her subjects look like they comfortably belong in the space she creates for them on the board. Her use of bright highlights and dark shadows leads the eye on a visual journey through the strongest points of interest. And, her use of airbrush gives her work a greater tonal range than is generally possible with scratching alone.

I also like the fact that she is not afraid to show her work at large sizes. It is easy to admire someone’s work when you can see it in such detail.

I had seen these videos before, and ran across them again as I was researching using an airbrush for scratchboard—something I haven’t yet tried but have a strong desire to try. I wanted to share them here with anyone else who might be interested.


Will Terry – Audio interview with Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles

This is another post that isn’t specifically about scratchboard, but it does have relevance to artists. It’s about creating art and getting noticed.

A while back I listened to this podcast and I’m finally getting around to posting it. Will Terry is a very good friend of mine and he knows his stuff when it comes to the illustration business – the craft, the marketing – all of it. It’s over an hour of casual conversation as Will talks about work ethic and ways to get people to notice your work. It’s well worth the listen for anyone interested in marketing their creations.

Audio interview with Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles

Russ McMullin – Teddy at the Table

Another “just for fun” piece. This is based on a sketch I did a long time ago. It’s more of a conceptual still life than a story—an exercise in composition, light, and value. The rendering is pretty loose so it took me about 3 hours once my sketch was transferred to the 5×7 Ampersand board. I used a #16 X-acto blade for all the scratch work.

teddy-bear-at-table

Russ McMullin – Church on Agave Hill

My work schedule has been brutal, but I finally found time to finish this piece. My opportunities to do illustration are few these days and this project is one I did for fun. The church is loosely based on one I saw and sketched. The location is plucked from my imagination. The board is 5×7 Ampersand. I used an Olfa 9153US AK-1/5B Standard Art Knife for the scratching. Once the image was transferred to the board it took approximately 4 hours to complete.

chuch-with-agave