To experiment further with my animals and test out some more unusual techniques, I took a variety of poses from my research and started to draw or paint with the mediums that I thought may create some interesting effects.
I started with some fineliner experiments, I do love using patterns to build up detail in line drawings, I have done this before and I think the pattern works well to fill space. I was not really feeling it with the hare, I think the eye throws me off and I think this would look better as a more solid blacked out design and then worked out from there. Maybe using the different sections of the face better in terms of following the way the hare would naturally flow. I also tried some stippling, but I did not like the way this was looking either so I did not really finish it to the standard I usually would because it was very time consuming and I could already see it just was not working for what I wanted. I have used various forms of line drawings throughout too so I knew line is something I do like to use, just working on becoming simpler and looser in my work I think has been very beneficial to my designs. I tried some Indian Ink to build up a hedgehog design too which I think was okay but just using the one harsh black was difficult to show tone as I usually would. Maybe this would have worked better as a collage with some different tone being used in the papers.
The sharpie experiments turned out a little better than I thought, but a range of them in more similar colours could have created a nice effective piece I think. I also tried the soft pastels on black paper, I find this hard to use and usually very messy, I like this design but probably would not want to take it further because it neither has the detail or the simple flat approach I was considering. I managed to capture a lot of detail in the eye of the oil pastel drawing, I like this but the fur around it loses some of that detail. The hedgehog with the sponged back is quite fun, but I do like the colours and how they mixed together with the sponge. Although I think it did get the texture better than I achieve with a brush or anything.
I wanted to have a go with acrylics because I thought I could get quite a good look for the idea of realism and flat colour that I wanted to experiment with.
I did try a few styles with the acrylics, I tried the hare in a more realistic kind of style, which I think turned out better than I expected once it had dried, but I was very apprehensive about it as I started to paint and found it difficult to get the shades and blends that I wanted to. I tried a splashy style again too but I found that the acrylic was drying quickly so by the time I did more of a watercolour effect on it, it just did not blend with the thicker painted parts of the body. The flat colour examples were nice and I think form the base of the kind of shapes I would create if I was working on Procreate on the Ipad. I think this would be a good step to go too soon and see what I can do with those brushes, because I think the actual motifs all being done on the same application would be good to avoid a different kind of look with them if I was to photograph and edit some, and digitally make others.
So I have been gradually getting on with a lot of my designs throughout my sketchbook, trying to take each medium and see what else I can do with it besides just the way I would naturally use it. Watercolours for me I always try and go realistic, but I took some time to step back and try a splashy style, combine it with fineliner, add more colour. Just thinking of ways that I could try the medium without it being a total mess and waste of time. I think I did such a lot of experimenting with the leaves and things so far that I know which mediums I work well with and which ones would just be a waste of time for something as in-depth as a animal portrait.
So I started out with a more realistic approach to it here, I like the hedgehog I think I got quite a nice look with it. The squirrel position is quite nice but I think the look of it could have been more realistic with a small brush and more lightness left into the piece. I tried a sharpie to outline the next couple of studies, which I think worked well to give it a more graphic look, I think this would have worked better with a darker shade of the colour rather than black, but coloured sharpies are not as bold as I would like them and show through to the background behind them. The sharpies do help to define the ears and nose and things which I think does make it look better, maybe to take this further I could see if the technique works on all four of the animals equally well, because this is important as doing three successfully then finding the technique does not work on the last one would not be good.
I tried some splashy watercolour designs next, starting with the natural colour on the hedgehog, then going into the brightly coloured squirrel tail. I took this further then and decided to try each animal, then do all look quite attractive in this style, but it is also a style I have seen before, maybe I could consider it if I add more coloured pencil detail into it to get some details in the face and a looser and splashier background.
Here I showed where I took some of the techniques further, the watercolour and fineliner designs I think were quite effective and the mixture of techniques over the collaged old paper was interesting. I particularly like the dormouse in this one, it turned out quite nice and realistic which I was surprised about, but just going back into it and adding more shading once it dried each time helped to build up the colour well. I tried the hare in a wild pink but I do not think this worked well, I think the pink is too distracting and I like the idea of using the natural colours into it.
Overall the watercolour designs have been really fun, I have enjoyed doing them a lot but whether this is something I could take forward to the designs, may be dependant on how the rest of my designs turn out as I go along.
I chose to take part in the next Spoonflower contest, called ‘Canadian Wildlife’, so the first step was to do a little research and see what kind of animals and trees I could look at. I thought about moose, bears, they seemed a little obvious, and large animals, so I thought I would look for something smaller, which is where I came around the beaver, red fox and arctic hare. I think they worked well because they all have a slightly different colour to them, and with green forest colours I think it gives a nice little natural colour scheme.
I submitted this design above, using a mixture of the animals and a lot of trees and foliage as well. I was really enjoying using these animals and motifs though, so I decided to create some designs to go along with it, I think this is a good practice to do just to practice making these families of designs. If I was doing this for a full collection I would have taken more time to do some more motifs, smaller motifs and maybe add a more contrasting colour into it. But working from this one hero is a task in itself to see what different things can come from it.
So these show what I was playing with from that main design, and the repeat of it here at the bottom. While I think it is an obvious repeat, I do tend to stick to basic tile repeats for spoonflower as I want it to be easy to see in the tile when people are looking through and voting for designs. I could see this working for stationary or small giftware things like my main collection, I think this has given me some confidence in designing animal motifs that are not really realistic too as I want to be able to show some life and texture to them without them being boring and flat too.
Continuing to enter contests and take a few hours out of my week to do this regularly is helping me expand my work and practice pattern making while I am still in the mark-making stages of my collection.