Illustration Process

Cookie Jar

Recent gouache painting and some process pictures. Don’t get caught eating crumbles off the floor!

Una pintura reciente en gouache y algunas fotos del proceso. Que nadie te pesque comiendo migas del piso!

Doodles Illustration

More Septempera

A whole lot more of the little paintings I made during my personal challenge #septempera last year, making one gouache painting each day during September. Some are quite simple or small but I’m really happy that I completed the challenge. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it again this year, but we’ll see!

Más de las pinturitas que hice el año pasado para mi desafío personal #septempera: pintar algo en gouache cada día de Septiembre. Algunas son muy simples o chiquitas pero estoy contenta de que logré hacerlas todos los días! Dudo de poder repetirlo este año, pero ya veremos.

Musings Process

Bits & Bobs on Traditional Art

A few months ago, I made a thread on Twitter with traditional art random tips & tricks. It was not meant to be a tutorial or step by step, just weird little snippets I’ve learnt in no particular order. A mix of things, mostly about gouache, ink and acrylics because it’s what I know best, plus some tidbits about cleaning up stuff digitally.

The bits & bobs drawer of my art knowledge.

I’ve transcribed them all below (in some I have altered the order for consistency/readability) and I might eventually make a second post expanding or adding more stuff, but I will likely write it directly as a blog post: Twitter can be a pain to explain some stuff, and the fact that you can’t edit tweets is a bummer for this kind of thing.

• Tip: build a wet palette! Very useful for gouache, indispensable for acrylics. Mine’s loosely based on this one: …

A shallow container with lid, a moist kitchen rag cut to size inside, and baking paper on top will keep your paints usable for quite a while.

• As a sidebar, James Gurney’s blog: is absolutely packed with useful stuff and his videos are highly recommended if you want to learn about painting.

• Tip: If you usually tape your paper’s border when painting, but when pulling off the tape, it rips off the paper, use a hairdryer on it as you pull. The hot air will warm up the glue and make it easier to remove.

• Tip: If you use permanent ink, window cleaner (not the eco-kind, sorry Earth) is your friend! Great for cleaning up clogged nibs and work surfaces (too brutal for brushes, although I’ve used it as a very last resort).

• Tip: Make-up cases are great for organizing art supplies.

• Tip: Scanning glossy or textured surfaces. You need to scan twice, the second time rotating your painting/drawing 180º. Put the two scans as layers in PS, then Edit>Auto-Align Layers. Set top layer to Lighten for texture, Darken for glare.

• Tip: If your art is too big for your scanner, scan it in parts (with some overlap) and then in PS: File>Automate>Photomerge>Collage will put it together automatically.

My tip about scanning glossy/textured surfaces seems to have generated a lot of interest so I thought I’d post a quick GIF of it in action (this is for glare, so the top layer is set to Darken).

• Tip: Separating your scanned inks from the white of the paper.
Tweak Levels to taste (an Adjustment layer is ok). Go to Channels tab, Ctrl+click on RGB channel. Layers tab, make a new layer, Select>Inverse. Alt+Backspace to fill with your FG color (press D first for black).

• Tip: If your inks have a color pencil underdrawing to remove, before applying my previous tip: Tweak Levels/Sat (if you use Adjustment layers, flatten before next step). Channels tab, click on channel that matches your color pencil. Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C. Layers tab, new layer, Ctrl+Shift+V.

• Previous tips are for Photoshop. If coloring inks digitally is a regular part of your process, consider trying Clip Studio Paint which has both of these things automated.

These tips and thoughts are based on my experience and my way of painting, I don’t think there are hard and fast rules here (or in traditional media in general), just preferences.

• Gouache: Half the difficulty of this medium is getting the handle of consistency. It can be used watered down/transparent like watercolor, or thick, nearly straight from the tube. This is what makes it so versatile. But the interesting stuff happens somewhere in between.

• Gouache: Unless you’re familiar enough to know what you’re doing, I recommend starting thin and building up to thicker paint gradually. There’s a “holy grail” consistency for me, when the paint is runny but still pretty opaque/covering. Something crepe batter-like.

• Gouache tip: If your paint is lifting a lot, your paint is probably getting too thick too soon and/or you’re not letting the layers under dry properly. Again, the hairdryer is your friend!

• Gouache tip: If the paint is separating as you squeeze it on your palette, remove any excess medium (the transparent stuff) before painting, otherwise it may not dry properly and stay sticky forever.
Shaking & massaging/kneading your paint tube can help for next time.

• Gouache tip: Don’t be a miser with your paint! Squeeze that tube! You need enough on your palette, doubly so if you’re going for a clean/graphic approach. Gouache *will* dry a different shade, so matching colors later is a pain.

• Gouache tip: You can make a light, general wash of a cool or warm color before starting painting properly, this will “tint” and harmonize your colors. A bit like a reverse glazing.

Here’s an example, timelapse from one of my paintings.

• If you like the matte look of gouache but dislike the fact that it reactivates with water, you can use acrylic gouache, casein, or vinyl paint instead. You can also combine them, and paint with gouache over a more permanent ground.

Marshy Madness @Marshyfluff asked: Any tips for water colors and types of inks ??
I don’t use watercolors too often, so I’m not sure if I can give any tips on them. But I will say that in my (limited) experience, this is a medium where decent paper will make a lot of difference.

• Tip: Another technique that can be used for watercolor or gouache is lifting, where you use a wet clean brush to rub lightly and slowly remove paint. In gouache I’ve used it mostly to repaint mistakes, but I know some watercolor artists use it for highlights too.

• Brushes: Having one or two really good brushes for inking or painting is a good idea, but also have cheap ones, weird ones, hard ones, sponges, rags, palette knifes, sticks… I get brushes at the dollar store often and have found some strange gems!

• Brushes: My favorite brush for inking is the classic Series 7, but I have a few destroyed, strange ones for dry brushing and effects.
I do lots of my gouache painting with a mysterious unbranded brush of what I think is pony hair, a hog brush, and a synthetic sable for details.

• Art materials: Care for your stuff, but don’t be precious about it. Don’t save that nice paper or that expensive color or that fancy brush for a special occasion, or for when you’re good enough.
The only wasted art materials are the ones you don’t use.

• Art materials: The tools don’t make the artist, & you can make art with anything.
But when you’re starting out, you’re already struggling with the learning process, so it helps not having to fight your tools too. Go for decent quality over quantity. Not luxury, but reliability.

Kizrae @floofykiz asked: Any tips for very simple background composition?

This is a great topic, but I’m not sure I’m the best to cover it; I don’t think backgrounds are my strongest suit. So I’ll just share some thoughts about the things I’m trying to learn in this area. Reminders for myself.

• Backgrounds/composition: My first piece of advice is to get the book “Creative Illustration” by Andrew Loomis. It covers so much ground (composition, visual storytelling, colors/values & how to arrange them, etc.), it’s so comprehensive and easy to understand. An absolute must.

• Backgrounds/composition: I try to remind myself not to let backgrounds be an afterthought & think of a even a simple picture as a whole. For simple backgrounds, look at good comic-strip cartoonists for ways to add a sense of place with minimal elements.
Art by Charles Schulz.

• Backgrounds/composition: Don’t get lost in the details: think of your big shapes first in abstract terms, see how they’re leading the eye around your image. Thumbnails help a lot with arranging your shapes and values and they take very little time!

• Backgrounds/composition: I find useful to think of a picture in terms of contrast. I don’t mean just contrast between light/dark, but also between warm/cool, curves/angles, busy/empty, vertical/horizontal, etc. You want the most drastic contrasts where you want the eye to focus.

A clear example of my previous tweet: Focus is a vertical shape among (roughly) horizontal lines/shapes, dark figure against light BG. Warm red hues of the head pop against cold BG. Heavy/hard textures against soft shapes. Lines point to the focus.
Art by Caspar David Friedrich.

• Backgrounds/composition: Storytelling. Your background complements what your characters are conveying, adding another layer of narrative.
And think of backgrounds as characters too! Think of the ways you visually convey personality traits and quirks and apply them there as well.

• Backgrounds/composition: This is really a reminder for myself: take the time to properly build your perspective! Use rulers. Spend the time to plan and think before you draw/paint. Make bold choices. It’s easier to dial back from strong shapes than to push weak ones.

… and when everything else fails just put some trees and leafy stuff ????

• Experience: Tips, tricks, books, tutorials are great, being analytical & keeping a critical eye is useful & necessary, but there’s an understanding that only comes with mileage. So keep at it, try to be patient & persistent, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not great from day 1.

• Experience: When I started trad painting/inking, I was coming from vector illustration. I wanted everything to look as clean & flawless, the lack of control terrified me so much. But I slowly learned to enjoy the process.
Messing up is ok. Paint over. Lift the paint. Try again.


Septempera – The Goblinette

During September of last year, I made a challenge for myself of making a gouache painting everyday of the month.

I’ll post the rest later on but I wanted to share here a few of them that followed the same character: the goblinette, whose adventures I plan on exploring/developing some more in the future. I’m thinking she needs a proper name as well.

Durante Septiembre del año pasado me puse el objetivo de hacer una pintura en gouache por cada día del mes.

El resto las compartiré más adelante, pero quería dedicar una entrada exclusiva a estas, que siguen las aventuras de un mismo personaje: la goblinette. Tengo la idea de explorar y desarrollar sus andanzas un poco más eventualmente, pero veremos qué pasa. Por lo pronto creo que debería al menos darle un nombre.

Illustration News

A few things from 2017

I’ve been thinking about the way I use social media a lot lately, and it’s made me realize that I must do better this year to update and maintain this blog. Much of what I create ends up on third party platforms whose ultimate goal is to generate profit for their companies and, while they do have their good and bad points, they often fall outside the control of the content’s creator and shape interactions without much say from any part, so I’d like to use this space as a more personal corner for the things I make, to keep an archive of my own – or at the very least, to have my own repository of the things I share on social media.

I’m not entirely sure if anyone reads blogs much these days… but that’s not really the point.

To get things started, here’s a few selected things I made in 2017.

Vengo pensando bastante últimamente acerca de la manera en que uso redes sociales, y llegué a la conclusión de que tengo que hacer un pequeño esfuerzo este año para mantener este blog al día. Mucho de lo que hago termina en plataformas de terceros, que si bien tienen cosas buenas y cosas malas, su fin último es, a fin de cuentas, generar ganancias, y este fin afecta la manera en que eligen presentar contenido e influenciar interacciones.

Así que idealmente el plan sería hacer de este un rincón más personal, pero mínimamente quiero mantener acá un repositorio de las imágenes que subo a las redes, un archivo propio sin influencia externa. No sé si mucha gente sigue leyendo blogs hoy en día, pero en realidad no es lo importante.

Para empezar, acá van algunas cosas sueltas que hice en el 2017.

Illustration News

Pigment Pigsty is here!

Pigment Pigsty, my printed collection of sketches & illustrations, is finally here!!! 😀 These little books printed really nicely, I’m super happy with how they turned out!

Get your copy here (EDIT: send us a message if you’re interested in purchasing a copy)

24 pages of artwork lovingly printed on 170 gms paper. Size A5 (210 mm x 148 mm / 8.27 in x 5.83 in). All copies come signed and sketched in! 🙂

Illustration Process

Gouache Process Videos

I hadn’t posted them here yet, but I’ve made a few short vids this year, timelapses of my gouache painting process. You can watch these and others on our YouTube channel; feel free to subscribe to get notified of new videos we make, and if you have any questions about materials or process, leave a comment and ask away!

No los había subido acá todavía pero vengo haciendo algunos videitos de mi proceso de pintura en gouache. Pueden ver estos y otros en nuestro canal de YouTube, si les interesa pueden suscribirse para recibir notificaciones cuando hagamos videos nuevos, y si tienen dudas sobre materiales o procesos no duden en dejar sus preguntas en los comentarios! 


Animal Patterns

There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t really post because there’s quite a while between the time I make it and the time it’s published, and I end up forgetting :/

I thought I’d start to remedy that, so here’s some of the pages I made of a coloring book series for Dover, called Playful Pictures: Animals. I had a lot of fun creating all these animal themed patterns, and there’s a LOT more in the book. I inked these traditionally with a brush, and the one in color (used in the book’s back cover) was colored digitally in Photshop.

Hay muchas cosas que, por el tiempo que pasa entre que las hago y que finalmente se publican, me termino olvidando de mostrar :/

Para empezar a remediar la cuestión, acá van algunas páginas que hice para un libro para colorear de Dover, que se llama Playful Pictures: Animals. Me lo pasé genial haciendo todos estos diseños repetibles con animalitos, y en el libro hay unos cuantos más. Entinté todo de manera tradicional con pincel, y la imagen en color (que se usó en la contratapa del libro) la coloreé en Photoshop


Illustration Process

Woman from the Black Lagoon

In addition to our individual pieces for the Universal vs. Hammer Monsters show at Susanita’s Little Gallery, we also painted this image together. It’s a twist on the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon, painted in acrylic gouache on paper and it was a blast to make.

Plus: we recorded our painting process of this image and made this little video! The quality is not the best, and it’s missing a bit in the end when we added the lettering (blame the camera’s battery!) but we’ve learned tons and hopefully our next ones will see some improvement. The music is by the very awesome Dr. Quandary.

Además de las cosas que hicimos individualmente para la expo Universal vs. Hammer Monsters de Susanita’s Little Gallery, también pintamos esta imagen los dos juntos. Es un “twist” de la peli clásica El monstruo de la laguna negra, está hecha con goauche acrílico sobre papel, y nos la pasamos genial pintándola.

Y de yapa, grabamos un videín mientras la estábamos pintando! La calidad no es fantástica, y le falta un poquito al final en el que añadimos el título porque nos falló la batería, pero fue todo un aprendizaje y los próximos videos deberían ir mejorando. La música nos fue cedida generosamente por Dr. Quandary.