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Finishing the 50 Bird challenge: Weekly Art Dispatch No. 32🎨

3 October 2021 - Reading time: 6 minutes

I got quite busy with RL matters and didn't publish a Dispatch last week. So here is another double issue.

After the intense focus of the big bazaar illustration in Dispatch 31, I dialed things back and did two weeks of smaller, faster art pieces. Amongst other things, I finished one drawing challenge, and just in time for a new art challenge: Inktober.

50 Bird challenge

I began the 50 Bird challenge back in late May with an art friend in a Discord server. (First mentioned in Dispatch 20.) My goal for this challenge was to use it as a sandbox: sketch birds quickly while testing out various drawing methods I was too timid to try in more "finished" pieces. Last time I posted about this challenge, I was painting these birds digitally, had posted bird #40 and partially finished #41, before I ran out of steam and then became occupied to other projects.

When I picked up bird #41 again, I realized that I was spending too much time on the digital painting process, getting bogged down in details, and had forgotten that these were meant to be sketches for testing methods.

The bazaar illustration of Dispatch 31 revealed all the limitations of my digital methods, so it seemed fitting to use the 50 Birds to explore, test new painting methods, and iterate on my process -- all without the risk of "ruining" a more significant painting. If I could go back to treating these birds as sketches, I could loosen my inhibitions about producing "subpar work", while staying focused on the goal of practicing my digital painting process. I also had various digital brushes in Clip Studio Paint that I wanted to experiment with.

I decided to paint birds #42-47 each with a single type of digital brush, and to limit my painting time to 30 minutes (a single pomodoro timer) so I could iterate quickly on process. Birds #48-50 were used to test a lineart-and-painting process, which is closer to my illustration workflow.

This strategy was a great success: I got to play with different digital brushes, and get comfortable again with a more freeform, less linework-constrained method of drawing/painting. Amongst other things, I discovered that I had been drawing on my Wacom Intuos pen tablet in the most ham-fisted manner. I practiced a lighter touch on these birds -- and discovered, to my amazement, that the digital brushes now worked as they claimed to work!

Birds 42-50 - the challenge is complete! Birds 48-50 drawn with lineart are at bottom centre and bottom right.

Personal work

To practice the lineart-and-painting process I used for birds 48-50, I drew my OCs, Vega and Zhael.

But first, a colour scheme! I've drawn these characters for something like 15 years, but always in pencil, and never in colour. I had a vague colour scheme for them -- hair/eyes/skin colour, and a few clothing accents -- but every time I imagined them I only saw them in monochrome.

It was a cool experience to apply colour theory and design principles to my vague ideas and figure out an attractive colour scheme for them.

Vega and Zhael. That small wyvern seems to be appearing a lot in their scenes now.

Colour reference sheet for future use!

Study art: Drawabox

After clearing the deck of the 50 Bird challenge, I resumed Drawabox and started the 25 Wheels challenge. I'm about halfway through the wheels as of writing, and should be finished by the next Dispatch. I'm approaching the end of the Drawabox curriculum!

Progress on the 25 Wheel challenge. I don't have an ellipse template, so drawing these freehanded wheels was a big technical challenge.

Inktober is upon us

I wanted to do Inktober last year, but missed it due to impostor syndrome that shut me down for all of October. But I'm ready for it this year and am excited to begin. I'd even got some inking practice through the 50 Bird challenge.

My output so far:

Inktober Days 1 (Crystal) and 2 (Suit).

And finally, it is again time for my Quarterly Art Review. July - September was very eventful and productive on the art front, so I'll have a lot to say and show -- including the full gallery of the 50 Bird challenge.  That will be next week's topic.

Thanks for reading this week's edition of the Art Dispatch! 🎨

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