Inktober 2018! I’m Doing It!

Inktober 1- Michiko copy

I’ve decided to participate in Inktober 2018! The idea is to post an ink drawing every day this month. I’m going to do my best to accomplish that. Real and digital “ink” are equally acceptable and I plan to do both. Yesterday evening I decided to start with a quick sketch of one of our cats, Michiko. I used Tayasui Sketches Pro on my iPad Pro with a Box Wave stylus and the dip pen and watercolor brush tools. It took about five minutes.

I won’t be posting every piece here, just a selection of them. All of them can be viewed on Instagram (foxartist) and Pinterest (foxstudio)

#inktober #inktober2018
More about the event here:

3 Ways To Use Your iPad For Your Art

Ikh Nart argali head study
1. Ikh Nart argali head study

An iPad is not a substitute for traditional media. It’s its own media and can let you make images that wouldn’t be possible any other way. But it can also be used for some of the same things as pencils or pens and paper. Here are three ideas on how to do that, all using my current favorite app ArtRage.

1. Color and detail studies- One can do a fairly finished study drawing to learn a subject, its form, structure, proportions and colors. If I do a painting of this argali, I’ll already know it pretty well and can concentrate on my brushwork. I like how easy it is to make corrections, zoom in and out and keep working layer after layer until I get what I’m after.

Mongol horse running
Mongol horse running

2. Preliminary study sketches- The iPad is great for sketching and finding out if a reference animal draws well. This is a horse I saw last year. I did one sketch of the whole animal,then zoomed in to do a close-up of the head and finally moved down to do the two front legs. Once again, it’s not that this can’t be done with pencil and paper, but the iPad offers other tools like a watercolor brush that would easily let me, for example, add a watercolor wash for the shadow areas. There’s also an eraser tool for making changes or cleaning up lines. It’s also convenient not to have to scan anything. The drawings are already digitized.

Mongol bokh thumbnails
Mongol bokh thumbnails

3. Thumbnails- ArtRage works just fine for doing thumbnail sketches for working out composition ideas, like these two bokh, or Mongol elk species, fighting it out during the rut. They were way up on a hillside and as they bugled and sparred, with cows and calves  running past them. It took only a few minutes to do these six ideas, using the pencil tool with a light warm grey color for the marks. That’s another nice feature. You can do drawings like this in any color and easily change the color.

Step-by-step iPad Drawing- Pacific Tree Frog

Pacific Tree Frog  ArtRage iPad 3
Pacific Tree Frog ArtRage iPad 3

I’ve finally had time to get back to drawing and sketching on my iPad. Here’s a step-by-step of a Pacific tree frog, one of many, who lives in our yard, but who showed up in my husband’s office, probably courtesy of one of the cats. I took some photos of him and then released him back down at the pond.

The drawing took about two hours and uses the same skills I apply to any other art media I may use. My current favorite stylus is a BoxWave EverTouch, which has a fine metal fabric tip instead of rubber, which means less drag, none really, on the surface of the tablet’s protective shield.

First I do a sketch
First I do a sketch using the pencil tool in a light tone
Then I lay in washes using the watercolor brush tool
Then I lay in washes using the watercolor brush tool
Another wash layer
Another wash layer
I start laying in colors with the crayon tool
I start laying in colors with the crayon tool
And just continue adding layers until I get what I want
Aadding layers of color until I get what I want and refining the eye
Adding final touches like the light in the eye
The eye is mostly done and now I’ll finish the body
Pacific Tree Frog  ArtRage iPad 3
And, once again, the finished drawing-Pacific Tree Frog. I enjoy adding all the noodling of colors pushing and pulling values and temperatures, along with defining the forms

Fun With My iPad- Doing Some Drawings And Futzing With Photos

Pine siskins
Pine siskins

I don’t have as much time for recreational drawing as I would like, but when I do I’m really having fun using my iPad. My app of choice these days is ArtRage, which has a “watercolor brush” tool that I like a lot.

Demoiselle cranes
Demoiselle cranes
Spotted towhee
Spotted towhee
Mongol cow
Mongol cow
Leaping ibex
Leaping ibex

As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility in how finished a piece one can choose to do. There’s no problem with just going and going and going and….until you have what you want.

Resting ibex
Resting ibex

I’ve also been trying various effects on iPad drawings and some of my photos using Camera Awesome, which has a lot more options than Instagram and works with any photo on a Camera Roll no matter what camera app you use.

Mongol horse
Mongol horse; this one combines an iPad drawing with Camera Awesome photo effects. It was quite a hit on Tumblr where it was reposted many times.
Chinggis Khan
Chinggis Khan
Mongol horse trainer
Mongol horse trainer
Michiko, one of our cats

Mongolia Monday- A Visit To The American Museum Of Natural History

I spent a great morning at the American Museum of Natural History during my recent quick visit to New York to attend the Society of Animal Artists board meeting and show jury.

This time I wanted to sketch and once again see the fossils that Roy Chapman Andrews’ Central Asiatic Expeditions brought back from Mongolia. I got to chatting with one of the volunteer docents and found that she knew the location of some Mongolia items that I hadn’t found on my previous visit in 2009.

The jackpot was an American flag that flew from one of the expedition vehicles. It was in a glass case that had been mounted on the wall in one of the stairwells, not exactly a prominent, easy to find location, so I appreciated the docent’s help a lot!

Here’s a “album” of photos from the museum, filled out with a couple from my previous trip, ending with a couple of iPad sketches I did.

American flag carried to the Gobi of Mongolia by one of Roy Chapman Andrews’ Central Asiatic Expeditions.
Closeup of the photo. I’ve helped push a vehicle or two on my trips, but without a dog to supervise.
The walls in the cafe closest to the Paleontology section are lined with photos of the Central Asiatic Expeditions to Mongolia. This one is of what Andrews dubbed “The Flaming Cliffs” which are located in an area the Mongols call Bayanzag (Place of the saxaul trees). I’m pretty sure I watched the sun go down along the lengthy of this butt in September of 2006. He used large caravans of camels to transport supplies and get them into position before the rest of the expedition arrived in motor cars.
Another photo from the cafe, this one showing the Expedition’s camp. The tents are “maikhan” or summer tents, which are lighter and even more portable than the better known felt gers.
Short profile of Roy Chapman Andrews. It has been speculated that he was one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones. And if you’ve read his biography, that’s not hard to believe, although there is no proof.
One of the fossils from Mongolia, a Psittacosaurus mongoliensis
Informational sign about the above fossil
Protoceratops fossil skulls of varying sizes; the expedition’s scientists found far more of these than any other species
A pair of protoceratops (image from 2009)
Although the Expeditions failed in their original goal, which was to find evidence that “man” had originated in Asia, not Africa, the find that electrified America was the discovery of the first known fossil dinosaur eggs. Andrews’ decision to sell one created a firestorm of controversy. (image from 2009)
Besides the flag, this was the other item from Mongolia that I’d missed on my previous trip, an amazing fossil of a female dinosaur which contains a egg with a recognizable embryo, something never before seen or found.

Finally, here are a couple of quick sketches I did of protoceratops skulls using ArtRage on my iPad.

New iPad Drawings Using A New App, ArtRage!

An artist friend and colleague, Guy Combes, just told me about a iPad art app called ArtRage. So of course I had to buy it and try it. Below are a few of my first pieces using it.

ArtRage provides tools that correspond to all the regular media and tools artists use…pencils, brushes, pastels, pens, palette knife, airbrush and also chalk and crayons. You can also pick your “paper”. The app is designed for the tools to make the same kind of marks on the different virtual papers that they would on real papers and canvas.

I think it’s a good complement to Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro, which is more illustration oriented in terms of the tools it offers. ArtRage is definitely targeted towards fine artists. But both can be easily and productively used by either depending on what one wants to do. I like having both! Here’s what I’ve done using Sketchbook Pro.

So far, I’ve only messed with the watercolor brush on watercolor “paper”. I’m interested in being able to use my iPad for location painting in addition to sketching and I think this will work, once I get the hang of it.

Young horse
Neighborhood sheep
White-napped crane, Bronx Zoo

My iPad Sketches Are In A New Book!

I got an email last year from one of the authors of a book called “Visual Notes”, first published in 1984. He and his co-author were updating it to include images created digitally. He found my blog post about my iPad sketching and asked permission to use some of them in the new edition. Of course, I said “Yes!”

The new book is out and is available on here on Amazon. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but have browsed through it and it looks really good. I’m very, very proud to have my iPad sketches included in a book that also includes “visual notes” by people such as choreographer Merce Cunningham and architect Michael Graves.

Here are a few of the seven sketches that are in the book:

"Pot-bellied Pig, Oakland Zoo"- I did this one in about 15 seconds and almost hit "Don't Save", but this was the one that caught the author's eye.
"Flamingos, Oakland Zoo"- My own favorite from that day at the zoo.
"Roosevelt Elk Bull, Redwood National Park"- I sat in the car and sketched this big guy who also had a large harem of cows.

Mongolia Monday- New iPad Drawings Of Mongolian Animals

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the Sketchbook Pro app for my iPad. It works well for fast location sketching, but I’ve been wanting to see how I could use it for more finished work.

I keep the iPad with me in the living room and I have a lot of photos from my latest Mongolia trip on my MacBook Pro. So it’s easy to sit and work while a football game is on.

I’ve settled on just a couple of the drawing tools to keep it simple for now as I learn how to use other features like the size of the line and how opaque or transparent it is.

The one thing I have found is that it is difficult to do animal heads that are small because the size of the stylus end makes it hard to do small strokes for features like eyes. But I managed. I’ll definitely be taking the iPad to Mongolia again next year for location work.

Juvenile cinereous vulture, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, August 2011
Cashmere goat, Khan Khentii Mountains, August 2011
Yak, Burget Uul, August 2011
Argali ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, August 2010