Things seem to go well

Hello hello,
I’m glad to be back, All sorted with my semester hand-in.
The last couple weeks went incredibly smoothly, I even managed to hand in my dissertation draft a day early.
So, to my infinite joy, I think I’ve got my story sorted, regarding characters, plot and compositions. The dummy book looks trashy due to erasing and redrawing so many times, however, I think it’s finally ready to evolve into a finished piece. I am planning to get my hands on drawing the final images early next year, probably during the holidays.
As I might have mentioned before, during my development for a picture book, I got to see the amazing Vivian French, who is world famous children’s author. I got tutorials with her booked every two weeks and she has been an essential part of my picture book development and helped me so much with putting things in my picture book. I feel so lucky to have an opportunity to chat to her about my work in progress, and she’s one of those people that are generous with their ideas and constructive criticism.
So after a semester of hard work, Vivian told me that that I seem to be putting together quite a good story and even suggested applying for a McMillan Picture Book Prize, which to me felt so rewarding already! Feel my creative juices rapidly filling up!
So to catch back what I have done since my last blog, I have changed the story quite a bit, it’s still about a girl called ona, who visually is the same as before. She is going to get sucked into a supermassive black hole and have some crazy crazy time there. She is going to have her friend – llama called Kao, who gets sucked in as well. Basically, it’s a journey through a supermassive black hole with loads of otherwordly landscapes and alien creatures, which I am so looking forward to seeing in full glamour!
There are some alien sketches. Neither of them is the final one, though, I’ll keep you posted with further sketches!9
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Behold the Black Hole. New story for ONA

 

Remember that story about a girl who wanted to live in the planet of seas and sailors? I’m glad you don’t. Turns out it was a bit too complicated for the age 3-5. I met with the amazing Vivian French, probably world famous children’s book author, who I  am so lucky to have tutorials with every two weeks and she helped me out with the story a lot. So a fresh concept for my picturebook is adventures in a black hole. Ona (I hope you still remember her) is still a protagonist, who lives on a small planet with her family. It’s just that she gets sucked into a black hole on her way to her parents, unfortunately. She seems to be having quite an adventure there until something fundamentally wrong happens.
The cool thing about new story is this jellyfish design spaceship that her family is using to go places. Here’s a rough for that:
SMLXL

I tried different concepts (acorn, chestnut shell) but this one seemed to work best due to its naturally dynamic shape. I’ll see how it fits in further within the spreads, but it seems like an exciting start on this new story, which should be more entertaining for my audience. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get sucked into a black hole? Cmon.
I got to develop the evil alien characters too, these went through quite a bit of metamorphosis from a creepy pupil-less monsters with long limbs too jolly, cute and bubbly creatures that are still supposed to be evil, though more child-friendly. The primary version of them is much closer the characters from my zine Supermassive Black Hole from earlier last year and that is not a great idea for a kids book. Would probably hount their dreams forever.
SMLXL

Brushes + Textures = BOOM

Hello! So I tried to apply the textures I made the other day and use a bit of dynamic shape brushes to put this together. A similar scene to the one I’ve done previously, though I like this one better. Never thought I would enjoy drawing night scenes so much. The sky is still quite poor compared to what I’d be aiming for in my book – more starts/milky ways and planets. This one is more of an experiment with colour/composition/shapes/textures. The rice texture seems to work quite well on that massive pinky planet. I probably need a bit more drawings of plants and flowers to be stamped into this scene and maybe more intriguing figure infront of the moonish sort of planet.
That’s it for now. Let’s get some work done, regardless of the beautiful weather and a majestic view of Edinburgh Castle on my left. Tea and sunlight – all I need for a productive day.
P.S. I think I can photosynthesise sunlight into joy.
ona-and-the-planets-mazi

To Hack Texture

I made some textures the other day. It was fun and messy and now I have some textures that I have complete copyright for, hooray! I’m usually too scared to use the ones borrowed from the internet, even when they’re free to use commercially. The good thing about making your own ones is that it gives you more control over the resolution and overall quality of the texture. And the
copyright!

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So I decided to experiment beyond drawing materials and get some food mixed in. I used rice, oats, semolina and nori seaweed to create grainy effects, most of them, hopefully, to be used in my final project, a picturebook, featuring space and planets.
Texture in general is a bit of a weakness of mine, though I have been trying to harness it recently in my latest zine ”Supermassive Black Hole” and some other illustration pieces. I was hugely inspired by well-balanced textures in Tomm Moore’s ”Song of the Sea” and ”Secret of Kells, which are by far the most beautiful pieces of animation I have ever seen. I think work will get influenced by that style quite a lot.
There is so much to learn from it.
First of all, the balance between subtle, translucent textures and hand drawn shape-defining patterns. It’s really hard to achieve both without over-loading the piece with visual elements. The still from ”Song of The Sea” (below) is a perfect example of good variety of textures being subtly blended together into a consistent piece of illustration. The textures added on seal figures pop out and make the look three-dimensional, whereas rocks in the background stay quite flat.
Secondly, colour plays a major role here – a limited range of tones adds to the consistency of overall scene and even though half-tones vary quite a lot, they bouce off from the figures of seals which are quite similar in shape to the rocks, however, are contrasting in colour to their surroundings so they can be easily spotted among the stones. Water has a pale texture of its own, but the colour of it is what creates a glow effect in the scene and has the eyes of the reader fixed on the central area of the spread.
What I can learn about texture from ”Song of The Sea” is how to use texture to acompany colour palette in order to create depth, shape and character. I’ve got something to begin with, though still need to hack photoshop brushes, which I believe can be the most efficient tools for creating texture when used wisely. I’ll let you know how it worked out it my future blogs. Fingers crossed, now let’s get some work done!
P.S. Happy New Academic Year Everyone!

ONA: the beginning of my final project at ECA

Hello Lovely People, Hi Future Gab,
It’s been a while. My first summer in Edinburgh involved more drawing than I ever did during my summers back home. I managed to come up with a concept for my final fourth year illustration project: a picturebook.
This one has no title yet, I will allow some time for it to settle in naturally. The story is more or less defined. To talk extensively, the picture book is going to be about a girl called Ona, who lives in a tiny planet bursting with flora where everyone’s, including herself, main duty is to look after all that jungle that the planet is being swallowed by. Ona finds gardening quite ok, it’s what generations of her family has been doing, however, her biggest dreams reach far beyond her home planet. Ona wants to be a sailor, to roam seas and oceans and discover new lands. The planet, however, has only one water spot – the well, which is obviously too small for sailing. But Ona’s dream is so big she never gives up. Instead, she builts a little boat and begins practicing.
At night she falls asleep in a meadow looking at all the other planets passing by and sometimes talks to people living there doing all kinds of things – counting the coins, curing the ill, teaching pupils, There is a planet for almost anything. Ona has a strong hope there is a planet so full of water that she could sail her boat for days and never see the same view.
What will happen next will remain a secret for a while, However, what I just did was trying to paint a picture with words only, so the final story will surely have less text. Way less.
Overall, my aim with this story is to tell children that they have to listen to their hearts when choosing their life paths, no matter how crazy their dream ”job” would sound, it’s a legitimate goal if it’s what would make you the happiest you could be. And even one comes from a dinasty of doctors or lawyers or , in this case,  gardeners, this doesn’t mean they can’t take a different path. It doesn’t even have to be a ”proper job”.
The visual part of it is going to involve loads of space scenery, fictional worlds and a cute little girl. Double page spreads soaking with mixed media. I’ve got a drawing of her. Quite a finalised one. At least for now. Still got her entire family and people from other planets on the list. It’s going to be such an exciting year.
Ona. Why Ona? Well, I thought the name sounds pretty fresh for a little space lady, even though it is a very very old Lithuanian version of name ”Anna”. In slavic languages it means ”she”. I would say why not. As long as it fits well within the story and hopefully with the title that I still have to come up with.
Why space? I try to recall my childhood passion and the magic I felt about space and astronomy.
I used to dream about how cool it would be if planets would drift by so close that I could almost touch them. My aim is to trigger children’s imagination with the same idea.
Why unibrow? It’s my professional weakness. Unibrow is an instant coolness when it comes to protagonist design. I love my characters to have quite rough, unpolished look as a rebellion against shiny mainstream cartoons for kids with no trace of human touch. Or it’s just me and my weird visual temptations.
Overall, my aim with this story is to tell children that they have to listen to their hearts when choosing their life paths, no matter how crazy their dream ”job” would sound, it’s a legitimate goal if it’s what would make you the happiest you could be. And even one comes from a dinasty of doctors or lawyers or , in this case,  gardeners, this doesn’t mean they can’t take a different path. It doesn’t even have to be a ”proper job”.
Follow your dreams kids.
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Illustration Friday: Monster Theme Sums Up My Portfolio

This week’s (until Friday) theme for Illustration Friday was ‘Monster’. First time I saw it I realised I have something to show off, even though that work wasn’t created exclusively for the submission. I don’t ever do Illustration Friday challenges, it’s not a huge thing in my design environment either, although I’ve known it used to be very popular while ago. Though, it would be really cool to keep up with the themes and draw something random every week.
So. I poped in to check the theme and yeah, felt very familiar with it. No way. I’ve just designed five t-shirt designs for LOKYS, featuring  hybrid animal monsters in every single one of them. I’ve written and illustrated entire picturebook about Zoo animals turned monsters. Oh, wait, there is a comic called ”Grumpy Blue” – all about small unibrowed monsters stealing your hairpins and pen caps. It’s crazy! It’s not that I’m delibarately sticking to one theme all the time, it’s just that whatever brief I’m given at uni, if it’s to do with storytelling, designing some monster character always seems like the best idea to me. Like ”Oh I’m so excited to see how the ghosty tiger-like monster looks like, never seen anything like that before! What about a monster that has a unibrow – sounds fresh!”. It’s more about my obsession to create things for myself that I haven’t seen before. I’m just too excited to see what they look like. (overlooking the fact that I’ll have to draw them, so it’s like playing chess with yourself, isn’t it?) And of course – I’ve seen everything else in this world, visible and invisible, real and fictional. Apart from monsters. You never know how they look like. They lurk in the dark or mysterious places and haunt your dreams in their spare time . That’s right, they’re called monsters for a reason. Probably it’s just my way to fight my fear of the dark. Familiarise myself with something as scary at it gets in my imagination. It is a lot to do with my imagination which tends to go wild if it’s late at night and I’m making my way home  from a flat party (all my friends live somewhere over the rainbow) across quiet and peaceful Edinburgh.  Images and suspicions in my head are usually much worse than those I have embodied in my portfolio. Still don’t have enough courage to draw them and maybe never will. But that’s ok. I like monsters the way they appear on paper. And the fact they are on paper only.
Soon, probably in autumn, I’ll be given a chance to draw some representatives of my other fear  – small,  nosy and very very surreal. Insects these are. Namely midges – those I’ve known too well for my entire life. It’s going to be a picture bo10714607_10204253299246940_1041087679_n.jpgok about Highland Midges and the Legend of Lochness Monster (oooh, seen that word somewhere already). The story is not mine, but I love it very much, probably because it’s many times better than what I could come up with so far and it’s written by a professional storyteller who’s good at both rhyming and Scottish Legends. Not going to spoil too much as there is still a long road to go before I start working on it, though, I’ll surely keep you posted about how things are moving forward. It’s going to be midges all over the place hanging around doing cool things. Quite a challenge, though I’m more than happy to rise to it!
Ok. I know my monsters aren’t really that scary, I probably call them so just cause they don’t fall into any other group as characters and it’s a good word to generalisation, However,  I enjoy drawing monstrous creatures a lot. Furthermore, I must admit I feel quite cosy in their company. Brave me.
Wish me a bit of luck over the midges,
thanks

On Productivity

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a proper blog. The last one was for uni and it was more out of necessity than out of inspiration. I thought, I’m more than half way through my illustration degree and since I started it, there wasn’t much time for reflection. So much happened and so little was captured on paper. I still keep a paper diary though I feel blog could be more effective during the periods as busy as this one (the past two and a half years)

Is it even healthy to be too busy to satisfy my narcissist needs? You know, there have been things happening to me that are definitely worth sharing, like my family visiting Edinburgh (sooo many photos) or our engagement. And it’s not exactly the lack of time that puts me off from posting pictures on social media. I probably don’t feel the need for it. There are so many people living their lives trying to make sure people ”see them properly”. I just can’t be bothered spending extra couple hours every day editing my pictures and writing cool captions next to them on facebook. I suck at taking selfies and gaining that skill is not on my check list. I don’t mean to sound like a hater. This blog is really for myself. Am I a workaholic over-busy person? I feel the need to be productive at least 10 hours a day, not sure if that’s a must, or just me stretching my working hours rather than more productive in less time. I downloaded the app that is a productivity timer, it’s a really useful thing, yet somehow I am not keen to use it. Procrastination that is. Oh my, where do I go from here.

Today was a bear day. So I’ll post a photo of drawings I made.