Stuck in a puddle

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I’m on day 68 of my 365 photo project!  Hooray!

I’ve been working on a cartoon commission for a friend these past few days, and while the pens were out I decided to do a photo/cartoon selfie.

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Inking

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26/365 - Draftsmanship

Photo 26 of my 365 project used my cartoons as the subject.   I have been dedicating quite some time to my photography challenge and haven’t missed a day yet – it is much less time consuming than drawing but it gives me the same creative gratification.

Michelle at The Green Study pointed out that I haven’t really shared my ‘process’ before, and someone else commented that they thought I drew everything directly into the computer.   In a previous post I briefly mentioned how I do things while I waxed lyrical about creating smooth lines in Illustrator but I’m happy to share a bit more.

My process is simple.  I sketch in pencil, biro or whatever writing implement I can get my hands on.  It’s usually a really rough sketch to get the positions/expressions right. I then trace over the originals on a fresh sheet of paper using black Indian ink and a fountain pen, or a simple black liner if I’m feeling lazy. I have a lightbox to make tracing easier.  I continue to redraw, tweak and redraw until I am mostly happy with the final image.  Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly self critical, this part can take an age.

Finally, I scan the line drawings into Photoshop and do a bit of touching up. For example I  might remove blemishes, erroneous lines or fill in some detail I think would add to it.  Then I colour and add texture.  Ta Da!   Of course there are all sorts of variations depending on my mood, but this is my preferred approach.

 

And so 2015 begins!

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A quick sketch to start the new year. I hope 2015 will have more cartoons and also a few photos as I’ve just embarked on a 365 project. I’ll be taking a photo a day for the whole of 2015. If you’d like to keep track, then follow me on Flickr.

Best wishes for a fabulous New Year everyone!

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Lens Envy

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been to France and back (twice), visited a seal colony on the East coast, watched the famous Lipizzaner Stallions perform, completed two commissions for a colleague’s fashion blog and a friend’s Christmas card, I’ve been to three theatre shows and much more beyond my powers of recall. Is it any wonder that I’ve been rather lax with my cartoons?

While in France, I met with family to visit the annual natural history photographic exhibition in Montier-en-Der. The five day event brings well over 30,000 visitors to – as a French man put it to us – the ‘butt end of nowhere’.  Thousands of awe inspiring photographs are displayed at exhibitions in and around Montier-en-Der – it was impossible to see everything in a single day.  But we tried. We spent eight hours driving from village to village, ducking in and out of tiny town halls, schools and church yards, oohing and aaahing over the images.  For the most part, I was green with envy and had a persistent nagging feeling that I should give up my job, travel the world and track musk ox, or penguins, or polar bears, or field mice, or macaques, or whales, or lynx…the list goes on.

It was, of course, compulsory to saunter around the optics, camera and accessories tent – a place for those who had a bit of spare cash and were hoping to pick up a lens or two for the cheap, cheap price of £15,000 each! The poorer photographers, myself included, were simply left drool over the 1200mm lens which would give you enough zoom to photograph the nose hairs of a red squirrel high in a tree. If you were feeling particularly masochistic, you could test the equipment on your own camera.  Rows and rows of predominately male photographers could be seen with lenses as long as your arm, testing their ‘zoominess’ on the banks of the lake where one of the exhibitions was taking place. Over their shoulders peered green-eyed paupers feeling inadequate with their shorter, less zoomy lenses. I couldn’t help noting the similarities between this, and other male displays of virility… Lens Envy

Deer! Deer! Deer!

I’ve spent a hefty portion of the weekend focusing my energy on photography.  On Saturday morning I was up early and raced to the moorlands nearby to watch the sun come up and photograph the herds of deer that are congregating in preparation for the autumn rut.  It was a clear, crisp morning and the sound of bellowing stags echoed around the heathland – what a great way to start the day.

In my good mood, I headed off in search of king fishers at my local nature reserve – I had it on good authority that a pair had been making a regular appearance and I drooled over some of the photographic evidence.  King fishers are on my list of ‘must photograph’ animals – needless to say, it didn’t show up.

Today I took part in a sponsored photography walk in aid of a local charity.   My photography group, I Just Wanna Tek Gud Photos, spent 2 hours on a historic tour of Sheffield, taking photos along the way.  The fruits of our labour will be displayed in an exhibition come November and the money from any sales will go directly to the charity.

So for today’s post, I thought I’d forego the cartoon and share a photograph or two.

Deer's looking at you!

Call of the wild

Dawn breaks on the moor

 

 

Cephalopod Encounters

OctopusesDid you know that the plural of octopus is octopuses or octopodes? Me neither. According to the dictionary, octopi is definitely wrong.

I’ve recently come to learn that octopuses are AWESOME! During our holiday in Greece we bumped into an octopus on three separate occasions. The waters around Kefalonia are crystal clear and bursting with interesting marine life; perfect for snorkeling. So, on one bright, warm day we headed out on an excursion with Jamie, a marine biologist, whose main area of study was octopuses, hence my sudden interest in them.

Our transportation for the day was a traditional Greek working boat or Kaiki which sailed us around the coast, stopping along the way to drop anchor so we could learn about urchins, starfish, eels, sea cucumbers and octopuses. Jamie, kept us rapt with tales of Greek mythology, mafia and marine life in between our snorkeling adventures when were left to explore the bays and mingle with the fish.

Within moments of taking our first dip into the water I stumbled upon an octopus gliding across the seabed – what luck! I squealed with excitement through my snorkel and called for Jamie who swiftly caught it, but not before it squirted us with ink and wowed us with its ability to change a variety of colours in a matter of seconds.

Back on board the boat, we stood over the little guy who eyeballed intently before trying to climb out of the temporary aquarium using its suckers. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, I couldn’t help touching it. It probably goes without saying that feeling an octopus’s tentacles wrap around your hand is weird and slightly alarming – for a moment I thought it might never let go. After a few interesting octopus anecdotes we put him back in the water and watched him swim away.

Here are some things I learnt:

  • An octopus can get through a hole the size of a ten pence piece (if you don’t believe me, I found a video on YouTube. Essentially, if its eyes can get through a hole, then so can the rest of it
  • Their tentacles will grow back should they accidentally lose one in a fight or to prey
  • They make little nests that look like miniature fortresses
  • They live about two years
  • They can survive out of the water for 3-5 minutes (possibly more?)
  • After mating, the male dies
  • Greek people love to eat them 😦

Below: A photo I took from the end of the pier near our apartment in Fiscardo – this chap was happily minding his own business.

Octopus

 

Below: our transportation for the day.

 

The boat

Holiday UK #5 – National Marine Aquarium

NMA_plymouthHoliday diary excerpt 27th June:

“…We caught the Park and Ride from Coypool into Plymouth to explore the ‘Ocean City’.  First impressions: grimy, durgy, unattractive.  We walked to the Plymouth Hoe, down to the lido and past the crumbling features of what I think are the remains of concrete Victorian beach huts built into the cliff face (see picture below to illustrate…).

…We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the National Marine Aquarium gawping at moray eels, upside down and moon jellyfish, baby sharks wriggling in their egg cases and frog fish that look exactly like pieces of coral. I loved it”

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