Saturday, 24 December 2011


More watercolours tonight. My mother has come home for the holidays and set up her own workspace in the living room, which made me realise the light there is infinitely better than the one in my room. So I joined her and painted this:

Reference is from National Geographic.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Calton Hill

A small watercolour piece I made in mid-November as a birthday present for a friend. She likes green and greenery, which is something I learned to appreciate very much while painting this: green is so restful to work with! It's almost like eye-food, or something. :)

It was referenced from a photo I took in Edinburgh in 2009, at a very lovely spot on the north side of Calton Hill. The bright sunshine was a bit of a rarity...

I wish I could have made a contrast as stark as the one in the photo! But I was fearful of botching the picture. I should have been more bold; but then again I know I don't control the medium very well, and I would have botched it. :}

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Zeitgeist illustrations

I got the green light to post the illustrations I was commissioned to do for Zeitgeist: The Gears of Revolution, a series of D&D adventures published by EN World. The adventure these are in will be out sometime in early January.

1. Dr. Xandria Meredith, Archeologist and Adventurer:

She is meant to be a redhead, cute but smart and with an explorer's physique.The background was to be 'bright and academic', so I happily slapped the National Library of Athens in it, slightly changed to fit the composition - though residents of Athens recognise it at once! :)

2. Path to Ruins:

The description called for a rainy grey swamp, with a ziggurat barely visible in the distance, and a path towards it outlined by scraps of golden-orange cloth tied to tree barks.

3. Marsh Mummy:

A mummified corpse, to be exact, hanging from a spear trap from the wall. I don't really understand how a corpse can possibly mummify in a damp environment (unless it's inside a peat bog), but oh, well. :) The glittering necklace was a key point.

Also, here are the early stages of the above. I normally work very haphazardly (as seen in the early swamp image), but I tried a more structured approach for the mummy, and I completely went out of my way with a detailed line art drawing (which is something I never do) for Xandria.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


(right click and open link in new tab/window for full view - blogger scales down the image)

I won a copy of Painter 12 from Digital Artist's contest a few days ago, and finally got round to playing with it. :) I started this one in Photoshop, where I also laid in the final touches - but most of the work was done in Painter.

Reference used for the hand: kindly shared by batchix.

It may be worth mentioning I was specifically inspired by Pasolini's Medea. I found it a flawed, but otherwise very interesting film, both visually and conceptually. I also felt it offered a good insight into the character of Medea, as a person who had lost their way of understanding the world as they had known it.

I also liked Maria Callas' performance in it. Some say it was somewhat stilted, but in my view not so much, certainly not for an 1969 film as stylised as Pasolini's.

If you are curious, here are some links:

Medea (Wikipedia)
Medea (play by Euripides, 431 BC)
Pasolini's Medea on Youtube, in 10 parts

Also, the initial sketch:

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Apologies - watercolour

"What timeless hours must it take,
  writing my apologies,
  on these burning rocks,
  grazed by the dust and the wind and
  shaked by the storms and
  in ambiguous dismay or delight at a clear bright sky,
  my eyes hurt."

Quick illustration of a story-in-the-works. This one is not mine, but it also belongs to the Sunraze world.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sunraze (watercolour)

Another take on the original Sunraze scene, this time in watercolours.

The result could be better (I suppose it will be a while before I get the hang of watercolours, barring any 'happy accidents'). The paper was not made to take as much water as I loaded it with, glazing after glazing. I will need to to improve my blending, too.

The tree figure was done a bit haphazardly: started with sepia first, then the reds, then I inked it a bit, and again sepia/red. I'm too used to adding the highlights on top, so I got confused. :}

Well, on to the next piece!

Monday, 3 October 2011


I have been struggling with an art block lately. I have little motivation to sit in front of the PC and paint. I do try to force myself into doing so, but that kind of defeats the object. Pencil drawing holds little appeal, too (I used to do most of it during transit, but now I tend to read instead).

Last Friday, however, I got hold of a decent set of watercolours, and I've been genuinely itching to try my hand at using them. I think that might deal with the block!

I am still very clumsy, and I need better brushes, but I'm liking them very much.

The fluffheap tree is from a rougher pencil drawing I made this summer. I used tracing paper to transfer it on my watercolour pad (by tracing it on both sides of the paper and using one side like carbon paper). The necessary cleaning up was done on the fly. Inking was done with very diluted India ink (and a pen with an annoyingly scratchy nib).

 The landscape is a variation of a somewhat failed oil painting I started and abandoned about a month ago. Since then I got some insight on what went wrong with it, though, so maybe I should pick it up again, or redo it from scratch. Problem with oils: long drying times and the fact that turpentine, which would speed them up, disagrees very badly with me. I also feel that using a hair dryer is not exactly the next best approach. I should probably get some Liquin.

Lastly, this is the unfinished digital study (referenced from this photo) I apparently don't want to paint. I tell myself it's useful, learning to paint forests, but I don't seem to believe me. Why, self?!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summer sketches

I'm back! And not quite empty-handed, even though there wasn't much time for drawing. The two weeks I was away were largely spent on the road, and in impromptu family gatherings. But I managed to get some stuff done.

I now think that I had a breakthrough of sorts, and it was right after seeing Katerina Chadoulou's work earlier this month. Katerina draws faces very deliberately, with attention to planes, building forms with bold cross hatching. I tried to work in a similar manner in last post's photo studies, and in the ones I did subsequently:

as well as in a couple studies of other artists:

(The figure on the left is from a painting by Jacec Malczewski; the others are from Dave McKean's Black Orchid).

And I think I'm slowly, very slowly, getting somewhere with all this. The more 3d-like approach is helping me a lot. I can see or visualise volume where I previously saw mostly flat light and shadow.

I still need a lot more work. It's funny how, the more I practice, my skill increases at a more or less steady rate, but at the same time my standards rise exponentially. So I'm never really very pleased with my work. (I'm pleased when I draw and when I finish stuff, but then soon afterwards I want to do better). So I hope I keep doing better, I guess!

The rest is much less focused, but here it is anyway.

Life drawing from the port of Kavala:

And all the rest is from imagination.

By the way, all the pencil sketches I post are digital assemblages: the drawings usually span a lot more pages (and even sketchbooks), but I cram them in together for convenience, chronologically or, as in this case, thematically.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer break (of sorts)

I've been slacking it since the second half of July. I kinda blame it on the heat, but the truth is I just haven't been motivated enough to draw much lately. I kept doing a few sketches on the metro up to a point, but I was dissatisfied with them; hardly worth the hassle of scanning them. Then I picked up some unread books that were gathering dust on the shelf (Oryx anf Crake by M.Atwood filled my transit time until the start of my summer leave last Monday), and I got hold of Civilization V (that one created a huge time sink), and well, you get the idea. :p

These are from early July:

The yard (second image) is from life, the rest is from imagination. The wrapped critter is supposed to be a tarsier. The fluffheap tree is intended for either a mural or a huge print for a friend's wall.

And these are from just this evening. Photo reference from a video by Paris Kain (upper row) and Suresh Natarayan (second row). I realised that all this time I've been drawing with a B pencil, which is great when I'm making sketches during transit as it doesn't smudge, but on the other hand it makes them a bit dull as I can't get much contrast out of it. I used a 2B for the faces, and it was almost a revelation! (I did spend a lot of time cleaning them up, though.)

I also tried a different technique for these, thinking about planes first, then use crosshatching to build up volume, instead of my usual pussyfooting around shadows.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Mass Effect fan art

Bioware is having a Fan Art showcase at San Diego Comic Con, and I submitted two pieces I had made last September, after a few touch-ups:


Earlier versions can be seen here (turian) and here (Spaceborn).

Monday, 11 July 2011

Young Audrey

Morning photo study, original from Life  magazine.

Photoshop, about an hour and a half. Steps here:

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Week 26-27 sketches

The first batch is metro/bus sketches, but some of them are from imagination. On some mornings I'm too groggy to focus on people and get the likeness decent, so I just draw whatever comes to mind. (That is when I'm not too groggy to even pick my pencil, which is not at all uncommon at 07:30.)

The rest are from my new sketchbook! It's an A5 size with a very nice grain, and although it's not as handy to take in and out of my bag as my tiny moleskine-type ones, I think I need the extra space on the page. But I might just keep it for more extensive studies at home, and still use the small ones during transit.

The three faces are from photos (but only the third one was copied meticulously). I took my sweet time, about 20-30 minutes each.
The poses are from IFX Presents: Anatomy, except for the middle bending figure - that was from imagination. I think I'm kinda getting the hang of torsos/arms, but legs are still a weak area.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Week 20-25 sketches

I think the reason why I haven't been scanning my sketches lately (and I'm halfway through my newest sketchbook already!) is that I had a pile of books and, as of more recently, clothes, sitting on my scanner.

So I moved the pile of books and clothes to my bed. This was a strategic move: since I couldn't go to bed before putting them back onto the scanner, I stayed up scanning some twenty+ pages from my sketchbook. :p
These are all from mid-May until today. I put them in two bundles. One, sketches from the metro/bus/tram. Some are finished from memory/imagination, as people have the tendency to move away or get off at stations at inconvenient (to me) times. :)

The rest are all from imagination.

And a bonus: fluffheaps!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Week 23 digital sketches

These are from last week (though the face may be from end May). A couple of minutes each, no reference. Which, in retrospect, I should have used. :p

I have a lot more pages in the sketchbook, but I have yet to scan them. The new sketchbook I'm using doesn't fold open too well, making scanning a bit more of a hassle. I'm thinking of getting a bigger one next time!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Malaak's Dream

I made this as a guest art page for the fourth volume of Malaak: Angel of Peace, a comic by Joumana Medlej.

Malaak is a young woman of mysterious origin, who is fighting to save Lebanon from a seemingly endless war.

This scene is somewhat independent of the main storyline, but if you read the comic (which I highly recommend), it should make sense. My painting will appear on the printed volume only, coming out early this June.

Inspired by the beautiful nature of Lebanon and the mystical aspects of Malaak's story, both of which made it so appealing to me.

Photoshop, Painter, a few days on and off.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Concept art for Caul: Mother and Priest

Concept art I made for Caul, an upcoming short film by Azhur Saleem. For a synopsis, more info and a chance to support the making of this film visit its Indiegogo campaign.

Photoshop, several days on and off. No reference used (which nearly drove me up the walls at some point), but I applied a wood plank texture from a photo in the background.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Glenys - & Week 18/19

Even fewer sketches lately - in the sketchbook, at least. I've been doing some anatomy studies as well, but they're on A3 sheets, too cumbersome to scan (and the studies are ugly! :p). The rest of the time is taken by a couple commissions.

I'm quite pleased with this small sketch of my friend Glenys (who is also a wonderful person - and a very good writer!)-

And some random from my (new!) sketchbook's pages.

First three are from the metro/bus. Then two attempts of a more cartoon-like style. The woman on the bottom right is Neri Oxman (whose work I found very insteresting). The others are from imagination.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The ambassador

A character sketch from a setting- and story-in-the-works. He's probably my favourite one. :)

 About half an hour, photoshop, used some reference for the crossed arms only.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Week 17 sketches: Lagoon

More painting than sketching this week. All I have is this: it's one of the fantastic Lagoon dolls made by batchix. Make sure you check her work here and also on deviantART.

Friday, 29 April 2011


A small quick digital drawing of Alice Duke. If you haven't seen her fantastic art, go do so right away!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Week 16 sketches

It was again a slow week (I came back on Good Monday, and left again on Friday for the Easter break), but something is better than nothing, I guess!

Two character sketches; the second is from a crazy dream I had, about a girl who, after being slandered and in danger of being murdered, went off to Palestine where she came to lead her own Bedouin tribe (?!).

And one pen sketch from life:

Monday, 18 April 2011

Week 15 sketches

I was away on a (long!) roadtrip, so there wasn't very much time for sketching (and none for painting). These were mostly done on the ferry to and from Ancona.