Letters by Lydia: Lettering Relaxation

Welcome back from break everyone (or, at least, Michigan students)!

I’ve been missing spring break already and feeling kind of gray getting back into school, and one of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling a bit down (surprise, surprise) is handlettering! I like to get cozy in a blanket, put on a mindless tv show, and do some experimental lettering of various words I hear while watching my show.  It’s a really relaxing way to just kind of shut off my brain, and it also gives me the space to make art without worrying how it looks, because it’s just for me.

Because of that, I like to play around with new techniques and try things that might end up looking a bit wonky.  Today I took pictures of my process with one of the words I did.

I started out with just writing a word, nothing fancy.  This is typically how I start out, just a bare bones word to build off of.

Then I’ll add the first detail–in this case, a shadow or 3D effect.

From there I start to have fun with it.  In this specific piece, I picked the original green color randomly, and then kind of took off with the green theme and thought it would be cool to try doing some sort of leaf effect, and I honestly (no pun intended) love how it ended up looking.

Once I’m done messing around, I’ll take a step back and see if there’s anything else I can think of that might tie the piece together.  Here, I really liked the leaf effect, but I felt like the word itself got lost and needed something to help differentiate it from the background.  So I added a classic black outline–you can never go wrong with one of those.

And that’s it!  After that I did a few more words while finishing up my show, but I forgot to grab pictures of those.  Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as it’s fun and relaxing 🙂

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of how I use art to relax and focus on the process!  Are there forms of art that you find particularly relaxing or restorative after a hard day?

Industrious Illustrating #19 – Material Explorations

Welcome back to another week of Industrious Illustrating! This week I’m returning to discussing schoolwork and the creative process, as I’ve done for previous Industrious Illustrating columns.

For ARTDES 270: Visualizing and Depicting, we’ve been working on an assignment to create a short childrens’ board book about a letter of the alphabet. I ended up writing a book about mythological animals whose names start with the letter K. I made character designs and sketches in a mixture of watercolor and ink.

Before I made the final illustrations, I explored a few different approaches and mediums to figure out which one I liked best.

I tried gouache and colored pencil,

ink and collage, and digital painting.

In the end, I still ended up returning to using watercolors for the book project, but I now had a better idea of what I wanted to do with the character designs, compositions, and techniques in my final illustrations.

Next Friday I will post the finished layouts of my childrens’ book to compare between the conceptual process and the result. I hope everyone has a great and restful Thanksgiving break with the friends or family of their choice!

Letters by Lydia: The Process

Hi y’all!  Hoping everyone had a good Halloween and enjoyed the lovely fall weather today 🙂

Instead of a pen review, this week I thought it would be fun to talk about my artistic process.  So, as a way to welcome the new month, I’m going to show you how I made this piece.

I don’t have a super strict way of doing things, so my process usually involves a lot of experimentation.  But, to start, you need a concept.  Sometimes these come to me super quickly, and other times I need to exhaust my Pinterest or Instagram feeds to get a spark of inspiration.  Either way, I usually come up with the word first, and then the visuals.  Today I kept it pretty simple with “November”, and once I picked the word, I knew  I wanted to involve autumn leaves and stick to a fall-themed color palette (warm, earthy tones).

I started by testing colors and playing around with how the leaves and letters interact.  I liked the idea of using negative space, so I experimented with that for a while.  As for the pens I used, I found that wider tips worked better for coloring in the large leaf areas, so I mainly stuck to Tombow Dual Brush Pens, Staedtler Marsgraphic Duos, and Pentel Fude Touch Pens (let me know if you’d like a review on any of these!).

Once I had a concept, general plan, and a satisfying set of markers, I began the actual finished piece.  First, I drew in the letters with pencil.  Because this is just for fun and all freehand, it took me a few tries to get the spacing right.  After that, I drew in outlines of a bunch of different types of leaves.  Using references was really helpful here!  As you can see, adding in the leaves kind of created a jumbled mess, but I was able to fix that a little bit through erasing.  

A bit about erasing: it’s important to erase the pencil lines because once you color over them with marker, they’re permanent.  But, you don’t want to erase so much that you can’t see the lines at all.  To do this, I like to use kneaded erasers (they have a texture kind of like silly putty) because you can erase by just pressing it on the paper instead of rubbing back and forth.  This way, you can lighten the graphite without getting those streaks or worrying about erasing too much.

After all that, it’s finally time to color!  This part took the longest, mostly because I kept getting confused about which leaf was what and how it all connected.  I also tried hard to make sure the colors were dispersed evenly, and that there weren’t any big empty spaces.  But, after an episode or two of Vampire Diaries in the background (guilty pleasure), my work was done!  Finish up with some extra erasing, cleaning up some lines, and there you have it!  Here’s the unedited finished product (with kind of bad lighting, apologies) which you can compare to the edited final at the top.

I hope you enjoyed a sneak peek at my process!  If you’re also an artist, I’d love to hear about your process too!! See you next week 🙂