Sunday, February 16, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Black and White

The digital drawing project continues. My friend, June, and I are posting a drawing made on our respective computers or digital tablets each Sunday. We present these as a learning process, hoping that we will see improvement as we go along! Some weeks are easier than others. It's a big topic. You are invited to play along and send images or links to images you have created. You can use our posted themes, or invent your own. If you've made some great discovery about how this all works, by all means let us know! 

"'Black and White' was a difficult assignment for me. I thought about sketching the figure (because figures are often done in black and white); I played with some difficult domestic objects, paring them down as I realized I was in over my head; I kept simplifying both my subject and the tools. It was still difficult.

I decided to stick to simple shaped subjects, using only the digital tablet and its apps (later the rule of the digital tablet was rejected). My object was to find if I could draw a successful line from a real
object on the digital tablet. At that I failed.

The most successful of the lot is a copy of a famous Japanese ink drawing, "Six Persimmons." I copied a painting because the composition and basic questions are already resolved. However,  I never did get a decent line, even when I moved to Photoshop on the desktop with the Wacom stylus.

MuQi, Six Persimmons, Android tablet, Art Flow, Photoshop and Wacom Stylus

By Saturday, I was in trouble, so I used the whole day to my homework. I chose a soup tureen, a simple shape, tried doing it on the tablet four or five times, failed four or five times, and finally went to pencil on a sketch pad.

Soup Tureen 1, pencil on paper, tweaked ArtFlow and Photoshop with Wacom stylus to bring out the contrast.

In despair over the tablet drawings and the pencil sketches, I turned to my digital canon camera and my laptop which has ArtRage on it. ArtRage was a relief: I had spent about 4.5 hours failing to get anything I could live with on the tablet with the Android apps; in 1/2 hour on the laptop with ArtRage (and a photo of the tureen), along with a bit of tweaking on my desktop with Photoshop and the Wacom, and I got what I am most comfortable with.

Soup Tureen 2, traced from photo on laptop using ArtRage, then transferred to Photoshop and tweaked with the Wacom pen.

What I learned: I am much more comfortable with real graphite and pencil than with digital "brushes" and styluses, in part because I can use my fingers to smudge the graphite. I have not found an app the does the same (Another arbitrary rule: no digital smudge tools. Nevertheless, I found substitutes, especially in ArtRage). I have trouble successfully using the hard-edges and lack of nuance of the sketch tools on the tablet. I did not know that black and white makes the edges even more
evident than color. I came to the (duh) realization about contour lines -- that their only purpose is to establish spaces and in my mental visions, they don't really exist. I really like the tablet app setting
that smooths the lines (such as exists, I believe, in Adobe Illustrator); I can't find in such setting in any of the Android apps but there it is in ArtRage. Finally, If anything could persuade me to
change to an iPad, it would be the ArtRage app; apparently Apple has blocked turning it into an Android app, and ArtFlow is, for my purposes, inferior.

For the original photo and then more info about Six Persimmons, see:Six Persimmons, Mu Qi

The Crow
I wanted to try to create something like a conventional drawing using the digital drawing app Sketch Club. Like June, I am somewhat put off by the hardness of the line one gets using the regular brush or pen tools, so I experimented with using the brush that looks like a chalk line, narrowed down to a fine point. I was happy that it seems to create a softer line.

I started with a photo of the crow on the bottom layer and sketched in the outline features, than began a scribbly sort of drawing to get the effect of the feathers and shading. At this point I cleared the photograph from its layer. Once I was finished using the very fine line it seemed to be suffering from a lack of contrast, so I worked a bit of bolder, wider line scribbles on an added layer and when I saw that I liked that, I merged it with the other layer. The shadow was created on another layer using the same chalk brush, but much wider, then adjusting the opacity of the layer to get it to the value that I wanted.

iPad, Sketch Club app

I was curious to see what this would look like printed, so I printed it on a sheet of nice, cream-colored  drawing paper, using my inkjet printer. It could pass for an original, drawn with a permanent marker.


Next week's theme: two domestic objects that "speak" to one another


  1. Really enjoying all your discussion. My black and white offering is at
    I have tried out lots of programs too, but I keep coming back to artrage, it has lots of tools and is easy to run. By the way Terry, I use artrage on my tablet as there is a desktop version. I am really impressed with June's bird. it does look just like a pen drawing, and yours terry looks like an oil painting. I have a blogger friend who only does digital work and could be interesting for you both

  2. Once again, inspiring ideas from your both!!
    Terry, you know my love for black and white...I am going to try this for sure. I really like working with Sketchclub and find the sketchy brush my favorite for creating a softer line

  3. Vicki Miller over at mentioned you folks and I thought I stop by to take a peek.
    I am learning both how to draw and doing it digitally. So it's like getting a double whammy for me. But I like doing it, so I will continue and hope I will get better every day.
    Wow you are starting out with digital drawing and are really doing pretty well.
    The Android app that I really like most is the Sketch Book Express. There seems to be more drawing apps on the iPAD and one that's really simple and fun to use is Paper 53.
    So how does one join in the fun?