Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pen & Ink practice - adding various textures

I've been enjoying this current round of pen & ink exercises very much. They've been encouraging me to practice varying textures and, almost more importantly, make good note of contrast. Contrast is key in the effectiveness of a pen & ink piece.

It's a beginner's mistake to make everything uniform in "color," that is to say, not show enough difference between lights and darks. I have made this mistake many, MANY times and know that it takes some fly by the pants courage to stand up and do it right. I think this piece, although a bit overworked, does show the required contrast. It also succeeds in shape and texture.

And so we proceed onwards to the next exercise...

As a postscript I wanted to add something about the pens I used in this exercise. I experimented with a number of pens as the small size (5"x7") required great delicacy of line. After much experimentation I settled on one of my Noodler's Piston Fill fountain pens filled with Noodler's Bulletproof black ink. I was surprised that this pen had a delicate enough line to pull it off but it was perfect for the job! The Piston Fill seems to have a line similar in width to the Lamy Safari Extra Fine. Pretty cool to discover that one of my favorite pens for sketching was also perfect for this exercise too! :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Now cards!

It's a big day here at Flying Pony Studios. As of today, I am able to take credit card payments  for product and services! I felt that being able to take more forms of payments would make it easier and more convenient for my clients purchasing everything from greeting cards to illustration services.

Flying Pony Studios now accepts cash, personal checks, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover.

As I begin my second coloring book, I can't help but think that the timing of the all is perfect. :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Horse Life #7

Good morning and welcome to Horse Life #7. I can hardly believe that I've already done seven of the new comics! It's been really fun so far and I feel like I have so many more stories to tell. Food for thought for a lifetime! *wink*

I've left the comic on this page rather small to read but there is a much larger (and more readable) version on my website. Click the comic here and you'll be taken there.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Daily sketches

I have always been fascinated by the texture of trees, especially in the medium of pen and ink. There are so many ways to show the play of light and shadow using the pen. The key for trees is to put in the foliage first and then add the “solid” features like the truck and branches. That way you preserve the lightness of the leaf mass.
Bricks can be a big problem until you realize that you don’t need to add every single brick. To do so in an irregular wall is to make the wall uniform and uninteresting. By adding only a few, the play of light and shadow can be highlighted.
The interesting part of this fence drawing is that some of it is defined by dark (left side) and some by light (right). The negative space becomes as important as the positive. How do you show negative space? By defining what’s behind it. In this drawing the plants “create” the fence.

By the way, I am loving my new Stillman and Birn Epsilon sketchbook. Previously, I had been using the Bee Paper Company’s Pen Sketcher’s sketchbooks. Although that paper is good, I am finding the heavier Stillman and Birn paper clearly superior. I also like the heavier cover to protect the drawings inside and the fact that it’s spiral bound for ease of use. These things may sound inconsequential but it’s the details that help make a drawing experience even more pleasant.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fun with Frank

While at the University of Washington’s bookstore in Seattle recently I found a pen and ink book that I had never seen before. I was surprised to see it, since it was new to me and I am a huge bibliophile - especially for art technique books. It’s called “Step by Step: Pen and Ink Sketching,” by Frank J. Lohan and was published by Dover in 1983. After flipping through it, I realized that it could teach me quite a bit and so bought it. Once I got it home, I realized that it was the second book in a series and I set about finding “Pen & Ink Techniques” published in 1978 by Dover. I found that one at Dick Blick in Seattle. That was a surprise to the store's staff as they didn’t know they had it! ;-)

I have decided to go through Frank Lohan’s excellent exercises and absorb what he has to teach. I’ve set aside a 5” x 7” Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook to work in. The Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbooks have heavy, smooth paper and are perfect for pen & ink. For pens I am using Pitt Design pens (“S,” “M,” & “B”), Noodler’s Nib Creaper Flex pens, and a Noodler’s Ahab Flex Pen.

Here are the first two drawing exercises in my sketchbook.

Thus far I'm quite enjoying Frank Lohan's books. It's always nice to add some new techniques to my pen & ink repertoire.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I can barely believe that we’re half-way through February! Time seems to be moving particularly fast at the moment.

So what’s been up at the studio? Well, as you all know, I have been posting weekly horse comics in a series called “Horse Life.” This has been a true delight for me and now that I’m into the 6th comic I feel right in the swing of things. Today's comic is a Valentine's Day special and you can see it here.

Ever since the demise of “Privateer Princess” a few years ago, I have missed cartooning. However, since more practical (and lucrative) things usually take precedence over cartooning, I tend not to do do it. “Horse Life”  has given me both some well-needed closure from our failed web comic and a new focus for something fun to add to my repertoire. They say you should write/draw about what you know, and boy, do I know the horse world! I’ve been in it since I was 4 years old and have seen so many changes. It’s really remarkable to think about.

In other news, I have been doing some pen & ink practice based on Frank Lohan’s books, and have been having a wonderful time with it. More on that in a future post. But speaking of ink and pens, I recently caved and bought a Noodler’s Ahab flex pen.
My new Noodler's Ahab flex pen
These pens have been incredibly popular since they first came out a few months ago. I just had to try one. As I have mentioned here before, I have been loving the Noodler’s Nib Creaper flex pens and have been using them almost constantly for most of a year now. I was wary of the Ahab as it's much wider than it’s predecessor and I have small hands. 

Comparison between the Ahab flex and the Nib Creaper flex pens.
The Ahab is on the top and the Nib Creaper is on the bottom.
Note the size difference in the barrels.
So far I am a bit torn about the new pen. The Ahab definitely has a superior nib and the pen holds much more ink in the chamber. But I need to use it unposted as with the cap on the back it’s too heavy for me for comfort. I also find it a bit awkward for detail work. Ironically, Matt loves it (he has big hands) and thinks he’ll buy one for himself pretty soon complete with fast-drying Noodler's Bernanke Blue ink. ;-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Horse Life #5

This is the first new comic to be added to my website! :-) I'm putting it up here as well, but if you have trouble reading it, just click on it to see a bigger version on the Flying Pony Studios website. :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Website Upgrades

Over the past few days I have done a massive upgrading to the Flying Pony Studios website. Several pages needed to be added and a few existing ones needed face-lifting. Here’s a quick overview of what has changed.

The home page is now more fun and funky, and I hope, more user-friendly. With the added pages I felt that the old design wouldn’t present as well for viewing. I think the new one works better. Hopefully you will too.

Speaking of the added pages …you will notice that I now have a section on the homepage called, “Logos.” I have been creating logos and business identity packages (including packaging) for many years. As I have recently had the call to do a few new logos for clients, I thought I would add those skills to my online list of skills-for-hire. On the new logo page you can see samples of logos that I have done, as well as price packages for logos, business cards, and letterhead design. This is part of the Illustration section of the website, where you can also see samples of my illustration work, illustration rates, my CV, and other helpful information about me.

The next set of fresh pages are connected to my new online comic called “Horse Life.” I had been posting it in my blog but found that the images were really too small for enjoyable reading. This meant that I would need to host the comic on my website instead. So that’s now where you’ll find all previous “Horse Life” comics and all future pages. I have also designed an Archive page which has links to all of the existing pages. You can also navigate through the comic pages with the navigation buttons on each page. The most current page will always be found on the “Horse Life Current” page.

The last change that I have made is that I have a free gift available to all who sign up for my mailing list and newsletter. The gift is clip art created by me for your use. While it’s not copyright free, I do give you permission to use it for personal use. To get it simply click the “free gift” button on the home page. That will take you to it.

And speaking of my newsletter, “Flying Free”…I do realize that I have been shamefully lax in sending it out recently. But that will change very soon. Now that the move to our new house is over, I have great plans to get out more information out to readers on a regular basis. There are lots of new things in store in 2012, and I intend to write about them and share them with you.

Additionally, and this is not new news but bears repeating, you can get to my on-line store from the “store” button on the homepage. I have been finding that PayPal seems a bit daunting as a payment option for many people so…in the near future there will be the addition of credit card payments for all Flying Pony (and Sacred Touch Healing) products and services. Further news on this to come in the near future.

I think that about sums it all up for now. At this point Flying Pony Studios is up and running as a full-service design studio. Of course, I do other things too, like creating children’s books and pet portraits, but if you’re looking for illustrations or graphic design, please remember, I’m your gal!

Bye for now! - Sara