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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Black & White and Colour

Exercise 5

Honestly, I spent a good few days trying to find the perfect reference photo for this exercise. I have no idea what is happening, but the searching is always the most time consuming. Probably down to the insane amount of choice available at a click of a button. It's a great tool and a headache! Still, I found an image that was detailed enough to challenge me in this exercise. It's also fun to work from images I would otherwise never consider using or copying from, so I wanted to find an image I take advantage of, purely for the practise!

The chosen image:

I liked the style and layout of this image. The surroundings felt interesting and the poses were clear silhouettes. This was all new territory for me, I hadn't copied an image since I was young and so this image kind of excited me. I also had a good comic book vibe about it, and imagined it could look strong in black and white.

Stage One:

I used an ink nib for this drawing. It was time consuming, but it did allow me to find a groove in how I used the nib which was really nice practise. This might still be my favourite out of the three drawings as the ink looks very sharp and contrasting.

Cross hatching is not my favourite as I never feel like I get it right compared to other artists. It always seems heavy handed by myself, or too much like a grid. The crosshatching I do actually annoys me for the lack of technique and control over the nib. I like when there is variety in the thickness, for example, I managed to achieve that change in thickness on the pipes that have the big blocks of black shading. This came later in the drawing, which I feel is when I began to get a groove on the line work.

Stage Two:

Here I stuck with the ink but instead of the nib, I used a paintbrush.

In some areas I stuck to the same technique for shading as the nib. Using lines to shade some areas, attempting to avoid cross hatching but still slipping some of this in despite my joys. I also used a thicker brush to colour in some block areas. A different technique used in this drawing was using a dry brush a smidgen of ink so I could shade some areas, notably on the flooring at the bottom left of the drawing. There are elements that I like in this set up, elements that I can see would work very well with nib, and in fact would make improvements to the image if I had combined them.

Stage Three.

I was torn on what medium I wanted to use for this final stage. I was itching to try acrylic, however wanted the sketchiness of pencil and paint. In the end I went for the faster option, paint and pencil.

It was very freeing to use the paints in this way. I began trying to paint blocks of colour neatly, and towards the end completely loosened up and achieved the sketchy look I wanted with the combination of pencil over the paint. Is it something I could see in a graphic novel, no... is it something I would call final? No. It's practice. I would perhaps consider this a coloured thumbnail for a much larger and detailed painting.


● Did you prefer using a pen, a brush or working in colour?

I find the ink nib pleasing to look at. I would find combining the brush and nib a much easier way of work for this scale image. Especially if I was looking for a super clean finish. That said, I do like the way colouring in large areas with the nib looks, as small white marks are left here and there adding to the hand drawn feel.

For this exercise and thinking of graphic fiction, I do appreciate the black and white look as it requires more thinking in how you colour it, and how to keep everything clearly visible. In colour you don't need to think too much on the contrasting elements and how to add mid tones in a solid black and white picture.

● Which of these implements was easier to control with no mistakes?

I think all three came with moments that lead to mistakes. The cross hatching was my mistake in the first drawing, and I would argue that the cross hatching may have been my set back in the second drawing too. And for the final image it was mistake in details, which in the end I decided not to do in areas like the face. I also found a few coloured pencils added to the list of mistakes as some were not the colour I expected or wanted.

● What types of line worked best with each implement?

Details worked best for the nib, painting large areas was best with the brush, and mid tones I prefer in colour.

● What is easier to draw (say) a face in the picture with a brush, and what is

easier to draw a car or building with a pen?

Definitely found faces easier in the nib, however I luckily escaped having to draw detailed face due to the chosen photo, the big big glasses helped there! I found the bottles and hands were easier with a nib as well. basically the finer details and smaller areas worked best with the nib. I think achieving a texture was best done with a brush.

● What effects could you achieve with colour that you couldn’t in black and


I think colour makes a picture easier to read. It's quicker to see the different elements purely because the colours help define them. The lights that get smaller behind the people, can be unreadable in all three pictures, yet the colours makes it understandable due to them matching the more defined lights in the foreground.


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