Traditional art process – ink

In the previous post, I said that I would share some insight into my artistic process. Let’s start with the traditional part of my work, namely the Ladies of Arda series.

A painting video for “Yavanna, Giver of Fruits”. It shows most of my process but I encourage you to keep reading to know how the previous steps go!

Typically, I begin with words – associations, emotions, anything that will evoke a particular response from the viewer. I jot it all down in a mind map, then begin the search for inspiring images that match my ideas. Occasionally, I stumble upon “happy accidents” and veer from my original concept in favor of fresh and exhilarating inspiration.

Next, I create initial sketches that are quite basic and often incomprehensible to others, but they help me visualize the composition. These sketches are quick, which allows me to experiment freely. I usually use pencils and cheap paper, even scraps of some old printouts.

So far this part of the process is shared between traditional and digital art. I think I’ll show you examples of it, both word maps and quick (and embarrassing) sketches, in the breakdown of my digital process.

Digital sketch of Yavanna, a character from Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. She has leaf hair, a dress adorned with coniferous branches, and carries a basket full of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms.

A photo of an artist sketching Yavanna, one of the characters from Tolkien's lore. The artist, Magdalena Olechny, use lightbox to trace her previous artwork made in Photoshop.

In the pictures above you can see an example of a more refined sketch of Yavanna. It was created digitally, then printed and traced with pencil onto watercolor paper using a light pad.

A workspace for creating and filming traditional art.

A closeup of work in progress, an ink painting of Idril.

And now traditional paints come into play! And fineliners. And gel pens… Okay, it’s quite a lot! Here’s a full list:

  • Arches watercolor paper (hot pressed 300gsm),

  • Winsor & Newton fineliners,

  • Pentel brush pen,

  • black Talens gouache,

  • white Sakura Gelly Roll,

  • Winsor & Newton masking fluid,

  • Tesa masking tape

I think I can recommend everything although Pentel brush pen was rather challenging to use. It seems that I’m more of a fineliner type of person, haha. The most fun was the black gouache – it’s also very economical! Seriously, I have no idea when it’s going to run out. If you’re going to make some black-and-white art, definitely give it a try!

To finish off, can I offer you another art video in this trying time? Don’t miss the best part – painting Varda’s starry hair!

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