The making of a mascot – Part 1

So, you have probably realized at this point that our last name is Drake.  What a cool last name, huh?

Naturally if we’re going to have a mascot, it’s going to be a dragon. I suppose that some Drakes might go for a duck, but not these Drakes.

I started with the little dragon that goes with the D in the logo that I made.  And then eventually I wanted to get back to working on developing him more. I hadn’t come back to it, and then I heard of the #100dayproject. It’s a fun artist thing where you pick a theme and do that thing for 100 days. I decided that I would do #100daysofdragons. They haven’t all been along the lines of this mascot, but I’ve done quite a few that I am happy with.  I thought I would share them here, with the occasional comment thrown in.

These were my first 3.  The big guy there became my starting point for our mascot.


This guys was done in watercolor pencil without an under-sketch.

He’s kind of funky but it was something new to try.




I did an entire post about my Rock Dragon-saurus.  The initial drawing and the painting I let count for 2 days.

Fun stuff :).dragon9-100

This guy was supposed to look more sea-dragon like, but I forgot a couple of details I had penciled in.  My mom loved it enough to swipe it.









I feel like I called it in most on these.  They were super quick unfinished sketches.


This is one I did from the contents of my Sketchbox for the month.  I started with a purple shape and went from there, so I am quite happy with him.

A couple more freehand images.


I drew a really rough sketch for him, and then filled it in with some new Sharpies that I got.  I’d never made art with Sharpies before.


Some more sketches. I should ink the sleeping dragon.


A fun Mother’s Day poster 🙂

I decided to do some illuminated letters.  The blue didn’t stand out against the black all that well.


I did a bunch of stuff with my Bombay Inks on this day, so I did a big flame and a little dragon.  The colors didn’t bleed the way I thought they would.dragon23-100

I was inspired by my tea for this one. I love his little face.dragon24-100

Trying to explore another angle.  I don’t quite have the full anatomy of this guy figured out yet.





I did this guy after I spend some time painting some watercolor roses. Rawr.




I LOVE this guy.  I couldn’t help but add the color to him, but I loved him just as much only in ink. He’s like the mascot dragon, but older. I eventually want drawing this guy however I want to be second nature.  That’s going to take a lot of dragon drawing :).

I really love this style.  The watercolor sat weird on my Moleskine watercolor book though.  I’ve never seen paper absorb watercolor in quite that way.dragon28-100

The kids were at swim lessons when I dreamed this guy up.  It’s rather difficult to draw a dragon doing a cannonball.








Funky shaped head there…

These are a couple of freehand watercolor experiments. The orange one was on that funky Moleskine paper again.  Not every page in the book does that thing, but it’s irritating.  Probably I won’t buy another one of their watercolor books. The green dragon was done with a shiny

Isabelle gave me the idea for the dragon in the tree. The other was me trying to draw a Chinese style dragon that could live in the other dragon’s world.

I’ve learned that I don’t really like the anatomy of dragons.  Not if I am trying to draw anything “realistic”.  I like my little cross between a balloon animal and a stuffy. It has been interesting to study different types of dragons. I’m going to have another go at my seahorse dragon, because I think it could be cooler.

So that’s a third the way through my 100 days project of drawing dragons. I will compile another post when I’ve done the next 33. You can watch me on Instagram to watch in real time throughout the project.

The worst that can happen is nothing

If you’re anything like me, your list of projects is endless. The ones you want to do. The ones you have supplies for but haven’t started. The ones you have started but haven’t finished, and maybe won’t.  Then there’s ones you do finish.

Two Christmas’ ago I got patterns and enough fabric to make 2 skirts and a shawl.  I kept saying “I need to make my skirts.” Finally I tell Husband I am afraid to screw them up because I haven’t done much sewing and he says “the worst thing that can happen to that fabric is nothing.” I think I had the fabric cut and pinned  for 1 skirt 2 days later. I got it finished and it’s not perfect, but it has been a nice addition to my pile of skirts.  I still need to finish the other one, but it’s not so much fear that has that lower down on my to do list.

The hardest for me are the ones I get really excited about in the beginning, and then my motivation for them just gets stuck somewhere. I haven’t quite learned how to press forward and make a specific piece of art even though I feel uninspired. That’s kind of a problem.  I’m currently behind on a calendar project that is like this. I’ve convinced myself it won’t probably go anywhere, so I haven’t been able to get motivated to do the next month’s image.  I had a plan to do them all as kind of a rough draft, but I still haven’t pushed forward.  My Honey Bee Stakes image is part of that project. That’s a struggle that I have for personal projects.


There’s also not working on something because it’s a “waste of time.” I struggle with this one a lot.  It has been hard to convince myself that doing art is not wasting time. I Probably have trouble with this one because when I was a teenager procrastinating was done by drawing, and therefore drawing was wasting time. Husband has been helping me with this one a lot lately.  It’s always easy to find something that is more urgent to do than art.  At least, almost always.

I have quite a few unfinished projects around the house.  Not as many that have not been started though, these days.  When I find that I am hesitating because I am afraid to screw it up, I remember what Husband said about that being better than nothing :).

A few words from Mike:  It’s so easy to say something clever like that! Not so easy to live it. The anxiety that surrounds the fear of failure is the worse enemy of success. Being too afraid to start, only ensures the very failure that’s so scary. So many projects, plans, ideas end up dying before they can ever come to fruition just because someone was afraid to “mess it up.”  In the world of technology, waiting all but ensures that someone else out there is going to have the same idea you had. I’ve started countless projects in my youth, that died with the change of the world. It’s hard to find motivation to finish a game for DOS. 🙂

Rock Dragon-saurus

So, I’ve been taking a number of classes on Skillshare recently.  Because of the connections I made there, I learned of something called #the100daysproject.  The idea is to do something, whatever it is, for 100 days and post it on Instagram (or not, but it’s supposed to be a social project). We’re wanting to explore our little mascot dragon some more, so I decided to do #100daysofdragons.  I’ve got 6 dragons under my belt after today’s rendition.

I drew this guy yesterday, and I am painting him today.  It’s not technically a new dragon today, I suppose, but I am spending a goodly amount of time on this guy for both days, so I have decided it counts.  So there.20160423_212121

My inspiration for this creation is fun.  Firstly there are my watercolors.  I got a set of QOR Earth watercolors which are really beautiful and I haven’t really used them for a project yet.  My husband has been finding really pretty rocks in our backyard, and they are all basically made of colors that came in that set.  So I have been wanting to figure out how to paint some rock patterns.  Additionally, when I was looking at dragon inspiration, my husband plopped down in front of me my daughter’s stuffed stegosaurus.

She wanted a dinosaur stuffy for her birthday last year.
The beauties that Husband collected for me.







Thus the rock dragon saurus was born.

I began with the the plates on his back, trying to make each one look like a pretty individual rock.

Doing the belly was interesting.  The stripy effect on the under part of the neck happened on it’s own.  I laid down some naples yellow, and dotted in some indigo and sap green.  It decided to stripe up while it dried, it seems.  I thought it was pretty cool.  I now have a mission on my list to figure out how exactly to make that happen on purpose, heh.

I used the wet on wet technique for most of this project. I get more even washes that way.  I’m discovering that maybe I don’t use enough water when I paint, and that may be why my washes aren’t as even as I want them to be.  Practice practice practice.


I like the nubby bits at the tips of his wings.  It seems like a rock dragon would have something like that, rather than spikes or spines.  I did 4 layers of color on the wings.  The first was a light grey that I made and then I dotted in some of all of the component colors I used for the gray.  You can see the speckling through the red for a neat effect.  The venetian red is a color I am seeing in a lot of my husband’s rocks.  There are so many pretty colors in rocks.  I did a light wash of the venetian red, followed by a darker wash for the shadowy areas.  I also dropped just a tiny bit of prussian blue into the shadows.

I have 3 yellows, 3 greens, 3 blues, 3 reds, and 4 browns.  When I do my upcoming post on the magnetic travel watercolor palettes that I am building, I’ll talk a bit about how far I went to not have to give up any of them (and have room for more colors later).

So cute.

I do want to work toward being able to finish a painting without inking it.  My edges just aren’t smooth enough without it, and I haven’t defined the details enough.  There is some nice contrast between the different parts of the wings though.


Inking is when I feel like it all comes together.

Playing with watercolor crayons

It’s been a hectic week at Team Drake headquarters.  Work is crazy, plus parent/teacher conferences and 2 days of no school for my kindergartener.  I will take this opportunity to brag on her for reading at a 2nd grade level :). My kids are amazing.

I got to take some time today to play with my watercolor crayons and practice some different techniques with them. I have a 12 set of Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Crayons

watercolorcrayons1They pretty much lay down like regular crayons, especially on textured paper.

On the left I laid down some red, and on the right is red and cobalt blue. On their own, the colors layer, but don’t blend.

watercolorcrayons2If you lay down the color lightly, it’s easier to mix the pigment with the water, meaning you don’t see the crayon marks.  Having spots where the crayon marks show up more in some places than others is a fun way to get texture into a drawing. If you don’t want the texture and you want bright color, you probably want to do something other than put the crayon straight to the paper.

watercolorcrayons3Here I put down some red on half of the block on the left side, and then went over it with water.  Only a couple of layers makes a much bolder color.  On the other side I put a layer of cobalt blue on top of a dried glaze of the red.  I went over half with water.  Even layered the colors blend really well.


On the left of my 2 boxes here, I got my brush wet and pulled the color from the crayons to lay it down on the paper.  You would not want to do a large area this way, but it’s a good trick for small details.  On the right side of each box, I did a water wash before putting the color down.  I’ve used the lid of my crayon tin as a palette before to mix colors, or to get a bit more paint for a wash before.  It works pretty nicely.


I’ve also dipped the crayons directly in the water.  This gives you a really bold color, but the wet doesn’t sink down very far, so if you’re doing this be prepared to dip your crayon a lot.  Another fun effect is to do a water wash on the paper, and then draw on the wet paper. If you’re layering color, use the lighter color as the 2nd color, and you can use it to mix your pigments a bit.  It makes for a nice splotchy effect.


Here I put down a dark line of color and pulled it out with my wet brush.  You can get quite a lot of color to move, but as I said before, it will leave a mark behind.  If you scrub the paper too hard with your paintbrush to try to get it to blend, you’lwatercolorcrayontreel start to muck up your paper.  Not that I would know anything about that.  Ever.

And just for fun, I pulled out my greens, blues, and sienna and made a cute little tree.  The eyes were Husband’s idea.  I think they are a nice touch.

If you like watercolor, you should also check these out.  There are ways to use them just like other watercolors, and ways to use them that are unique to the medium.  Have fun!


The Honeybee Stakes

Horseracing is an interesting industry.  Without going too much into that specifically, I can say that some of the horses have very interesting names. Some of them I am convinces are a joke against the race callers.  “Arrrrrrrrgh” is a horses name. Often a horse is remembered by having a race named after them. I’ve gathered a number of these races – one for each month – and I am going to do an illustration for them.  This is my illustration for the Honeybee Stakes.  I’m going to walk through the process, and there’s also a speedpaint video as well.HoneyBee_Clipped.00_00_39_08.Still002

Once I had my rough draft done, I traced the sketch onto better paper using my light box.  After that, I used masking fluid to cover up the little bees and the letters.  Then onto a water wash for what will be the grassy area.  I get a much smoother wash when I use wet on wet.

A little dry time, and then I do the water wash for the track area. I enjoy the way you can just build on top of water color to make the painting as rich as you want.  I did a few layers of darkening the brown of the track before moving onto the sky.  Having the bees and the letters masked made it quite easy to do a nice sky wash.

HoneyBee_Clipped.00_02_29_07.Still004Dabbing at the wet blue paint with a paper towel makes for nice little impressions of clouds.

I didn’t mask the big bee, so I was careful around him, as well as my runner and the rail. Once the blue and green were dry I rubbed the masking fluid off of there.



Next onto the horse, and starting on the jockey and the bees. I used a photo reference of the horse to make sure the shadows were in the right places.




Lots of Tiny bees. No wonder the horse looks worried.

I finished the details at the end with colored pencils and a white gel pen.

The original lapsed time for the video after chopping out all of the pauses was 4 hours and 11 minutes.  I also chopped out the time to mask the bees and letters.


The Beginning Artist

I’m really enjoying the journaly feeling of blogging.  I’ve never really been good at keeping a journal, but I will crank out a few pages when I need to.  I want to continue to share these feelings with the world of people who find me interesting, because I find these things from other people helpful.  I usually walk away with a feeling a belonging, because of something I resonated with, or I get a new perspective I hadn’t considered before.  So, thank you for being here, and feel free to comment if anything here speaks to you!

I used to think I was an aspiring artist.  I don’t know what I thought the line was for whether or not one was a “real” artist.  I’m certainly aspiring to be a professional artist, but I’m definitely an artist.

20140704_102216 (2)
So fancy.

A chef is a person who went to culinary school.  You can be a darn fine cook without having gone to school (talking to you, husband.) But without the education, you don’t get the title.  Artist doesn’t work that way. It’s more of a who you are thing than a line you cross with education.  An artist can’t not art.  If they don’t do it actively, the people around them will still see their creativity in everything else they do. And in my case, I see it looking back now.

20131012_013209For about 5 years I didn’t draw anything. Not even doodling in my margins on work notes. I can’t say much about why other than to say I filled my time with other things. I created 2 children within that time, but I’d quit drawing before my oldest was born.  The most artistic things I did in this time were custom birthday cakes for the kids in my life.  There were a lot of artistic challenges in some of those cakes.  My mom used to do them, but I sort of took over one year in my zeal to be helpful.

My husband got to tinkering in his garage and making little electronic gadgets.  Laser lights and LED lights.  He made a really awesome wand, too.  One night while I was hanging out with him while he was tinkering, I thought to grab a sketchbook.  I don’t remember what I drew.  That summer I drew a really sweet sketch of my daughter, and the car, and a tree, and just a bunch of random stuff.  Between summer and winter I filled a couple of sketchbooks and was on a roll. I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 for Christmas, and did a goodly handful of digital drawings. Before my break, I did sketching, but my final pieces were all digital.

2014-09-28 11.32.16
So cool.

Then I pulled out my colored pencils for something.  Don’t remember what.  They are Prismacolor pencils, and I had so badly given up on art that I’d been letting my children use them.  I must have really enjoyed whatever I colored, because I went nuts going back to traditional media.  So much so, that I have done only one digital art piece in the last year.  If I got that assignment now, I’d probably use watercolor :).  In fact, Husband told me last night that I should redo that one in watercolor because it would awesome.  I got an Artsnacks subscription for my birthday last year, and it has been AWESOME.  A few art supplies every month to tinker with, and then a challenge to do a piece with just what’s in the box each month.  Some of my challenges were rather uninspired, but I really enjoyed some of the other ones I did.  And lots of the supplies have been adopted into my stash of usual suspects.

I love this thing!

It must have been around February of last year that I pulled out a student travel watercolor set that my mother in law gave me.  I pulled it out after I painted a rainbow with my daughter and her Crayola watercolors. Watercolor is a great fast way to add some color to a sketch to make it just a little more.  I’ve since pretty much gone nuts with watercolor.  It helped that I won a drawing  from The Artist’s Network to get a huge pile of watercolor things, including a travel watercolor palette, and a great big porcelain Stephen Quiller palette.

It was also in February that someone said something to me that sank in really deep, and I didn’t realize until now, over a year later.  I was coloring with my niece (who was 7), and she was dictating where I would color, and
what color it would be.  She handed me a blue crayon, and I also grabbed a slightly darker crayon.  She gave me a look, and then said “You’re an artist, so I’ll trust you.” I had wanted to add shadow to 20160217_184259the area I was coloring, and she loved it when I was done, and did her section similarly.

“You’re an artist, so I’ll trust you.” I realized today (today being the day I’m working on the first draft of this post) that she is the first person who called me “artist” that I actually believed.  My neighbor had called me that earlier in the same month and I shrugged it off with an “I’m trying.” Trying is all it takes to be an artist.

And I AM an artist.  When I was a kid, I was a beginning artist, not an aspiring artist.  Now I’m probably square in the grey middle of Intermediate.  I thought I had quit, but now I understand better that there are seasons in life, and even an artist has seasons where they might not art much.  But it’s still there, and you might find it in a funny place. Just do yourself a huge favor and don’t deny it when it comes to visit again.

Colored Pencil Blending Techniques

Welcome the Legion of Teddy Bears

I don’t mind admitting that quite some time ago I believed more in the supplies I bought than I believed in myself.  I also believed more in the supplies than the idea of techniques, I guess.  Techniques are actually something I’ve recently come to respect, and learn for all sorts of things.

Green blue, and blue green

Colored pencil was my thing in high school.  I didn’t have any supplies for digital coloring, and Copics were WAY out of my price range.  It’s a good thing, too, because I’d have killed those beautiful markers *cringe*.  I used layering back in the day, but it was more in the form of “smash a color into an area, and then smash a 2nd done to make a new color”.  Blending is not a word I would use here, LOL.  I remember coloring quite hard back in the day.

After high school I went more digital with  my coloring and quit ruining my colored pencils.  About a year or so ago, I dug them back up again and really learned to appreciate them!  I now have a few different kinds of colored pencils that I love for different reasons, which always seems to be the way of art supplies.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite colored pencil techniques.  Many of these can be used on coloring books, though you’ll need to check the quality of your paper first for some of them!  There are a couple of specific products that I have linked in here to Amazon through their affiliates program.

Blending with Colors


toothy paper

The different techniques all have to do with blending, so we’ll start with the one that doesn’t require anything extra.   Blending just with your colored pencils :).  It’s really more like layering than blending.  Try to remember to use a light touch with your colored pencils.  If you need more/brighter color, color longer, not harder!  As far as blending effects go, it doesn’t much give you one, because you’re not smashing your pigment into the tooth of the paper.  This works better on smoother paper so that you have less area without color in it.  I should have remembered that when I did my first bear.



Blending with the Colorless Blender

My main colored pencils are my Prismacolors.  Prismacolor makes a colorless blending pencil that is pretty nifty.  I find that blending in any way other than the color layering mentioned above does something to make the color pop a bit.  It can also smush your color around to cover a large area, or maybe the strokes weren’t even when you initially laid own the color.  The core is waxy, and softer than a normal colored pencil.  They are sold for finishing your piece, which makes the colors pop and makes the drawing shiny/glossy.

So smooth and pretty when it’s done.

Blending with Paper

Blending stumps (or stomps, depending on who’s talking)  and tortillons are a fun way to mash around your pigments.  Basically that is what you are doing, smushing your pigments into each other, and into the tooth of the paper.  Blending this way seems to work best when you layer your colors, and then use the stump or the tortillon last, or almost last.  Each time you blend this way it works less well with the next layer of color.  The next color doesn’t lay on as well, in addition to not blending as well.

Blending with Solvents

I’ve tried a few different methods of solvent blending.  I experimented with these more before I got my colorless blender for Christmas, but I still go to them. I have used rubbing alcohol, baby oil, and mineral oil.  Fun fact for folks like me who don’t pay much attention: baby oil is scented mineral oil.

Blending with Mineral/Baby Oil

The back of my oil bear

To do this I get my colors down on the paper.  You can lay color on top of the oil, but you should do that on scrap paper first to see if it’s going to give you the texture and effect that you want. I did do that here with the shadows.  After I am done coloring the area I want to work on, I barely tap my blending stump into the mineral oil.  The blending effect is very quick and doesn’t require too much pressure.  I push a bit hard with this blending method.  I find the oil spreads farther this way and and I don’t need to use quite as much.  Using less is good, because the oil makes the paper greasy.

The bear below got pretty smudgy, but if I paint a background around her it won’t be a problem at all.

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol is quite a bit different than the oil.  It evaporates away, which is always nice, no splotches.  I want to practice this more myself, because I’ve seen some folks do some very cool things with it.  In additional to blending the colors the way I’ve been doing, you can also put down just a bit of color in the shady areas of your picture, and pull it toward the lighter areas.  I will do a video of this at some point, because it’s a pretty neat subtle color effect.  Oh, and I use a cotton swab for this one.  I tried my blending stump but it didn’t work any better than the stump with no alcohol on it.

I think one of the most amazing things with all of these methods, is that I used the same pencils of all of the above bears.  There’s a pretty wide range of end results, considering that.

Bonus Bear: Watercolor Pencilswaterccolorbear

I mentioned multiple kinds of colored pencils earlier.  These are my watercolor pencils, blended with a water brush.

I enjoyed sharing my bears with you today!




Learning to draw (again)

I’ve spent the last year and a half learning how to draw again after a hiatus.  Everyone draws when they are a kid.  I don’t remember being really obsessed with drawing when I was a kid, but often wishing I could draw well (evidently not understanding it was something I’d have to work for).  I do remember some things that I would draw in junior high.  There was a flying serpent I drew a billion times in 7th grade, and then a cute puppy I drew a billion times in 8th grade.

I discovered Anime in the 9th grade, and that’s when I started being known for drawing.  I’ll go ahead and admit my first anime drawing was copying a picture of Sailor Moon off of my DIC VHS.  I actually got good at copying rather quickly.  I guess drawing what you see when someone has already done the line work for you is easy, relative to drawing from life.  In high school and a while thereafter, all I drew was anime, and most of that was girls (I probably drew a dozen guys or so in all that time).  Someone would tell me I should draw something else, and I would actually say “sorry, that’s not what I draw”.  Seems so silly now. I thought I was pretty good.  Character designs and pinup type stuff.

Dynamic hands was not my thing.

I still like a lot of that stuff from back then.  I should redraw some of those that I like and see how they come out.  Some part of me was determined that I’d get found and be given an art job, I suppose?  Life happened a bit, and when my oldest daughter was born, I pretty much quit drawing.  Two summers ago (5 years after said daughter was born) I picked up a sketchbook that wasn’t full and started just drawing the things around me.  The car, a tree, my daughters, etc.  I was pretty excited when that sketchbook got full, and the one after that.  Filling a sketchbook is a really accomplished feeling, and I love it.  I had an old set of watercolor paints that was given to me, and I broke that out and started adding watercolor to my sketches.  I also started 2 acrylic paintings that I have not finished (I will finish them some day, I am sure).  I’ve been through trying out a huge variety of supplies this last year.  Husband got me a subscription to ArtSnacks for my birthday last year, which has been AWESOME.  I’ve asked for something else this year, but if I ever get in a slump, I’ll definitely consider doing that again.  Besides, who doesn’t like a surprise in the mail once a month?

A decent representation of the various supplies I might grab for any one project

In this recent time, I feel like I have really learned how to draw.  Between being willing to try to draw just about anything, and learning better how to draw what I see.  Husband often says to me “someone should make …” followed usually by a funny idea.  One day I realized that I could make those funny things he was talking about… at least make a picture of one.


This is Buttercup the Uni-corn.

Nearly all of those go into my Wunderlist now, and I try to remember to look at that list when I feel like I can’t think of anything to draw.  My lists have given me ideas for coloring books and calendars on all sorts of topics.  Some of my husband’s ideas can’t wait, and have to be done right away.  This turbeefin came from a dinner conversation that started based on the idea that the tacos I’d made had ground turkey and ground beef in it.

“Someone should make a turkey-cow.  You know, like a World of Warcraft mount.”

Whether an image is beautiful or funny, the look a person gets when I’ve drawn what they had in mind is pretty cool.  I am working toward doing commission work, because I think that would be awesome for a while.  I’ve come to learn that I am going to cycle through a lot of things that in one moment or another are going to be ‘my thing’.  Right now, ‘my thing’ is watercolor (and anything related to it).  A few months back it was colored pencil.  Soon I’ll hopefully go back to acrylics and finish those paintings :).  I’ve been published in a book written by the awesome Alissa Oliverson , and that gave me a really huge boost.  It also really opened my eyes to what it might mean to do client work, in terms of drawing something for someone that I wouldn’t ever draw for myself, and still loving it.  

So I continue to learn how to draw (and otherwise art), and I certainly hope I am always learning, because if I’m not, I’m getting worse.  I think understanding that is what finally made me able to say that I am an artist, not that I am trying to become one.  🙂

Illustrate a saying

Getting Inspired

I’ve heard the phrase “trying to get my head wrapped around this thing” a million times, said in a handful of ways.  For some reason in a meeting one day the way someone said this, and the way his hands moved when he said he got me going down the path of this illustration.  To be honest I’m not sure about the colors, but I didn’t have a better idea when the Husband said the brain should be lime green, so there you go.

The Process

It used to be I’d just work on something until it was done.  Usually the paper was fried by the time I was done because of all of the erasing, but I never started on a new paper.  I always felt like when I did try to start clean on the same picture, there was some piece of it that was lost from the original each time.  I only mention that in hopes that someone will relate, and hear me say that it gets better :).

As I said, I was in a meeting, so I just did a quick doodle of the idea in my notes margin so that I wouldn’t forget it.  On the airplane ride home from that trip I worked on a rough draft in my Moleskin sketchbook.  It was the last page, and I promptly forgot about this for a bit when I shelved my full sketchbook.

water wash on the background

Once recovered, I decided I was going to do a process video.  Video editing is quite a bit harder than I gave it credit for, so the video will be a follow up, hopefully later this week.  ^_^;  (Update: This is now available!) First step was to redraw the head to larger paper.  I hadn’t done anything on the lettering, so the first copy I did was where I got the letter forms the way I wanted them.  I then traced the whole thing to a new paper.  Note to self: trace the drawing before you paint the rough draft next time.  Tracing will be easier.  *ahem* Once everything was traced and the video camera was set up, I used liquid mask on the letters so that I could do the background without worrying.  I then did a water wash on the background area.


I started dropping my background color onto the wet paper.  I love the way wet on wet watercolor spreads and you get kind of a cloudy effect, if you want it. Once this step was complete and dry, I moved onto the head area.  I similarly started wetting the spiral parts at the top and then dropping in some purples I’d mixed with the goal of a nice gradient.

I love liquid mask.  Need practice, but love it!

I did a few layers of purple on the face playing with the idea of more realistic shadows, but I ended up washing all that out in the end. I then started on the base color for the brain, and then got to pulling of the masking fluid from the letters.  Note to self: don’t get sick and leave the masking fluid on for an extra day.  It will ruin the paper underneath it.



Yup, the middle of the A ripped right on out when I pulled the mask off, in addition to a bunch of other little rips.  I decided not to let it get to me and just carefully moved on.  It makes me feel like this is more of a Final Rough Draft that I will definitely revisit later.




Another gradient for the text, and a bit of detailing added to the brain.  After this I used my nip pen to do the outlining for the letters.  It wasn’t my original idea but the paper fried from the mask, it seemed the best way to be as precise as possible.  I was still using water color here.  It’s a bit tedious, since you have to load the nib with the paintbrush (unless you mix enough paint for dipping).


I did the outlines for the head portion with a med/small brush, since I hadn’t masked that part off.  This when MUCH more quickly than the letters.  Having the details on the face filled in a bit sure made it pop more!  I rather like how a piece comes together during the outlining stage at the end when you’ve done it this way.  You can watch a number of mistakes not matter as those crisp lines start to go down.  Especially working with watercolor, which gets more beautiful the more you give up control.

I love how the brain turned out.  Another example of crisp lines making a difference.

And there he is.  I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about my process.  It changes over time as I fall in love with a new way to do things and meld it in.  In the future I certainly intend to do more of these posts, as well as posts that talk about the supplies I like to use, etc.

Follow the @teamdrakeprod twitter for more of my artwork that is posted between our weekly blog posts!

Update 2/7/16: Below is the completed video.



Color Coder Beta

Hi there!  I’m Sarah.  I’m a wife and a mom, and I’m an illustrator who does web design/administration work.

Some time back I wanted something for keeping colors organized for my projects.  My husband, Mike, happens to be a software engineer, so he whipped me up something called syscolors.  It lived in the system tray, and it was a color pallet app, get it?  To use this: in edit mode I could add colors, other than that, I could click on the icon in the system tray, my palette would pop up, and the hex code for the color I clicked on would be in my clipboard.  That’s it.  Oh, and I had to keep the txt file it created on my desktop to keep my palette.  The neat part about that was that if I knew what colors I wanted I could open the text file and just edit my palette and the order of my colors at any time.  I almost never did that, though.  I used this tool for years.  It was in my windows startup stuff to just open if I restarted my computer, because I always got irritated if I was in Photoshop wanting a color and that wasn’t there waiting for me.

It’s neat having a helpful software engineer for a husband.  He’s also written me a password generator, as well as something he did for both of us that would scrub extra spaces from text copied into the clipboard.

Recently, he asked me what other features I might want to add to it if he wanted to update it.  He spend some time clacking away, and then had me check out the new version.  When I told him a list of people I could think of who might like it, we agreed more people might like it.  We’re releasing a beta for this.  If you found us and check it out, please drop us a line letting us know what you thought of it.  Features missing?  Anything not working the way you expect it to?  Please tell us!

What is ColorCoder?

ColorCoder is the solution to managing project color palettes for web developers and graphic designers.

Features include:

  • Organize colors in each palette
  • Manage multiple palettes in project directories
  • Color Grabbing from anywhere on your screen
  • Blend existing colors to create secondary palette colors
  • Random color generator for those moments when you just don’t know where to go next
  • Share palettes to collaborate with coworkers or friends
  • Move palettes to your desired location and lock them
  • Click the palette to copy the color hex to your clipboard, or into your keyboard buffer
  • Easy to bring into your workflow with any of your other programs

I really enjoy using it.  I hope that if it sounds like it might make something easier, that you’ll check it out.  If you think of a feature that would make it more awesome, do let us know.

Go to the download page.