Tag Archives: color

Ink

Okay, we got the paper, we got the pens and brushes—now we need the medium: ink.

Medium (singular), media (plural) are Latin words.

Medium is the word we artists use when we talk about the substance used to make marks—ink, paint, crayon, pencil, pastel, chalk. Every medium needs 2 parts: pigment and binder. The pigment is the color. You get pigment from vegetable, animal, or mineral sources. The binder is what holds the pigment together and makes it stick to a surface like paper. Liquid medium needs a third part: solvent.



To get black pigment, the Egyptians used the same stuff they did in pre-historic times: burned bones. When bones burn they turn black and brittle. The scribes ground them into a powder. You can use charcoal from wood, too.

This is a stone mortar and pestle—the tools you use to grind something into a powder.

To hold the powder together, they used the sap from the acacia tree. It’s called Gum Arabic and is still used in watercolor today. Gum Arabic is water-soluble. The Egyptian scribes would dry out the gum, grind it into a powder, mix it with burnt-bone powder and add water. They might add very little water to make a thick paste which they could form into a cake.

The round shapes at the top of this scribe’s kit are ink-cakes.

After the cake dried, a scribe could carry it around with him and reactivate the ink by adding a bit of water with his brush. Water is the solvent. If you’ve painted with a box of pan watercolors you understand what I mean. The scribe wrote on the papyrus with brush or pen and when the ink dried the pigment stayed there for thousands of years.

A set of pan watercolors

When they’re exposed to water and air, metals oxidize or corrode. As they do, they produce a colored outer layer. The Egyptians got red pigment by scraping the rust from iron. They got green or blue by scraping the corrosion off of copper.

http://www.teachinghistory100.org/objects/about_the_object/ancient_egyptian_writing_equipment
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gum_arabic
https://www.zmescience.com/science/copper-traces-egypt-inks/
The egyptologist in this article says ‘infers’ but he means ‘implies:’
https://phys.org/news/2020-10-red-black-ink-egyptian-papyri.html
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medium?src=search-dict-box
This book is a must-read if you’re interested in color:
https://www.amazon.com/Color-Natural-History-Victoria-Finlay/dp/0812971426/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=color&qid=1604924820&s=books&sr=1-5
https://www.dickblick.com/products/crayola-washable-watercolor-pan-sets/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

D’Artagnan arrives

Here’s the opening scene in Starry Forest’s The Three Musketeers. Our young hero, D’Artagnan, desires to be a king’s musketeer more than anything in the world. And so he leaves for Paris. As he nears the city D’Artagnan meets the bully Rochefort who makes fun of his horse. D’Artagnan won’t stand an insult—even to his horse—so challenges Rochefort to a duel.

Here are: thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, color sketch, a couple of work-in-progresses and final art. Also a photo of the immortal Christopher Lee playing Rochefort. Linear perspective enthusiasts will notice that the vanishing point is where D’Artagnan is standing.

Julius Caesar painting exercise

I just got a clamp-on holder for my phone and wanted to try this—

Update: Sorry for any confusion if you visited here in the last hour. I couldn’t get the video to show up. I’ve since added a link to Instagram. I hope that works! Thanks for your patience.

 

Davy Jones

More from P is for Pirate as we count down to Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th! I’ll be presenting a pirate program at Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe, PA, Friday & Saturday September 19th & 20th.

Here is D is for Davy Jones from sketch to final painting. Sorry about the color in my progress shots—must’ve been at night and I forgot to switch the flash on. You can see I based my version of Davy Jones on an 1892 ink drawing by John Tenniel from the British humor magazine, Punch. Tenniel is the guy who drew the famous illustrations for Alice In Wonderland.

Goldie Socks in progress

Oh, happy day!  My computer, before it had its nervous breakdown earlier this year, absolutely refused to recognize some of my old disks.  Now I pop in a disk and voilà!—some old files I’d thought were lost forever are back again.

I worked on Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians, by my pal Jackie Mims Hopkins a few years ago.  I’d just gotten a digital camera and was beginning to document the progress of my paintings.  Here’s one scene where I’m painting the inside of the libearians’ house.  Goldie Socks settles down to read a book in a couch that’s too soft.  At the end of the sequence, Goldie is still only an underpainting.  I’ll come back later and paint her into every scene.

Jacket art for Famous Nini

Of all the images for a picture book, the jacket art gets the biggest going-over.  I sent 4 rough thumbnail ideas to Kerry Martin, the senior design editor (in the olden days there was an art director and an editor; Kerry’s title reflects the melding of those 2 positions over the years).  Number 2 was chosen—the silhouette of the gondola makes a nice graphic shape—and I worked up a tight sketch.  You can see the painting in progress.  I liked the idea of a nighttime scene, with Venice reflected in the canal.  Next, the comprehensive layout—or ‘comp’—with the sketch and the type combined.  Originally I was to hand-letter the title type, but the treatment Kerry came up with looks so good we all agreed not to mess with it.  Finally, the finished illustration.

The Wreck of the Salty Carrot

These images from Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies are up on my website, but they’re kind of small.  I thought you might like to see them here, so you can embiggen simply by clicking on them.

For the shipwreck scene, I wanted to mimic antique oil paintings of storms at sea.  The first three images by masters of the genre represent the kind of nautical art to which I would be tipping my hat.

Following those are my own work.  By now you know the drill: thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, color study, final illustration.

The thumbnail sketches are each about 2″ tall, the tight sketch is maybe 8″ tall, the color study is the size of a postcard, the final is about 20″ x 14″.

Eilian in foul weather, or Foul, Reuben Chappell

Ships in a Storm, Elisha J. Taylor Baker

Agamemnon in Storm

Peter Spit… cover ideas

A bunch of cover ideas for Peter Spit A Seed At Sue.

These are all rough sketches, drawn about the size of a playing card.  One idea was selected, and I drew a tight sketch—

Please add the watermelons!

Art director Jim Hoover creates a comp with sketch and type. Let’s get the other 2 kids in there.

I painted the cover with a watermelon pink background.

This color was thought to be too feminine, so through the magic of digital correction, the background color was changed.  (I didn’t do it.  I don’t know which buttons to push.)

The king’s coach

There’s a little throwaway scene in  Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes where Joe is invited to a royal story-telling competition.  For this image I needed to design the royal messenger and the king’s coach.

The story isn’t set in any particular time or place—it just calls for a fairytale look.  That allows me a pretty wide latitude regarding costume and setting.  The messenger I dressed in something 16th century—slashed sleeves and short cape—with a sash to make him look official.  The coach is something I found in Peter Newark’s Crimson Book of Highwaymen—a book about desperadoes who robbed the wealthy travelers of merrie olde England.

Here’s the thumbnail—we’re looking at the left page.

The tight sketch—

Throughout this project I used color to give clues about each character.  Everything having to do with the king got colored purple.

Stella the storyteller

Here’s Stella, from Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes.

Thumbnail sketch for pp 6/7. Stella the storyteller sees her rival, Joe Bright, in the back of her magic story-telling chair.

Tight sketch for page 6.

A close-up of my color map for the book.  These are small color sketches of every spread, all next to each other.  It’s easier to plan the palette, or color choices, for the entire project when I can see it all at once.  The scenes with Joe Bright feature warm yellows; the ones with Stella are cold blues and purples.  Stella tries to foil Joe with 3 different devices—these are acid green, so the reader can identify them easily.

For example:

Here’s the painting for page 6 in progress: