1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Corners of the studio

As a warm-up exercise, I usually make many sketches of the surroundings in the studio.
This is a view of the studio, with a straw hat atop the easel.

The second and more restrained sample is from the opposite wall, facing a garden. This provisional table is covered with some paper sheets and the breeze was blowing, moving them around. I used three colours in this one, instead of the many used in the first one.

Studio corner sketch


Crocodile dentist and monk seals

From my current sketchbook: on the left page a corner of the studio with the funny Crocodile dentist toy amid some flotsam and jetsam.
On the right side, a comment about the recent discovery of a Mediterranean monk seal male in the waters of Mallorca. This rare seal species became extinct in the Balearics by human hunting fifty years ago; the last surviving animal was killed by a spanish Guardia civil. A few small and scattered populations survive in some spots of the Mediterranean and Northwestern coast of Africa. This particular monk seal is anything but accurate, because I've used a generic seal toy as a quick reference...

And below, here is is another recent spread from my sketchbook. A few days ago we had a private party and dinner with the rock band Trümpet Geezers playing live. On the left side of the spread there is a quick sketch, highlighting his (supposedly) charismatic singer. On the right side, another corner of my studio. Every day matters...

Trümpet Geezers and studio corner
(Click any of the images to see bigger samples!)



Some spreads from my current sketchbook...

Sketchbook spread

I'm using the water-soluble pencils quite often, lately, and also other easily portable tools, such as a water brush (Niji) and a brush pen (Pigma).



Books like this are very appealing to me because they feature no-limits creations (yes, sometimes this can be self-indulgent, but...)

Black & White Freedrawings is a recently published book: a unique exploration of collaborative drawingwith no restrictions, predefined themes or guidelines. At the same time these drawings are not a preliminary sketch, but the final artwork. In 132 pages filled with freedrawing collaborations the artists take you on a journey through the process of collaboration, showcasing their personal illustrations and working spaces.

The book companion website features samples of the reproduced artwork, the online shop and links to the websites of participating artists.

Of course, another reason why I love this kind of drawings is my own tendency to draw improvisations with accumulations of shapes and stuff:

Specifications: Black & White Freedrawings is 132 pages, 210 x 297 mm (8.3 x 11.7 in), featuring over 160 illustrations and over 100 photos. It comes with an additional yellow dustcover that can double as a poster, and is eco-friendly produced . ISBN: 978-90-811226-2-7.

Discovered thanks to a post in the website of one of the contributors, Von Glitschka, whose Illustration class is a priceless resource for aspiring digital illustrators!


The usual suspects

Choosing your choice colours for your default palette is a matter of trial and error, sometimes a never-ending process for an artist.

On Handprint you will find a good selection of palettes chosen by artists from the past and present. Everything thoroughly commented and explained by Bruce McEvoy, the author.

On a recent poll / research made by Jason Peck (I found it in James Gurney's blog), we find the most frequently used colours are:

  • Ultramarine Blue (PB 29)180
  • Titanium White (PW 6 )172
  • Yellow Ochre (PY 42) 161
  • Cadmium Red (PR 108) 158
  • Cadmium Yellow (PY 35 and PY 37) 150
  • Burnt Sienna (PBr 7) 150
  • Alizarin Crimson 141
  • Burnt Umber (PBr 7)126
  • Black 98
  • Raw Umber (PBr 7)97
  • Raw Sienna (PBr 7)81
  • Cerulean Blue (PB 36)79
  • Cobalt Blue (PB 28) 73
  • Viridian (PG 18) 64
  • Naples Yellow 60
  • Sap Green 56
These results apply especially to oil painting, hence the prominent position of Titanium white. But if you check the palettes used by many watercolourists, most of those pigments and mixes will show up as well. Also note that the whole set of earth colours is present: Siennas and Earths.

Most contemporary artists would include at least some quinacridone red pigments replacing fugitive Alizarin crimson, and probably some synthetic yellow and red to replace Cadmiums and avoid their toxicity issues (and their tendency to mud some mixes.)


Painting Demo

Paris breakfasts is one of our favourite blogs, and a visit we have recommended here before. In Paris breakfasts Carol Gillott posts charming watercolours and photos, most of them related to her parisian sojourns. In the post called DIY Painting Demo you can see a step-by-step rendition of one of her peculiar still lifes.

I love especially the way she paints the shadows, always with an interesting mix of cold and warm pigments. Using sedimentary (granulating) pigments such as cobalt or ultramarine blue, Gillott creates watercolours with an immediate appeal, full of interesting texture and colour.

Click the picture to visit this particular post.


Artist Naturalist

Another of my findings in Flickr I wish to share: Artist Naturalist. A very gifted artist and a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan.
His watercolours are vivid, full of the richest colours, and the light of nature beams from every inch of his watercolour papers. He takes advantage of the best qualities of watercolour technique: transparency, spontaneity, the happy accidents and the free mixes of colours... to depict an intimate feeling of his natural surroundings and environment.

His photostream includes both photos and watercolours, sketches and other artwork. All of then are equally enjoyable works!


Roger Bradfield

Roger Bradfield is a retired children books’ illustrator. Upon retiring in 1988, Bradfield has been able to spend a great deal of time painting - mostly in watercolour.
Since then he has sketched in Greece, Norway, Portugal, Italy, France, Spain and Mexico, gathering subjects for his paintings. He says:

“When someone looks at one of my paintings I want them to get the impression that I had fun doing it and that I did it almost without effort. That's really the hardest part - making it look easy.”
Visit his website to enjoy his charming paintings, including many watercolours.

Youtubers! and watercolors

Youtube is an amazing repository of art-related shorts, for example the delicious Enrique Flores travel journals we commented sometime ago.

Do you love sketchbooks, like I do? There are plenty of very interesting Youtube videos showing moleskines, notebooks, travel sketchbooks and whatnot. For example, perform a search for “Moleskine” and dozens of interesting videos will appear, letting you take a look at the ideas, sketches, curiosities, visual notes and whimsies of the owners, like MattiasA.

Xtian shows his illustration process with a wacom tablet. Very instructive! His videos make me feel using the tablet more. Here's an example.

On Youtube, many watercolours take shape on your screen. Just search and see a bunch of demonstrations, lessons and tutorials. Curiously enough, searching the american and british spelling of watercolo(u)r gives different sets of results. Here's the results page for the british spelling.

Do you want to know how artists’ quality paints are made? See this video from Daniel Smith, whose tutorials we already commented here before.

Other arts-related searches worth trying include sketchbook, drawing + journal, acrylic, speed painting... use your own queries and you will find lots of interesting stuff. Please share it here if you find something extra good!

Visiting some illustrators

Here is a good selection of talent of artists who usually work in concept art for the film and games industry:


Vijay Kakde

Vijay Kakde is an excellent watercolourist I have just discovered in Flickr, as he (?) posts his pictures there. The subjects are mostly landscapes in India.

His (or her—the profile doesn't give more details) works have everything a good watercolour should have: bright, clean and spontaneous colour, an awesome sense of space and light, and just the necessary, minimal definition of shapes in a very bold style.

Secondaries, second week

Click to see a bigger version of the strip and the strip archive
We have posted this week's cartoon for L'Espira in the blog Secondaries. There you will find the weekly strip translated to english. It is also available in catalan (original version) and spanish.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the original artwork for this strip is created in watercolour, approximately twice the final size.


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