Kelogsloops Watercolour Tutorials

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I’ve been using watercolours in my work for some time now. I don’t remember ever being formally taught how to paint with them but have always enjoyed experimenting and using them in my own way to capture what I see. However, a recent project called for lots of watercolour work and I realised I was keen to learn more about the medium and how to use it ‘properly’.

For some reason I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to find the ‘right’ sort of watercolour tutorial for me, so had almost given up before trying. I wanted something that would show the paints being used in a more illustrative and unusual way. Then, one YouTube search for ‘watercolour illustration tutorial’ later, I discovered Kelogsloops videos


Apart from being a crazily talented Illustrator, Kelogsloops aka Hieu Nguyen is a brilliant teacher. I started by watching his 6 minute introduction to watercolour and picked up several ideas and set-up techniques that had never occurred to me before! I then went on to watch one of his process videos (for his illustration below) and his techniques for ‘Wet on Dry’ painting (shown above). He teaches at a steady pace, carefully explaining what he is doing and why, with lots of useful summaries and tips.

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It’s been humbling to watch these and remember that there is always more to learn and explore with any medium. Taking the time to look around for the right tutorial or ask for help and recommendations when you need them is really worth doing. And finally, that there isn’t really a ‘proper’ way to paint with watercolours – anything goes!

All artwork and videos created by Kelogsloops and used here without the artist’s permission.

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Back to the Wild

Owlstation_wolf and mountain view_2018I made this drawing about a month ago, shortly before this year’s drawing adventure to the Isle of Skye. I wanted to loosen up, get experimental and indulge in drawing some of my favourite subject matter; animals, trees and mountains – before heading to the Highlands. I began with watercolour, then worked back in over the top with a fuzzy dark pencil and a few bright splashes of coloured chalk.

I’m VERY excited to share pictures, photos and hopefully a video or two of the Skye trip as soon as possible, so do stay tuned! The first pictures should make their way to my Instagram soon and i’ll follow those up with a more detailed blogpost after.

 

3 Illustration Portfolio Tips

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As I’ve had a few emails from new illustrators with questions about my Owlstation portfolio, I thought it might be helpful to write a blogpost to share some tips and advice for creating your first website. Firstly a disclaimer *I am not an illustration portfolio expert!* however I do enjoy a creative and fulfilling freelance career and I’m very happy to share with you what I have learned (and am still learning) as I grow.

I’ll keep these short and stick to 3 portfolio tips for now. If you have any further questions on these or would like me to elaborate, please feel free to leave a comment! Finally to note that this advice assumes you’ve already made some initial steps on your path as an illustrator, perhaps by taking a course or lessons online and want to keep things moving…

1. You Need a Portfolio!

If you’re looking to pursue a career in illustration, you’ll need to get your work out there. Most clients will expect you to have a portfolio website that shows off a selection of your best work. When starting out, and even later on – think quality over quantity.

Select a handful of relevant projects that you’re proud of, for each of these select a few, strong images that best show off the work you did. Make sure they are high resolution, not blurry or pixellated in any way. Nowadays I like to include one or two process images as well – a scan of early sketches or high quality photograph of relevant sketchbook pages can give a client insight into your process. But these should come after the final images, a dessert after the main meal!

Include some information about the project/illustration; perhaps what you did, the goal, how you achieved it. But keep this short and use simple language, no need to be poetic or flowery here. A spelling and grammar check afterwards and you’re ready to publish.

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Carbonmade’s Website Design Tools

2. Choose a Good Template

My very first website looked hideous. I didn’t know much about website tools and picked a very clunky, free service. It was difficult to use and the ugly template made it look like a website for a bank designed when the internet was first born.

Luckily, I followed my instinct that there had to be a better way and moved on. The template I have now is very clean and simple. A white background, a home page with evenly spaced images, my logo at the top and a neat menu button. I have four main pages – a home page showing my projects, about page, contact page and a page link to this very blog. Tapping a project thumbnail on the home page opens a new page where your project images can be viewed. Navigation is simple.

Having poured over many illustrator’s websites, most have a very similar approach. I like to think of it like a gallery in the real world – white walls, space for artwork to breathe, minimal text, no nonsense!

3. Find a Good Service

Unless you’re going to build and code your website yourself, you’ll need to find a portfolio/website service that works well for you and fits into your price range. As this is the shop front to you career as an illustrator, it’s worth investing a little money and time into making your portfolio the best it can be.

I use Carbonmade which has served me very well over the years. It has a selection of cleanly designed, ready to go templates (called themes). It’s very user friendly and quite affordable. I use the ‘Whoo’ option which is approx £9 ($12) a month. I hear very good things about Squarespace and know they offer loads of different templates that also include blog or news pages and shop features, which could be very useful as you expand your practice and start selling work.

I use Behance for my digital freelance portfolio (I keep my digital and hand drawn portfolios separate, but that’s a whole other blogpost right there!). It’s free and pretty easy to use. I understand it’s fairly well respected and is a great platform for sharing work too. Ultimately, you’ll need to do a bit of research and find what works best for you, but hopefully these suggestions will help you get started.

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Behance

There’s lots more I could say about how having a portfolio is a constant task, that it always needs checking, updating, trimming and cultivating…that looking at other illustrators websites is very helpful when creating your own and so on… but I’ll leave it here for now.

Good luck! If you’ve found this helpful do pop back as I’ll be sharing more of my illustration learnings in the future.

My Happy Place

Fearne Cotton_HappyPlace

Lately I’ve been massively enjoying pairing podcasts with a creative session. I find that listening to intimate conversations or unusual stories whilst drawing, allows me to relax and let go. Keeping the critical, negative part of my brain distracted for long enough to make a breakthrough!

A particularly good podcast for this is Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place. Listening to Fearne and her friends (some well known, others not) discuss what makes them happy, how they look after themselves and face the world, is perfect for getting me into my happy place! It’s honest and positive and If you’re going to check it out, I’d recommend starting with the Dawn French episode.

The Adam Buxton Podcast

Another standby favourite is The Adam Buxton Podcast. This one’s especially good for a boost on one of those overly critical drawing days. His endlessly impressive list of cool guests include Wes Anderson, Greta Gerwig and Bob Mortimer. He’s adept at getting people to open up and discuss more unusual subjects, such as Charlie Brooker’s bathroom phobias. The interlude songs are also, quite brilliant!

I’ll keep on the hunt for more podcasts to entertain, distract and delight. Please let me know if you have any go-to favourites or new discoveries as I’d love to check them out!

Owl Cat

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A rare sighting of an Owl Cat. Part owl – part cat, it dwells in trees, curls up in the sun and stares regally down at lesser species…I’ve been enjoying experimenting with Indian Ink in my sketchbook lately! You can get a variety of shades from mixing the ink with water. Using a range of brushes can create very different textures too.

Old Man’s Journey

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I had such a pleasant experience playing through Old Man’s Journey. Created by Austrian game studio Broken Rules, it’s an emotional game told through stunning illustration. I found it so refreshing – the perfect choice if you’re looking for something different to play on your phone.

I don’t want to give too much away but at the start of the game our white-bearded hero receives a letter. We never see the contents but after reading it he promptly packs his rucksack and sets off on his journey.

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He walks through pretty little towns with houses like jewels, rolling pastel coloured hills, over train tracks, up narrow winding roads and even sliding down waterfalls. The art is style is just so beautiful! Clearly the creators know their way around a colour palette! They layer soft textures and play with composition to draw you into his world.

The atmosphere builds as the journey continues. The weather changing from gentle sunshine to howling winds and driving rain. The carefully considered SFX build the world even more. Tiny sheep bleat and miniature bells can be rung. The original score means that even playing through trickier puzzles is a relaxing experience.

The puzzles themselves are unique to me. In order to progress, we must use our fingers to literally move mountains! Pushing hills closer together and rearranging the landscape to make a safe way through. Whilst some levels were trickier than others, the puzzles never feel frustrating and the super minimal UI keeps the screen free of clutter.

The story is an emotional one. More is revealed as you progress and you start to build a picture of this little character’s life. I love to play and work on games that make you feel something. If you’ve got any suggestions for games that you’ve enjoyed – please do share them with me!

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A Witch’s Garden – Game Update

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My Unity game ‘A Witch’s Garden’ is taking shape! The 2D games tutorial that I used as a starting point was a great way to kick things off. It makes use of the ‘Playground Project’ a very useful pack of ready made scripts and assets. After making their demo game, I was able to move on and use the scripts like puzzle pieces to create a simple, object collection game.

Initially I used the pack’s existing spaceship art to get the foundation of my game working, then I was ready to replace them with my own, witchy designs. I’m so inspired by beautiful, artsy games by developers like State of Play and Simogo,  making my own game has given me the opportunity to explore styles that I haven’t had the chance to use for client work yet.

logo work


In A Witch’s Garden, you control a disembodied skeleton hand, guiding it around an ethereal garden to collect glowing pagan symbols whilst avoiding the monsters that lurk there. It’s going to be a long journey to finishing my game and I’ll have to remind myself to be patient, but the fact that i’ve already got the foundations in place feels like a big achievement. My next steps are to add as much polish as I can and then explore how I can share it with you all to play!

owlstation_collectable symbols_game illustration

owlstation_collectable symbols_game illustration

The Playground Project is a free resource created by Ciro Constinisio