Sketchbook – non-embellishment/ruddle



Back in March, my partner came up with a fun art exercise. We used a random word generator to assign us both two words, which were to form the basis for our sketch. We had limited time to create the pencil sketch, and then the rest was done in ball point pen, so that we could not erase. We worked in limited canvas space, too.

My words were

non-embellishment: something that is not ornamental, unadorned, not an embellishment (if concerning something said in the telling of a story, a non-embellishment is factual, and in no way an elaboration).


ruddle: a red pigment consisting of ocher.

So, we have a young girl drawing a curtain(?) over the run-down out-skirts of a city.

I’m pretty proud of the ornamentation of the wall. It depicts a great many-eyed serpent that features in the local folklore, as well as so many hidden birds, and some plant life. I’m proudest of the bricks and shingles, though.

As I’m working on the pages for The Here, After Now, I’m going to keep dabbling away on these little side projects to keep myself flexible. I’m having a grand ole time.

In the Toque of Madness: nightmarket paintover experiment_01


paintover nightmarket_01

Paintover of a digital photograph.

I was working on the colours for our current project, working title, In the Toque of Madness. The first scene, as we’ve drafted it, takes place in the night market. So of course, we went to our local night market with a dear friend of ours who happens to be a fine photographer. She provided us with a slew of reference photos which I’m already finding useful.

Go visit her. She’s a dear, and she’s a good eye behind a camera.

I thought I’d play around with one of her photographs, a blurry one, to see if I could get a nifty stylistic thing going with my paint tools. I’m trying to emulate what my monotypes and monoprints look like, with the sort of heavy,  brushed strokes and thick blacks. I dunno if I’ll revisit this, but I’d like to use different styles and looks to evoke different moods in this story, so something like this might be on the table for certain scenes.


Afloat process07


Continuing colour work for the first page of our illustrated post apocalyptic Canadian short story. Working on the soft shading.


Here’s how Elliot’s face is coming along. I wonder if I should push the warm/cool contrast a bit more here. I’m considering also giving the shading harder edges… We’ll see. I’ll try a few more things and see how my lovely partner, the fine gentleman who drew the line art, reacts. 

Here are his shorts. They’re from a different panel. I’m playing with a bit of cool light reflecting up off of the water. Not sure if I’ve got it yet. Still, it’s good to experiment.

As always, I appreciate any advice or insight.

Afloat process06


Working on the colours for page one of our illustrated post apocalyptic short story. Sparkling up the water. I’m going to start the major shading soon.


Got to rust out that car, still. And see what I can do about the boat. Still, here’s what the water looks like at the moment. I’ll probably rework it a bit more before the night’s through.


I’m quite fond of how the paddle splash is looking thus far. I love it when I get to do a bit more digital painting to go along with my partner’s lines, and the water’s providing quite the opportunity.
I’m getting close to the final big blocks of work with this page. Soon it’ll be down to the fiddliest of adjustments and details.

Afloat process 05


I’m still working on the colours for that first page of our illustrated post apocalyptic short story, working title “Afloat.”

Painted up the trees in the background. You can barely tell but I like the way it looks.


I think I’m mostly done staining and weathering the character’s clothes. I put some time into trying to make the bottoms of his shorts look damp. I’m working on the water, now.


I wonder. Can I really ever spend too much time on details?

The answer is yes. I’m not done yet, though.

Afloat process04


Continuing colour work on the first page of our illustrated post apocalyptic Canadian short story.

Here’s Elliot, the protagonist. I’m just getting ready to do some broad shading and colour adjustments, so I load up an adjustment layer for hue/saturation, and I end up with the happy accident below.

Suddenly, we’re looking at Elliot through rose-tinted lenses. I love this sort of faded red-pink. I might use it as the main palette of another image. Reducing the palette in this way’s made it clear to me that I need to adjust the values in Elliot’s palette… I should probably go for a bit more contrast between his shirt and skin. Hopefully that’ll make it more pleasing to the eye.

Afloat process03


Continuing work on page one of Afloat, a short illustrated story set in a post apocalyptic Canadian wasteland.

Finally got around to rusting over this sign.

I love rust. I just keep fiddling with it. And fiddling and fiddling. I actually had two versions of the above image prepared to post, but I realized that the difference between them was… Laughably insignificant. Ah, well. I’ll decide between the two with the assistance of my lovely partner.

Afloat process02


Uploading snippets of my progress as I work on the colours for the pages of this story. Post apocalyptic, Canadian, no more than five pages.

Still on page one, but I’m pleased with how it’s going thus far.

Here is a sign. It has not yet realized its age or position in the world, so I have not yet applied rust. However, the sea moss has crept in.

Just did the flats for this little guy.

Deformed seagulls are an ongoing thing in our post apocalyptic world. This is because they are fun to draw, and also because of how sensitive birds and amphibians are to changes in the environment. If you saw more frogs perching on fence posts, I’m sure we’d have more of them, too. I’m going to petition for more frog visibility.

(I might be getting tired.)

Afloat process1


I’m working away on the colours for the first page of a small story. Post apocalyptic. Canadian. It will be no more than five pages, so the art and writing need to be tight. Afloat is the working title.

This one’s got lots of water in. So much water. I foresee much standing at the waterfront and screaming, “WHAT ARE YOU?! HOW DO YOU EVEN WORK?!”

I’m going to upload little previews here as I work, so as to help me keep track of my progress.

I’m having fun making the water a bit murky. I feel that up close, it should be muddy, maybe even oily or obviously polluted. It’s not a healthy planet, after all. At present I’ve contented myself with silt and a bit of sea moss. It’ll be filthy by the time I’m done, though. It’ll make a better contrast against the open water, when we get there.

This car will be more rust eaten. And I’ll probably paint in some more dirt and sea moss. I’ve developed an inordinate fondness for green slime.

They Did Not Come Prepared.

class portfolio, fiction

Exhaust shrilled out from between armoured plates as the engine ground to a halt. The soldier was trapped. Its treads, which had performed so well in factory settings, had become bogged down in the infirm west coast mud. It was the last of its platoon, the last of a noble battalion sent from home to lay waste to the infestation of organic life that had taken seed on the foreign soil of this unfortunate dimension. The mission was organized with such expediency that the conditions of the other world were barely considered.

The soldiers had never encountered plantlife so dense, or indeed, at all. The first to emerge from the portal grazed against a branch of salal and immediately shut itself down for decontamination. Its brain ejected from its armoured shell, and fell into a puddle, where it was crushed by the heavy treads of its comrade. Its last thoughts were an explosion of brilliant blue errors spread in sparks across its circuit board. The killer, a unit whose serial designation was S-002, was mortified.

“What has happened,” it signaled in panic. “What has become of S-001.” Its treads squealed as it rotated on the spot, sensors erupting in a frantic search for input.

“What has this unit done.”
“S-001 understood the mission,” assured unit S-003. “The circuits would have been damaged by the water. You did what had to be done. The core data of S-001 will be preserved in the central mainframe.”

They had not been tempered to withstand such levels of humidity. Rain thundered against their armour and sloshed against their treads. On the first steep incline, half their number slid backwards into the ocean and were lost. Just as the survivors reached the plateau, S-004 rolled over a root, tipped up and fell on its side. Its sensors coated in mud, it shrieked a distress signal on all frequencies as gravity dragged it slowly down towards the water. Its weight carved a trench in the wet ground. It rocked back and forth as it attempted to right itself, but its cylindrical body made it impossible, and its efforts only hastened its descent.

The path was too narrow for its comrades to turn around and offer assistance – but brave S-003 attempted against all odds. For a brief instant, articulated claw clasped articulated claw, but S-003’s top-heavy frame toppled. It went rolling down the mountainside, shattering many young trees. It was dashed against the rocks below. The last signal sent out by unit S-003 displayed thus:
“This unit could not perform its duty.”

S-002 replied,
“Unit S-003 fulfilled performance specifications.” It remained within communication distance of unit S-004 until the ocean claimed it. The two of them exchanged memory files they had shared with units S-003 to S-006 in commemoration of their performance. S-004 accepted its fate with dignity.
Alone, unit S-002 trudged on for days. Every rotation of its treads grew slower, weaker, until it could move no more. The hateful mud, filthy with rotted organic matter, clogged its every gear. It swatted at salal and fern with its articulated claws, but knew it would be overgrown.

“We did not understand the mission,” signaled the lone soldier, its output set to all frequencies. It had registered the termination of each of its comrades, and knew that not one of them remained, but some bug, some broken piece of code, caused it to signal against all hope to any possible receiver.

Rain poured from the loathsome thick leaves of the trees overhead. Gouts of water burst into steam against the soldier’s overheated chassis. The engine revved a few more times, sent mud frothing in all directions, to no effect.

Sensors indicated the humidity had begun to damage its circuits. Its chronometer was the first of unnecessary systems to shut down. It would never know how long it remained there before it succumbed to silence. Articulated movement followed as rust ate its joints. Its sensors went dark. Its signal began to fade.

“We did not come prepared.”