Tag Archives: Nomad Brush

Disconsolate Godzilla and the thought process…

I’ve been noodling around on a picture for a couple of days now and thought it sums up the creation process in a couple of nice ways. So here, for a change, is a little bit about the thought process of a pic and the creation of it from start to near finish.

I generally start with a series of quickly drawn lines and squiggles. More often than not I don’t know what I’ll be drawing until I’m half way through them and I’ll say to myself ‘that looks like a…’ and go from there. Occasionally that’ll inform where some of the squiggles go next.

Once that’s done I’ll start blocking in colours – I’ll try and save some process pics sometime soon. This one was being drawn on a Hudl tablet (currently my favourite) in a pub where I sat down to chill between doing a couple of hours of tablet art youth work and getting my bus home. From squiggle to this point the above pics took about 45 minutes.

Once that parts done I try and take some time way from an image, but I don’t always (very impatient, me). In this case I carried on working on the picture on the bus home and found that I liked both the text and the buildings so chose to move a couple of things around.

When I moved the text I found that the right hand side of the image was pretty empty so I  added some planes and explosions in… but that unbalanced the left hand side so I added a spire in to the left most skyscraper.

The next morning – I tend to wake up a little too early – I added some more details in, fine detail stuff like the dragon skin which isn’t very noticeable but I like the texture it adds.

And there you have it, I think. Don’t think I’ll do any more so it’s on to the next thing (which turned out to be >>this<<, ironically). Top to tail the above pics probably took  three hours to draw but that was all forwards momentum stuff, sometimes a picture fights and sometimes it goes onto the screen fairly naturally.

All drawn on Hudl tablet using a Dagi and New Trent stylus and Nomad brush, all of which are a joy to use. The app was Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro which I like loads and more every time I use it.

And why (as I’ve been asked on Twitter) is Godzilla sad? Well, I guess life isn’t always too kind to lumbering, graceless creatures sometime. But hey ho, I’m sure he’ll be up and running, knocking over buildings and eating cars soon enough…

Collab Hudl pic.

So yesterday I took the students to London to do another fab Teentech show (more on that later) and, when back I sat down with one the staff members to talk through the day (and the year).

While doing so we both decided it’d be nice to sit and chill out and draw so I drew on his iPad Air and he drew on my Hudl. I drew the outlines, he did the colours and I shaded it in at the end.

(Hudl tablet, Autodesk Sketchbook app, Dagi, Nomad and New Trent styli in case you’re interested…)

Not bad for an hours winding down from an ultra busy day…

The astronaut is named after the lead singer of my favourite band – Five Iron Frenzy – ‘cos today is the release date of their new CD which means it’s going to be played LOUD all day.

It’s a bit of a remix of this image:

… which I did a while ago when I first bought my iPad 3 using ArtRage app. Took more than an hour though 🙂

Doodlebombing PC World.

Finances, budget and, lets be honest, need all preclude me from owning all of the tablets, styli and apps that I’d love to create pictures on so thank flip for shops that allow you to rock up with a handful of styli and try the screens out. In fact my local PC World pretty much encourages me to draw on screens as it tends to gather a bit of a crowd each time so that generally goes down well.

Today wasn’t wall to wall fab… best left to the past once I get to tomorrow I think. But I did go for a walk and have a two hour draw in the store. Which was very therapeutic and allowed for some much needed non-thinking time.

So I drew these as we all know it’s Doctor Who Day and the Marleks are one of my favourite things to draw.

 Sony Vaio Duo 13, Sony Pen and MS Paint.

Nexus 7 2013 edition, various styli and Webchemy app.

Advent/Tegra Note tablet, Nvidia draw app and a range of styli, including the built in stylus…


Surface RT 2, Fresh Paint app, range of styli.

Thoughts? The Advent is a weird shape which makes the screen positively sink into the bezel which is no mean feat as that’s normally the effect of a white surround not a black one. The speaker grills are so distracting (being front facing and very eye catching) that the screen almost becomes the last thing you look at. Coupled with a hint of washed out colour saturation and it didn’t endear itself to me from the get go.

But… the stylus is fascinating. A thin form factor; like a cross between and 3DS stylus and  S Pen – and two rubber ends – one to create a thick line and one for more detail. It’s an interesting stylus to use and made less of the in built app than I might have hoped. To be able to spin it around in my hand and change line widths was very good though. Liked that. The thin end of the stylus was odd though – hard to work out how to connect with the screen as it didn’t have an obvious point. Didn’t dislike the tablet at all and the stylus does make me want to play more with it.

The Nexus 7.2 is much how I would have expected it having drawn a few times on the 7.1. Snappy (although the 7.1 did seem to grow into a laggy state after a few months use) and running Android as well as you would expect it’s a good slab of tablet. The screen ratio seemed a little less thin than some other tablets I’ve used too which was nice to see. Liked it although it refused to connect to a couple of the styli I used (wood and paintbrush particularly) which was odd.

The Surface RT2 and Sony Vaio Duo 13 were the ones I enjoyed the most, partially because of the increased screen real estate and partially because they’re both thumping good machines. Way back in the past year I took a number of students to the Gadget Show Live and the machines I enjoyed most were the Sony Vaio Duo 11s with the Sony Pen. Fabulous machines and the 13 is a worthy successor. If money were no object I’d go for the limited edition red one as it’s a corking hybrid machine to draw and paint on but, oh boy, it’s a bit expensive…

The Surface RT2 – personally I’ve no idea why RT became so toxic as it’s no different, in ways, to the difference between iOS and OSX. But hey ho. I’d forgotten my Wacom Feel stylus (or at least, sigh, my replacement stylus as I lost a clutch of mine two weeks ago 🙁 ) so I stuck to the RT 2 tablet and was delighted to see it had Fresh Paint installed and ready to go.

Two hours and four pics later I waddled home to watch Who with family. That at least was a lovely end to the day.

Busy week. Tablet and Traditional art workshops ahoy…

So things are officially a little busy at the moment in Kercalton.

For a start we’re coming to the end of the lovely Lightbox series, which I’ll be sad to see end, where I’ve been leading a ten week tablet and traditional artwork series for 8-10 year olds. They are and have been an ace group to work with. This week we did scraper artwork on glow in the dark board, shrink plastic consequence characters, tablet artwork liquifying faces and, from the ones we did last week, added a bit of colour sparkle to the face mashes I’d printed out for them.

All in all a very lovely session.

Following that I’ve been at the Surrey Sports Park doing a multi school Teentech event with my students. Basically we rocked up with a range of tablets, stood them up in a range of easels and let people have a go. And it was corkingly good throughout. My students were absolutely fantastic and the school aged students and teachers seemed to have a whale of a time. Hurrah indeed.

Teentech is the brainchild of Maggie Philbin (although there’s probably a lot of people involved in the doing of it as it seems a HUGE endeavour) and she popped over, very kindly (and much appreciated) as we’ve done a shedload of events where nobody takes the time to say hi, and had a photo taken with the team.

(obligatory bunny ears pic).

Some of the artwork produced, in 15 mins, by some of the school age first time tablet artists…

And then, at the end of the day (which was lovely but oh my flip was I tired and a smidge stressful *CoughArrivaLackOfBussesCough*) I had ten minutes to sit and draw…. Only problem was had absolutely no idea what to do! So, if in doubt for an idea ask a student and between us we came up with the idea of the University of Surrey (‘cos that’s where we was) logo:

… as a Pokemon evolution. fifteen minutes later (well, packing was going so well by them so I felt like I could take the extra time… 🙂 ) this was on the screen.

(iPad 4, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Dagi and Nomad).

I would have LOVED to have put the pic above on the big screen (like what we did a year or so ago in the very same hall with Sketchshare….)

but it was an iPad 4 and Lightning port and I didn’t have a that to VGA connector 🙁 Boo.

But apart from that… Excellent day. Woop.

(edit: and, by request, here’s the Uni/Pokemon logo without text…)


Top five Android art apps… Start here.

The start here is a note to me, more than to you, dear reader. I’ve been meaning to find the time to update the Buyers Guide post I did at Christmas and have been utterly snowballed with work and… well, all sorts really – especially as the year comes to a close.

But, since buying some Hudl tablets to do art classes with I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with Android and have been on a search for the art apps that I can enjoy working with and teaching to others. There’s a longer post than this to come but here’s a top five of the apps I sit and draw in. I’ve arranged them (a little) in order of complexity.

S-Note: Yes. I know. It’s not really an art app, nor is it available across the Android range. But it’s smooth and quick and, on larger devices, keeps a process recording of what you’ve drawn. I like it a lot and, on the S4, is one of my most chosen go-to apps. I thoroughly enjoyed using the app on the Note 2 and 10.1s I used last year.

Didlr app: available cross platform (oh how lovely that is to be able to say) Didlr is free and lovely to use. It has a limited colour palette but remembers the animation as a matter of course and allows you to share both the image created and the animation through a range of social media outlets. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable app to work with.

PhotoViva: a photo editing app at heart it has a playful and interesting drawing engine hidden away from plain view. Ostensibly there to add a hand drawn painterly effect to a photo importing a blank image will allow you to paint on top with a brush that rotates as you go or has a scatter effect built in, or a jitter on the hue and saturation values or… well… you get the jist.

Photoshop Touch: So we get to the big boys… Adobe have a long and cherished history when it comes to art apps and Photoshop is so synonymous with digital art it has become the defining verb. So it’s no surprise to see it on the list is it?

Well, actually, yes it is. I’ve got a HUGE amount of love for Adobe and Photoshop 3.3 LE was a pivotal moment for me in art software use. But Photoshop Touch is still ‘getting there’ as an app rather than where it needs to be. The UI is very good, although  the first screen you will see (after the loading screen) is a whole lot of clumsy. Sharing is also a bit quirky. Creative Cloud is great but not fully and completely integrated and the load time and occasional render time if you’re using a large brush at half opacity…? Well… The range of options is also, on the drawing side, a bit lacking (although to be fair the same criticism could be levelled at Didlr and PhotoViva) but the editing and photo manipulation tools are very sound.

But it is good and well worth the money. It’s funny how app store economies have skewed application prices – programmers and artists still need to be paid to develop – and Photoshop Touch is pricey for a mobile art package… but not at all when you consider the desktop prices. Maybe this is why it’s so infrequently updated? Regardless – I’ve got a lot of love for Photoshop Touch but often think more about what it could be rather than what it is.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro: While Photoshop 3.3 LE was a huge eye opener for me in what an art app could be Autodesk provided one of the first art packages that I fell in love with. While D-Paint on the Amiga was ‘the first’ Ani Pro was probably my favourite 2d animation app of all time. Sigh. Those were, very much, the days. I still remember paying ‘HOW MUCH?’ for a 486 SX with 512 m of ram (I think) to work with Ani Pro at home.

OK, back on subject. Eagle eyed readers will know that I have had a love/hate relationship with the app in the past. The UI takes a bit of getting used to and, even though I know my way around it now, I wouldn’t say I like it. The brush opacity seems bilked to the point of uselessness. The brushes are great but I truly have no idea how to associate them to UI slots nor the secret sauce of being able to swap between two brushes even though there is a button which says it will do this magically useful thing (on some devices anyway). SImilarly – some brushes will scale very large and others will not, but there’s no warning about which is which and often you have to rely on memory to remember the effect each brush type will have and whether it will be a fine or wide ended splash on the screen.

BUT – and it took me a while – it’s a fab app. On iOS there’s a process video recording tool which I hope makes it over the Android side of the fence sometime and the toolset of brushes and variables is very cool. It also works very well with pressure sensitive styli. I LOVE the symmetry paint – which I seem to remember them being the first to implement –  and some of the brushes are quirky and brilliant. There’s no real level of cohesion between the multi-platform nature of the app but, on Android, it’s probably my favourite go-to ‘proper’ art and design choice.

So there you have it: Android art apps in a nutshell. I’ll get onto an updated styli and iOS art apps list soon but this’ll have to do for the mo’. Masses of work paperwork to stop being avoided 😉

(Cheers: Didlr, Hudl, Nomad and Dagi styli, O’Hara white label stout).


In the Shadow of the Spider Tree.

I don’t normally paint like this, coming back and noodling around on a picture. But a: I’m not the same person I was two months ago and b: Fresh Paint does make it fun to sit and paint with.

So anyhow. The Spider Tree. I’ve been walking past it on my waddling commute to work for ten years and have always been fascinated by it. It grows so close to an overgrown, unreachable and forgotten aspect of a main tributary of the Thames that the branches which grow upwards are reflected back into the green stillness, making it look like the worlds biggest spider – ominously waiting for people to come close even though it stands alone in its own patch of shadow.

Near it, a couple of years ago, two swans nested and tried to hatch eggs – but the weather put paid to that hope and, for many weeks, walking past the derelict eggs became a daily reminder of natures cruelty.

Last year the swans returned, the eggs hatched, and they moved on soon after. Have barely seem them since although a friend told me the – goslings? Swanlets? Were growing very happily.

And now the Spider Tree has taken on another aspect for me. I’ll carry on walking past it, for the moment (but have been looking for new adventures for a short while and think I may just leave to seek one come August whether one finds me first or not). It’s no longer the enemy of the swans but a bit more omnipresent. I thought it hadn’t moved but it turns out I was wrong in many ways and it allows me to give a character to some of my blacker thoughts; like a black dog re-imagined by Wes Craven. Occasionally I imagine myself floating down the leaf filled still waters towards the tree and whatever outcome that would deliver which is basically where this painting comes from. A sanguine moment of stillness and contemplation.

Will continue noodling around with it, hoping I dont overwork the painting (which is something I almost never do as a picture is rarely a continuation for me). Then again I might come back to the tree sometIme in a different picture. But for the moment I’m restful near it, hopefully not permanently in its clutches.

Hudl painting…

More to come on this subject but I’m very keen on the new Tesco tablet – the Hudl. For the price it’s an absolute corker of technology and capability. I’ve been using it for personal artwork creation, in my teaching and in youthwork and it’s done the business in all three places.

For the moment though let’s stick with this: the excellent Verso, Dr Happy Mac and I do a semi-weekly Comic book podcast and, somewhere along the line Galactus versus Lucy Van Pelt came up in conversation.

The following day found me in a pub for a quick decompress post teaching and youth work so, while it was on my mind:

And then continued on the bus home:

And then, later that evening, to finish it like this:

Drawn using Nomad brush and Dagi Accu Pen stylus on Tesco Hudl tablet using Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile, if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts… Not bad for a nights drawing on a bumpy path…

Basically? It’s all go…

Exciting times at Studio Me*.

*Not a real studio name, nor an indication of what I’ll be doing next year. I think. Although there is something in mind 🙂

The Marmite One Million:

Painted on iPad using a Nomad Compose brush for a community challenge to design a banner for the upcoming Marmite 1 Million likes Facebook extravaganza. TBH I rarely succeed in these but hey, it was fun to do…  ArtRage app, which is lovely.

Process video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vWeT-l0_4A

The Didlr/Nokia Dream Accessory site:
My Didl.

The pic being painted over a two hour, two halves (Hog’s Back Utopia which is LOVELY) and two coffees session. I used to time artwork by how many trips I took on the bus to and from work (which is something I miss, the bus journey and the workplace). Now I time images by coffees in Wetherspoon’s if time allows.

Dave McKean artwork drawn by fab kids at a schools workshop:

The longer explanation of the pictures, where they’re from and who did them, can be found >>here<<.

And just to finish off, an iPhone macro picture of a drying rose, taken with the AstroMedia clip and edited with Snapseed app:

Busy. And I haven’t even mentioned Magic Summer yet. But I will… Soon…

Sunset on Samsung Premier event night…

Was a bit sad to not be able to get to the Samsung Premier launch on Thursday night, especially as it was one of the unusual nights that I was free from work or so on. The day after was the EV for my A level graphics guys so it’s not as if I would have gone with nothing on my mind… But as it was the EV seems to have gone as well as I could have hoped for (I’m not counting chickens ’til the Fat Colonel has heated the oil yet though. More on that in a future blog post, the EV, not the Colonel’s secret oil temperature*).

I did watch it on the event on the live stream but having been to a good old line up of product launches this year it was one I would have been especially keen to get to, especially as the Ativ Q and Galaxy Zoom look like a lot of fun to use.

That said: I saw this sunset while I was putting the bins out (exciting peek into the world of tablet art there) which I would have missed otherwise (silver linings eh 🙂 ) so whipped out my trusty old (but beginning to show its age) Galaxy 8.9 and drew as quick as I could (brackets distraction brackets). Photoshop Touch runs very well on the machine, apart from the odd moment of catching up with itself, but the main miss for me is the SPen which the tablet I own predates by quite a margin… I fell in love with the SPen on the Notes and 10.1s the college borrowed to do the Barbican and MCM projects from last year (as well as drawing the off cup of coffee) and the brief play I had with the Note 8 at the Gadget Show Live seemed to indicate it was as well implemented on that tablet if not better.

Anyhow: lovely sunset it was, didn’t last that long at all though so I was lucky to have caught it… The moment I finished I had to put son boy to bed so it was very much a ‘catch the moment’ picture.

*An EV is where someone from the awarding body comes to the College I work at and checks my marking (and, by implication, teaching). I’m always a bit nervous on such dates as art and graphics are such subjective courses but, for the most part, the only criticism I’ve ever received is that I’m ‘Tolerably Generous’ which I liked so much I could have had framed 🙂

This year was different though, in as much as the students and I had gone much more tablet art and events centric – not to mention the fact that one class had a quarter ASD students which made it an unusual and, more often than not, brilliantly strange place to be. One student who is the highest on the ASD spectrum that we’ve ever taken through mainstream education should be recieving, as long as the grade boundaries don’t change, a C grade in A level graphics which has been a lot of work and will be wonderful reward.

More to come when the grades are given, mid August, which I’ll be there for, hopefully celebrating with the students.