Faces and Page Layout

December 8, 2014


Above: Page spread from a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal. I created the grid with masking tape, sketched and painted the faces one evening while watching TV. I'd been too busy during the day to sketch anything and wanted to sketch before I went to bed. All were sketched with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Center image has some watercolor added to it, the others are colored with Montana Markers. The orange one at the bottom left and the pink one on the right-center both use white Sharpie Poster Paint marker too. Otherwise the white is the white of the paper.

I think a grid is sometimes a productive way to work in quick studies or sketches in order to get the main thing that you want to get down done—while not focusing on other details. On this evening the main thing I wanted to get done was some sketching, but after the first sketch (I worked on this spread from top left to top right (i.e. at the right column I started at the base and worked up), I decided I really wanted to work with issues of scale and eyes. How small can I sketch with the PPBP? Is it time to start a new one because I've worn out the fine line abilities of the one in the TV room? (Nope, not yet, but I do have to pay more attention to my pressure when I'm tired.) Is it easier for me to start with a color base (orange or pink)? (Not really.) Do I like working with a color base more than not? (Not really, there is something very fun for me in doing the background colors afterwards and leaving the faces paper white.) 

I think I might be preparing myself to work in smaller journals again, but I can't be sure because I have a couple pads of 11 x 14 inch paper calling to me from the other side of the room as I type.

And so it goes.

  1. Reply

    What a great idea of using the masking tape as a grid. I’m going to try that. I’ve been working on doing the animals from SBS Beginnings. My dogs move around so much, so this might be a good way to do little quick sketches all together on the same page. Plus I just plain like the look of it!

  2. Reply

    Tammy I’m glad you like this idea. I think it would work wonderfully to have fun when you’re doing quick sketches of your dog.

    I like to use a masking tape from Nichiban which is strong but removes easily. I also find that some Washi tapes stick well enough to serve this purpose and keep the paint from leaking under the tape but then also remove easily. (Others stick well so do a test first!)

    And drafting tape usually removes easily from most papers.

    If you are using a soft paper were the texture is a little rough or fibers easily pick up from the surface any tape might be a problem as it will tear your page up when you leave it.

    Be careful at the page’s edges when removing tape where this is likely to happen even on the slickest of hot press papers. I pull up at an angle away from the edge of the page at one end and then pull towards the edge at the remaining paper edge so nothing can be pulled back “into” the page causing a tear.

    And I never leave the tape on for very long. Even the most accommodating tape that comes off readily time after time will start to “marry” with the paper if left on even for a couple hours or a day, depending on the temperature and humidity conditions.

    Have great fun.

    • Donna Noble
    • December 8, 2014

    Did you finish the larger softcover Strathmore 500 series sketchbook? What did you think? I hope I didn’t miss a review.

  3. Reply

    Donna I’ve finished SEVERAL Strathmore 500 Series sketchbooks since they came out. And several of the hardcover in the 8 x 10 (or so) and the 11 x 14 inch sizes.

    In fact my 2014 Minnesota State Fair journal was in one of the larger (7.75 x 9.75 inch) Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media soft-cover journals. You can see a video flip through of that journal at the bottom of this post

    I LOVE these journals. The only disadvantage for me is that I stand when I sketch and it is very hot and humid in the Fair’s barns and it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the extra floppiness of the softcovered journal in the barns this year.

    I’ve since taken these books out as regular journals all around town and hand no problems because I wasn’t in extreme temperature (heat) conditions.

    If I use one in a very hot situation like that again I’ll take a board and use that as a standing “desk.”

    If you sit and sketch and hold your book in your lap you shouldn’t have any problem, even if you’re in hot and humid conditions.

    But I think you can see from my video that I adapted to the situation very well and would have no qualms about using this type of journal in extreme situations again, and again, and again.

    • Alison A
    • December 8, 2014

    I actually found myself drawing Ina Garten the other evening while watching her cookery show… this is not something I would ever have thoughtf doing but it was great fun! Will have to try it again 🙂 thanks for another great idea!

  4. Reply

    Alison, I’m so glad you did this and that you had fun. (Ina Garten has a fun face too.) Happy sketching AND cooking!

  5. Reply

    I really like the way you are using panels to tell a story. Breaking up the page and designing the layout is an interesting design challenge. Also: this palette is lovely!

  6. Reply

    Ellen, As usual you give me too much credit! The only story here is one of experimentation. I just wanted to break up the page and play with the idea of size.

    Sometimes when I’m lucky and break up a page over the course of a day the page spread tells a story of that day (which is always fun).

    To consciously tell a story in a grid on my page would take a little more planning than I can give to my journal at this time. But a worthwhile pursuit. I think of your lovely graphic novel type entries which do tell a story in panels and keep their graphic loveliness.

    I am too frenetic these days. Good designs hit my forehead at 100 miles an hour and bounce off into the ether. I long to sit and absorb—perhaps this was my way of sitting still for a moment in an otherwise chaotic situation.

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