I’ve been feeling the urge to draw something recently, to get back to basics, with a pen and paper. I’ve been churning out digital imagery to sell online …. http://www.istockphoto.com/search/portfolio/911920/?facets=%7B%2225%22%3A%226%22%7D#1ec98cad

but sometimes it’s hard to keep up the momentum, and declining sales and views has made me feel restless and needing to explore possible new avenues. I’ve a pile of lino printing tools and lino, and I have thought I’d like to try some printmaking, but in the search for quicker results I decided to get drawing, using a nice long landscape format Tate watercolour pad I was given at Christmas, and a set of varying weight Staedtler pens I decided to use my local park as inspiration. I walk my 2 dogs there twice a day and it has a great collection of trees, some many hundreds of years old, and as I draw a lot of trees to sell online it seemed an obvious place to start. I also like the formal layout of paths and flower beds, a bit map like but in 3D, so I quickly sketched an idea in my sketch book and then worked this up more in the long pad.ImageThe first sketch is here, and this is the finished version, drawn with little or no planning, just straight onto the paper with a pen and hope for the best.

ImageThis was based on the arboretum area (the grey on the corner of the picture is just the shadow of my arm), and I then moved on to a couple of others based around the same theme, the 2nd one starting to get away from the looseness of the first one, as usual getting caught up in too much detail.ImageImageI then decided to return to a theme of a dividing road, something I’d illustrated before and which sells reasonably well as a stock image, useful for showing ideas of direction and choice.ImageI felt this one was loosening up a bit stylistically too, I tried to get away from the tightness of the 2nd one. I’ve done a couple of individual trees too, and I’m planning a bigger one, worked out now but not started. I’ve done digitally coloured versions too, but I’ll come back to those in a future post. I’m hoping to do an art fair here in Ipswich next month, something I’ve had a bit of a break from, and I’m planning to do one or two more to take to that framed.

We moved house 10 weeks ago, and the process of finding a house, buying a house, and then actually moving house have taken a bigger than expected chunk out of my blogging life. We have moved from a rural Suffolk village to the centre of Ipswich, and although we love the convenience and the activity of a busy town, it’s been exhausting too. Freelance work has all ended so it’s back to producing digital images to sell online.


iStock have recently announced they’ve reached the 1 million vector files mark, so getting things found is getting harder. Maps are quite a safe bet for sales, so I decided to add a couple more maps, UK because it’s where I live, and USA because it’s where most buyers live. I recently saw an image of an old  badly printed map from a magazine, and I wanted to replicate that sort of look, so using a map I had already drawn previously as the outline, and adding some dotted lines and a nice grungy texture, plus some  halftone dots, again textured and worn, and two background files, one solid colour, the top one having a texture cut out of it so the flat background behind shows through, I got the sort of look I wanted. I also offset the colour slightly, to achieve that sort of out of register look. I think one has sold already so I may do some more maps in the same style, again using maps already drawn, but applying the same look.Image

It’s a bit boring doing them so to break the tedium I did a couple of illustrated maps. I re-drew my UK and USA maps, using a much simpler style for the outline, just simplifying right down, whilst retaining the feel of the shape. I then applied a thick edge to the land and added detail, the UK map being the first. I put a bit more into the USA map and I think it shows, just a bit more detail, more clouds to give visual interest etc.



I also added another grunge version, using some old painted wood texture I digitised and which makes a good background, seen in quite a few of my images, don’t let a good background go to waste!


Coloured pencils Part 3

April 2, 2012

Bit of a record for uploading an image and having it accepted at iStock, map uploaded and approved in a couple of hours.


Coloured pencils Part 2

April 1, 2012

Finished off the half completed map from yesterday, scanned it, saving the file as a 300dpi TIFF file, which will enable me to edit the image and save it with no loss of quality, then, once I’m happy with the cleaned up file, and having done a few tweaks in Photoshop to contrast and saturation, I’ll save a copy as a highest quality JPEG which I’ll upload. I start cleaning up all the stray pixels that are the result mainly of the scanner picking up the grain of the textured watercolour paper.

Here they are magnified..Although it’s a bit dull, trawling the whole surface of the paper, enlarged 2 or 300 times, selecting them and filling with white, I quite enjoy it in a mindless sort of way.

End up with the cleaned up colour pencil map, which I feel is OK, may sell a few once I’ve passed the hurdle of inspection at iStock.

It will hopefully end up in my Maps lightbox on iStock.


Next to put some water onto the water soluble pencil map and get a watercolour version too…I don’t feel as happy with it as the pencil version, and I may try working into it a bit more, in areas where the paint has gone a bit thin. I’ll look at it in the morning, with a fresh eye, to see what I think.


Coloured pencils

March 31, 2012

I bought some colour pencils the other day, with the aim of producing some work to sell to put in my istock portfolio,



I’d done some simple lines of colour using colour pencils which sell OK, so thought I’d buy a new set and have a go at a well tried seller, a UK map, not the most exciting thing, but maps can sell well, so spent and hour this afternoon, tracing off a line map I’d drawn previously, from  a copyright free source at The University of Texas ( have to get these things right!), crouched over the lightbox, then starting to colour it in. They’re water soluble so once I’ve finished this one, I’ll scan it so I have a high res.digital copy, then apply some water to get some ( hopefully) nice effects, and also 2 separate files to upload.

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