Archive | December 2010

Moresca Dancer

Moresca Dancer. Digital painting.

Moresca Dancer. Digital painting.

There is a terrific website called, where you are shown various human poses. With a click with your mouse you can change the pose in whatever direction you want to. There is one pose which reminded me of a film about medieval jugglers and acrobats, doing jumps and twisting their bodies. They are called moresca dancers, and their costumes are very colorful.

I did a very fast and rough sketch with a ballpoint pen (not with a pencil, so no way to erase any wrong lines!). Then I took a photo of it and proceeded to work on it with Photoshop. I reproduced the lines in Photoshop and then did the coloring, and while I did that I decided not to have lines at all, so I went over them with the color. I also decided not to do any shading. I didn’t want to look the painting like a realistic one, rather I wanted it to look like a kind of wood cut.

My first Digital Drawing

Hand, digitally drawn with touchpad

Hand, digitally drawn with touchpad

I haven’t got a Wacom graphic tablet up to now. But I nevertheless did my first digital drawing. The lines are a bit unsteady, as you can easily see.

There is an amazing site on the web which shows you various poses of the hand, and you can change them with clicking on the hand. I first did the drawing the traditional way with a ballpoint pen. Then I put the drawing on one side of my laptop and copied it directly into Photoshop, using my index finger on the touchpad and  a mediumsized brush.

In the beginning I felt rather unsure–would I be able to do it “the hard way”? But then my index finger somehow got used to the task. How easily I could make changes! Just take the eraser, erase the line and try it a second time. Hmmm. And then the shadows: I took my right hand, tried to imitate the pose and looked for the light and shadows.

The result is not something I would brag about, but the process was worthwhile trying it. I learned a lot about how to draw a hand, how to master my touchpad and how to distribute light and shadows. And it was fun!

Looking forward into the Year 2011

In a few days the year 2010 will have come to an end, and it’s time to – no, not to set goals. I know a lot of people do at this time of the year, but I am not ready for doing this yet. I am at the stage of jotting down some thoughts, some results of learning processes and some intentions.

  1. I want to and I will keep up with my creative activities. They have become an essential part of my life.
  2. Those creative activities consist of doing traditional and digital art. The focus may change–there may be a time when I will concentrate on doing the one or the other, but in general I will do both. I feel joy taking a colored pencil in my hand or a copic marker, or simply doing a pencil sketch; but I also feel joy and am totally taken away sitting at my laptop, trying to create a digital sky.
  3. It is important to know my tools. This applies to traditional art as well as to digital art. How do you work with a watercolour pencil and with colour pencils? How do you shade? What happens if you wet the paper first and then apply the watercolour pencil? Same with photoshop: what can you do with the smudge tool (blend), the dogde and the burn tool? With the different brushes? In 2011 I will continue to learn more about the tools, and maybe a bit more systematically than in the year 2010.
  4. It is important to use my eyes. One of the essential questions is: “Where does the light come from?” because the answer to that question decides about light and shadows. I’ve got a lot to learn here. Using my eyes also means looking at nature or whatever I am referencing very consciously. How does a sky look like? It is not simply blue–it changes its colour regarding to whether it is in the distance or the sky above me. How does the bark of a tree look like? On which side of a tree can you find moss? Which colour does the bark of a tree have? brown, grey, blackish?
  5. It is important to practice. I’ll try to use every day–to draw, to see consciously, to jot down what I see.
  6. Note to self: Have fun! have fun! have fun!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you, my dear reader and follower of this blog!

May you spend a wonderful time with your dear ones! I will be back on Monday. Until then – take care!

Dozing Dragon

Dozing by ~gnitfried-neleh

Dozing by ~gnitfried-neleh

Since a few weeks now going through DeviantArt and looking at drawings and paintings (traditional and digital art) has been my daily routine. The number of those which catch my eye and make me look at them in big size is not that high, but I definitely love this one, and there are a few reasons for that:

  1. I love dragons. I love Anne McCaffrey’s books in which dragons play an important part. I’ve got one called “Dragonsinger” which has been published in the late 70s of the 20th century (of course I’ve got the German translation-at that time I was not very good reading books in English). That book has survived any attempts to declutter my book shelf. When I was a kid I used to read the story about a dragon kid (kid dragon?) who was so sad about the fact that he could not properly spit fire and because of that was laughed at by his fellow dragons-the poor kid! I love dragons because they are so powerful and -at the same time-wise. I don’t see them as evil creatures which have to slayed, but I think I am bit off the German mainstream with that, with the big German saga of Siegfried slaying the dragon and covering himself with his blood in order to make him safe.
  2. I love blue. Blue is the absolute color for me to calm down. Be it the colors of the sea or the color of the sky, the color of a quite lake or noisy river, blue is beautiful!
  3. I like the way the artist used a dark blue pastel paper as background. That reminds me to try out using my pencils on colored pastel paper. I haven’t done that yet–it will be a nice project for my Christmas vacations.

Creativity and Zazzle

Everyone who is following this blog will probably know that I am the proud owner of a Zazzle shop ( First I created products with my photos, and then I even used some of my drawings and paintings to put on mugs, mousepads and more. To say it in one sentence: I created art for my Zazzle shop.

I stopped doing that. I am back to put my photoson Zazzle products. Regarding my art activities I now allow myself to doodle, paint or draw without having a certain use in mind, just for the sake of doing it, of practising, of learning, of trying out.
What happens when I work with watercolor pencils and give them a wash, let it dry and then work on the dry layer with “normal” colored pencils”? What are the differences between a Derwent Coloursoft pencil and a Faber-Castell Polychromos one?
I allow myself to give up perfectionism. I can look at one of my drawings and say: “Ok, this is definitely not good enough for being shown on the internet (note to self: practise drawing hands, they look terrible!), but the drawing of the body is quite okay.” Would I still create art of further use, I would see the whole thing as useless and as a failure; now I can look at it and see it as a piece of important practice and learning.

Art on the Internet

There are hundreds of Art blogs, artists’ webpages, art communities like and loads of tutorials on YouTube. I’ve subscribed to some art blogs, been on quite a lot of artists’ pages, and visiting DeviantArt has become a daily ritual.

You could say now “And when will you find the time to do art yourself? Does not that browsing around the interwebs keep you from painting and drawing?”

I do not know how it is with other people but my answer is “No.” As some of you may know I work at the Berlin University of the Arts. There is Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Design and Music. Of course the University is a place to learn by getting taught something. But it is also a place where you are inspired by your fellow students, by the creative atmosphere.

Somehow for me art on the Web in its different forms does just that – it inspires me, I get new ideas which I want to put into practice. More than once I watched a YouTube video one evening and got some ideas and put them into practice the next day. I look at other people’s art and ask myself: “How did he do it? What did he do to produce that and that mood?”

I admit that I sometimes run the danger of getting lost. So many interesting informations! So many things one could do! So many things I have to learn! And then I go offline, grab my creative journal and ask myself: “What will be my next project? Something with watercolour pencils? Wet or dry? Wet underlayer, and then dry pencils?” Off to practice I go.

Guardian Angel

Sketch of an angel, pencil and ink

Sketch of an angel, pencil and ink

This is really only a doodle, done in a short time on a torn out piece of paper. A few hours ago I had visited DeviantArt and read and looked at a tutorial about the differences between the male and the female body. I found it very helpful, because I am having difficulties drawing a female body.

I was listening to some tv advertisements and decided to put my learnings into practice. And why not draw an angel? Not one of those we know from the Bible, but a guardian angel who is kind of cross with his/her guardee (I don’t know if that word “guardee” exists in the English language, but I like it, and I think you know what I mean…). I can imagine telling her guardee off for not properly looking after herself (working too much? getting too little sleep?). But I digress…

The letters of Christmas

The letters of Christmas

The letters of Christmas. Colored Pencils and Photoshop

Some days ago I had the idea to do a drawing with the letters of Christmas – C, H, r,  i, s, t, m, a, s. (While I am writing this I notice that I left one letter out – *blushes deeply*!) You will easily find out which one…

This was a very spontaneous activity without much thought given to which letters will get which size and which colour and which ones should be in the background. Somehow, the drawing happened.

When I had taken a photo of the drawing and looked upon it on my computer screen I was a bit disappointed about the flatness of the colours. The coloured pencils I used are watercolour pencils used as dry pencils. I could have played around with light and contrast in Photoshop, trying to bring out more of the intensity of the colours. But in this case I decided to go over the drawing with Photoshop brushes, so to speak colour the drawing for a second time.

When doing that I was a bit sloppy with the brush, but it was my intention to make it look this way, to make it look like it was being done “by hand”.

The Blue Prince

Blue elf prince

The Blue elf prince. Colored pencil drawing: Ulla Hennig

This is how I thought a blue elf prince could look like. I had no reference photo, just the image in my head.

This was done after I had bought a new sharpener for my colored pencils (Note to self: always think of having a really sharp sharpener at home-it makes a lot of difference!

The drawing was done on white sketch paper. I added the background in Photoshop. In order to do this I had to take the following steps:

  1. Select the portrait with the magic wand.
  2. Revert the selection.
  3. Copy and paste to a new file with transparent background.
  4. Add another layer.
  5. Choose the appropriate colors for a nice dark gradient.
  6. Select the gradient tool and draw it across the layer from the upper left to the lower right part of the layer.
  7. Save as a psd file (this keeps the layers as layers)
  8. Choose appropriate height and width
  9. Save as jpg (this creates only one background layer).

I could have experimented much more with the colors of the background layer, but I am quite satisfied with the result for now.