It's been a while.....

It's been a few months since my last ramble.. Things have come long & i've had a massive change in my life. Separating with my wife of 15 years & moving into my own place.. It's been a rather large emotional struggle. I won't go into details as its not really something i want to do. But... I've not had much in me & wanting to draw the usual bright happy pictures i do is the last thing on my mind. Luckily i've been kept busy working on the B&W interiors for the two chapter books with Scholastic. (More about them when i'm allowed to say)

It's been lovely working in B&W, something i did pretty much all the time until about 5 years ago when i fell in love with colour. So, with my emotional, lonely B&W head on i went exploring.... & i found something i love...

I went back to an older character called Ben Grey. I created him back in 2014 for Inktober. Then a few months on i began exploring the character more. Ben was , is, one of the most persona ideas / characters i've done. he is my visual representation of my struggle with depression. The one on the left was the original Inktober idea. I then started to develop the feelings & thoughts i used to feel. The way i saw the world on the days i could manage to venture out. My illness made visual. It was a super personal project & i put it on hold as i was unsure of how to proceed with it. So i started with the main feeling. A colour version where Ben would be (always) Grey in a world of Colour. The strongest of my feelings. I had others where i would sometimes feel like i was floating when the world around didn't. Unable to move in a direction i needed. I would be tiny, under the feet of everyone. The world around out of focus / surrounded in mist & i couldn't see or find my way.

Along the way i wanted ben to have a friend. Sasha Black was born. Based on my friend Sarah who i was best friends with at the time. (still am!) .. I began to experiment with my new made brushes until i found something i loved. Using ideas & words from my diaries i kept back then, i came up with the idea of an online or printed Graphic novel to tell the story. Below is a first idea of where i want to go with it. Cobwebs hearts was a diary entry from 1998.

So below are the brushes i use / made myself. Some are more stamps than brushes & some require pressure sensitivity & fiddling with the flow & opacity to get what i need.

So i basically make a selection using the Lasso Tool or The Free Form Pen Tool (then turning the path into a selection) I then choose a brush & make my shape / grass/ tree. This all looks a little stiff at this point.

I then use other brushes to paint white over the top of the grass or tree.. fading it in. Also use a textured eraser softening the edges. I then continue this selection fill process sing different brushes until i have what i need ( see below). I then using various more detailed brushes, work in extra grass & also using white work over the top of the pencil texture to give a feeling of something more hand drawn. Finally adding a textured paper at the bottom of the layers & a texture at the top to add s more real world feeling.

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