Digital art has a steep learning curve

I started doing my own thing, silly little cartoon creatures. They are cute but not the sort of art I want to produce so I started to see the spitpaint on Facebook as a way to learn. I need to be able to produce art… Chiefly, for galleries.

I could tell you about the quality of my eyes and the migraines I get from staring at a piece of paper, but that’s just depressing. Just belive me when I say that I need to be able to work big without compromising my style. On a computer I can work big but not actually increasing the size of the drawing. That zoom button is my friend.

So the digital art is for the illustrations but also to produce art. Real art.

And there is no less skill in creating art on the screen as there is on paper. Except it is less messy. My style hasn’t changed. I still use the same colours and the same brushes, but now they are all digital.

So my first try at ‘real’ art was semi successful. I used a solid brush and didn’t blend. I suppose in the art work it would be like using markers or oil pastels that you didn’t blend but used in light layers.


I stuck to black and white and ‘Wrath’ turned out well… Although I would have liked to have blended.

Then I tried again. This time using the same technique but trying to get a softer touch…

nest building2.

Ouch… Is all I can say. The shading is out (in the digital world this is sometimes called values) and the overall effect is not good.

By now my confidence was gone. So today I decided to try using a brush. I have been using them on my covers but this time I looked up how to make the brush larger and smaller and how to pan the image… Basically I had a look at the manual.

Okay, you can stop laughing now…

I know I ought to hae done it before but I like to see if I can do it without. I couldn’t.

So having watched a tutorial or two and read a bit about how to use critter I got to the next painting… “Crone”.


I used a limited palette and layered the colours. Well, this gives you and idea how I work; the drawing 30 minutes in:


I’m no speed painter but given time and a good subject I think I can create the look I want. This one has made the portfolio. And I am having so much fun… I can’t wait for tomorrows prompt.

But the learning curve is huge! Massive! And I don’t think I have stopped yet. My sister has been doing digital art for the last 10 years and she says that she is still learning.

I suppose a part of me is worried that galleries won’t take them because of the ‘digital’ aspect but I will cross that bridge when it comes to it. Right now I am just happy playing.

Digital art

I have been playing with my Wacom pad… To learn i decided to go with doing the daily spitpaint every day, or when I could. It’s a Facebook group that is the same as a writing group. They prompt you and you create a drawing. It doesn’t have to be digital drawing but that is what I have been using.

So I started with this about a week ago:


I then moved on a couple of days later to this…


Then yesterday I managed this:


And today…

mail woman3.

The learning curve is HUGE! I am getting to grips with layering and textures but the drawings are fairly simple. I’ll try to post every couple of days to keep you up to date with my progress.

I am really enjoying myself though…

And the software I am using is Krita, a free alternative to PS.

Another cover…

This will be the last for a while. Although there are about 14 illustrations to go with it, so I’m going to be working on it for the next week or so, if not longer…

This book is called ‘Fey’ and is about a young boy called Dai. It’s set in Wales, not too far from where I live and incorporates all the old fairy stories, local and not so local.

Hopefully the book will be out soon… I’m aiming for the mid to the end of August.


Tunnels… A kid’s novel

I’m doing the edits for Tunnels and as I do I am read exerts… Bits of my writing. So far just doing the edits has made me cry and laugh. How is that possible?

To give you a sneak peak I am going to pop the first chapter below. This is a children’s book for ages 8+ or Grade 3 +. Hope you like it anyway…


Chapter 1 – Time to grow-up.

“Heather!” My mother has both hands on her slight hips and is red in the face. A sure sign that I have done something wrong, but I can’t think of anything.

“Mum?” I ask, worried.

“I’ve just spoken to your brother.” I wrinkle my nose at that. If there’s one person who really annoys me it’s my brother. Hamish senior is older than me and because he’s become a raven everyone listens to him. No one listens to me.

“And?” I ask. I realise I’m being rude but I know where this is going. Mum’s going to bring up my hand-fasting again. I’m only eight, but I am old enough to be considered an adult. I don’t feel like an adult.

Mum is looking at me and I know she can see the frayed edge on my favourite skirt and the dirt on my top. Many times she has told me that I’m a disappointment; not pretty enough, and not dainty enough. I’ve tried to tell her that it doesn’t matter as I will be married. I want to be a Forrger. I want to go topside. I want to see the sun.

I never have. Actually no one has, not here in Mayflower Close. Here we live below the world. Mum says that I ought not to have thoughts about the above ground. She says that it’s wrong, that we belong here as they belong there, but I am sick and tired of the tunnels and the damp air. I want to go and see trees. The Forrgers go up and they bring things back. They tell us about trees and bushed, birds and buildings. Some of the things they bring are so strange that it is as if they were made by fairies.

The last time Richard went up he brought back a small square device that had sung and shown pictures until it had died. We can’t work out why the things die, but I think it has to do with the sun. And that is what I told him.

I’d explained it and he had nodded. Then he took my idea to the elders, who said he was brilliant and given him more credits for food. It had been my idea, but I didn’t get anything.

“That was my idea!” I’d called after him, once he had got his extra food.

He’d come over, all red faced and growling. “You don’t tell no one that. It was my idea.”

“No way,” I said. “Was mine.”

He’d looked at me then and at his pile of food. “What do you want?”

This is what I’d been waiting for. You see I want to be more than Heather, the girl. I want to be a Forrger. So I told him. “Take me up.”

He’d looked at me then as though my head had gone soft. “You’re a girl!” he snorted.

I rolled my eyes. “So?”

“Girls don’t go up. You’re meant to get hand-fasted and then married.” He said all this in a rush and I waited his rant out. Really I don’t care what he thinks. I know I could do a better job than him.

“You told me…”

Richard groaned, but I carried on.

“You told me that the girls up top are like the boys. They have jobs!”

He looked away. “I never should have said,” he mumbled.

“Maybe not,” I said. “But you did and I want to be a Forrger.”

Still he shook his head, but eventually he showed me a tunnel. “Takes you up to Mary King’s Close and from there you can go out.”

“To see the sun?”

“No,” he’d said with a sigh. “We’re different now. The sun can hurt us. You have to stay close to the shadows.”

I nodded and walked back home, remembering the way. For the first time since forever I was smiling when I got home. I was. But now Mum is looking at me with hard eyes and I know what she’s thinking. She wants me to choose a boy.

“The elders want you to settle,” she says. I notice that she is wheezing again. I reach out a hand and take her arm.

“I know.”

“They keep asking me,” she says. Her breath is shallow and I know it means she’s going to have one of her attacks.

This is the main reason I want to go up. I need the medicine, or rather Mum needs the medicine. I steer Mum into our little stone house. It has been chiselled out of the rock and has just two rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. There is a wooden wall running along the middle and that is where I head. If Mum sits with her back to that wall it is less damp. It isn’t cold, at least not much, but the damp can seep up through the floor, making you feel cold.

“I only want you safe,” Mum wheezes. And I know what she means. If Mum were to die before I was hand-fasted then I would have to become a spinster, and that’s not a good life. Aunt Allok is a spinster and she is hunched and bruised all the time from the taking apart of clothes. The forggers bring stuff from above and any fabric is taken to the spinster house where they tear it apart and make normal clothes from it. Only the spinsters are never able to get extra food because there is always more clothing than needed. I once asked her why they all made the same thing at the same time.

“The factories ask for it,” she said and her voice sounded old, yet she was only in her thirtieth year.

“I don’t know why you all have to make the same thing. It floods the factory and then no one wants to give too many credits for it,” I said, but Aunt Allok had just looked at me as though I was odd and said nothing.

No one really listens to me. But right now I can hear that Mum’s breathing is worse.

“Mum, I’m going to get Hamish,” I say. Mum flutters a hand at me. It looks like a the movements of a small animal caught in a snare. Fear floods me. I don’t say anything else, instead I go to get my brother.

Finished and ready…

Tunnels is having its final edit and the cover is complete. I’m just working on the small illustrations for the inside.


As you can see the book has got some historical aspects… the plague doctor makes an appearance.

And the cover is illustrated.

tunnels cover3.

I like it and I think it will work well… The image is available on Society 6 and Zippi. I haven’t added the plague mask yet though. Not sure if I will. Haven’t decided.

Apart from that I have been writing a bit more of The Gone 2 and drawing. After Tunnels there is one more book that will need to be illustrated and then I can get down to writing more.