Saturday, 8 December 2012

Studies and a speedpainting

Thursday, 29 November 2012

DIY light-box in less than 2 hours.

Hey Guys, thanks for asking about how I made the Light-box. I'm going to give a quick overview of how I made it. 

I was asked by one of my clients to do some food photography, nothing major, just a couple of products for their point of sale display. However, I wanted to do the best job I could rather than just handing them a lousy ass poster. So I had a quick idea this morning of building a light-box for myself.
I knew that they cost around £100, but my logic couldn't justify forking out 100 bucks for a box which simply diffused light. + I thought it would be a cool idea to make a light box out of nothing. 

-To make a light-box without leaving the house or purchasing anything new. 
-To record the time, just so I can make it interesting. 
-To please the client with photography which is on par with a semi-professionals work. 

This will differ slightly for you depending on what you have, but most of these products can be found in your stationary drawer or in your garage. I've shared with you the list I've used but I also provide some alternatives if you don't have the exact things which I used. 

-Stanley knife (Scissor, kitchen knife, your house keys)
-Marker (Pen, pencil etc)
-Clear tape (Brown tape, duck tape, glue etc) 
-Ruler (I didn't use this but if you need a clean cut, its useful to draw a line)
-Measuring tape (I prefer measuring tape but you can quite easily use a ruler)
-Smoke sheet (this could be tracing paper, vinyl sheet or just some white cloth which you have lying around) I used one of the sides from an under bed storage bag. 
-Cardboard box (if you don't have one, just nip down to your nearest store and ask them to give you a Walkers box or Invaders box) square is usually fine but my lighting set-up is quite low so I went for a rectangular box. 

Making the box should be self explanatory but the main aim is to cut the sides of the cardboard to make  big windows. These windows are then covered with these vinyl sheets to help diffuse the light. Make sure you cut the paper slightly bigger than the windows so you can easily tape the area over. Its okay if you make a mistake, I did some quick measurements mainly because I had a small amount of smoke sheet. When it came to cutting up the box, I just eye balled the required clearance from the edge and starting cutting through it. 

I also slit a horizontal line at the back of the box. This was to insert the A2 sheet of paper and hold it in place. By using the slit, you can easily reach the paper from the back and tape it. The curve paper will act as a ground plane and it'll give you a really nice fall off on the horizon line. I prefer this over having the sharp edges of the box. 

The example above shows the difference between standard outdoor lighting and the controlled lighting set-up of a light-box. Notice how the highlights and shadows are crisper in the lightbox version in comparison to the Outdoor version. Having the objects on a white background also makes it a whole lot easier to mask out using Photoshop  

I'm using three of my favourite Ikea lamps to illuminate and control the lighting. However, you can easily do the same with a tube light or simple bulbs. Just mask them off using printing paper if the lights are too harsh. If you've read the 1000 Charcoal blog, you'll know about my lamp. Since I was using three of these I got away with not taking the paper off the lamps. I kinda like it this way. 

Final result

I got the desired result that I was after, and I was happy to not only make a light-box with just some bits found around my house but also saving me pounds. The total project took me less than two hours with the stop watch clocking at 45 minutes for the whole building process. I recycled the parts around my house so the total project cost was actually nil. 

I don't even have a professional camera. I'm just using my HTC camera phones for these images. I've shown a few samples of these to the client earlier on and they liked it (Not Ferrero Rochers). 

I hope this blog has been of some help to you, I always think that there is no one method of getting to your end result. Just have fun and add a little bit of yourself into what you do. I'm a big fan of sports car so I added a little spoiler on top of my box by folding a little flap and taping it over.

There are plenty of lightbox tutorials out on YouTube and google so if you want an in-depth workarounds or alternatives just look them up. This is just my way of solving this particular task.   

Enjoy making your light-box! 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 15: Colour study

We just had the Big speedpainting event over at ConceptWorld and it went awesome.

Lets resume the blog with a Deathline post. Lost count of days so starting at 15.

A colour study I started some time again, just had time to finish it off:

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Schoolism workshop

Hey Everyone,

I'm so excited whilst writing this blog. Let me start by sharing this image with you guys:

Bobby Chiu was in London with his Schoolism team and I was lucky enough to grab tickets for two of the workshops. I missed out on the All events pass so I quickly bought Alex Woo's workshop ticket and Bobby Chiu's ticket. 

People from all over the world came to these workshops and I was lucky to be just a tube journey away from the Moving Picture Company. I seen people from Netherlands, America and Portugal and they were all massive fans of Bobby. I can tell!

I'll refrain from sharing the images from inside these books, it was a surprise for me to open and I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone doing these workshops in the future. 

This was the session overview of Alex Woo's workshop:

Session Overview

Hour 1
Lecture - (20 minutes)
Line of Action session - (20 minutes)
Shape session - (20 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Hour 2
Silhouette session - (20 minutes)
Space session - (20 minutes)
Exaggeration session - (20 minutes)

Break (10 minutes)

Hour 3
Extrapolation session - (20 minutes)
Story session - (20 minutes)
Story pitch - (20 minutes)

Hour 4
Final lecture (20 minutes)
Questions and Answers (20 minutes)

We drew a lot in this workshop and it was awesome getting some critique from Alex on my drawings, he actually went around and gave everyone 1-1 critique. Bobby was also in the room taking pictures with his iPhone and I had my work on the projector at one point and Alex drew over it to explain a few things I was doing wrong.

At the end of the session I asked Alex to sign my business card and in his usual style, he drew me a gestural sketch of himself. Neat!

Here is the agenda for Bobby's workshop:

Session Overview

Artistic Skills
- Increasing ability, speed, healthy art habits, finding your natural style.
Setting Up
- Brush settings, reference, multiple views.
Visualizing and Effective Sketching
- What to see vs. what to draw.
Fictional Light Sources
- Lighting, highlights, textures.
Finishing Touches
- Soft lighting, detailing.
Three Principles of Motivation
- Positive & negative motivation, measuring true success.
- Creating a strong "brand", building a fanbase
Attracting Big Clients
- Creating demand, closing deals
Financial Security
- Quoting, diversifying, making yourself irreplaceable
Questions & Answers

After the event, I managed to grab Bobby, Jason and Kei for a 1-1 chat. That was epic!

I learnt a lot from Bobby's workshop, it was really nice to see Bobby share his personal life with everyone in the room and everyone had goosebumps at the end of the day. I really couldn't have asked for more.

A lot was covered in both of the workshops and it was really nice to hear from the professionals in the top of their game. Couldn't have asked for more.

It would be impossible for me to put in words all the things i've learned from these artists but hopefully i'll be able to pass some of the things i've learned down to my peers.

It was a really good networking opportunity and I met a lot of great artist who i'm now in link with through Facebook and Twitter.

I managed to get two Retweets from Bobby within a weekend. What else could you ask for. I welcomed Bobby, Kei and Jason personally to visit London again soon and also handed them my business card so they can get in touch with me if they want.

Before ending this blog I would just add that i'll never forget this weekend and i'll try and keep this page really close to my heart. It was Bobby, Kei and Jason's signature on it.

Friday, 2 November 2012

My first Exhibition. Excitement!

On 31st October, I had my first ever exhibition in Stoke-on-trent. I had been planning this exhibition for a while now and I really wanted it to be the best it could be. There is a company called Start-up Britain, which helps young people start their own business (great idea I know). They were scheduled to visit our university on the 31st and as part of this exhibition they asked us to set-up an exhibition stand so we can help inspire a few of the students and answer any questions they might have.

For this exhibition I wanted to launch three new pieces, this time I wanted try my hands on portrait art, following the Sam Spratt style that I had been practising for some time now. I launched three new pieces on this day:

These were by far the biggest painting i've worked on to date and by mistake I increased the canvas size in the process so I was dealing with over 20k of pixels, no wonder my pc was crying....

The concept behind these pieces was quite thought after. I wanted to give a sense of these athletes entertaining the world and also being the role model for them. It doesn't really matter what colour they are or represent. I also wanted to show some grit/ dirt/ scratches on their faces to show the hard work that celebrities usually hide behind their skin. I used textured brushes to add noise into these pieces and kept working in layers to get the desired result I was after. 


To prepare for this day, I bought a box of empty key chains from ebay (cheap as chips) and also got my business cards printed (finally). 
 My sister also decided to help me with this event so she helped me along at every stage.

We were quite strapped for time with everything else that was going on around us, I really wanted to wear a custom made t-shirt saying Banksy, Damien, Warhol, GDSWorld on it (the people I would like to reach/ beat one day). Since there was no time left to get them printed and shipped over from eBay my sister decided to buy some T-shirt printing paper. What a genius idea and the end result looked epic.

To gain some interest and momentum on these pieces I utilised a campaign trick to reveal a small preview of the images before the exhibition. 2 days before the event, I uploaded Usain Bolt's preview, a day before Mo Farah's and on the morning of the event a small preview of Jessica Ennis. 


As I live over a 100 miles away from Stoke, I decided that it would be best for us to leave a day early and stay at a place called 'The Lodge' in Stoke. This Bed & Breakfast was a great place to help us get away from our city lives and the people running this place (Alan and Sue) are just brilliant. 

 In the morning of the exhibition, we woke up early and decided to go for a little walk to get some fresh air into our system. The sight seeing in this place was something I can't describe in words. Nothing too extra-ordinary if you live in a farm but if you're used to living in a city this with no room to breath, this was definitely a vacation.
We also decided to take a walk around a tiny lake just behind 'The Lodge'. 
We couldn't spend too much time there as I wanted to get to the exhibition nice and early. 

Image Credit: Leila Abar

I was so busy in this event that I didn't take any pictures on my phone. This was the first time my work was exposed in this way so I tried to make the most of it. 

Dragons Den: As part of this exhibition I was asked to be a part of a workshop which was designed to help young people interact with each other and come up with a business pitch based on the product they were provided. I was one of the four dragons helping with the event and it was past awesome helping all these students get to know each other and come up with a winning idea.

The winning team not only had a good business, but they also made use of the whole package that was provided to them and everyone pitched when it was their time to shine. Well done guys! Enjoy your Amazon voucher.

So that concluded our day at the exhibition. I still get happy just thinking about it. After this event, we decided to have a nice dinner at Sweet & Spicy across the road and then me and my sister drove back to London.

I want to say a big thanks to my sister without whom the trip would've been a bit bland.
One last person that deserves a big thank you is Leila Abar, who not only helped us throughout the day but also made it a fun day for all of us. She's always smiling! Go you!

Monday, 22 October 2012

World record: 1000 Charcoal Sketches in a day!

If you're thinking about setting your own world record, i've got a few tips which you may find useful before you get started. It is vital to prepare for events like these so you don't have to stop mid way through, I know that can be quite frustrating. Here we go:


On 15th October 2012, I attempted to set a World record for the amount of Charcoal sketches drawn in one day. Here is the video outlining my achievement. 

Before attempting any major challenge, make sure you're fit enough to cope with the stress levels and the long hours. If you don't think you're fit for these challenges then try something lighter. I've been getting ready for this challenge for over a month so I knew I was ready for it. It is both exhausting and mentally tiring so make sure you're ready for it. Safety first!


Knowing that I would be glued to a chair for the whole day, I decided to lay off the usual heavy jeans and hoodies or even full sleeve jumpers. Instead I wore really comfortable shorts and a really light shirt. This shirt had a large neck area (no collars) so it didn't irritate me. I would avoid keeping keys, wallet and phones in your pockets as they will annoy you after a certain time. You're hands may also be covered with Charcoal or whatever medium it is that you're using for your event and the last thing you want to do is reach for your pockect when the phone rings, ruining your brand new trousers.   


Make sure you plan the day well in advance so you have no one disturbing you when you're doing your thing. You don't want to be answering phone calls, door to door salesman and realise half way through that you have a doctors appointment. I got round all these by choosing a day at which my mom and dad both had a day off. This was vital as I later found out that they really helped me stay focus throughuot the day. All my devices were set to either Airplane mode or Do not disturb mode so they don't buzz for every facebook or twitter notification I receive. 
Also test your devices that you're using for your event. I had a webcam streaming upside down all day but since it was right next to my phone recording the main livestream I couldn't move it. Make sure you test yours so your audience can enjoy the show. 


For this challenge I made sure I had adequet Charcoal to last me the whole day. I used a really comfy chair, although I would recommend an ergonomic chair if you suffer back pains of any sort. 

To mount the camera I used a home made rig using some very simple techniques. I was using two table lamps to get enough light on my page throughout the day, so I just used a elastic cable to form a bridge in between the two to hold my cameras. 

These elastic cables have been a life saver for me throughout this journey. You can easily bend/ fold them in any shape you like and at £1 each they really are great value for money. I used two of these to hold both my webcam and my phone over the drawings. It is crucial that you test the borders of your image and mark things down to make sure your drawings are cut on any side. 

These Ikea lamps are good but the hotspot from these were too harsh overexposing the sketches, so to overcome this problem I covered them up with printing paper. This helped diffuse the light and I really love the effect that you get from it, a really smooth soft light. If you're going to do this to your lamp make sure you leave a small space for the heat to escape, you don't want your paper to overheat. 

I used an app called LapseitPro (cheap as chips) to record the timelapse. According to my budget I knew no camera or webcam was capable of recording 17 hours in a go, so this was a real treat. I set the phone to take a pictures in intervals of 15 seconds and to make sure it doesn't corrupt the file I restarted the recording twice in the day. It worked, and I was really pleased with the result at the end. 

In order to protect the trestle table from all the charcoal marks and to give me a good underlay for the paper I used an A3 card. Make sure you mark the card or board you're using so it keeps in line with the camera. In the video you'll see some brackets on the table and also on the card itself, it was just to make sure the drawings stays in one place throughout the recording. 


You should really plan your intakes to make sure you don't starve yourself, but this is where you really have to keep your balance. It too little and you'll be dizzy by end of the day, eat too much and you'll have to use the toilet wasting previous time. 

I started my day with a bowl of cereals and slowly munched through them in the next 6 hours. Water is also important to keep yourself hydrated but again, too much water = frequent pee breaks. To make sure I avoid this, I only filled up a quarter of my bottle and was sipping it every hour or two. When you do eat, make sure you don't eat anything too heavy or oily as that will make you feel sleepy and tired. I ate a pack of fruits with my left hand after the first half of the day and my mom also made me some smoothie, which again I took really slowly. Using this technique I didn't really feel hungry and was able to go for hours. I managed to get the balance just right which helped me go for almost 18 hours with less than 20 minute of break in total. 


Timing is quite important if you'r attempting something which involves numbers. I wanted to reach a 1000 drawings in a day so I knew I had to finish by midnight so I can call it 1000 sketches in a day. I chose as that has a really nice script which changes images after every minute or whatever you set it to do. 

I got up early in the morning (4:30am) and did my usual chores and doing some last minute arrangements. I was on the table by 6:15 and I asked my mom to record a quick intro video before I get started. 
It was almost like watching a timelapse video of a flower through its life into different seasons. I felt everyone slowly waking up, having their breakfast, leaving for their journeys and then coming back home having their dinner and going to bed. All whilst I was in my chair. 

According to my original calculation I should have reached 1000 sketches by just 7pm but you have to take into account is that the site doesn't take into account the time it takes to load a page and the time in between two images. Ocassionally a few images were quite high in resolution slowing down the page load time, this in turn slowed down the overall number. I had a minute timer for each sketch so I really concentrated on big gestural marks and trying to get a pose sorted out the first 30 seconds. 


Having a good vision will help you see through the difficulties in challenges like these. Believe in yourself and know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Don't loose focus and don't let things wind you up.

My goal was to reach a 1000 sketches by the end of the day and I wasn't going to let anything stop me. When I was racing against time in the last hour I used my other hand to do two drawings in the minute.
I hope that has been of some help to you and I wish you all the best for your challenge. :)


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 3: Markers Behind the scene

These markers were pain to use. My first day (Monday) didn't go as planned, I took these markers to a life drawing session, Ania and Adrian Dutton were kind enough to let me record my canvas in a life drawing session (super cool off them). I guess I was just too nervous/ excited about having the camera behind me whilst in a life drawing class.

I did get there on time (for a change) so I could set up my camera before class. Adrian was kind enough to tell the whole class about my journey (approx 50 of them) and by the end of the class all my business cards were gone. That was awesome! I was also forced (politely) to link up in the pub afterwards and the conversation about my journey continued there. It was a great day overall for networking...

I wasn't happy with the result of that night so I went back on Thursday and this was the result of  that session. Much better results imo.

I did a few marker studies which turned out ok and I compiled them together on this page:

This morning I decided to create a little story about me being kicked out the house and me working from a makeshift workbench. I set it all up how I wanted it and spent around 2 hours on recording the different parts I wanted for the video. However, when I got back in the audio was so choppy that it couldn't be used. The whole thing was a mess. So I decided to do another webcam video and upload it on the spot. 

Lets learn from our mistakes and move on. DON'T LIKE MARKERS....

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Long term goals vs short term goals

Just a quick note on setting goals for yourself.
The best way to set your goals would be to think about where you want to be in a years time, then work your way backwards and calculate what it is that you'll have to do by the end of lets say 2 months.

As long as you keep hitting your goals, you'll get where you want to be. It is ok to take a rest now and again. If your goal is too high and unrealistic you can always lower them. But remember you are trying to push yourself to the limit to maintain progress.

I want to be at Alex Negrea's standard in a years time.
Well, he has done thousands of sketches to get where he is right now. So I would say 6000 sketches in a year will help you towards your goal in a years time.
So that makes it only 500 sketches a month or 125 sketches a week. Doable right?

If you find the target too easy to beat, aim for 12000 pa. Remember, you only get out what you put in.

Remember to always eat healthy and stay fresh.

Design through expression

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Watercolour Express is now up.

So I had great fun working on these paintings and the video is now up for you all to see:

Since I can't cram all the things in the video, i'll add some behind the scenes here.
The location for the first week was Hampton and there is a really nice bridge that goes across River Thames.
On the scheduled day, there was a lot of traffic which held me back and I didn't get there ill 6pm. Without wasting any time I found myself a great spot just on top of the bridge. But it started drizzling forcing me to pack up my stuff.

I tried using one of trees as a shelter but the rain didn't allow that either.

So I had to head back to my car and call this trip off. The car park is next to a train station (Hampton Court Road) and so on my way back I seen the florist and the gourmet ladies packing up their stuff. I had a look around the station and asked them if it would be ok to paint in this location. To my surprise they loved the idea and were very supportive. So I found this quite spot by the entrance with enough space for me to move around whilst not obstructing anything.

Painted in public was harder than I thought it would be, it looked like a really quite station but damn! Every train that came in, brought along what looked like thousands of people. The Peekers, The Motivators etc.
Whilst I was painting this drunk guy named Mark came next to me and started giving me feedback on how to see thing from his perspective and boy oh boy, he really did help.
I'd been here for so long that some of the people had now seen me twice.
I think I stayed there till midnight and it was so cold.....

On this day there were a few who asked me for my details. I still haven't got my business cards so the next day I decided to paint the details onto the canvas before shooting off to the same place.

The location this time was The Royal Palace (Hampton) and I had been granted the permission to paint in their garden.

The last paining from this day was in a really beautiful spot. I found this quite dock right next to the bridge which had an awesome sunset view. It was a really nice end way to finish my first week.

Onto the next one. :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

GDSWorld: The Journey

So I recently thought about going on a year long journey to explore, experiment and try out different styles and mediums. I'll be trying a new style/ medium every week and upload a video at the end of the week. 

This is the crazy side of me! You're warned....XD

Also, its the Rabbit Awareness Week as pointed out by one of my mates, so here is a header i'll be living with for the whole week:

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Paralympics 2012

The Paralympics are starting today so I thought it'd be great occasion to update my facebook cover and show my support to all the hard working athletes involved in this sport.
Hope you like it. :)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Pirate Punk Ship

Pirate Punk Ship- A concept I painted for ConceptWorld's bi-weekly contest over at DeviantArt. I decided at the last moment on a Sunday afternoon to give it a shot and i'm quite pleased with what I achieved in merely half a day.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Balance piece published in 3D Artist Issue 44

To my surprise I opened the magazine this afternoon to see my piece 'Balance' in one of their pages. I don't even remember sending this message to them (Feels like a long time ago). Wow! Just Wow!!!
So I've finished university now and received a First Class Honours. Moved back to my family home in London and freelancing for a few different projects. Feels like the hard work has finally paid off!

Sunday, 22 April 2012


This the final version of the Gymnast. After a month of work on this piece I can finally call it done.
The base mesh was created in 3ds Max, High-res details were sculpted in ZBrush and post-production was carried out using Photoshop.
The model was based off Shayla Worley (American gymnast) who injured her leg through training and missed out on her Olympic dreams.