Step-by-step marker illustration

Today I’m sharing a step-by-step outline of my method for a basic marker illustration. Naturally, this varies in the details from one piece of art to the next, but this is sort of the skeleton of what is involved in one on my marker illustrations. Historically based illustrations involve a fair bit of research before I begin, but the illustration shown is just a fun image that popped into my head the other day.

That takes me right into step...
1) inspiration. I get inspired by all kinds of things: a movie; magazine photo; image in a book or online; or just an image in my imagination. This particular illustration is the result of aimless doodling while listening to a great audiobook!

2) Preliminary sketch – Flesh out a figure based on my inspiration. In this sketch I’ll work out proportions and garment details. If I’m working with a historical inspiration, I’l get pretty detailed here, to be accurate! Sometimes this step comes naturally on the first sketch, and sometimes it takes four or five tries to get to something that I’m satisfied with.

3) Transfer to marker paper. I use a light box that I have rigged up using a glass tabletop and a lamp.

4) Work out a colour scheme. It’s important to work our colours first, to avoid frustration halfway through my work when things aren’t looking like I’d pictured. I will especially play around with flesh and hair tones, to make sure I’m getting the look the aI want. If I am working within a historical time period, I’ll do some research to make sure that the colours that I’m choosing are true to that period.

5) Blocking in colours. I prefer to work with the most challenging areas first, so that I’m not risking hours of work if I’m not satisfied. On large areas of flat colour, like a background or a dress, I’ll block in the area with a blending marker first, which allows the inks to stay wet longer, and float into each other. The background and flesh areas are trickiest for me, so that’s what I tackle first, then the hair.

6) To begin with the garments, I work in the shadow areas first. This ensures that I’ll get good depth of colour, and balance the rest of the garments’ colours against these areas. Next I work in the rest of the area, suggesting the contours of the body and the garment. Since a marker drawing tends to have flatter areas of colour and not as much detail, it’s important to be intentional with shadow and white space. Dimension will be shown through suggestion of contours, not from actually drawing them in.

7) Finishing details, like footwear, and facial detail. I use black pens of varying thicknesses to tidy up the image and give a bold finishing touch. This is especially important on faces and hair, to make them stand out, and makes the whole illustration look bold and clean.
8) Sign and scan, and that's it! Next I'd get my printing and pricing together and post it in my shop, but that's another story for another day!

My materials:

Children's Fashion Week

This week at Megaluno Studio I'll be focusing on children's fashion history, especially as it relates to social reform. I am starting off with this article that I wrote, and I'll post some inspiration and new artwork later on in the week. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! If you have any links to contribute, feel free to post them in the comments!

(Sir) William Beechey (British, 1753-1839). The Oddie Children, 1789. Oil on canvas. 182.9 x 182.6 cm (72 x 71 7/8 in.).

Children’s Fashion History From Medieval Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, Particularly in Relation to Social Reform

Fashion is constantly influenced by social changes and ideas. As the 18th century began, children were looked upon as evidence of original sin, and were made to grow up very quickly. Children before the 18th century wore miniature replicas of their parents’ clothing after the age of four. A shift in the attitude of raising children occurred in the 18th century, but this change was not reflected by their clothing until later in the 1700s. Contrarily, children were actually introduced to restrictive clothing at a younger age than before. After the child outgrew swaddling (at around one year old), both boys and girls were dressed in boned bodices and long, full skirts. At the age of three for boys, and two for girls, they were introduced to adult fashion.

John Locke’s essay Some Thoughts Concerning Education (originally published in 1693) brought about the revolutionary idea that children should be allowed the freedom to play and discover the world. He believed that the mind of a child was a blank slate, and that tabula rasa must be developed intentionally, particularly through a more practical form of education than was prevalent until that time. Artwork from this period shows the slow progression of children sitting quietly indoors, to the boys playing out of doors while the girls remain indoors, to boys and girls playing together outside, wearing clothing far less restrictive than that of their predecessors.

The French Revolution beginning in 1789 brought social reform with “The Enlightenment.” The extravagant style of the French and English courts were questioned, and then shunned. More comfortable and practical styles that had previously been associated with the rural and working class gained popularity. In France, people who dressed in a manner that seemed too extravagant were actually in personal danger. Classical styles grew in popularity, and white was the most common colour for a child to be dressed in by the close of the century. This “angelic” appearance reinforced the growing belief that children were innocents.

Between 1770 and 1780, a major change occurred in the care of infants. The Americans and English abandoned the ancient practice of swaddling their babies, and the rest of Europe followed by the end of the century. Babies were instead dressed in long gowns of up to a metre in length during their first year, and wore both fitted undercaps and frilly overcaps both day and night.

In the 1760s, the dress of girls began to differ from that of women. At first only the young girls, but eventually those in their teens as well had adopted a classically styled and simple form of dress. Low-necked, high-waisted muslin dresses with short sleeves were common attire. They were usually white with a coloured sash at the high waistline. The skirt was worn straight to the ankle or midstep. A girl of the late 18th century would wear this from babyhood until her late twenties. This style started to influence adult fashion around 1785, and was extremely popular after the turmoil of the French Revolution.

The late 1700s brought about a new freedom for boys in the form of trousers. They were worn after the frock of a baby until the coat and breeches of a man (adopted around the age of 10). Boys’ trousers were either wide legged or tight fitting, and worn with a short jacket without tails. Sometimes a sash was worn, but no waistcoat. As women’s and girls’ waistlines rose, boys’ jackets shortened. By the 1780s, trousers were cut well above the waist, and buttoned over the jacket. This was called a skeleton suit, and was worn by boys of 3 -7 years of age, from the 1780s until about 1830.

Baclawski K. (1995). The Guide to Historic Costume. New York, NY: Drama Book Publishers.

Nunn J. (2000). Fashion in Costume 1200-2000. London: The Herbert Press.

Some Thoughts Concerning Education. (2009, July 8). In WIkipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 13, 2009 from