Dougal – Dog Portrait

When my long-term friend from Carlisle, Helene Phillips, requested me to do a pencil portrait of her son-in-law, Lee’s dog, I was all too happy to oblige. I was sent over some puppy pictures of the adorable pooch, who is called Dougal, for the fairly obvious reason (I would imagine) that he resembles the cuddly canine featured on ‘The Magic Roundabout’. Lee’s wife Siobhan had secretly sent them, as the pencil portrait was a surprise for his birthday this month.
Dougal by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blog
I am not the best judge of dog breeds, but I was very inquisitive to know what breed of dog this is, but I am still not fully sure, but a Shih Tzu was the closest I could guess at. I think I have drawn dozens of dog breeds now, but this is the first time I have done a dog such as this one. I am still waiting to do my first Dalmatian – so I am ‘putting that out there’.

Although I do a lot less mono illustrations than colour ones, I do really enjoy using only one or two pencils to complete an illustration, rather than chopping-and-changing all the time. I did enjoy drawing the picture of Dougal and trying to capture the mischievous look in his eye… I bet he is quite a charming rascal.

It was very pleased to hear that Lee was delighted with his picture of Dougal -, presented to him on his birthday and if it’s not too late, I would like to extend my best wishes for his special day too…

PS. Apologies for the poor photographic quality of this illustration, it was taken on my greatly inadequate and antiquated mobile phone.

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Penelope – Girl’s Birth Picture

I’ve done quite a few birth names now and have done a few varities of names too, but a new name often comes my way; one that I like and one that also makes me keen to get on with the illustration request.

The name Penelope is a nice Greek name and a friend I had called that told me that the name relates to a Greek story about a lady who was famed for weaving a never-ending tapestry whilst waiting for her love to return from a long voyage.

PenelopebyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixon(complete)web

The client, in this case, didn’t want a weaver but did want lots of dalmatians (I couldn’t fit on one-hundred-and-one), which happens to be my favourite breed of dog.

I started off with the pencil sketches and soon realised that no matter how I drew the young dalmatians they were going to look so like Walt Disney’s no matter how hard I tried. Walt Disney has rather cornered the market on Disney films, making both the cartoon and film version, which featured Glenn Close.

I wanted the Dalmatian pups to interact with the letters and tried each one in different positions before settling on the final version. The colour chosen for the letters was yellow and this was very complementary to the black and white of the dogs. Once the puppies were all drawn in I added a slipper, some balls of wool and a mouse. A woodpecker flew into my garden as I was working on the sketch, and seeing as the colour of it was so similar to the dogs I thought it would be nice to include it.

The client loved the final illustration and I hope you do too…

Joshua – Boy’s Birth Picture

Further to my last birth picture posting on 22 May (please see Phoebe post), I have had a couple of messages asking me how the colour is ‘built up’ to complete the illustrations.

On one of my latest commissions, I have tried to photograph the different stages (I was halfway through the commission when I thought of it), to show you how this is achieved. To be brief, the colour is built up in stages and because there (probably) isn’t a specialist coloured-pencil to match each and every colour required in the illustration, these pencils have to be blended to create the desired hue and shade.

STAGE 1 – CONCEPT AND SCAMP
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I usually play around with the name in my mind’s eye and try different variations before I begin to start putting blue pencil to paper. I wanted the dogs to be quite interactive in this illustration, so came up with the idea of the canines holding the letters of the little boy’s name. I had originally intended to do different coloured food bowls for the dogs, but changed my mind at a later date.

STAGE 2 – SKETCH (drawn in blue pencil)
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I produced a more detailed sketch of what I hoped the final illustration would look like. I have had a good idea from the clients what they are expecting and they (a family of dog lovers) have also let me know what breeds they would like to be included. From the list, I chose a West Highland Terrier, Old English Sheepdog, Labrador, Dalmatian (one of my favourite breeds of dog), Basset Hound, Boxer and, finally, an Irish Red Setter. I chose various implements to surround them with (rather than the dog bowls I had previously decided upon), which represent their characters (often as they appear in the world of the media).

STAGE 3 & 4 – COLOUR THE ILLUSTRATION
From the sketch a final pencil drawing is created. This will be coloured to create the final piece of artwork. You can see the pencil drawing at the right-hand side of this picture, where the Boxer and Irish Red Setter are shown as feint outlines.
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I have started colouring the illustration, adding in a rather ‘fetching’ cushion, which shows the West Highland Terrier to good effect! I am now beginning work (you can see from the illustration) on the Basset Hound. Already I am blending different colours on the dog’s side (see under the letter ‘s’). I have also started adding in a second colour (this one is raw sienna) on the right-hand side of the dog’s head. I’ve also begun work on the maroon-coloured shoe (I won’t say the possible brand name), which sits in front of the Basset Hound.

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At this stage, the work is complete on the Basset Hound (I may touch it up later, but the majority of the work is complete on him). The maroon shoe is finished too. I have started work on the Boxer; this is at a more advanced stage than the Basset Hound was in the previous illustration. I have also started to put the first ‘coat’ or layer of colour on the boxing glove. The wooden box, which he is sitting in, is about halfway complete at this stage.

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The Boxer and his crimson glove are finished. I am now working on the letters ‘u’ and ‘a’, along with adding the first two layers of colour to the Irish Red Setter’s coat. Building up the colours can be quite time-consuming (having to look for different coloured pencils and blending them), but it all depends on the subject. The Setter is more or less different shades of the same ‘colour family’, so this will not take as long as the Boxer or the Basset Hound.

ImageThe final illustration will then be completed with the name and personal details relating to Joshua’s birth. I am pleased to say that the family were delighted with the picture and are going to come back to me when they have their next ‘new addition’ to the family.

I hope this was of some interest to you. Michael

Thoughts On – Inspiration

A client, who purchased one of my child’s birth pictures, recently asked me “Where does your inspiration come from?”.  I am not usually stumped for an answer, but I found myself looking rather blank.  Later, when I got home, I walked into the living-room and I could see exactly where my inspiration comes from.  Looking around the rooms in the house, there are loads of little ‘characters’ peeking out from behind books and cushions and popping out from behind lampshades.  It would seem that I have unconsciously created inspiration around me.  This has been done with the help of friends, who have presented me with ladybirds, mice, owls and ducks.  Just to prove my point, I have taken a few photographs of some of the inspirational items in my home…

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So, really it’s a big ‘thank you’ to my family and friends for providing me with all of that inspiration…