So, I used to draw dragons A LOT. Like, too much. Like… I went to art school and I really struggled with figure drawing and perspective and drawing from life because I was super obsessed with drawing dragons and nothing else.
One of my instructors told me to stop drawing dragons, so I did. I was pissed off for a while (probably still am) but I’m glad I did – AT THE TIME – because it forced me to get better at the essentials of drawing.
This morning I decided to draw a dragon in my older style (pre-second year art school) and then I promptly hated it. All of those feelings of not being good enough decided to rear their ugly heads but of course, I had none of it. I reworked the “tropical dragon” into a cute, plump “rainbow dragon”. Here are the process pics!
Top row, Img 1: Tropical Dragon, morning warm up sketch
Top row, Img 2: Blocked out silhouette to visualize body design
Top row, Img 3: Left: Body design silhouette; Right: Lion ref drawing
Middle row, Img 1: Initial sketch based on lion ref
Middle row, Img 2: Color block in screenshot
Middle row, Img 3: Process screenshot
Last row, Img 1: Head Crop Detail
Last row, Img 2: Feets Crop Detail
Last row, Img 3: Full Image, “Rainbow Dragon”
What’s next? More Dragons!
What did I learn from this dragon re-drawing exercise? Well, it makes me want to draw more, draw different things, and draw from reference – especially when I am designing creatures.
Dystopian society upheaval by the protagonist least expected to revolt. – Such as royalty/monarch/monarch child which secretly feels trapped in their caste system/life.
Call to adventure by a mystical force.
Mysterious past (amnesiac), trying to remember themselves by answering the call to adventure.
Protagonist fallen on hard times, takes any adventure contract and thus shenanigans ensue.
Virus eradicating population, must save from extinction.
Aliens invade, must save from extinction (aliens gathering populace as resources). Can we sympathize with the aliens? Humans are the same, perhaps.
Space: Something is threatening to destroy the universe. Select character trope from above to start the adventure.
Magical crystals which can be harnessed for good or for evil.
Bad guy was the hero’s father/mother/sibling (amnesiac mystery past). The HERO was the bad guy. Coming to terms with this.
Mundane life is secretly “THE HERO’S JOURNEY” but he/she/they don’t know it yet.
The Plague is actually evolution and not bad or to be feared. Become one with it.
Evil Doer accidentally redeems self and turns “good”. Must grapple with new consciousness.
Innocent, coddled child wanders off into a dark forest and disappears into an adventure – could be death/afterlife or child’s interpretation. Hallucinations are a coping mechanism for abuse.
Hallucinate -> Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Coping mechanism for abuse?
Rebellious royalty which leads to societal upheaval; royalty loses their position but becomes equal with the people and is happier.
Dragons or monsters, from their viewpoint. Everyone else is terrorizing THEM!
William Shakespear ANYTHING, particularly Hamlet, applied to contemporary characters. Surefire win-win (I’m looking at you, Disney @ The Lion King).
Rebellious teenager runs away from home and becomes a hero by accident -> call to adventure, the hero’s journey (magical side-character helps them along the way) *proves to someone(s) (unsupportive parents, bullies, self) that they are able to succeed and therefore grow/transform into someone who is unaffected by negative/toxic persons in their life)*
Very small animals or insects that are called to adventure to save the/their world (moral: the smallest hold up the largest – could be an environmental consequence moral to the story).
Protagonist is able to change/influence the alignment of the main villain because of an even or occurence which shows that the villain that they are just as emotionally vulnerable as the people/things they attack/abuse. – Must join forces to restore harmony due to an even larger evil entity
Ljubica Todorovic – RAW NOTES May 5, 2019 Calgary, Alberta
World Map – Continents – Areas – Cities – Capitals/Kingdoms/Villages – Landmarks – Secret Areas
Population (who lives where) – Nations – Peoples – Abandoned areas – Ruins (recent or ancient)
World “conflicts”: economy, politics, technologies, social structures, travel, religion
Technologies -> How advanced is this civilization? Are all areas advanced, or are some wealthier/better off than others?
2) Create the Characters
Backstory – Where they come from – Ideals, flaws, bonds, mission – Who, What, Where, Why
3) Create the “Grand Storyline”
What is the overarching conflict?
Does an open world follow a grand storyline? – The reason for the final boss encounter (if any) – Twist on the final boss encounter – Can we sympathize or connect with the final boss? – If there is a hero, there is usually a villian. THE HERO’S JOURNEY trope
4) Create the storyboard
Color studies – Temperature reflects time of day and mood – Use limited palettes to experiment with mood and setting – Top-down vs Platform vs Open World perspectives
5) Implement the story
Art, merch, hype, etc
Notes from Feb 2, 2019 Ljubica Todorovic Calgary, Alberta
I’ve been working on digital art for the past little bit! I use Adobe Photoshop CC on a Wacom Cintiq 22. It is a totally dreamy set-up! My PC is jacked as well, so I’ve got lots of power behind the digital art curtain. Mwahaha!
So, I’ll talk a bit about my process when it comes to drawing in Photoshop. My current dreamy digital brush of choice is “Manga Edge” as part of Kyle’s Brushes (free with a CC subscription). I love it, it really gives me the abstract inky “Pentel Brush Pen” feeling that I am going for. Feel is everything when it comes to arting, for me. Cintiq provides an amazingly paper-like feel, and Kyle’s brushes work well for me, for now.
My layers are usually a hot mess because I work so fast that I don’t name them, so I do need to smooth out that workflow a bit. Oftentimes I’ll have like 15 layers happening all at once and some are active, while others are hidden because I’m not sure if I’ll use them or not.
So, here are my Photoshop drawings for the month of February 2020.
I’m just going to keep creating. I would like to take some of these rough concept sketches and create some characters sheets for them, plus write out the “story” behind them, aka what was going through my head as I was making them.
Ljubica Todorovic February 23, 2020 Calgary, Alberta
Hey guys! I’ve added a bunch of new awesome merch to my online art shop! I took advantage of the Stickermule Black Friday deal and ordered 50 each of 3″x3″ die-cut vinyl stickers based on some of my popular Munchkin paintings. Of course, the “big 3” definitely made the cut – Bowser, Godzilla, and Cthulhu. Coraltopus – my own original design – also made the cut, but it was difficult to choose between Coraltopus and Jalapeno, the Dia de Muertos bunny. I’ll be ordering more stickers soon, and most of them will likely be bunnies! Mwahaha.
So, I decided to make some greeting cards on my Epson 9900, using Epson Enhanced Matte paper. A few of the designs are exclusive to the card format, and some of them are available as larger prints. All of the originals featured as cards (in this batch anyway) are sold and living in their respective homes!
PS. All of my existing original artwork and prints are 50% off until January 1st. Use website coupon code 50off2019 at checkout! I usually ship all artworks for free, and if you live in Calgary, I can deliver the artwork to you. Nobody has taken advantage of this coupon code yet, but when they do… I’ll know you read my blog post. Hah!
Ljubica Todorovic Art of Luba, Sketch Art & Framing December 4, 2019
Time is flying by! I have piles and piles of original paintings, matted drawings, matted and unmatted prints just laying around my studio, waiting to be uploaded to the shop. Soon, I will be transitioning from Etsy and adding all of my new works here, as they are made. Check out some of the new items I added to the shop today!
PS. All of my existing original artwork and prints are 50% off until January 1st. Use website coupon code 50off2019 at checkout! I usually ship all artworks for free, and if you live in Calgary, I can deliver the artwork to you. Keep an eye out for new posts with new art in them! Next up will be a batch of prints added to the shop. Thanks and happy shopping!
Ljubica Todorovic Art of Luba, Sketch Art & Framing November 11th, 2019
Find Luba and her bunnies at HEX Halloween Expo this Thanksgiving weekend, down at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Artist Alley #128! Francis V of Bleeding Rose Tattoo will be my table-mate! More info on the website, including ticket info, here: https://hex.ca/ Show opens TOMORROW (October 11th) at 5 pm. There will be guest movie stars like the guy who played Freddy Kreuger (Robert Englund), a bunch of haunted houses, vendors and a decent sized Artist Alley. Also – BEER GARDENS. Yes. We will all be selling spooky art! Woo! Come on down to find some amazing originals, prints and who knows what else.
Floor Plan for HEX Halloween Expo 2019
Art of Luba T & Francis V will be in the BMO Centre (Stampede Park), Artist Alley table #128. Just look for a bunch of bunnies, pinup monster girl prints, and our fugly mugs if you’re lost and confused! Hah! We probably won’t have signage because we have a lot of art to cram onto one 6′ table.
Social Media & Affiliate Links
Francis V of Bleeding Rose Tattoo: Check out his Instagram here, and his business page here
Art of Luba: You are here! This is my website. Here’s my Instagram, which I’ll be updating during the show
HEX Official website, with all the goodies including Celebrity Guests, Ticket info and more!
See you there! – Luba & the Bunnies (and Francis says hi)
Disclaimer: I was not paid to review Palomino Blackwing pencils & I was not given product for free – all of my art supplies are fully paid for with my own cash. Purchased at Reid’s Stationers in Calgary, Alberta. JetPens also sells them and has an amazing in-depth review and purchasing guide on their website. [Click to open link]
Palomino Blackwing Pencils were once an Eberhard Faber product. They have a cult following, and are supposedly THE pencil for artists, animators, and general creative types. I personally like using the Faber-Castell Castell 9000 line of pencils, so when Blackwing was re-introduced to the market a few years ago, I was unfazed about it and did not jump on the bandwagon. They were difficult to find in Calgary and I was not able to stock them in my artist supplies shop (I owned an art supply store for 8 years – Sketch Art Supplies).
Is Eberhard Faber the same company as Faber-Castell?
Sort of. The von Faber family ran two separate businesses in both Germany and the USA. From the Faber-Castell website: “Lothar von Faber (1817-1896) fourth generation, took over management of the company as the oldest of five siblings after the death of his father, George Leonhard, in 1839. However, he saw to it that his two brothers Johann and Eberhard were also involved in the management of the company. Eberhard managed the subsidiary in New York – later, he became independent under his own name.” Source: http://support.fabercastell.com/support/solutions/articles/25000010672-the-name-eberhard-faber
Where to buy Palomino Blackwing Pencils in Calgary
Reid’s Stationers shop in Calgary, AB is a stockist of Blackwing pencils. They are $2.49 a pop. Three of them – the special edition ones dubbed “Volumes”- were a dollar extra at $3.49 each. I purchased the following pencils: Right to left: 4 Blackwing, Pearl, 33 1/3 Black, 611 Green Volume, Natural, 602 Blackwing, Original Blackwing.
My Background: I’m an artist. I enjoy using art materials which are tried, tested and true. I support Canadian brands whenever I can. I owned and operated my own art supplies shop for nearly a decade (Sketch Art Supplies, which I renamed to Sketch Art & Framing after I closed the art supplies portion of it). I was picky with the brands I carried in my shop, and I tested out the samples that distributors sent me. I would tell the distributor or manufacturer if the product was good or if it was crap and I’d tell them why. I gave out samples to customers so that they could try them too, and asked for their feedback afterwards. I will review artist materials differently: from an everyday user perspective; not a collector or a casual use perspective. Please keep this in mind when reading my reviews. Thank you.
First Impressions: Pencils felt nice to hold in the hand, and the heavy metal/eraser back gave it a pleasant balance. I looked for grading information on the pencil but could not find any. Reid’s did not have any sharpened pencils for testing, so I blindly grabbed a few different ones plus a sharpener so that I could figure it out at home. Turns out, the grading system was on the website and is confusing. Extra Firm, Firm, Soft, Balanced and Extra Soft. Ok… no comparisons to the existing grading system for pencils, however. Strike one, Palomino Blackwing. You guys should know better. Mysterious grading is not intriguing – it is annoying and does not help with efficient studio workflow.
Lead Grading system: Palomino Blackwing is on their own planet when it comes to lead grading. Totally non-standard. Does not line up with the “standard” 9H to 9B graphite grading in the art supplies industry. Can be difficult to remember what the heck you are using because the pencil grade is not printed on the pencil. Actually, its mildly infuriating. I would really like to know what I am grabbing when wanting to use the pencil.
Graphite Use: Wears down relatively quickly. The least wear was on the “Firm” which is actually an “F”, not a 2H as the lady in the shop first told me. It is actually between an F and HB, in my opinion. Firm was the 611 Green Volume. Palomino Blackwing “Natural” is supposedly Extra Firm in grading, but it feels softer than the 611 Green Volume. Weird. The rest in my random purchase bundle are a great example of Palomino Blackwing’s convoluted grading terminology gone awry. I can’t really tell the difference between “Soft” and “Balanced” and I really could care less to learn what the differences are, because they are SO similar in feel. Damn you, Palomino Blackwing. Why?!
….Oh, I know. You wanted to create shopaholics which collect trendy pencils via marketing and cross-branding (oh yes, I feel like I’m sitting in an old-ass library when I pick up that 611 Green Volume, and visions of dusty old books and rickety tables swirl around my head as a stare blankly at the gaping white sketchbook page in front of me, wondering, hey, aren’t I supposed to be INSPIRED by these pencils which told me that I WOULD be inspired?! Now, where’s the damn image I’m trying to deposit out of my brain and onto this paper…), and you really didn’t think that actual artists would be using your pencils daily. Instagrammers are the new market, I am told.
Pencil Sharpener & Lead Tips: KUM (Kunstoff Metall) Germany manufactures the Palomino Blackwing branded double sharpener. Quality is good. Sharpener blades are replaceable with item #KUM 801.07.11, which is a bonus. Left-hand hole removes the wood, exposing the graphite. Right-hand hole sharpens the 2mm lead, much like a 2mm leadholder sharpener. Two birds with one stone. Retails at Reid’s Stationers for $12.00 CDN in Sept 2019.
Eraser: Cool design. Gives weight to the back of the pencil. Neat idea. Meh performance. Just meh. I found that the black, pink and white erasers were equally meh. Some felt “spongy”, some felt “floppy” and some felt “firm”, yet they all erased equally terribly. If a Palomino Blackwing were in my sketching arsenal, I’d still carry around my Faber-Castell Latex-Free 184120 eraser, which will erase dead, encrusted bugs on a polar white matboard.
Assortment of Palomino Blackwing pencils tested on Pentalic Nature Sketch 130 lb 25% Cotton Sketchbook paper. The erasers all performed terribly and are more of a decoration then a utilitarian item. No doubt, the Eberhard Faber vintage ones were possibly much different than whatever they are using today; however, I cannot confirm this information and can only speculate. I’ll have to find some vintage ones to test out, one day.
Yeah, Palomino Blackwing pencils are just ok. They are like any other pencil to me, except that the grading is convoluted and not easy to deal with when you are a working artist, since it is non-standardized and not even printed on the pencil. Palomino Blackwing can’t even get their own grading right, as the “extra firm” felt softer and performed smudgier than the “firm”. So weird. Extremely inconsistent.
I do like that they feel substantial in the hand and have a bit of weight to them due to the gigantic eraser. I also like the feel of the wood, and the design of the metal eraser holder. My favorite pencil was the Palomino Blackwing 611 Green Volume and I would repurchase that one only.
I found that the erasers do not perform their erasing duty very well, especially on textured or thicker paper, and I’d still carry around my “MOO” eraser and Faber-Castell Latex-Free 184120 eraser.
Faber-Castell Latex-Free 184120 eraser is a heavy-hitter which will erase pretty much any offending mark, including hard-to-erase marks on matboard. I am a picture framer as well as an artist, so my fellow framers will understand when I say that once you find “THE” eraser, you will never want to run out of them and you’ll end up buying them in bulk just so that you never have to go on the hunt for a good eraser ever again.
I’ll use my pencils up and I am not sure I’d buy them again. I’m probably one of those old fogies who will stick to her Faber-Castell 9000’s because they use the proper grading numbers and have clearly labelled the pencils with said numbers. If I want to use a 2H, I will buy a pencil that is labelled as such. I am not a fan of manufacturer-invented grading systems which can confuse users by making it incredibly annoying to have to memorize which trendy colours and names go with what graphite softness. Meh.
Today’s Palomino Blackwing pencils are marketed towards a trendy, stylish crowd. Companies like to market environments, experiences, and feelings to consumers. Nostalgia is a big hit in retail and it isn’t going away. These pencils are not for working artists who require graphite grading consistency and variability. Palomino Blackwing pencils are for consumers who wish to feel nostalgic as they are thinking about writing or drawing, or for artists who use only the one grade of pencil and nothing else (value scale renderings require graded pencils, for instance).
The Animators of Yore probably used Blackwing pencils because of several reasons.
Lack of product competition on the art supplies market,
Supply deals between manufacturer and animation studio.
Combine the two above points and you get: Animation studios were stocked with supply deal products.
Blackwing fell out of favor over the years for several reasons.
Animation studios lost traditional artists due to computer animation debut,
The need for pencils in animation studios dropped due to lack of animation artists,
The most notable reason is that the eraser ferrule manufacturing machine broke [source], and Faber-Castell/Sanford (the last owner of the brand) decided to cease production of the pencil entirely. Sale were low at only 1,100 units a year and thus the repair cost outweighed the profits. See source for more info.
The company which owns the brand today is relying solely on nostalgia and story to fuel the sales of these pencils. Fine Artists, art students, and anyone else wanting a clear grading system for their work should avoid this pencil. It is a nice pencil to use for everyday writing, or for basic sketching and drawing. If an artist requires a consistent grading system for their graphite artwork (value scale drawings), I would avoid this brand entirely. Stick to Faber-Castell 9000, Derwent, Lyra or Staedtler. Caran d’ache is another good brand but it is expensive.
I would revisit Palomino Blackwing pencils if the graphite grading issues were resolved (please print the standardized equivalent on the pencil – 2B, B, etc.), and if the eraser issues were resolved (pair up with someone like Faber-Castell, just as you did with KUM of Germany on the sharpener).
They sure look pretty. Don’t you want to buy them (by the way, the bill totaled just under $50 for the above items) and then stare at your blank sketchbook, wondering if you needed to pay some bills instead of buy a handful of Palomino Blackwing pencils? Nah, you can survive off of ramen anyway. Artists do that, right? Right? Starve, and give the money to the companies that really need it. You know, to create jobs. You gotta spend money to make money. I think.
As always, take my words with a grain of salt, because ultimately, it is one opinion in a sea of opinions. Thanks for reading. I am usually sarcastic and full of fun ideas to share! ‘Till next time…
I’ve always wanted to illustrate a scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I own a small variety of editions, perhaps 4 or 5 copies. One is very old and one is very new (found in the discount section of Chapters). My process involved reading the passage where Absolem appears and trying to visualize the scene. His color or species was never mentioned, so I decided to loosely base him off a swallowtail caterpillar. I also decided to give him a little rabbit or cat-like face, just for fun. After all, Wonderland is a magical and mysterious place, so Absolem’s appearance could shift around.
I started the oil painting in March 2018 and did not get around to finishing it until March 2019. I was just not feeling the initial under-painting, pictured above on the left. The concept sketch on the right was created in Feb 2018 and it was a bit too cartoony for what I was visualizing my in mind. Sometimes I like bits and pieces of my in-progress work but rarely does the whole image come together in the first shot.
Smoke & Mirrors – Absolem will be exhibited at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, April 25 – 28th 2019. I will be in the Artist Alley at table #5223 . The painting will be in the 2019 Art Book as well. Be sure to stop by my table and say hello. A framed giclee print of Absolem will be at the Calgary Expo in the Charity Auction. All proceeds will be going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
TOKYO SUBMARINE – Original oil painting by Ljubica (Luba) Todorovic.
An abstract representation of Tokyo nights. It is difficult to prepare one’s self for the brighter-than-daylight, otherworldly light which emanates from tightly packed towering buildings. I don’t travel a lot, and having grown up in a rather quiet place like Calgary, the “light pollution” of Shinjuku, Tokyo was quite a shock to me. I can see where Blade Runner took inspiration from. In my abstract interpretation of light-filled claustrophobia, angular structures have been softened and turned into round, sea-creature like shapes.
Medium: Oil paint on 2″ profile deep MDF panel with plywood sides. Year: 2018 |Size: 8 x 8″ x 2″ | Framed: No; wired & ready to hang. Notes: Varnished with Gamblin Gamvar (gloss finish)
I visited Tokyo a year ago. I’ve made only two paintings about it so far, but the places lingers in my mind still and more will come.
Night time in Shinjuku was very, very bright. It seemed to be brighter than daylight, over in the Shinjuku and Shibuya area. We did manage to find pockets of quietness and dimness, crossing on foot from Shibuya to Ueno, but it was mostly Blade Runner-eseque the entire time. Interestingly enough, the city does quiet down after 11 pm.
Daytime was a different world; people everywhere, walking to the trains. Suits rushing by, high heels clacking, tourists leisurely strolling around the working-hour streets. Best coffee and eggs I have ever tasted, and I can’t even write – or think – about the maguro (tuna nigiri) because it was so damn good. The cuts we get in Canada are pale, watery and metallic-tasting. “Red tuna” isn’t even a thing in Japan, because all tuna is red. Canadian sushi joints use the wording as if it were a different species altogether. What I didn’t know was that in Japan, tuna has different textures and fatness levels.
Daytime also smelled of really old wood, particularly in the shrines, gardens and forest areas. I am not sure what species of tree was used for all of those shrines. We were in Tokyo for barely two weeks and its like we only saw 1% of the city, maybe less. I would like to go back there someday.