How My Art Improved After I Remembered Something I Watched Last Year

2015 Artwork Learning from Shoo Rayner video article sketch

Sometime last year, I watched this absolutely fascinating Youtube video by a professional illustrator and artist called Shoo Rayner. The video is about wooden artist’s mannequins and about how you can use them to both draw more realistic proportions and to work out how to draw people standing in a whole range of positions.

Since I had a couple of these mannequins from a long time ago (I’m not sure why but, when I was a kid, I asked my parents to buy two of them), I managed to locate them again and I used them for a couple of paintings.

The problem with these old paintings was that they looked, well, kind of wooden – like this one:

"Zombie Manor" By C. A. Brown [2014]

“Zombie Manor” By C. A. Brown [2014]

After a while, I just couldn’t be bothered to copy these mannequins any more and ended up abandoning them. But, a few weeks before I wrote this post, I suddenly realised that I wanted to try to draw people standing in poses that I hadn’t really drawn before. But, I couldn’t be bothered to find my artist’s mannequins again, so I followed one of the other pieces of advice I remembered from the Shoo Rayner video.

In other words, before I drew my pictures, I made a light pencil sketch of the mannequin from memory. Instead of fussing around with an actual mannequin, I was able to work much more quickly by testing out different poses using a “virtual” mannequin that existed only on the page and looked a bit like this:

I've drawn this example using ink for the sake of clarity, but you should only draw it lightly in pencil.

I’ve drawn this example using ink for the sake of clarity, but you should only draw it lightly in pencil.

Although, as Shoo Rayner points out in his video, this technique requires a bit of practice and some experience with using artist’s mannequins – I’ve found that this technique is well worth using for a couple of reasons.

One of the main advantages of using this technique that I found is that because literally everything is drawn from my imagination and memory, my paintings tended to look a lot less “wooden” as a result.

Since I wasn’t directly copying a literal wooden mannequin, I could add a bit more spontanaity and variation to my pictures which helped the poses in my final paintings and drawings to look a bit more “natural” (whilst still looking realistic). Kind of like this:

"Castle Crypt" By C. A. Brown

“Castle Crypt” By C. A. Brown

"1992" By C. A. Brown

“1992” By C. A. Brown

"Somewhere In A Room" By C. A.Brown

“Somewhere In A Room” By C. A.Brown

Another advantage of using pencil drawings of mannequins (rather than actual mannequins) to plan your paintings is that you can add more variation. An artist’s mannequin is a fixed height and size – as such, everyone you draw by copying the mannequin will have roughly the same proportions as the mannequin does. This means that everyone in your paintings will look kind of the same.

By making sure that the mannequin only exists in your imagination and on the page, you can alter all sorts of things about it – whilst still making your paintings look realistic.

Again, Shoo Rayner goes into more detail about how to use this technique in his video and it’s well worth watching. But, it’s also important to remember that – no matter how much drawing or painting experience you’ve had – you can and should still learn new things from time to time.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Four Amazing Artists On Youtube (And Cartoon Portraits Of Them)

2014 Artwork Youtube Artists Article Sketch

Well, since I couldn’t think of a good idea for a proper article today, I thought that I’d talk about four of my favourite art-related Youtube channels that you might not have heard of before.

In addition to this, I’ll also include cartoon portraits of each of the four artists who run these channels too, mainly because I was kind of curious what these artists would look like when drawn in my art style (apologies in advance if anyone is badly-drawn) and also to break up my random ramblings about Youtube too.

So, in no particular order, here are four of my favourite artists on Youtube:

1) Mary Doodles:

"Youtube Artists - Mary Doodles" By C. A. Brown

“Youtube Artists – Mary Doodles” By C. A. Brown

I discovered Mary Doodles’ art channel earlier this year, when she appeared in a video on Karen Kavett’s graphic design channel. There was a link to Mary Doodles’ channel in the video and I was absolutely amazed by what I saw there!

She’s mostly works with ink, watercolours and marker pens and she has a really unique art style which is kind of cartoonish, darkly comedic, highly-stylised and slightly horror-themed.

Her main Youtube channel is filled with really cool time-lapse videos of watercolour paintings and/or ink drawings (and the occasional music video too). She also has a really interesting second channel called “More Mary Doodles” where she talks about the process of making art, her opinions about art-related topics and her development as an artist.

2) Elgin “Subwaysurfer” Bolling:

"Youtube Artists - Elgin 'Subwaysurfer' Bolling" By C. A. Brown

“Youtube Artists – Elgin ‘Subwaysurfer’ Bolling” By C. A. Brown

A few months ago, I was interested in making editorial cartoons (I even wrote an article about it at the time) and, whilst researching the subject on Youtube, I happened to find Elgin “Subwayfurfer” Bolling’s Youtube channel and promptly ended up watching it for the next two or three hours.

He’s a caricaturist from New York and his art style is, as you would expect, highly exaggerated and stylised in a very unique way.

In addition to this, his channel is absolutely crammed with videos giving advice about how to work as a caricaturist in a variety of different situations (eg: at parties, in market stalls etc..), his opinions about a variety of topics and great general art advice too.

3) Paige Lavoie:

"Youtube Artists - Paige Lavoie" By C. A. Brown

“Youtube Artists – Paige Lavoie” By C. A. Brown

As regular readers of this site probably know, I used to make webcomics quite often but – for some wierd reason – I pretty much stopped making them this year.

Anyway, a few months ago, I was trying to get back into the mood for making webcomics by watching webcomic-related Youtube videos when I stumbled across Paige Lavoie’s Youtube channel.

She makes a webcomic called “Pumpkin Spiced” (which I still haven’t got round to reading properly at the time of writing this article) and her art style is fairly whimsical, very slightly manga-inspired (whilst still looking unique) and slightly gothic too. There are quite a few videos about making webcomics on her channel, as well as quite a few art videos and the occasional vlog-style video.

One of the cool things about Paige Lavoie’s channel is that, for a while, she posted daily art videos. And, well, as someone who posts art on the internet every day – it’s always great to see other artists doing this too 🙂

4) Shoo Rayner:

"Youtube Artists - Shoo Rayner" By C.A. Brown

“Youtube Artists – Shoo Rayner” By C.A. Brown

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered Shoo Rayner’s Youtube channel, but I discovered it quite a while before I discovered watercolour pencils.

Back then, I only made drawings (using ink, digital effects and coloured pencils – like in the other portraits in this article) and, from all the other art-related stuff I’d seen in the world, it seemed clear that drawing was seen as second-best when compared to painting.

So, imagine my delight when I found a Youtube channel that was almost entirely about drawing as an art form. A Youtube channel which presented drawing as a valid and valuable art medium which was just as good as, if not better than, painting.

In addition to this, his channel was probably the main thing that inspired me to start my “How To Draw” series (you might have to scroll down quite a bit or go back a couple of pages to find the actual drawing guides from 2013) that ran for a few months last year.

Anyway, Shoo Rayner is an illustrator who mostly makes traditional ink drawings and then colours them using watercolour paints. His art style is fairly cartoonish, although it also has a slightly “realistic” and “traditional” look to it too.

Most of the videos on his channel are instructional videos about to draw various things, although he occasionally interviews other artists and talks about art-related topics too.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂 Hopefully I’ll write a proper article for tomorrow.