Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly – Postscript


Just a quick addendum to the last post I put up earlier today.

Here is another example of using blobs of color to create the illusion of a form of a person. Illustrations are more like hints of picture rather than an actual photograph.  It’s just a digital paintbrush and a few squiggly lines. The reader’s imagination will fill in the rest.

Also, digital art is cheaper and easier to fix than using real paint. I still love to use real paints, but I don’t have a lot of time to pursue that hobby.

This is another example of the same techniques described in my earlier post HERE.

For more posts for Non-Artists, go here.




Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly

When you are a non-artist, painting people seems very scary, but with a little effort you can create impressions of people fairly easily.

One easy method is to use the letters M and W as a starting point. I spent a little time practicing putting the letters together with a paint brush tool I produced the image below. After getting two MW combinations I liked, I added a couple blobs for their heads, extended the legs and added a stroke or two for arms.


It really works – they do look like a short, wide man and a tall, skinny man in a tux or or black suit in silhouette.

I used Wacom’s Bamboo Tablet and Artrage software. (There are some very useful tutorial links at the Artrage website to get you started using all the tools available.)

I do like to use Artrage to sketch because I can easily erase mistakes or lines I don’t like. However, pen and paper does teach you to stop overcorrecting so it’s good to practice with both.

After I created my MW men, I added a layer under them with the paint roller. You can see both layers in the top right hand corner of this screen shot.

Screenshot 2017-07-25 22.11.37

and here are the two layers merged together:




Here’s the image put through a Photoshop gradient:


Using the techniques above (and a little more time and study of proportions) I created a more complicated image for The Year of the Numen. As you can see, it’s not an artistic masterpiece, but it does look humanoid and I think it has some charm and mystery about it. It will do for an illustration of the story I want to tell.


To think it all started with a M and a W!

I do have to admit that it helps to have an artist’s manikin or to know a little bit about proportions. There are many resources out there to aid the beginning artist (or non-artist doodler) and I have one recommendation at the end of this post.

If you want to learn more about using blobs of color to create people, then I recommend this book below.  Many of the techniques discussed are for advanced artists, but for the beginner it’s worth spending time looking it over to get a sense of how we see color and images in paintings.

Who knows? If one plays with color long enough, even a non-artist can create people.

For more posts for Non-Artists, click here.

Keep doodling!

Art For Non-Artists: Tools: Pen or Tablet?

What tools does the non-artist really need to get started?  When you look at art books you find the first chapter is usually about the materials that can be used to make the artwork in the book. It always seems so overwhelming to me. Do I really need all these things? This post is about the minimum amount of tools you need to get started as a non-artist.

First we’ll talk about creating the original image in pen and pencil. Below is photograph of one of my sketchbooks. The Zen Doodle I was working on is called Winkbee. It’s a simple five sided shape that looks something like a puzzle piece. I say simple, but I find it one of the trickier beginning shapes. First you make the five sided loopy figure and then you make an outer copy of the shape as close to the first one as you can. Then you make a center that mimics the larger shape. It should have five loops as well, but sometimes  the center is so small that you can only make three or four. I didn’t like the first one – as you can see I crossed it out, but later I found there’s really no wrong way to do this shape.

The materials used to create the image below are: Micro pen .001 and sketchbook paper, a cell phone camera and photoshop to clean the photo up (using the adjustments panel).




Next I cropped the page  and sized it to get the image below (left). Then, I used the gradient tool in the adjustments panel. The gradient tool has a library of gradients. The artistic wizards at Photoshop have done all the work of creating photographic gradients and color harmonies. There are many ways to use the gradients, but all I know is how to pick one and use it as is. I simply went through them until I found one I liked. After that, I created a jpg out of the image.

So, you see this requires a little knowledge about Photoshop, but the tools are minimal and now I have an original image that I can use for my posts.



If you want to go completely digital, then I recommend you get a tablet to use with photoshop and other paint programs.

To create the picture below, I used Wacom’s Bamboo Tablet and Artrage. software. You could do this in Photoshop, but I’m more comfortable with Artrage.



I find I don’t have as much control using a tablet, but once the shapes are created I have more control over them. Many real artists (like my daughters) use pencil and paper to sketch their artwork first, then scan their images into Photoshop and ink over their work using a tablet.

Now that I have my images, I decided to add color to them using Artrage:

The image on the left was colored using only the fill tool (paint bucket). The one on the right was colored using the spray paint tool and the fill tool (paint bucket).

As you can see, since I didn’t “ink” over the image on the left, the color fill is more random than the tablet drawing on the right.

Now I have two pictures to use for my posts. I used the one on the right to feature this post.

I used the picture on the left as a background for a post on the word “quotidian”. You can click on the picture below to find about that.


So, you can see you don’t need many tools to create pictures. You do need to know some minimal things about cropping images and resizing. You don’t need to know everything about Photoshop or Artage tools – just a few. However, there are many tutorials out there to help you learn these things, so as you get comfortable with the programs you’ll find the tools that you like most.

The big plus is that I now have some original artwork that is my own. I have creative control over it and hopefully it will help draw people to my posts. The hard part was learning to draw a five loop shape – and finding a little courage to try.

But, everyone has permission to doodle – even non-artists. 🙂

Art For Non-Artists – Part II

In yesterday’s post Art for Non-Artists I described the process of creating the image below from paper and pen through Adobe’s Photoshop and Artrage.



Today I was adding some new brushes and gradients to my Photoshop presets. While I was doing this I decided to add some color to yesterday’s picture.

Gradients are a wonderful way to add color to pen and pencil drawings. These are simple blue gradients below. The difference in effect is dramatic – one bold and one soothing.


This is the same picture with a more colorful gradient combination of green-blue-yellow:


This picture has the most colorful gradient of all, but this time I also played with the Vibrancy and Hue settings.



There are also other effects called “styles” which add other types of texture effects to your picture. Below is one of my favorites which I used on the dark blue picture above to give it a halo effect:




So, you see that doodling around with a few of the tools available through Photoshop you can make some incredible and beautiful designs – even when you are a “non-artist”.

So again- start doodling! And add something new to your work.


Art For Non-Artists

One of the greatest causes of anxiety for writers is acquiring artwork to complement their writing. Because we are a visual culture pictures are a great way to attract attention to our work.

The downside, of course, is that original artwork is expensive. Also, you might have an idea of what you want, but you can’t find it anywhere.

You might not think of yourself as an artist. You may have been discouraged in the past to think you can create art. Or, perhaps you think that it’s too late in life to start.

None of these reasons should discourage you from trying your hand at creating your own art. With all the aides for artists out there even the least skilled among have a chance to put out interesting images.

Take me, for example, I can hardly draw a straight line with a ruler. Also, I don’t have much time to spend on drawing and painting – I’d rather be writing in my free time. Still, I want to add color and artistic impressions of my writing to my website, so I’ve been trying out several low-cost options over the past year.

If, like me, you feel you completely lack any artistic ability I suggest starting with a type of art called “ZenTangles” or “Zen Doodles.” This is a kind of judgement free zone where the artistically challenged can feel comfortable and confident enough to give pen and pencil artwork a try.

The book below is a great place to start and I still find myself turning to it. There are many other excellent books available and I will be discussing some of them in this series of posts. Also, there are many websites and groups on social media (like Facebook) where you can get ideas for free, but this book below will get you up and running quickly.


Amazon Link: One ZenTangle A Day

I’ll be writing more on this kind of drawing, but I would like to point out three things that make Zen Doodling an excellent choice for the novice artist or late starter or non-artist:
1. ZenTangle books have step by step drawings in them. This hand-holding helps the non-artist have confidence that they can repeat the design.

2. Each element – or type of doodle – has a name. This has two positive effects. For non-artists this helps us to find a design whenever we need it. Secondly, it reminds us that artists collect images as writers collect words. (Artists probably don’t usually give their images names, but the more images you feel confident drawing the more you want to add more to your visual collection. And it helps – in the beginning – to name them.)

3. Zen Doodling teaches you to use up all the space on your canvas. Young children fill up pages – doodling re-teaches us how to draw as freely as children do.

Below is one of my first tangles. It’s not the best and I’ve seen far, far better designs, but this one is mine and I like it.




The photo above was taken with my cellphone so you can see it’s pretty dark. Fortunately, for me, I have access to Adobe’s Photoshop so I opened it up and changed the exposure and enhanced the contrast. Then I cropped the picture and resized it into a new image. Tangle1clean

Photoshop Image

There are plenty of photo apps available, but if you can afford Photoshop, I highly recommend it. It is a subscription, so that’s something to keep in mind. Their website is here:

Finally, I used a painting program that I love to play with called Artrage. It gives “texture” to the painting. And, with the lighting from the cell phone image it created a “shine” across the photo where I used the “paint can” (fill) option for the background.


Also, you can see I painted over the original initials (Zen doodlers are encouraged to create their own “signature” (see Day One in One ZenTangle A Day). Then I created a new signature for my pen name, Alexis Seay.  It’s very large, but I’ll be correcting that with newer images by using the sizing options on Photoshop or Artrage.

One final note: I think non-artists worry because they have had a bad experience with art in the past and they feel they have no business wading back into unfamiliar territory.

But, it’s just doodling. And everyone has permission to doodle, don’t they?  😉