UPDATE - Feb 7, 2019: I’ve been approved to distribute gifs through Giphy! I got the email a few hours after publishing this post. To find all of my gif stickers search “jesscouture”, and sign up to my newsletter to stay updated when I release more.
Have you ever been listening to a particular type of music for ages only to find out that it’s a very niche genre that actually has a name?
Ever since the Baz Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby (and probably before this too, but I can’t quite remember) I’ve been jamming to something called electro swing. Only I didn’t know it was called electro swing.
One day while I was working on something I had a live stream going in the background. A French man was cooking while listening to great music. When someone asked him about it he said something about “electro swing”.
I had an instant image in my mind of a vintage poster, with a swing dancing robot woman and a neon sign like the one above.
I started looking up 1920s style reference photos and sketching out poses to try to match the design in my head. I also almost immediately looked on Creative Market for a set of brushes that I could use to make a neon sign. The ones I found were incredibly affordable and came with detailed instructions on how to get the best results with them.
I played with the idea of having two dancing characters vs a single character, and then I moved to Procreate to start trying to flesh out the sketches.
But I didn’t end up going anywhere with this idea because I got stuck. I’m hung up on how to incorporate a more realistic neon sign with super cartoonish characters. I don’t normally go for realism, but those neon sign brushes are SO cool and I really want to incorporate them into the poster, but then I need to up my realism game for the dancing robot(s) and that terrifies me, because I know it will be a huge challenge for me and honestly I don’t think I can do my idea justice.
I still think of this poster from time to time even though I stopped actively working on this weeks ago. I think that means I have to work on it…
If you’re curious about electro swing, here’s a great playlist!
Good morning! As illustration practice I decided to try to feature things in my everyday life, starting with the thing I have with my breakfast every single day. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t eat some version of scrambled eggs with Frank’s Red Hot sauce.
What’s your favourite condiment?
So I took a couple weeks off from my day job in December, and while I originally planned to get a lot of personal work done I actually ended up taking it pretty easy. I went really hard in 2018, and it turned out that I needed the break. I’m happy to be going into the new year feeling refreshed and inspired.
During my time off in December I explored some new things and revisited some old loves. Here’s a short list of things I loved in December and have incorporated into my daily life.
1. Barre classes: (I take mine Barre Fitness)
Those who know me know I generally don't like working out around other people. I have tried many times to get over it with various group fitness classes, workout groups, and running clubs. I tried Barre Fitness on my vacation and it took me by surprise! The people who go there and work there are all really friendly and welcoming, and even though I'm the least graceful, least flexible person in every class, I somehow still feel like I belong there. It’s expensive, though, so once my intro deal is over I’m going to have to try out the barre classes at my local community centre until I can afford to pay for Barre Fitness (or until they have a good deal for existing clients).
2. The instant pot
Graham and I both got ourselves gaming systems for Christmas. Lucky us! A PS4 for him, a Nintendo Switch for me so I could expand my Pokemon universe. We asked our family to get us Best Buy gift cards so we could buy some more games for our new toys. And then... We had xmas dinner at his sisters place and got to hear her experience with the Instant Pot that she got last year when the hype was huge. The next day I asked Graham if I could use our gift cards towards an instant pot instead. Who am I?? *There was some $ left over for at least one of us to get a game. 😉
3. The bullet journal
This is a returning love. I've kept a bullet journal on and off for ages, and I don't necessarily plan to keep it going for any specific period of time this time either. But I wanted to use it as a way to set my goals and plan out my 2019 projects at least for the first part of the year, because I have big plans for 2019, but I also want to have more balance than last year. As an added bonus, it gets me to do more journaling in general which is very important for my creative process and my mental health.
4. My favourite paints, the acryla gouache range by Holbein Artist Materials
I never stopped loving these tbh, but I felt like I had to include them because I used them quite a lot in December, from painting gift wrap, to painting the tree ornaments I made as gifts, to just painting in general. I want to make more use of them in 2019.
5. A shampoo bar by Lush
This one I was really skeptical about. I have really thick, curly hair, and I thought there was no way I would be able to distribute shampoo from a solid bar evenly enough for a good wash. I was so wrong! I’m still learning how to use it, I still manage to use too much, but I’m so pleased with the results! I have had ongoing scalp issues for a while. I think I have plaque psoriasis or maybe just really bad dandruff, but I’m too scared to go to the doctor. I read the reviews of the Soak and Float shampoo bar, and several people said it helped with symptoms similar to mine so I thought I would try it. I’m happy to report that my scalp has calmed down! The only downside is that it leaves my hair squeaky clean which I don’t like, so I follow with a good conditioner and only use it a couple times a week. It has the added benefit of removing more plastic from my life which is always a plus.
I made a Procreate time-lapse so you can check out my illustration process.
And that’s it! I might try to do a post like this once a month as it was a great practice in gratitude. I hope you had a wonderful holiday celebrating whatever you celebrate and best wishes to you in the new year. <3
Tarot cards are so in right now and it seems like every artist I follow is working on their own set of cards, and honestly I kinda wish I had thought of it sooner. Now if I were to decide to embark on my own deck it would feel very unoriginal.
That doesn’t mean I’ve totally ruled out the idea, because look at how cute this death card is! I did a quick mockup after I had the idea for the death card in particular. I would likely redo this one if I were to create a deck. I’d want to work on the hand-lettering. In fact, that’s sort of a great reason for me to do this project. Hand-lettering and people are kind of my weak areas and there are lots of opportunities to practice both in tarot card art.
Truth be told I love tarot cards. I wouldn’t say I “believe” in them per se, but I love the art work on them and I love the idea of pulling a card each day just for fun. I had a deck when I was a teenager but I got rid of it and I wish I didn’t! I might have to treat myself to a deck for Christmas.
I decided to play with a mid-century illustration style since I’ve been using the mid-century brush set almost non-stop. I freaking LOVE birds with “cheeks”. I honestly can’t handle how cute it is. I think it’s why I love putting cheeks on the subjects in my work.
This red-cheeked cordonbleu was inspired by an Instagram post by the Bloedel Conservatory here in Vancouver. I haven’t been there yet but I definitely need to take myself on an artist date there soon. I just realized this is my second time writing about them yet I haven't been there, and that’s weird! I think I’ll go next week.
Ok, friends. I’ve spent some more time working with the mid-century brushes from RetroSupply Co, and I’m so happy to have them in my tool box. I made a piece using the brushes in Procreate while screen recording my iPad and turned it into a little review video for you. I hope it’s helpful.
If you want to see my first impressions, check out this post.
I finally got around to playing with the mid-century set from RetroSupply Co. I have to say that so far I’m impressed. You can get some really yummy textures and a hand-drawn, vintage feel which I LOVE. I’m really looking forward to playing around with them some more today on my lunch break.
At the time of writing, the 15-brush set is on sale for $12 USD.
I created this piece to express just how deeply my social anxiety runs. So deep, that as a ghost I’ll be dreading the Ouija board as much as I dread phone calls as an alive person.
For some reason the first thing I thought when I woke up was I need to draw balloon animals, like, right now! Well it was my second thought. My first thought was actually the same first thought I have every morning. Coffee please.
While Graham made us our cups of hot, dark life liquid, I got to sketching these cuties from reference photos I pulled up on Pinterest.
I was really excited to test out the new custom Procreate brushes I grabbed from Lisa Bardot's Creative Market shop. I haven't really messed around with custom brushes too much yet, but I found her on Instagram and saw what results she was getting with the brushes she was making and I knew I needed to get two of her sets. The gouache brushes and the markers. I'll do another post about the markers after I have time to get used to them. But trust me, they are incredible. There's just a bit of a learning curve to learn how to get the best results from them.
Here's a rough swatch test of the gouache brushes included in her kit. It's not pretty but it gives you an idea of the various textures you get.
These sets are incredibly affordable considering they all come with loads of brushes, and I imagine a lot of work goes into testing and perfecting them. I can't allow myself to browse anymore brushes for fear that I'll spend all of my money on them. :p
In case you didn't know, I use the Procreate app on my iPad Pro + Apple Pencil to make my art. I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that I've completely transitioned from traditional art, even though I haven't let go enough to get rid of all of my art supplies.
Anyway, I could probably write a whole blog post about that internal dialogue, but it's Saturday, and I don't want to get that deep today.
Procreate released an update recently, I don't know the exact date, and it included a handful of really cool new features and tools. I haven't had a chance to play around with all of them yet, but I took some time this morning to test out the one I was most excited about; the symmetry feature.
One thing I noticed is that when you use brushes with texture or patchiness, like the pencils, you end up with a bit of distracting banding. It's most noticeable in the the pink watercolour flowers with the ruffled edges on the petals. This can be fixed by applying more pressure to reduce the instances of gaps in the line, but it's something you'll want to pay attention to.
This feature will be getting a lot of use in the future. It makes creating flowers and patterns so easy and fast! And I can see mandala artists finding this very useful.