About Mark Middleton

Posts by Mark Middleton:

SmArt School Beginning Illustration

I recently completed the class Beginning Illustration 102 with Marc Scheff through SmArt School. Marc’s feedback has been incredibly helpful for my work, and it was a great experience learning from the process of the other students. I also got to monitor the mentorships being run by Greg Manchess, who has a tremendous amount of wisdom to share when it comes to making pictures. I highly recommend his posts on Muddy Colors. These are the three illustrations I completed in the class. One was an assignment to make an illustration for the story Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, and the other two illustrations I did are from the story of an original graphic novel I’m developing called The Isolation Suit.

Studies, Nov 8-16

I’m trying to get better at painting heads by doing more quick head studies, and I’m also trying to get better at sharing my work by posting these studies online. I’m posting all of the studies I do on instagram, tumblr, and facebook. I think I have a long way to go in terms of painting faces, but I’ve learned a lot doing these studies. At first, I was painting the faces by going directly in with paint, and for the later ones, I drew them with lines first. I’m not sure which method works better for me yet. One thing that I’ve found to be difficult is making the faces look saturated enough, I tend to push the skin tones too far towards grey. I’ve also learned how subtle some of the color, brightness, and saturation variations are in skin tones, and how capturing those subtle variations is crucial to making it look right. After looking back on these, I think I’ve been a bit too clumsy in recording many of these variations, and in future studies I’m going to push to get the variations recorded more carefully. Also, my colors on some of these are spotty, which makes the faces look disjointed. I need to also push to match colors that are arising in different parts of the face to bring the face together, to make it seem like a single, related whole.

Recent Figure Drawings and Studies

I recently attended Illuxcon in Allentown, PA, and it was an awesome experience. I was overwhelmed with the amount of incredible artwork. Everyone I encountered was very generous with their time, and I had a wonderful time hanging out with some amazing artists. While I was there, I got to take part in the Illuxcon sketchfest at Allentown Brew Works, where they had a number of figure models to draw. I also got to take part in figure drawing instruction from the incredible Steve Huston. His instruction was great and he said many things that were very helpful to me, he even sat next to me for a few minutes and drew in my sketchbook to show me a few things, which was awesome! One thing that stuck with me was how he related visual art to other kinds of art like music and dance. Musicians and dancers aren’t just performing one note or one step, but each note and each step relate to the other notes and steps to create a whole, and we must think of our drawings and pictures in the same way. Each “note” of color or value or line in your picture must connect with the other notes to create the image. This might seem obvious to some, but I don’t think it’s a trivial observation. Thinking in this way has helped me to be more aware of what I’m doing and has forced me to ask myself how what I’m drawing now relates to what I’ve already drawn or plan to draw, and to remember to connect things, to make them flow visually. Creating pictures is an incredibly deep subject. In figure drawing alone, there are more hidden dimensions to it than I ever thought possible.


Bargue Plate I, 54

My copy of Bargue plate I, 54, page 80 of the Bargue drawing course. This was done for the SmArt School illustration bootcamp with Marc Scheff. I was experimenting with toned paper. There are some issues with this, the toned paper is too dark, and my blacks are not black enough. There are also some errors in the copying.

Elf Portrait

This is a digital portrait I did for my illustration boot camp class at SmArtSchool taught by Marc Scheff.

CGMA: Dynamic Sketching 1

I recently completed the Dynamic Sketching 1 class with Peter Han and Johnson Truong at CGMA. This class was a lot of fun to do, and I took away a few important lessons from it that I think have really improved my drawing. First of all, I think that using pens and markers, which I had no experience with before this class gave me more confidence with my line work and helped me practice getting a line right the first time instead of being timid or sketchy about it, and I think that this has carried over to my pencil and digital work as well. Second, it gave me more of a sense of how to create contrast with line work and cross-hatching between different value areas. Third, I got a lot of practice thinking about focal points of a drawing, and keeping in mind where you want the viewer’s eye to go when they look at a drawing. Fourth, I got practice with idealization and simplification of reference. I had a realization a while ago while doing life drawing from a model that you don’t necessarily have to try to just robotically record what you see, that you can idealize, stylize, and simplify things to make a better drawing. It matters less whether it looks exactly like the reference and more whether it’s a pleasing image. This idea was a huge revelation to me, but I still sometimes forget this. In Dynamic Sketching, I was able to get more practice at this, and we were given strategies for how to simplify things, like a tree with thousands of leaves, but represent it convincingly in a fast way. Below are some of my drawings from the class.


Perspective Sketch

This is a practice perspective sketch I did after doing Matt Kohr’s Perspective Sketching 2 course at Ctrl+Paint. I highly recommend checking out his videos. There are tons of free videos to learn from with helpful tips for digital painting. Something I found very helpful that comes with his Perspective Sketching course are PSD files that help you make 2 and 3-point perspective sketching grids. Something I’ve always had trouble with in perspective drawing is where to start, and the difficulty of having vanishing points that are off the page. His process for working with grids and thumbnail sketches was really helpful. Looking forward to a lot more perspective drawing practice. I’m also doing the perspective drawing course from CGMA starting next week.



Figure Drawing Marathon, Dec 7, 2014

These are some drawings that I did at the figure drawing marathon put on by the Bay Area Models Guild on Dec 7. At the marathons, they have four stages, one long pose stage, and three other stages where three models at a time pose for different amounts of time. This is one of the best figure drawing sessions I’ve been to.


Figure Drawing, Nov. 7, 2014

My third session using charcoal to draw the figure.