Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Textures, Daily Doodles & An Autumn Dance - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

"Autumn Dance" - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I try to do a drawing purely for the fun of it every day. I call this my "Daily Doodle" regardless of its content or final appearance because I find the word "doodle" helps take off the pressure and also reminds me that it's supposed to  be FUN.

Started with an orange background, added texture.

My only rules: (1) The drawing can't be for any work project, (2) Don't spend more than an hour on it. When things are superbusy or I'm super-uninspired, I may spend as little as a minute or two (usually this is a quick line doodle). Average is about 30 minutes. I didn't time myself for this drawing, but I think it took me about 40 minutes from start to finish.

Added new layer with the ground texture.

Ever since attending Richard Jesse Watson's session in the Illustrators' Intensives at the SCBWI Summer Conference, I've been inspired to experiment more with textures in my art. Unlike Richard, I work digitally...but even as I was watching him work, I got excited about the possibilities of being more adventurous with different types of digital media & textures in my work.

Created a tree on a separate layer.
I started playing around with more Photoshop CS5 textured brushes, including some wonderful grungy brushes by Dawghouse Design Studio. I plan to eventually create my own texture brushes for commercial work, but first I want to find out what does and doesn't work for me.

For this doodle, I knew I wanted to work quickly to get it finished within my self-imposed time limit, so I used a cheat via Layers, Transform and Transparency: I created one tree shape and then used it to create all the other trees. To keep the trees from all looking the same, I used Transform and Transparency to change the shape and look of each tree, plus sometimes added a few branches here and there.

Then I started adding some red leaves to the tops of the trees as well as scattered on the ground. I used one of the Photoshop CS5 library brushes, I think, that I had modified slightly. For the tops of the trees, I added red leaves between some of the layers to give a feeling of depth.

I was going to leave it as just the forest and leaves but then decided to add a dancer because it needed something MORE. I always like having some kind of implied story to my drawings because it makes it more fun to draw.

Anyway, I was a bit floored by all the Likes and comments when I posted this earlier this week (!). Thanks, all. You've inspired me to work up a more polished version for my portfolio at the SCBWI Winter Conference.

Next week, you'll be hearing from Pixel Shavings' fabulous Fred Koehler!

To see more of my work, please visit:

Illustrator, I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster, 2012)


  1. That's fabulous! I must investigate photoshop better :)

  2. Gorgeous! This is how I feel every year at this time. Autumn is my time to come out of hibernation. This picture conveys that feeling so well!

  3. Great lift and feeling, Debbie! I like the arched trees and arched dancer, and how she's floating through the warm fall air, partnering in movement with the trees!