Big Ben

Houses of parliament

I went into London for a time today. One of the sketches I made is shown here. This was done sitting near county hall, on a very cold day indeed.

Photo of Big Ben

I visited Parliament Square today, then walked past the War Rooms, through HorseGuards Parade and Trafalgar Square. I then dived onto the tube and went up to Tottenham Court Rd. to get an xD card. After this I went out toward St. Paul's, and considered the whispering gallery, but decided against it as the cost is high and time was against me. I then went over the millennium bridge toward the Tate Modern before heading back into the tube (at St. Paul's) and making my way to 'The Gherkin', which isn't the easiest thing to find!

The Gherkin

The Gherkin from below

Westminster Protest

Having seen The Gherkin close to, an impressive structure, I went back toward Covent Garden and met up with the wife, the sister and the sister's bloke. We went on the London Eye, one of the most impressive structure that's out there at the moment. We then went to the Bierodrome for food. Monica and I had Mussels, beer was also had, along with a stick of schnapps (a wooden stick, with holes for schnapps glasses - we had six). My sister had an aubergine thing, and her bloke had chicken.

Self Portrait

An attempt at a self portraitThis is my first ever attempt at a self portrait. One obvious error is that the neck is a little long. I'll leave the critique for others.... This was done by taking a photograph and putting it onto the computer screen, I then copied from this photo. I was going to use a mirror, but I simply could not find one of suitable size, we have plenty of large mirrors, but they're not a comfortable distance from a suitable drawing place.

As with most of the other pictures, the picture links to a larger version.

Maj. Samantha Carter

Major Samantha CarterFollowing a few rather dodgy experiments, I have decided that I need to practice faces as often as I can. Though I did draw Einstein to my satisfaction, this wasn't drawn by looking at Einstein, it was drawn looking at him upside down, I won't be able to persuade people to stand on their heads for me. Nobody was around, and so I popped in a DVD, in this case, Stargate, and forwarded to a scene where someone filled the screen. It just happened to by Major Samantha Carter, i.e. Amanda Tapping.

Now, there's plenty of things about this that doesn't work, it's not really her on the page - the shading is not right, the eyes and so on. However, considering where I'm coming from, I can see lots of reasonable things, she's recognisable (if you squint a bit and look at it from an angle) and that's a big thing... and she was drawn right side up!

Portrait PracticeThese are some practice sketches from earlier in the week. The top left sketches are from a colleague to show me the proportions of the head. The sketch on the right is the wife - done before the help from the colleague. The nose is wrong, as it the size of the cranium.

The bottom left sketch was not done from life, it was purely an exercise in the proportions. Drawing in the cranium felt SO unrealistic, it felt huge, however, as soon as it was covered with hair, it seemed to shrink. I think it's because the human brain concentrates on the bottom half of the face where all the features are.

Another trial of a faceThis is another trial of a face, again not from life, it's really an exercise in proportion, this was done immediately before Major Carter! One can see the construction lines I used as a guide.

Portraits in PenThese last few were quick sketches I made at the bottom of a scrap piece of paper I was using for some quick jottings. The one on the left started as a portrait 'from life', but went a little wrong so it ended as a doodle. The others were doodles from the start!

Once I clicked through a few of the technorati tags, I soon found this site of Stargate cartoons, and this made me laugh out loud.


Yesterday we went for a small excursion. We headed toward West and ended first stopped at Flowerdown Barrow. This was hard to find - there isn't much there! Sketch at DaneburyFrom here, we went northwest and visited Danebury Hill Fort, I made a quick sketch of the view in the trusty moleskine. The figure on the left is Monica wearing her favourite silly hat - it was cold!

Photo of DaneburyDanebury is an Iron Age hill settlement. It's a local high point, and hence defensible.

Monica was quite keen to go to Danebury, as her PhD was looking at ancient seeds recovered from this site. The seeds had been charred in a granary fire, the granary was simply a deep hole, and then covered over.

A cow at DaneburyAt the top, sheep are grazed, and cattle are grazed on the slopes. The breeds chosen for this are not common ones - the cows were particularly fluffy.

Vase, Circuits and Ciaks

Pencil sketch of a vase

A few pencil sketches have been made over the past few days.

I was most pleased with this first one of the vase. The vase is from imagination. I haven't got the shading quite right near the bottom, but stopped as I was concerned about 'overworking' the picture.

I am please with the fact that the shadow and vase blend at the bottom right, making the viewer join the lines.

Integrated circuit

The integrated circuit was drawn during an idle moment today. For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I think it was an NE555

I find this pretty ordinary

The last picture holds some interest for me in the subject matter, given the fact that I'm drawing in a moleskine, I find it nice that I drew my Ciak journal!

Ciak in watercolour and pencil

Both drawings were done using watercolour pencils, but the drawing on the right was made wet and the one on the left was not.

The wife prefers the wet one, and I prefer the dry!

Koch Curve

Koch CurveI drew another fractal today, the Koch Curve (click on the graphic for full size). The Menger Sponge took more time, and by rights I should be more satisfied with it, but the Koch curve is somehow nicer to me, it's simply elegant.

The curve is formed by starting with a line, and in the centre third, creating an equilateral triangle. This is repeated for every one of the four lines we now have, and so on.

The fractal dimension is around 1.26, this is because to make curve we have had to use four smaller copies, each is a third the linear dimension. I.e. To increase the size 3 times we need four copies.

3dimension=4, so dimension=ln(4)/ln(3).

Like the Menger Sponge I drew the koch curve freehand.

today's sketchesIt was just one of several sketches I drew today. Of the 'arty' ones, I'm quite pleased with the water.

Menger Sponge

Menger spongeThis is a close up of the sketch in my moleskine (click on the picture to enlarge) which shows a Menger sponge. A Menger sponge is a fractal shape, and so an accurate rendition is not possible. I've gone to 'level 4', with 'level 1' as a cube.

To make a Menger sponge, start with a cube, and make a square tunnel through each side. Each face is 8/9th the area it started with. This can be thought of as eight squares in a ring. In the centre of each of these squares, remove another square tunnel. Wash, rinse, repeat.

When taken to infinity, we end up with a very holey solid. It has a fractional dimension, it's a fractal.

It actually has a dimension of 2.72683. What's this mean? Well, imagine a line, double it in size. It gets twice as big. I.e. you need two original lines to make the new one. That's a change of 21. I.e. this has one dimension.

Take a square, double it in size, it's area increases four times. I.e. you need four original squares to make the new one. That's a change of 22. I.e. this has two dimensions.

Take a square, double it in size, it's volume increases eight times. I.e. you need eight original cubes to make the new one. That's a change of That's 23. I.e. this has three dimensions.

Now, to make a larger menger sponge, we need to increase it in linear size three times. That's not a problem, with cubes we'd need 33 cubes (27 cubes), the dimension is still 3.

With menger sponges we'd need 8 for the top and bottom layer, and 4 for the inner layer, so that's 20 smaller spongers to make one larger sponge.

This means that 20=3dimension, so ln(20)=dimension*ln(3)

In turn this means that the dimension of the sponge is ln(20)/ln(3) or approximately 2.72683. It's more solid that a flat surface, e.g. paper, but less solid than a solid, e.g. a cube.

For more information on this topic, I can highly recommend 'Flatterland' by Ian Stewart. The classic prequel is out of copyright and available online as well as a bound edition.

Geometric Shapes and Hatching

Geometric ShapesThese are a series of geometric shapes, the idea was to give practice with shading and hatching. At the top left are a series of hatching practices, followed by a sphere (not too hot), some cones (I like), a cube, a cube done with a putty eraser, a menger sponge, a möbius strip and some hatched cones.