Inktober Logo: Inktober.com

*POW* Inktober 2017 *SMACK*

illustrations, Uncategorized

Soooo stoked to start Inktober for my 3rd year in a row!!

Last year I decided to do a horror theme, this made planning and illustrating much easier! This year’s theme is going to be *insert drum roll here* Super Heros!!

My focus this inktober is to work on figure drawing with these dynamic characters. This is also the first time I am using the inktober prompt list.

I am super (no pun intended) excited and will be posting them here and to all my social media pages, so be sure to follow me on instagram or twitter for live updates!

More about this awesome challenge can be found here: Inktober – Where it began

Check out my Inktober 2015 and Inktober 2016 and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Graduating To “Official” Watercolours

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Taking what watercolour pencils taught me (previous post) not only made me more comfortable but gave me the trial and error I needed without as much frustration to go back to using official watercolour paints.

The first time I used watercolour paints (excluding those sets you get when your a kid) was in university for an illustration course, where we were assigned 1 landscape watercolour project – it felt like the hardest project I have ever had to do – landscapes are a bit challenging on their own, but throwing watercolours into the mix made it exponentially more difficult. My professor was a bit surprised as I really enjoyed doing washes with ink, acrylic and gouache but found watercolours a completely different beast to tame! So after all the practice with the watercolour pencils I have decided to “graduate” myself to using “official” watercolour paints and the first piece done using the medium in almost 5 years!

The subject chosen for my first “official” watercolour illustration/painting was inspired by a blogger/photographer I follow on Instagram: @bumblebria (check her out!)

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The lighting, composition and colours of this lemon lavender loaf caught my eye, encouraging me to recreate a version in “official” watercolours. I took a screenshot for reference, and to note the photographer’s handle so I could tag them when posting my WIP (work in progress) and final outcome online.

I started with a light pencil outline, using a mechanical pencil and Fabriano Studio Watercolour Paper.

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The sketch actually sat in my sketchbook for a little while, I decided to watch a couple watercolour tutorials online for different techniques and tricks before painting; really enjoying the image I did not want to mess this piece up, even though it is more for practice to grow my skillset; that said, I am a perfectionist and am trying to embrace the imperfections of art as it makes things more organic and interesting…not to mention a lot less stressful and more fun!

A couple of days before starting he painting process of this piece, my boyfriend actually bought me some new watercolours (not knowing I have a little stash as he has never seen me use “official” watercolours before lol) and some water-brushes for us to try out. I bought a water-brush a couples years back but was not a hundred percent sure how to use it and was afraid to wreck it; a silly thought as this is what they are made for, but again the perfectionist and fear of messing up took over so I never actually used it (more to come on this topic in a later post). These water brushes are a but of a game changer!

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I was excited to try “official” watercolours again already and the new brushes made me even more enthusiastic to “graduate” myself to the next level of watercolours lol

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The level of control with the water-brush made my experience more relaxing and fun – I was not worried about using too much water or accidentally dripping water or pigment somewhere else on the page when filling the brush with more paint. I would highly recommend getting one of these and trying them out, they are pretty inexpensive (depending on where you go).

I thought I was done the piece when I recorded this video removing the tape, but something just wasn’t right and I HATED the dark background – I wanted it to feel more like a marble finish but was not able to create the perfect cream colours, so I tried to use some blue tones – clearly I had a brain fart – there is already blue in the cloth that the background then blended them together; so in a dire attempt to fix the background, I attempted to make it look more like the cracked concrete in the original photo…I was not happy with this and even debated on making a new background and just cutting the old one out and pasting a new one in.

Looking at the piece a couple days later, it began to grow on me, but something still was missing. Taking a black studio gel pen, I outlined the edge of the cloth that meets the background – looked like I was onto something – then went over this with some black watercolour to make a shadow that created more contrast. Later, I used the same gel pen to add some subtle outlines to other areas to really pull it all together as a finished piece.

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Not going to lie, I am still not 100% happy with the final outcome but am glad it turned out much better than expected using “official” watercolours. I am trying to not be so hard on myself and embracing imperfections, especially on pieces like this where my intention is to better learn the medium and just have fun experimenting.

Please let me know what you think and about your watercolour experiences/preferences.

Don’t forget to follow my on Instagram and/or Twitter for live updates.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Buffalo Dreams

illustrations, Redbubble Shop, Skulls

I made an abstract post a while back called Playing with Pastels that had close ups of this piece as a work in progress…though the piece was finished quite a while ago I did not post the final outcome because I wanted to have it professionally framed – fun fact, this is the first piece I have ever gotten professionally framed!

This started off as a quick pencil sketch I did at the end of inktober 2015 (this was the first inktober that I participated in, more about that here).

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Inspired by a piece I did about 2 years ago, where I wanted to experiment with a couple of black canvases I picked up from Michael’s and my tinted charcoals (more about this piece here) where I took my #31 inktober 2015 piece as inspiration to build upon.

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Inktober 31

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Using my small sketch for reference, I penciled an outline on a black 18″x24″ canvas, then applied layers and layers of pastel, pencil crayons & charcoal; constantly switching between the three mediums until I was sure the piece was complete.

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Due to the dusty nature of chalk pastels, I started at the centre of the subject and worked my way out, saving the background for last; not wanting to risk smudging any loose pigment onto the black surface.

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This sat around in my studio for months, I was afraid to transport it anywhere!

Now I know what you are thinking “isn’t there a protective spray you can use to prevent smudging?” believe me, I tried it! The drawback of the protective spray was that it was not 100% protected – chalk pastels being more loose than graphite there is also risk of some loose pigment being scattered among the work – plus it dulled the colours, so I needed to go over the piece again with the pastels to revive this lost vibrance.

When it came time for framing I carefully wrapped the piece in brown packing paper. I am very proud of this piece and due to the risk of smudging I was pretty leery to leave it in the hands of strangers. Not sure if there were any good framers in the area, I decided to go to our local Michael’s, where they made a special note to be vary careful with the piece as it is prone to smudging; needless to say the staff there did a fantastic job and were very gentle with the piece 🙂

I couldn’t believe how many different combinations and choices there are for frames & matting; in fact, we probably spent about an hour looking at different matting choices!

For me the frame was simple, I wanted something a bit more modern and black – fortunately they had a 40% deal when I went in (framing this 18″x24″ beast was just under $500 CND and would of been over $700 CND without the deal…highway robbery if you ask me lol but they need to run their business too lol). The matting on the other hand is what took the most time, is was very interesting to see how different combinations looked with the piece and how it could go from a strong masculine piece to a dainty feminine piece in a flash! Personally, I prefer a more masculine, modern look (makes sense with what I have learned about my work during my first Artwalk haha). So I chose a black frame with charcoal grey, pomegranate red wine and black matting – I really wanted to have the red wine accent colours pop – some of the other matting was either just not the right colour combinations or were too much like the dominant colours that the piece felt pale and blended with the matting.

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I also asked if I could write the name of the piece & sign the matting – since this was my first original being framed I thought it would be a nice touch – and the staff were more than happy to oblige. When the matting arrived, they called me and I went in (bought a couple of jelly roll white pens) and decided upon the name “Buffalo Dreams” and signed the matting.

Buffalo Dreams seemed like a perfect fit for the piece, making it whimsical and spiritual. Growing up my mother had a huge dreamcatcher – made of red wood with purple crystals, black leather ties and feathers – when we had nightmares my mom would either put the dreamcatcher in our rooms for the night or longer if need be (probably to keep us in our own beds to get some proper rest, smart lady!). That was until she got us our own small dreamcatchers. She would tell us that they are made special to protect us in our sleep; if you have a nightmare it cannot hurt you as the dream catcher acts like a spider web, catching all the negative dreams, spirits and thoughts to purify or trap them in the crystals so you can sleep safe and sound.

If you have a piece that is special to you or are very proud of go ahead and spoil yourself a bit and get it framed! I find frames (even cheaper ones from department stores) really make a piece look polished and complete.

Prints and other swag available in my Redbubble shop of this piece (more about my shop can be found in an earlier post here Redbubble shop). If you are interested in purchasing the original please contact me and I can let you know the price and we can work out shipping/pick up arrangements.

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Remember to follow me on Instagram & Twitter @noelle_fontainec to see what kind of creative mischief I have gotten myself into.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Bear Watercolour Illustration

illustrations, Redbubble Shop

This illustration came about while on a family camping trip, near crows nest pass. I was sitting at our picnic table with my watercolour pencils & paper (more on materials here), when I noticed one of my watercolour illustrations was tucked between some of the blank pages; my geometric buffalo illustration.

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The combination of finding this lost illustration with being surrounded by beautiful trees & mountains inspired me to create a similar piece with a woodland creature – bears in particular – these beautiful, gentle, yet fierce animals who rule the mountain side.

Wanting to make the new illustration more powerful in colour & shapes, I planned the geometric designs/patterns out in pencil before outlining in ink (instead of inking on the fly like the buffalo), which made the inking process quicker & colour choices a bit easier; allowing me to play with different shades of colour opposed to the inking to give the piece more dimension.

Overall, this illustration is much more solid & put together compared to the buffalo. I am very pleased with the final outcome & have received a lot of positive feedback at artwalk & online.

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Bear Watercolour Illustration

This illustration is also available in my Redbubble shop as prints, appareal, gifts & more! Check it out here: Noelle Fontaine’s Redbubble Shop

Please let me know what you think of this piece & which you prefer – the Bear or the Buffalo.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for the most up to date info on new creations & promotions!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Huevember 2015?

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This year was the first year I participated in Inktober (LINK) and am very proud of myself for competing the challenge; I was talking to my friend about how exciting it was for me to start, participate and complete and while she was on her Tumblr she saw a post about Huevember!

This is another challenge similar to Inktober but with Hues: 30 hue pieces in 30 days, you can add other colours as long as that hue of the day is the focal point.

This image is what she sent me:

Click Here for the Huevember Facebook Page

I was very excited to hear about this challenge as well, this is something that would be more challenging for me as I feel like colour theory is a department I should work on to improve. I do not think I will participate in this challenge this year but will next year…or later in the year as another month’s project 😛 we will see how she goes. I have some plans to make some creative pieces to sell for the Holiday Season this year and need to focus on these ideas before taking on another challenge, more on this to come later this month.

If you choose to participate in Huevember post it on your social and tag me, I would love to see what you come up with for this challenge!

Instagram & Twitter: @noelle_fontaine

Thank you for reading 🙂

Inktober 2015 – Achievement Unlocked!

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This year, on top of my side project (airbrush tattoos & face painting) and making my niece & nephew’s Halloween costumes, I made the commitment to participate in INKTOBER!!

I heard about this last year through some friends, I saw they were posting numbered ink illustrations almost everyday, I thought “WOW! they have been doing a lot of ink in a short amount of time, whats motivating them? and what is up with the numbers?!” so I asked them and they told me about Inktober.


Inktober was started from an illustrator named Jake Parker, who’s work is amazing! Mr. Jake Parker wanted to work on his inking skills and build good drawing habits, thus creating a challenge for himself to stay motivated while practicing. What started out as a  personal challenge is now practiced by many illustrators and artists around the world.

The challenge is to create 31 ink based illustrations, sketches or drawings in 31 days; now one can draw 1 drawing each day or as many as you like in a day as long as the end result is 31 inked pieces (pencil underdrawings are okay too) and having a fun time challenging yourself while practicing your inking skills.

Use any style of ink: Felt, Pen or Brush & Ink, Ballpoint, Ink Wash; you can also take go further by combining your ink illustrations with other mediums: Pencil Crayon, Water Colours, Paint, Digital and more!

The point it to challenge yourself and practice, but having fun doing it!

Find out more about Inktober at the creators site here: INKTOBER


Last year it was a bit too late for me to participate, so I made sure I made a note to give this challenge a try for the coming year! Here are my sketches:

I have completed the challenge and can honestly say I loved it! It has challenged me to make time to sit down and draw; something I was planning on trying to do myself, but to no avail started even though I purchased a small moleskin sketchbook in attempts to create an initiative to start, but it was not really until this challenge have I really made the time to do so; i also made a good dent in the number of pages filled in this book.

Inktober inspired me to practice creative thinking and inking skills, challenging to adopt the discipline of making time to sketch at least 1 thing (big or small) each day to improve my skills.

It is a fun challenge your can share with your friends and family or other creatives on any social platform your can post images to; search and tag your work #inktober to see who else is participating and what they were inspired to create.

You can follow me on Instagram @noelle_fontaine or any of my other social media platforms to see what other illustrations or designs come up next.

Let me know your thoughts, favorites and critiques.

Thank you for reading and have fun inking!  🙂

Hayden's 7th Birthday Cake

Take Typography Out Of The Box & Play A While

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There are many different ways you can exercise those mad typography skills away from the computer, one that is enjoyable and delicious is baking. Make your tasty creations more personal and unique with hand crafted messages on cake, brownies, muffins/cupcakes, cookies, pies crusts and more!

For this blog I decided to feature how I broke out my typography skills with baking. I was inspired by the ingredients of this particular cake and thought to myself:

“why write on a cake with icing when you can try something new?!”

The Influence:

This month my nephew, Hayden, turned 7 years old and wanted me to make him an ice cream cake for his birthday; for the past year his motto has been “Cake Is MY LIFE!” with his amount of enthusiasm towards cake I was more than happy to oblige and made him a lactose free Oreo ice cream/pudding cake.

It was the main ingredient of the crust that inspired me to be a little more creative and try a stencil instead of icing, that ingredient was Oreo Cookie Crumbs.

The Process:

1. Take a piece of card stock, it is thick enough to hold the stencil’s shape, and cut it to fit the surface of cake.

2. Sketch or trace your message into the card stock. I used a slab serif “H” for Hayden to make the letter a bit heavier without adding too much weight to the stem or crossbar, allowing me to have some wiggle room for a stylized “7” for his age.

3. Cut out your letters; I used an x-acto knife, self-healing cutting mat and ruler. Scissors will not do as you DO NOT want to BEND your stencil or it may not be flat enough on the surface to work effectively.

4. Place your stencil onto the surface and press down on the lifted edges so the cookie crumbles, cocoa power, confectioner sugar or whatever you are using to heavily sprinkle over the stencil does not leak or roll under the edges, keeping your typographic play crisp and clean.

5. Remove the stencil, be sure to keep it as straight as possible while lifting all the edges up as evenly as possible to prevent any spillage of the excess ingredients on to the cake’s surface.

The great thing with stencil work is that you can choose if you want to use the negative or positive version; for instance, I chose to use the positive space as the letters but could easily of used the negative. This can be achieved by taking the cut out letters form the stencil, placing them on the cake and heavily sprinkling the powder or crumbs over top and carefully removing the paper cut outs; though I felt in this case there was more contrast by using the positive space.

This is a fun, fresh approach to utilizing those typographic skills away from the computer. Give it a try and share your creation with me on Instagram or twitter @noelle_fontaine

Thanks for reading 🙂

Professional Borders, Keeping It Clean

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Whenever you are working on a project for a client, it is very important to keep it as professional as possible. One way to achieve this is to have clean borders, depending on what you are working on of course, not everything is going be boxed in; some elements may break the border, while others might reach the end of the page or canvas.

Some helpful tips on keeping your border sharp & clean:

1. Masking Fluid: Great for small or awkward shapes. Though I do not recommend this for airbrushing as it can peel the surrounding paint. It is a white, goop like consistency during application that hardens to yellow-ish rubber. There is an eye dropper attached to the lid, you can use this but I would recommend using an old paintbrush for more detailed areas.

I use Dr. Ph. Martin’s Masking Fluid, don’t let the aroma fool you, it is a great masking tool!

2. Transfer Tape by EM Plastic (4″ roll): This tape is ‘semi-transparent’ so it is easier to see what shapes you need to cut out once applied. Take an x-acto knife & lightly (emphasis on the lightly! as if you are scoring the tape, you do NOT want to slice your illustration underneath) slice the tape, masking the areas you do not want contaminated.

It is excellent for protecting certain areas of a project while airbrushing.

3. Good Ole Fashion Tape! Masking or Painter’s Tape To Be Precise: This is excellent for taping off borders, but be sure to stick the tape to your pants or shirt before applying to some surfaces – it can tear the top surface texture (i.e. illustration board) if it is too sticky.

Masking & painter’s tape is the easiest material to find anywhere!

4. Removing Techniques: Once your illustration is complete (and dry!) slowly peel off the tape; it is best to not rip off or lift the tape vertically when peeling but to slowly peel horizontally or at an angle, protecting your surface from tearing. As for the masking fluid, just rub it off with your fingers or an eraser.

Clean lines make for a beautiful presentation while keeping the illustration professional. Keep you client in mind, would you want to invest in a piece that is sloppily put together? Craftsmanship is key, show that you take pride in your work!

For further information about the materials used for the featured illustration check out my last post Water Colour Pencils you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter for instant illustration updates.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Welcome to Inspiring Designs

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Welcome to my site, take a look around! You can learn about me or jump right in and check out my portfolio! Leave comments and let me know what you think or email me for hire at FontaineN@inspiringdesigns.ca

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram & Twitter @noelle_fontaine for live updates!

You can also purchase illustrations & products on my RedBubble page: FontaineN

Thanks for visiting!

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