Andrew Burke

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FramePainting 4: The Pencil And The Bee
Posted on: 2016-05-08

I'm learning how to paint on my iPad Pro by "tracing" stills from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and sharing the results here.

The fourth still is from one of my favourite scenes in the movie - the kind of understated odd scene that a more workaday director would never have even imaged doing. The MI5 staff have visited a source who keeps bees, and as they're driving back afterwards they discover that one of the bees got stuck in the car. There's a bit of understated hubbub and eventually a window is opened and the bee escapes. In the film, this scene is shot entirely from behind, and you only see the backs of everybody's heads as a small (presumably CGI) bee buzzes about and they stiff-upper-lip deal with it.

Also, loved the "they sure don't make them like that anymore" design of the car. Also, this movie seems obsessed (or maybe it's just me?) with collars. Often the white ones are the standout elements in the frames - and here we have a dark one (scarf?) dominating the left foreground.

For this rather austere still I decided to try working just with pencil, and with only two colours: mostly just graphite dark grey for the lines and the fills, and then a bit of orange for the tail-lights. One of the big features that Apple claims about their Pencil is the wide range of sensitivity and the ability to draw at an angle to do fill-ins. It might be the way Procreate has set up its default HB Pencil tool, but I found the sensitivity went from nothing to strong more abruptly than I liked. The edge-painting worked sometimes (I used it for all the silhouettes) but it too sometimes wouldn't draw unless I put some extra oomph into it. I haven't had trouble with the other tools, so it might be the way the thresholds were set up in this particular case.

Anyhow, I kind of like how this one came out. I had to add the bee, since the shot I freeze-framed on managed to not have it for some reason. I took the liberty of adding some of the same orange from the tail-lights to the bee itself, even though that's not in the original - since I use no other colour I think it's okay here. I also did less shading on the car in general, to put more emphasis on the interior.

I enjoyed smudging some of the chrome details too. I remember in high school discovering that I could smudge pencil drawings - but I tended to overuse it, which left my otherwise action-packed spaceship pictures looking rather gauzy and dream-like. Getting older, I've learned to hold back a bit!

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