Balalaika!

I’ve been so impressed with Mindy Lacefield’s “Procreate Cutie” classes that I have been practicing more and more digital painting with great enthusiasm! One of the highlights of her lessons is being able to find photos of old artwork and enhancing them further. As I travel though my camera roll, I keep finding some of my paintings and drawings from as far back as 2017 which would be so fun to work on. One of them certainly stood out as we shall see.

An Old Drawing

Around New Years 2018, we were watching some TV and came across a folklore concert featuring Russian musicians. This was then followed by a brief explanation of a special guitar called Balalaika, It is indeed a very unique instrument, and sounds very pleasant, physically characterized by a “triangular wooden, hollow body, fretted neck and three strings” (Wikipedia). Apparently they come in different sizes ranging from 60cm to 2 meters. Now that large size is indeed huge! At one point that evening, I seriously considered buying one as a wall decoration in our house. Then I discovered how expensive they are and perhaps a bit too bulky. We can only dream, I thought, and hence I got inspired to draw one on paper. And why not make it all sweet and kawaii with Little One clambering on it? Alongside are three Cossack dancers to add to the Russian flavor. I sketched this drawing with some black markers then filled it in with colored pencils.

Importing the Piece

At the time, I felt more could be done to the drawing, but I was not sure what to do with it. Coloring the background was a temptation but what if I ruined it? The colors of the subjects could also have more dimension too but how? Painting over it was not option since I colored pencils had already been used so the paint won’t adhere. And so I left it at that. Maybe one day I could duplicate the design with some tracing paper and start again. Years passed. It was soon cast aside. Then the opportunity arose when I discovered Procreate!

The image of the old drawing was imported on Procreate and trimmed with the eraser where needed. I then transferred the Cossacks as well and also the writing (says “Balalaika” in Russian). As the shape of the “paper” is square, I’ve had to move the parts around and resize each to make them fit better. Then I wanted to make Little One larger so she would stand out more. I was able to do this by duplicating that part, expanding and then replacing, That’s the beauty of digital art; you can easily manipulate by moving and resizing.

Let’s Repaint!

I then proceeded in filling in the subjects, using the Oberon brush The colors were kept the same as from the original drawing, but all I wanted to do was to deepen them, add some dimension and enhance them more. Furthermore, I thought incorporating some texture would be another step further especially with the body of the Balalaika. The background was then changed from a light green to a more mustard yellow, but I was still uncertain about it. Let’s see what we can do then!

A Change in Background

Although I was happy with how the subjects themselves turned out, I still felt that they looked disjointed from one another. I then decided to add some stars, similar to the original drawing so that the piece has more character and cuteness. One star was created, then copied, pasted and scattered around. This of course meant having to reposition the subjects and the writing once again till the painting looked more balanced. In the end, I figured that a greyish background would go better with the whole color scheme. This was achieved by firstly making the background color light grey before adding a layer of texture stamps in a darker grey shade. And now, that’s much better!

I am so glad to be able to work on this painting at last! Although I had intended to go back to it later, it got put away all these years and forgotten about as life went on. This Procreate class has certainly given me the chance to pick up where I had left off, and I’m now very happy with how the piece turned out. One of the wonderful things about digital painting is that I can even duplicate this and make more changes without having to worry about ruining it. For now, though, I don’t think I need to change anything. Little One already looks ever so adorable clambering over this big Balalaika and enjoying playing with it!

Click here for more on Mindy Lacefield and her amazing work!

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