Illustration · iPad 2 · Sketch

How to create bokehish background on Paper 53

Paper by 53 has already been one of my favourite drawing iPad apps so far. It is simple and fast. Despite of the fact that users are limited to only 9 colours in the colour palette to work on their art pieces, many of us have suggested to the app developer in their forums that we need more colours, I see the limitation as a blessing instead.

Ever since my Vietnam trip, I got really actively sketching caricatures, still life, whatever that has been tagged ‘Paper 53’, I find myself exploring the features in the app and what each tool can do, I actually get better at it each thing. Thus goes the saying, “Practice makes perfect” is true. I have become a fan of the app and happy if the number of colours stays as it is, on one hand. But on the other hand, since many users (me included) have demanded more colours to be added to the palette, I am hoping the developer would not make life too complicated by introducing complicated colour palette updates in the future.

Perhaps, if you are a regular follower of this blog, you may have already noticed a certain drawing style I have. Fast, bold and sketchy. That is how I would describe the style I have been using on most of my drawings, most prominently on those done on the Paper app. Two of my favourite tools to use the most are fountain pen and marker pen. The fountain pen produces different line / stroke thickness depending on the speed. It gets thicker as you draw faster. I always start with a black ink as the outline before rendering it with marker pen. The reason why I like this tool combo is because the colours rendered over using the marker pen do not overlap the black outline, except white, which I normally use for highlights. This is one way to cover more in the shortest time possible with solid colours. This drawing style has been consistently carried throughout in most of my recent sketches.

Just a few days ago, I was starting the day off by doing my first piece to warm up my hand and mind. I was sketching a Tazo fruit tea bottle and a newspaper on my table at Starbucks and suddenly, I thought of exploring beyond the usual fountain pen and marker pen combo. As I pictured on how if I would photograph the subject at a close-up using a large aperture lens, say an f/1.8, the background would result in some bokeh effects. I thought it was possible to do that on Paper too.

Here is how. After the usual sketching steps using fountain pen and marker pen, the next thing I did was to create some bokeh on the background using watercolour brush. Making big and small circles all over, with lighter colours first and combined with darker ones later. Smaller circles on top of bigger ones. The rest is up to you to explore.

I hope you have enjoyed and benefited from this sharing. 🙂


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