Drawing with Light and Shadow: The Art of Grayscale Ink Illustration | Barbara Bernat | Skillshare

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Drawing with Light and Shadow: The Art of Grayscale Ink Illustration

teacher avatar Barbara Bernat, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h 14m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:09
    • 2. Inspiration

      2:17
    • 3. Analyzing Works

      4:58
    • 4. Tools

      6:35
    • 5. Testing the Tools

      4:15
    • 6. Thumbnailing Ideas

      7:06
    • 7. Sketching

      7:17
    • 8. Lineart

      11:53
    • 9. Tone Test

      7:47
    • 10. Black

      5:03
    • 11. Painting with Ink

      13:38
    • 12. Final Thoughts

      0:54
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About This Class

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Drawing with Light and Shadow is a class on illustrating in black and white or monochrome, focusing on tools such as brush pens and inks, teaching an illustration style which combines ink drawing and ink painting. The main emphasis during creating an engaging piece is on light and shadow, as the most important aspect of grayscale illustration.

Barbara is an illustrator with many years of experience, specialized in children’s books and youth novels, focusing on traditional illustration techniques. You will get to know the principles of black and white or monochrome illustration, and will be able to apply it in your work, using your favourite medium.

This class is for you if:

  • You would like to learn how to create an engaging grayscale illustration
  • You would like to polish your traditional art skills
  • You would like to practice for your next inktober challenge

The class walks you through these steps to help you create your project:

  • Getting inspiration for grayscale illustrations
  • Examining existing artworks
  • Showing basic tools for ink drawing and painting
  • Thumbnailing and sketching composition
  • Design the lighting of your illustration
  • Creating your lineart
  • Painting with ink

Walk through the steps of creating a new piece from scratch, and in the end, you are going to have a wonderful piece of art of your own.

You can find Barbara online on Instagram, Behance, and her Studio’s website.

Video & edit by Richárd Kelemen

Music & audio by Dávid Konsiczky

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Barbara Bernat

Illustrator

Teacher

Hello everyone,

I'm Barbara Bernát, illustrator and graphic designer from Budapest, Hungary. I'm specialized in children's books and youth novels, and I love exploring new illustration styles each time I start working on a new project. Traditional techniques were always close to my heart, so my first Skillshare class dives into ink drawing and painting.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Drawing with light and shadow is a class on illustrating in monochrome, focusing on tools, such as brush pens and inks. I'm going to teach an illustration style which combines ink drawing and ink painting. If you would like to learn the technique of creating engaging grayscale illustrations, you'd like to polish your traditional skills, or just gear up a bit for the next Inktober challenge, this is a class for you. Of course, you always have the opportunity to apply this knowledge on your favorite medium may it be traditional or digital. The principles I'm going to share are the same. Hi. My name is Barbara Bernat, I am an illustrator and graphic designer from Budapest, Hungary. Me and my university friends founded a graphic design studio called Halisten, where we work as a group of freelancers. As for individual projects, I have worked with several publishers on children's books and cover designs for newcomers. I like to try different techniques each time I start a new book or a series of books, so I can keep my work fresh and explorative. This is how I found and perfected the style I'm going to explain during these lessons. Together, we are going to look through the steps of creating a new piece from scratch, starting with the most commonly used tools, how to sketch composition, and how to design the lighting of an illustration. The progress of the final artwork from sketch to polishing details will all be covered in separate lessons. In the end, you are going to have a wonderful piece of art of your own. You will find the list of the items I have used in the description. Welcome to this class. I hope you will enjoy it. 2. Inspiration: But where does this whole grayscale illustration thing come from? I'm going to talk a bit about my influences in black and white art. I've been going to art class since elementary school. So traditional graphic art, such as pencil drawing, ink drawing, charcoal, line knockout, and etching were always close to me. These techniques rely more on line or tone than on color. You have to examine what you see from a different perspective. You have to transcribe the elements into colorless shapes. Studies of your surroundings can have a lot in understanding how light and shadow shapes our world, and this academic knowledge can be built in your personal visual language. Having classic art from this point of view is very useful as well. The second major impact can be the time when I got into reading manga and comics. I got into this world at a very receptive age when I was 13-14 years old. It was a new thing, really different from the other forms of entertainment I knew then. Of course, the genre itself was really exciting, and besides that, contained fascinating visual solutions for grayscale drawings. Manga are traditionally black and white because it's cheaper to produce them, and the weekly publications are so practice scheduled that the artist couldn't keep up if they had to work with color. This technical limitation resulted, I think, in new creative ways for the creators to express themself by only using light and shadow. In conclusion, studying traditional works and consuming a lot of comics were the two things that shaped my style the most in monochrome works. One could say that black ink is a limitation, but the way I see it, it's more like an exciting challenge. 3. Analyzing Works: I'm going to show a few black and white illustrations which inspire me and explain what I find attractive in them. I think it is very important to have your own source of inspiration so I encourage you to look up some monochrome artworks you like and try to examine them in a different way than before. What catches your eye? What is the depth of thought? Is it rich? Reliable? Is there more or less contrast? The first inspiration I would like to show you is this aquatint by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, whose work in printmaking is also remarkable. You can see that his approach is more like a painter's. He relies heavily on light and shadow to express himself. Linework is the base, layered with a few coherent tones. This dark one for the background, and another lighter one for the foreground elements. The only thing that's highlighted is this figure and the owl in the front, which immediately draws our attention to the main character. Despite the reduced number of tones he uses, he can create a captivating dimension in his artwork. Here is a work of mine I would like to show as a parallel to this image. You can see that there's not much in common between these two, except the lighting of the picture. Everything is muted with a dark or light gray tone, except for the central figure. The only element which is highlighted with white. It's a simple trick to make your figure pop out of the background. The next favorite work of mine is This One Summer, a really captivating graphic novel. Its narrative relies heavily on illustration. Therefore, it has the task to embody the atmosphere of summer nights we all remember. Each panel could work as a standalone painting. Laying the light is essential in this comic book. All the backgrounds are expressive. My favorites are the small patches of light through the trees. This is a nice example of lighting a room with a character in it. The light source, in this case, is a window which lights the opposite wall and the side of the figure. You don't have to be afraid to use big coherent shadows. As you can see here, this small highlight is completely enough to separate the character from its dark surroundings. Dark shadow on her left side creates a beautiful switch lighting with the white wall behind her. The third example is a favorite manga of mine, Fullmetal Alchemist. This particular page really stuck in my mind because it shows very well how minimal playing with lights can enhance the monumentality of an environment. The beams of light implies some greater force, emphasizing the top of this ancient monument. The image is small in contrast and the setting is in a desert so everything is light gray or white, making the whole atmosphere ethereal. The character itself is also white, except for the bottom part, which is pure black. This anchors our vision pinpointing him, but also not ruining the whole white look of this image. The other panel I wanted to show from this manga is a night scene, where the protagonist eavesdropped on a conversation. This is my illustration where these two characters are hiding. It uses a similar lighting. The figures are dark, hidden by shadows. The source of light is the place where actual action happens. The characters are illuminated slightly from this source, showing their connection to the events, implying they are passively taking part in them. This is an example of how lighting can be part of the narrative. Now feel free to look up some works yourself and analyze the lighting a little. These observations will help you determine what you find pleasing in an image and learn ways to achieve a similar effect in your work. It's always key to get inspired for more than one source though, so you can avoid copying someone's distinctive style. If you are ready, we can move on from inspiration to setting up our tools for action. 4. Tools: In this lesson, we are going to walk through all the tools you will need for ink drawing and painting. I'm going to talk about different inking tools such as drawing pens, dip pens, and brush pens. I will also show you my preferred inks and paper for illustrating. This technique doesn't require very special or expensive tools. Of course everyone has their preferences. I encourage you to try different brands and use the one that is the most suitable for your own unique style. All the inks and pens I'm using here are water-based and water resistant after drying. I prefer to use them because this way the line art won't smudge. It's easier to layer ink if necessary and in the end, the result is more permanent. If you prefer water-based and non-waterproof inks, you can work with them of course as they can produce similar results. Let's start with the paper. The paper for ink painting should be thicker. It needs to be able to absorb moisture without getting too wavy. For that, the thickness you will need should be at least 200 grams. I use Fabriano Accademia paper. It's a fine paper designed for drawing but it's suitable for ink drawing and ink painting as well. It has a light natural texture but overall, it's a smooth paper. If you like adding some texture to your illustration, there are many paper options with a more coarse surface to experiment with. Most watercolor papers are perfectly suited for this purpose. For line work, you have many different options. First, I'm going to talk about drawing pens. These are really precise, water resistant pens coming in many different thicknesses. I really like Sakura Micron pens because they are rich in pigment even after erasing over them a bit. You can create a really accurate and detailed line work with these, but you will probably need more than one size. Inking with dip pens using different names is the oldest of techniques. It might also be the most complex. You don't only have to use the right amount of ink or the right amount of pressure and the right angle. It's not that difficult as it sounds but it sure requires more practice than the other techniques. What I like about inking with a nib is the more rustic nature of line work. It has slight imperfections but the lines can be very dynamic at the same time. My preference of nibs is the so-called crow quill nib. It's really flexible, perfect for drawing in comic style. It can produce both thick and thin lines. The tool I have made for myself with this nib is actually a brush. I applied it to the end of the handle, so I only have to turn it around if I want to switch quickly from inking to painting. Nowadays, the most comfortable tools for me are brush pens. They are easy to handle, the line becomes variable with just adjusting pressure. They don't smudge and you don't have to wait for the line work to dry. My favorite brand is Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen. It comes in a set of two with hard and soft tips. I use the soft tip for most of the work and the hard one for the finer details. As for ink, I'm going to show the technique for India ink. It forms a waterproof layer on your paper after drying and it cannot be blended afterwards. I have tried many different inks throughout the years, my current favorite is deleter black ink Number 4. It's waterproof as I mentioned and extra dark black. It's easy to create dimension with it's dip thorns. What we are also going to need for the painting part are some brushes of different shapes and thickness. I prefer softer natural brushes for this technique but if you have different liking, you can use any brush that you are comfortable with. Remember, waterproof inks can dry in your brush, so use one which you don't use for anything else or wash quickly after every phase. For sketching, I'm going to use a simple mechanical pencil with 2B made. This is totally up to you as well. The only tip for this part that I can give is that it's better to use a softer pencil so the sketch can easily be removed and won't leave a permanent mark on the paper. Or if you use a lighter pressure with your pencil, that is also fine. Erasing can be tricky. You need an eraser that won't smudge or stain the clean parts of the paper when used. For me, what works best is the plasticity candid rubber eraser. It doesn't leave crumbs of rubber when you use it, it takes up the graphite, you have to clean it a bit after using so it becomes homogeneous and doesn't stain your paper. The only other things needed are the following; a big glass of water for washing and making your tone lighter, a tissue or a rug to clean the brushes and the pen nibs, a plastic or metal tray for different tone mixtures of your ink, and a sheet of paper for testing before you go in. Masking tape and a wooden board can also come handy but they are not ethnically necessary. Now we have everything we need for this journey. Let's try out the tools. 5. Testing the Tools: Now, I am going to demonstrate how the tools actually work in use by testing them separately, and I'm drawing a small test drawing as well. This is a 0.2 tip drawing pen or pin nib pen. You can see it leaves a very fine mark. 0.3 and 4 tips are a bit heavier, but not too much. These are the most comfortable for me. As you can see, the line work is really fine, even, and doesn't change much on pressure. The crow quill nib is my absolute favorite. It can hold a lot of ink and is very flexible, therefore, playful with the thickness. Depending on the angle you use it, it can produce different textures. The lightest lines are almost as fine as the drawing pen on the left. The other nib I used here is called shorthand nib. Quite similar in result, but then it is much more stiff. It's better for fine lines. The line draw with the Tombow brush pen looks quite similar to the deep pens. It can almost replicate the effect. The ink can never be as thick black as the deep pen mark, but the texture and the nature of the lines is quite similar. Maybe a bit smoother, but also much easier to handle if you just start inking. The hard tip also has a nice flexibility to it. I like it so much that I also use it for writing in my everyday life. Painting with ink will give us the final look of the artwork. The tone can derive from the richest black to the lightest of shades, depending on how much you dilute it. With this quick touch, I will show you the tools I have chosen for my final artwork. You can choose anything else that is comfortable for you. I'm going to use a brush pen for the line art. I like to use it in a loose way without closing all the gaps in the lines. The tones will be painted with ink. I like to mix my tones on a piece of paper. It's easy to add water to a previously mixed shade or just dip in a little more ink if you need something darker. You can test it directly before you go in on your drawing. For the hair, I chose a mid-gray shade. The facial shadows are going to be a bit lighter for a softer effect. In the end, I added some darker stripes to create a bit of contrast. Go ahead and try your tools. See how they work together. You can do any kind of small sketch. The point is to see how the materials will behave on your paper. 6. Thumbnailing Ideas: Now we are technically prepared to begin our illustration. But how to get started? If you have a specific idea in mind about what you want to draw during this class, that is really great. You can totally go with it. If you're unsure, I'm going to give a few ideas. I suggest you pick a theme with at least one character and the minimum environment. Placing your character in context helps a lot with designing the lighting. If it's too much for the first time, you can draw a single figure or an object to try this technique and move on to a bigger piece later. Here are a few ideas. Walking in the woods with a dog, listening to music at a bus station at night, planting tulips in the garden, drawing at your desk, a cat riding a bicycle. I'm going to pick drawing at your desk. It's an easy topic and here's why. You don't have to stress too much on the environment or the character, you can work with material that you are familiar with. Your workspace is full of random objects and background elements, so you don't need to do extra research. If you base a character on yourself or a character that you draw regularly, that can also be a facilitation. This way, you can concentrate most of your energy on the technicalities. This is my first composition in a thumbnail. Thumbnails are good because you can draw rough shapes. You don't need to get lost in the details. It shifts your focus onto the ideas themselves rather than making them look pretty. In my experience, I instinctively draw better proportions in this small size, maybe because I see the art altogether. I also like to lay down for the black will appear in my drawing at this point. Let's start a new one from a different point of view this time. In this space, just drop everything that's on your mind. Don't be afraid to draw a new sketch again and again until you feel like you've got it right. Don't erase anything. If you don't like something, just go over it with your pencil or start a new one. I think I'm going to include the lamp and the beam of light. So I mark it in my sketch. I like this point of view much better. There are a few objects I'm thinking about including, so I quickly drew them next to my thumbnail. I've decided to go on with this composition but I want to change the proportions of it. I want to make the character smaller, so there's a bigger space above her head for the environment. The idea is getting clear the second time. Now I have figured out my final piece. As a note or reminder for myself, I sketched some more background elements I want to use in a bit more detail this time. I will include my lamp for sure, some plants, and pictures on my wall. This is just enough for me to get started. If you are ready, you can go on to sketching your idea one-to-one on your chosen paper in the next lesson. 7. Sketching: Here is my prepared paper for the illustration. I have marked the edges of the drawing in a frame, but you don't have to do the same if you prefer drawing freely. I'm going to copy my thumbnail into the screen, by looking at it from time to time. If you are not yet confident, or just like to recreate your thumbnail as precisely as possible, you can scan, enlarge and print it for tracing with a lightbox or at your window glass. It's important to mention at this point that I'm going to go over this particular sketch with my final inking later. I'm starting with the most distinctive parts of my composition, which in this case is the horizontal line of the desk. Placing the figure is next. Then, the beam of light from the lamp, creating a triangle which defines the tension of the image. After your main elements are in place, you can go on to sketching more details. I prefer to start with my character and its closest surroundings. You can see that I'm using more lines to search for my final shape. I'd like to see my best options before I finalize the line work. It's better to use soft lines so they won't be edged in your paper later. I wasn't happy with how this chair turned out, so I erased it completely and drew a new one. I only erase spots which I want to redraw. I always work on my main subjects in the beginning, to see if I'm confident with my sketch or I should start over. I'm happy with how this turned out, so I'm moving on to the background. Coffee is very important, of course. Some bigger background elements should be placed now. The shelf, the monitor, and the frame on the wall. You can go into further detail as much as you feel like. I like to stick with the rough sketch more, because I will technically rebuild my line art from it. Line art can be more loose and free if the lines come from muscle memory, not directly from tracing a pre-drawn mark. You have to trust your hands on this one. If you have found the perfect curve on your sketch, you will find it with your pen as well. I edit some final details to my sketch. It's time to move on to the line art. 8. Lineart: I have my sketch right here ready to be inked. What I'm going to do next may seem quite extreme, but it works just fine for me. I'm going to take my plasticity rubber and erase most of my sketch so only a light marking will be visible on the paper. I've been working like this for a long time. This method helps me to keep my line art fresh. If this seems too much and you want to keep your sketch, you can take another paper for inking using a light box for tracing. I started erasing very lightly and carefully. Pencil marks should not disappear completely because they will be your aid for the line art. This type of rubber is the best for such soft erasing. It is easily cleanable and absorbent, and leaves no residue behind. Now, this really light faded sketch is prepared to be inked. I'm starting with my softer brush pen because it has a bolder stroke. I use more pressure on the lines, which I know will be in a shaded area like the bottom of the table or the chair. With a lighter touch, I can also produce finer lines. For the face, I have changed to the other tip for a more precise result. I have mentioned before that I like to work on my characters first. It is true here in the inking phase as well. I like to do the most important parts early on to get the pressure out of the way quickly. If my character looks fine, I can move on to the surroundings, and still using the thicker pen for the main lines. Sometimes I add a few little shadows to the bottom of the objects to make my line art more interesting. When all the essential elements are done, I'm switching again to a finer pen so I can add details to my line work. I use it for things that I want less emphasis on like the frame picture on the wall or some more strands in the hair. When you're working on inking and use a variable light stroke, just like me, it's important to think about light sources from the very beginning of the process. The parts where the objects cast shadow can be thicker and the illuminated parts can be lighter, or in a few cases, when you want to express how strong your light is, the line art can disappear completely. That's what I'm doing here with the stripes of her sweater since I know that I want my lamp to be the main light source of this image. I won't connect the lines with the edge of the figure, just leave them open for the light parts. Some final polishing touches and it's ready. But before we paint with ink, we are going to test it first. 9. Tone Test: What to do if you are unsure about the lighting of your drawing. Here's a helpful trick. You can scan your finish line art and print more small versions next to each other. Now, you have some coloring book pages you can fill, without being too afraid of the consequences. I have a pretty clear idea about how I want to light this scene, but I'm going to show a few more to demonstrate how different the result can be depending on the mood you aim for. The first one is going to have a softer lighting, maybe something like a rainy afternoon. The light is soft and diffused. There are no huge cast shadows. I'm highlighting my figure by darkening her surroundings, just like the example I showed in Lesson 3. The second one is going to reflect my original idea. I wanted night lighting for this. Everything is dark, and the source of light is the beam coming from the lamp. The front of the character is, therefore, illuminated, but her back is also dark because the light cannot reach behind her. The darkest parts are going to be the shadows under the table and the shelf. I'm going to darken these plants on the left as well to balance the heavy shadows on the bottom. Although in reality our monitor is black, I'm going to add just a light shade to the illuminated part to emphasize the brightness coming from the lamp. For the third, I'm trying to bright her morning light. The light source, in this case, is a window on the left. Everything has a darker and more characteristic cast shadow on the right. But altogether, the room is bright. Nothing is too dark, only the parts where the light can't reach. Now, I'm ready with all three. Compare the tests for a bit. Look at the differences and the things they have in common. You can see how different effects an image can have with a few slight changes on. They are all possible paths to take, but I'm going to stick with this one in the middle. I like the contrast and the possibilities it has. It's also better for demonstrating multiple shading techniques, so let's go on with that one. You can use this sheet as a reference while you are working on the final piece. Trust me, it is going to help a lot in our next steps. 10. Black: For this step, you will need your ink bottle and a few brushes. We are going to paint the pure black parts of the tone first, to see the balance of the image. Think about these black patches as the extension of your line art. Now, according to my tone test, the black parts for me are going to be the bottom of the table, the shadow under the shelf, and the plant leaves on the left. Let's see. I have started in the bottom right corner, which was not the best choice. You can smudge the wet ink with your hand if you paint in the upper corners after this. I suggest you start working in the upper left corner if you are right-handed, and the opposite one if you are left-handed. To prevent smudging, now I can't touch the paper with my painting hand, which is very hard. I also added a few black shadows to the hair and the sides of the frames, always keeping my light source in mind. You can paint smaller shadows wherever it feels right. Painting with ink will give us the final look of the artwork. 11. Painting with Ink: We have arrived at the final and most exciting stage of our illustration. We are going to paint dark tones now. I'm going to take my tone test thumbnails and put it somewhere inside so I can check my plan when necessary. I have prepared some different dilutions of ink in my palette. They are often referred to as washes. They all contain less and less amounts of fewer black. It's better to test them on a piece of paper before starting because the ink will be lighter after drying, so you can only see the result after it's completely dry. I like to use a sheet of paper as a palette, so I'm going to use this small testes for mixing. Before you start, you can secure your paper on a board with masking tape if you want the result to be more straight. I'm fine with a bit of waviness, so I'm just going to paint like this. The most important principle to keep in mind while you paint, light and shadow is first, color is secondary. For the background, I'm going to pick a thicker brush which takes up more ink. I'm going to take my mid gray tone and go in with this brush. This is wet on dry method where the paper is dry and my ink is wet. This way, the edges of your brush strokes remain crisp. I paint the whole surface with my chosen tone quickly before the edges of my patch dry. Once your ink has dried, you cannot create a smooth surface or blend it by going over it. Even if you use the exact same tone, the previously dried ink will create a small hard edge. After the whole surface is painted, I'm darkening the bottom of my image by a graded wash technique. It's a wet on wet method this time. I'm picking up some darker ink with my brush and going into the pre-painted still wet area. The dark ink will gradually fade into the lighter tone. The value of your gradient will depend on the depth of tone you choose to use. I add some more dark to a few places. The next is my character. I'm going to choose a similar tone as the background and paint the whole figure except the highlighted edges. Don't be afraid to shade the face, it's part of the body as well. We'll look much more natural if you just think about it as an object which gets light from a specific direction. I'm going to add some dark ink in the lower part just like before. If you look at the painting now, you can see that it's more or less done, but it needs a bit more polishing. Now, we are going to go into the smaller details with a thinner brush. Until this point, the main rule was to paint with shadow. Now, we can start paying attention to the colors in smaller cast shadows and highlights. The plant is dark green, so I'm painting the shaded leaves dark, and the ones in the beam a bit lighter. I'm doing the same with the monitor. It technically should be black, but the illuminated parts will be gray. This picture on the wall, which is also pretty dark, but since it's a background elements, I'm going to keep the contrast low. An interesting part is painting the stripes of the sweater. I want to add darker stripes, but I will only fill it until it reaches the edge of our main shadow. By doing this, I realized I want to add some more shadows on the leg and the table, so I use this shade from my brush in these areas. Now, I want to continue my dark stripes in the highlight, so I picked a very light tone for it. If it turns out too much, just like for me now, you can take back some ink with a bright tissue or gride brush until your brush is wet. This is just enough. I finished the light stripes everywhere accordingly. My whole artwork is almost dry. I can still see a few parts which are not dark enough, so I'm going to just use some more ink there. Now that the stripes have dried, I realized I want more contrast there, so I'm going to paint over them again. Much better. You can paint over your gride wash if you like. You will have hard edges if the base is completely dry and softer if it's still wet. This is up to your taste and the effect you want to reach. Some final touches and it's finished. Don't be afraid if your work looks different. Ink is such a versatile medium that everyone has their own unique way of using it. It just takes time and practice to come up with yours and be amazing at it. Wait for your artwork to dry completely and it's ready to be digitalized and shared. 12. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for taking my class. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. If you have any thoughts or questions, I would love to discuss them with you, so please feel free to share. I'm really proud of you for walking through the steps with me. Remember, you can start small. You don't have to do anything huge for the first time. If you keep practicing, you will get better every time and I'm sure you will create amazing artworks. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Make sure you share and upload it to the gallery. Thank you so much for joining. Hope to see you next time.