All posts by ivansivak

Drawing evolution from childhood till the Art Academy

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan Šivak

Inspired by 10+ Before And After Drawings Show Practice Makes Perfect post I decided to give it a go an share my own drawing technique evolution from my childhood till the Art Academy. 

These two are my oldest drawings that I have. As I kid I spent every weekend in summerhouse under the mountain where most of the time I was playing out in nature. Spiders, snakes, bunnies, birds, dogs, bears… you could find it all in my drawings.

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan ŠivakOnly rule for watching TV issued by my parents was no nudity allowed. Yes yes, they managed to protect me from evil sight of a nude woman’s body, however, they thought that it was OK for me to watch horror movies. Werewolves were my favorite and I really did draw gruesome acts of murders by them.

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan ŠivakThrough all my childhood there were three themes that were always present: animals and nature, knights vs dragons/dinosaurs and werewolves.

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan ŠivakAs long as I can remember myself I was reading comics, but at the age of 11 I started to draw my own. The stories were invented on the go, didn’t have much sense but anyways I really enjoyed doing them. At the age of 12 I joined the School magazine group and started discovered more serious approach to comics and art overall. Hereby I simply need to mention and honor my Elementary school Art Teacher, Ognjen Ježić who with a single sentence changed my world upside down and sent me onto the path to Art.

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan ŠivakAnd voila, betrayal of my knights, dinosaurs, nature and animals… here came puberty and my discovery of girls and women. These drawings are the polite ones that I decided to scan, others are really no comment. Not only that the female anatomy is broken in so many ways, the drawings are a weird combination of kinky perverted stuff combined with romantic elements. No comment on that phase of my life. :D

Drawing evolution from childhood Ivan ŠivakI managed to pass the test for High school of Applied Arts in Zagreb. These are one of the first drawings that I made in there. For the left one I got a D because of breaking some cardinal rules of shading. It might sound harsh, but I am really thankful to my professor Marcela Munger for being strict with us. She is the first reason why I started to try harder.

slika07Less than a year later… here is the first jump. Left is my first self portrait. Right one is a milk brand that everyone from Croatia used to drink before they changed the design. We learned smooth tone shading and cross hatch shading. We practiced Still Life, we practiced to observe, to watch, to learn on our mistakes. And boy did we learn fast!

slika08Here I entered my most creative time in my life. I was drawing all the time, everywhere, anything! I would draw at least 7 drawings like these per week. The reason for it was a sad one; my parents started to argue more than ever about the money and other things. Their daily argues became louder and louder, more and more aggressive and I needed an escape. My art became my sanctuary.

slika09I am writing this because I know that I’m not the only one who had experience like that. If you, who are reading this, are going through similar heavy stuff in your life, simply hold on. It gets easier. There’s a great opportunity to learn from it. To grow from it. I would even go as far as to say that now in this moment I am glad that it all happened like it happened. it made me into a person that I am today and gave me a skill to draw whatever I imagine in my mind.

slika10At 19 I started to draw my first private nude sessions. It was awkward and silly but I had to practice. With life sessions I learned how to draw faster. Besides that I started to draw my new wave of comics.

slika11At 20 I discovered an online art website which I won’t name and link since they became double standards money grabbing snobs. Still, posting my artworks online and receiving feedback from the art community made wonders for me.

slika12Inspired, I start to experiment. I experiment with the techniques, styles, colors, forms… everything!

slika13I am working on my graphic novel, experimenting some more with the styles and creating the characters. I am discovering the ways of breath and meditation and start working on myself. Through martial arts I found a ways to release my anger. Through meditation, breath and painting with watercolors I find peace.

slika14I am starting to sell my first paintings. And yes, I am getting heavily cheated by art collectors since I’m still a kid and have no idea about how much is something worth. Still, I paint & draw, all the time.

slika15With friends from meditation workshops I tend to go into the wild. We hike all around the mountain areas in Croatia. I collect earth pigments and paint with them. I feel like an alchemist and enjoy every weird smell of my cooking pigments.

slika16My graphic novel is complete. More and more clients are asking me to work digitally for them. The avatar girl, Neytiri, I painted with a mouse. It took me 2 weeks to complete it. :D While drawing tons of caricatures, illustrations and other smaller stuff I finally manage to buy Wacom Intuous Pro Medium. With that my traditional era stops as I discover a whole new world. A world that we’ll explore in some next post.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk through my artistic development. Now when looking all of it I feel like painting something. Since it is 3:30 am I think I’ll pass. Night owl is retired.

Goodnight everyone.


Return to traditional for good

ivan šivak post cover

When looking back at my drawings I realized that since I was a child, unpolluted with drawing and aesthetic rules and guidelines that were forced onto us in Art School and Art Academy, I always made comics. As a child that used to draw every day the amount of saved material was huge and kept pilling up in maps, drawers, on shelves, under the bed… everywhere. In one of my I-can’t-take-any-more-of-this-creative-mess madness cleanings I threw most of the drawings away. Yeah, I know, I would take that back if I could. However, the drawings that I decided to keep invoked a very subtle but strong feeling within me – I would almost dare to say that they spoke, and that is something that is not meant to be silenced in some trash can.


On a single paper, from corner to corner I would create a single panel comics, but they would represent actions that lasted more than one panel. As a child of 7 I used to draw two things – dinosaurs and knights. People and animals would speak in very broken Croatian language and there was always some drama happening. After all there was war going on and it showed in my drawings. Today, more than two decades after I drew those silly things one thing remains the same – when I sit alone in silence I realize that I never lost the sensation. The drawings, they still speak to me.

ivan šivak sivak 04

I thought that I’ll gain speed by making whole Silence wanderers webcomic fully digital and I was right, but while doing the pages I realized that I don’t feel that dear sensation. The pages felt cold. Silent. That was the main reason for the long pause on episode 2. I knew something was lost but it took time for me to realize what it was. Ironically, the answer was in front on me all the time. Literary.

ivan šivak sivak workspace

In the middle of the wall of my workspace area I placed pages from my dearest comic that I worked on. It was named “Creatures of the Night” , a horror adventure genre that I never quite completed. What makes those 19 pages special is the amount of inspiration and fun I had while making them. The dialogues are corny but the atmosphere was good. I have a whole episode waiting to happen in slika02Silence Wanderers as a hommage to this comic. All characters that are here will appear in the episode as guests. Because of this comic I realized what was I missing and decided to change that in my approach to doing my webcomic.

No more making those “x” signs where I need to digitally black the background. No more leaving the panel borders undone. Last three pages in my Silence Wanderers are reflection of the change. I enjoyed making them as I enjoy viewing them, both the originals on paper and the final digitally colored versions online.

I’ll make a post in near future about the tools that I use as of recently I made a great purchase of inking brush pens that I didn’t even know they exist. It changes my whole approach to drawing the pages as by now I was combining Uni Pin fine liners, Copic brush markers with brush and ink. The lines will be different and the feel will be different, yet all remains the same.

ivan šivak sivak silence wanderers

ivan šivak sivak silence wanderers

Until next time, have fun people! Cheers!


Plitvice lakes in Autumn

Plitvice Lakes - cover

Plitvice lakes are the largest National Park in Croatia, with beauty and significance of its 16 lakes it was added in UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979. That almost 300 square kilometers wide area is mostly located in Lika-Senj County. Last time I was there with my best friend at winter, we almost payed the visit with our lives. This time, in much more secure fashion I’ve finally seen this beauty in Autumn colors.

Plitvice Lakes - scenery

This is the sight you’ll encounter at the very beginning, if you entered the National Park from Entrance 1. It blew us away, me and my friends. What would we give for a view like that through our window. I’ve seen the Lakes in Spring, I’ve seen them in Summer, even in Winter, but never in Autumn… and boy did I fall in love.
Plitvice Lakes - Veliki slap
“Veliki Slap” (Big Waterfall) is the biggest waterfall in Plitvice, standing 78 meters high, very beautifully, misty and slippery. When I was underneath this big boy for the first time I was not more than a elementary school child and I remember that you could approach all the way underneath it. Of course, you would instantly get wet and the teacher would scream at you all the way back to Zagreb, but still – you could. Today, the bottom of the waterfall is off limits, but if you are agile enough one simple wooden fence won’t be too much of a problem. Plitvice Lakes - Rapids
The site offers visitors several hiking paths to walk through the park and I strongly suggest that you take the one as close to the water as possible. Some basic hiking footwear is recommended because you will get wet on a few places where rapids are bursting through the wooden bridges and pathways. In Summer, you might wanna welcome the refreshment. Plitvice Lakes - Trouts
The water is mirror clean and wherever you look you’re gonna see schools of trouts. Take a closer look around the submerged cattails and you might even see a pike fish stalking its prey.
I mentioned that it would do you good if you came with a hiking footwear, but also make sure to bring a flashlight. There is a smaller section within 30 minutes of walk from Veliki slap where you can explore caves. Do not try that in Winter though, they might be occupied as me and my friend discovered. What was in the cave we have no idea, we ran away. Fortunately for us, “it” didn’t follow.
Plitvice Lakes - Cave
However, if it is not winter and you do have a flashlight with you, go deeper in the cave and you’ll see that it is populated. At the end you’ll probably notice bats and cave critters. Spiders and those white-ish cave grasshoppers.
Plitvice Lakes - Lord ByronYou’ll have to back track a little from the caves and return to the pathway by the lakes. Maintain direction towards Lake “Kozjak”. Cross the bridge and move towards Bistro “Kozjačka Draga”. With large open picnic area surrounded by cool forest, containing tons of tables and benches,  it is a perfect place to grab something to eat and drink and take a short break. Make sure not to throw leftovers in bins, rather search for for few stray pups that are living there. They can use all the calories they can get for the upcoming winter. If I recall correctly, every 15 or 25 minutes there’s a electric boat ferry leading towards the Entrance no 2. If you have time before the sunset (take yourself at least 2 hours), ignore it and continue the path around the Kozjak lake by foot. If not, take the boat to the other side. Enjoy the ride. Plitvice Lakes - Kozjak

Once you dock you have a choice to make. I strongly suggest a walk back to the entrance no 1 following the NE shore of Kozjak lake. In normal pace, it will take you about 45 minutes. Make sure to cut the direction from the “official” forest path, and make a small descent to the shore of the lake. The path is almost completely empty of tourists, and for the majority of the return trip you’ll have a quiet time for yourself and your thoughts.

LINKS to visit:
360 Virtual Tour

Thanks for walking with me. Have a lovely day.

Silence Wanderers Graphic Novel intro

Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str13-14

It was ten years ago when I first started drafting ideas for the Silence Wanderers graphic novel story. Initially I wanted to make a movie, so by 2005. I wrote a script and at that point I realized how much resources that kind of production would require: props, men, costumes and, of course, a big budget! So I started to consider a second option, an animated movie production. I did some quick calculations. Trilogy, at least 6 hours long, approximately 21 600 seconds, 260 000 frames in A2 animated standard! You see why that idea didn’t work out either.
And then it finally hit me: graphic novel is solution to my problems! It took me 18 months to illustrate 80 pages for the 1st graphic novel. The very same graphic novel was my final art project as I graduated from Academy of Fine Arts. Sorry, the pages are in Croatian language:

Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str01-02 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str03-04 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str05-06 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str07-08 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str09-10 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str011-12 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str13-14 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str15-16 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str17-18 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str19-20 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str21-22 Silence Wanderers Graphic novel p00_str23-24