31 March 2009

Troll, rolling along

Today will be a succinct post. These are just some more of the Troll Painting as it evolves. The actual painting right now is coming right along. I am finding that zone of love of painting as it comes to life on the page.

For those of you following at home. I've done some color correction, but you can see in the over all hue of the picture, when my light bulb burned out, and I had to use a fluorescent bulb. There is a definite yellow cast to the piece. Look for another post about the visual affects of light with side by side comparisons.

I hope you enjoy these as much I as I enjoy making them.


PS: there are a whopping 8 posts that chronicle the creation of this piece, to see the next moves check out Post #7: Troll, The End
to see the previous post about this image go to Post #5: Troll Process; First Moves

24 March 2009

Troll Process; First Moves

Somewhere in the caverns of my mind I realized that I could photo-journal this while I was making it. It turns out to be quite interesting to me. Far too often is a painting finished and one has to just remember how it got there. With this new "computer-magic", well, we can all go along for the ride.

If you've read the past posts (Have A Spare) you'll remember that this had to be redrawn. I was toying with the idea of drawing it a 3rd time, onto the 500 series Strathmore board. But I decided that I'd work on the Arches 300#. It has a way of absorbing the pigment that softens the blends, and can be atmospheric in a way.

With that behind us, OFF WE GO!

This first image is the drawing on board, and some reference material, i.e. the value study, the color study, and some photo reference. This way of making a picture isn't the fastest way, no doubt, but it does work out many kinks early on, and lets the picture develop to have a 2nd and 3rd read in it. I believe you can find this method in earlier Art History because people did spend a lot of time with paintings after they were finished, what with no babble-boxes and whizbangers to occupy our time. So, for this painting, which is an image that one might find inside a book, the method is quite appropriate. Remember when you were a child, and how you delved into each picture in a book, drinking in all the details.

Ah, the fist moves, possibly some of the most terrifying things ever. After making a lovely drawing, what do you do but slop paint all over it! This is where the color study comes in handy, it's like a road map, and helps take the edge off. You may notice, that at this stage I am blocking in the warms and cools of the painting. The blues get a little blown out in the photo, but all in all it is pretty balanced on the painting itself.

Working back to front, and big to small, and warm to cool. The basic tenets of watercolor painting. Here the background is brought to a semi-finished state. There is still some room to punch up the values later on when each section is spoken to. In the end this will allow a certain value harmony. I suppose if I'd achieved a certain level of mastery I could paint each part to its completion each step of the way, using the value study as my guide, but my dear reader, I have yet to be quite that confident. Maybe with time.

Today is another workday, look for a new post coming soon!

there are a whopping 8 posts that chronicle the creation of this piece, to see the next moves check out Post #6: Troll, rolling along
to see the previous post about this image go to Post #4: Have a Spare

18 March 2009

Have A Spare

The burned out light bulb. As an image it says a lot.

Today has been a two steps back day for this painting. Although not a total failure, but certainly enough to want to set fire to something.

Let's start with the paper. Oh, my lovely Strathmore 500 why have your forsaken me. After making final minor adjustments to the drawing adding details and such, I taped it to the board, and made ready for the first washes. I like to wash the whole paper with tone so that from the start there is something holding it all together. I knew something was up when, after having applied the initial clean water wash that helps the drawing to set into the paper, there appeared little pimples all over the board. This hasn't ever happened before. I thought "maybe I've just put too much water on the board, I'll wait for it to dry out." I used a hair dryer some, and set about preparing my paints. The pimples didn't go away. I applied the first wash and sure enough, damn pimples. The pigment soaked into those parts and looked really bad. I thought I was done with pimples when I was done with adolescence, guess not.

I will spare you the details of the printing issues that I ran into, as I really don't understand them myself. Suffice to say that I finally made the call to pull the painting off the board to salvage the printout underneath it. I cannot explain this unusual reaction. I carefully reviewed other pieces that were created from the same piece of board. The only thing I can think of is that I may have used the back of the board. If that's the case, I'll make some other painting on the other side later. But for now, luckily, I had a full sheet of Arches Hot Press 300# under the desk.

The show must go on.

Having redrawn the image on to the Arches, I returned to my desk to find that the Chromalux bulb that I use in my desk lamp was blown out. Hurmf! Luckily, I had a spare bulb on my shelf.

Today's lesson kids, "have a spare."

PS: there are a whopping 8 posts that chronicle the creation of this piece, to see the next moves check out Post #5: Troll Process; First Moves
to see the previous post about this image go to Post #3: All Trolls on Board!

17 March 2009

All Trolls On Board!

Finely, the Troll image has made it onto the board! The next step will be painting, which can be a hair raising experience. This all took a little extra time due to a family emergency that came up. Now things are in order, and we're getting back on track. It's all part of the process.

The color study proved to be quite useful. It's done at about 25% of the final size. There were a number of smaller issues that either got worked out or became obvious that they will need to be worked out in the final.
As the painting was happening, I noticed a few items that hadn't shown up in the value study. One is that because I dove in for the darks first thing, the Troll's left foot all the sudden became the center of interest because of the strong value jump. Not that it's not a foot worthy of attention, as far as Troll feet go, it's a pretty nice one, bunions and all. But it ain't the center of attention, which I want to be the key hanging from the Troll's hand.

Another 'Key Issue' (oh hardy har har) is that the values are backwards between the key and the background. The key needs to be dark and the background needs to be lighter.

The biggest issue that there is the shadow shape behind the the elf. It meets the cliff that she's standing on, and is really odd. It is too flush and creates an unintentional tangent. That'll have to go.

Over all, the colors are in order, I'll just have to take care that the values are correct. I really want the sense of depth between the foreground and background. If all goes according to plan, the middle ground will be atmosphere.

Well, now, that brings us right 'round to the final painting. Right now I've transfered the drawing on to final board. I like to use a 500 series Strathmore plate finish bristol board. It's nice and thick and holds the watercolors well. It also dries flat which is great later on when it comes time to scanning and such.

PS: there are a whopping 8 posts that chronicle the creation of this piece, to see the next moves check out Post #4: Have a Spare
to see the previous post about this image go to Post #2: Troll Time

11 March 2009

Troll Time

Well, thank goodness for friends. After showing my previous drawing (here) of this scene to some comrades, it was justly pointed out to me that there were some holes in the work. So, as the saying goes, back to the drawing board. I feel better for the revisit, the piece is stronger and should communicate more easily.

What happened? Well, for one reason or another many people kept pointing towards the lower left corner of the image. It seemed there was a visual leak there. My solution was to revisit it, and more closely observe the troll and his clothes and hand gesture. It need further resolution to become more believable. After all, who wants an unbelievable crabby fantasy character?!
Probably the biggest change that was made was to the Troll Hole. Compositionally it needed something to help keep the eye flowing around, whereas before the eye flow would get stuck there, or worse yet, leave. Also, I wanted to put something between the viewer and the troll, while leaving the space in front of our little Elven heroine open. The reason is that I want the viewer to easily identify with her, this means that there are no visual obstructions between her and the viewer. Now, the opposite is true for our Troll. I didn't want people to "get too close" to him. The solution came about as a leafy stump and rocks.

This technique is often employed in movies. Where I first became aware of this was in the opening sequence to "Raging Bull." There we see the main character in the ring, shadow boxing (metaphor please!,) but the camera/ viewer is always outside the ring, there is a constant visual barrier, which also reminds us of a bars on a cell or cage (Foreshadowing Metaphor Please!) Check it out for yourselves: Raging Opening Sequence.Here, through the magic of Photoshop and tissue paper, is the final drawing. The next step is to work up a color comp. I'll still use the value scheme from before. Turns out there are many mico-decisions that are made in the creation of a narrative piece of illustration, and these are just a few. Enjoy!

PS: there are a whopping 8 posts that chronicle the creation of this piece, to see the next moves check out Post #3: All Trolls on Board
to see the previous post about this image go to Post #1: Fantasy Series

07 March 2009

Figure Drawing Friday

Ahh, another Figure Drawing session Friday. 
I am really loving these occasions to draw for a few hours.

Today's excitement was that we did without a model. For those of you who've ever had to make due, you know the drill. It's portraits of the people around you, or people start to volunteer to be the model. We opted to model ourselves.

Myself, I did a 20 minute pose for the group. It was fun to walk around afterwards to see what people had created from it. After that brief stint as a model, I have a renewed appreciation for what models do, it ain't easy, that's for sure. If you ever want a challenge, be still for 20 minutes, then see how you feel!

These drawings ended up being quick and simple, no big deals today, just doing the work.  The two pencil drawings are a gal whom I went to school with. It was nice to see her again and a surprise to draw from her for 20 minutes or so. It is something of a challenge to draw people that you know. I found that early on, I was just trying to draw a portrait of the person, focusing in on the face. Noticing that, I decided to use a little exaggeration to help me work out of that. Thus the head shot that's a little wonky.

The color image is another student who attends these sessions. She had a really great triangular-floppy-doll-pose that I enjoyed working from.