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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Star Wars GM Screen: A look into my process

So, the gaming group I am a member of (SparkForce7) commissioned me to create a GM screen for the campaign. It's been pretty rough to tackle but I'm currently enjoying the work. The project started out with thumbnails, I did a total of six different concepts in a vertical layout and when an agreement was reached I went out and bought the materials I was going to be needing. 

I'm working on 140lb 4ply hot press illustration board. I wanted to use watercolor paper for this, my ideal media, but given the size it was inappropriate to do so and would have been nothing but trouble. When I had my thumbnail done there were some slight modifications needed before I did the pencils, but that issue had already been resolved. 

Above is a portion of the piece. The dimensions are 11inx32....or possibly 34in. I don't recall, but I did make sure it's to size so no worries =}

This is the starting pencil. Normally I don't go into detail with shadows and what not because it will have a negative effect on the watercolors that I put down, making them seem heavy and muddy. But because I have two lightsabers I wanted to be sure of some of the darks early on.

BTW.....I have never attempted to render a lightsaber in before, so I hope it turns out. Consequently, nor have I ever used watercolor on illustration board...

Ok. First step was to block in some of my pure tone black areas. Another first for me here, as I don't normally work this way but given I am switching up my media a bit for this piece I am adjusting. I have a rather bad habit of not getting dark enough with my work and having very even tonal values, so adding in some black in areas will help me to be aware that I do indeed have to deal with this. After all, you can't have lights without darks, and because I want the sabers to pop, laying dark areas is going to be very important.

Here I have begun with a black acrylic wash and watercolor. Again, I am paying attention to my darks, but also the lights. That red and blue light is going to factor in later, so I need to tackle it early on.

Okay, I added in some basic color to my main focal figure. Instead of painting in black where the shadow of the face is I left that for later. I want to hit the face and the shadows with a blend of the blue and red light, so if I paint in a black acrylic wash here I will not be able to achieve the effect I want of some reflected light in the shadows. All the colors at this point are pretty basic and most of the colors are laid in with watercolor so far.

I threw in more of the red and blue into the figure here because my first washes weren't strong enough. I also laid in some darked tone in the face shadows, using a minimal amount of acrylic wash. I  also hit the lightsaber hilts and the figure in the background with some basic colors. Later on I will add in more tonal values. Though you can't see it in these images, I am working the entire piece in unison, laying in washes consistently so that nothing gets washed out or look separate from the rest of the piece.

I still have a ways to go on this piece, but will have it done by the end of the month.

I just realized how much of a help painting Mona (see previous post) was in the rendering of this piece since the light source is similar if not the same. Goes to show how helpful studies are. Glad to see the tuition is good for something.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Frustrations in Figure Painting

It's the end of the third week of class today. Watercolor figure studies is going along pretty well even if it is only Lizzie and I since it is the Summer. Summer classes are so nice, no rowdy freshman mucking about the halls or bouts of musical chairs in the computer lab in order to use the scanners or computers.

On the other hand, there is the massive crowd of cubs fans and foodies on the trains now. O well, you win some you lose some.

This was done last Thursday in class. Liz and I both had a bit of a cold but she decided not to come in on that day, so instead of a critique of our work I got to tinker about with Mona, our instructor's mannequin. Wasn't doing anything in particular here aside from filling in time....she's fun to paint though and this is my second time with her.

The two pieces above were done on Monday this week. We have an hour per piece and these are supposed to be done relatively quick, with the initial drawing laid down in no more than ten minutes. Barb is our model, a wonderful woman to work with who has been modeling at the academy for about thirty years now.

I will say that I struggle a lot to free up my form. I like to render and get down to the details, so staying loose is difficult for me.

Tuesday went a little bit better. Barb had on a dark robe which was rather difficult to paint since it didn't receive the lighting very well. I really enjoy the leg and skin form of the torso on the second piece. I was having a hard time, since adding in a lot of colors can fool you into thinking you have value and tone in your work, which I felt was very much the case in these exercises.

Ah yes. Liz was sick again on Wednesday and I had come in to class about 15 minutes late after missing my train. So I was only able to work on one piece as opposed to two. I really like some of the areas I worked on in this piece but again, was told that I am not letting myself get loose. And it wasn't too smart to add in the background, it is too eye grabbing as opposed to laying in a one color backdrop.

I greatly enjoy the first piece I did this morning. I finally was able to loosen up a bit. I think it helped to have a more solid drawing to hand the paint off of. Tom Herzberg is my instructor and he gave me a lot of advice, even admitted that he himself struggles with painting from a living figure as he is having us do now.

So, what did I learn this week? Stop over thinking my process and just put the brush to paper. Treat studies as that, or as quick color comps. And don't be afraid of saturation. Can't have lights without a dark.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

D&D Pinup Challenge

Been a while since I've been on here. Time in school is winding down, graduation is looming around the soon as August, and I find myself knee deep in putting together my portfolio and writing resumes.

I wasn't able to finish my concept for the Mutation Nation Challenge, but when I saw the next challenge was a pin up I couldn't resist.

As you can see in the image above I did an elf inspired by an alumni from school, Gil Elvgren. He's been a long favorite of mine and it was nice to do a more laid back piece that wasn't pending a grade for a change.