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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Elgin Historical Soceity: Charity Chair WIP Preliminaries

So, as I may or may not have mentioned I was recently asked to participate in painting a chair for Elgin Historical's Charity Auction. There will be 60 chairs put up on display and auctioned off through the summer and I decided to take up the opportunity to do a little...3D art.

The Chair

While I have yet to actually physically receive the virgin chair, I've put some thought into what exactly it is I will be painting onto the chair. There's a lot of stuff to the history of the town I have grown up in (and currently am still residing). It's been the territory of the Potawatomi Indians, is part of the old Chicago train lines, is full of historical Edwardian and Victorian homes, was once the location of one of the top time piece companies, and is  now the home of the Grand Victoria Casino Boat. 

Yup....sure is a lot to choose from for inspiration, and those are only a few things!

Rough Draft of Chair Back

Anyways, getting back to my focus. I've been really enjoying steampunk culture and trying to twist it into illustrations of late. It's a really neat genre and it happens to fit in with some of my other favorite areas of 'art': pin-ups, costume design, and limited pallets. I've decided that my charity chair will be in the theme of a fantasy steampunk tea time. 

In the sketch above I have a really rough idea of a young woman on a swing, checking her time piece and balancing a cup of tea in her hand. Behind her will be a tree and some suggested vegetation.

Rough Draft of Chair Seat & Arm

In the draft above I have what would be on the ground before the young miss: her picnic lunch, along with the basket and parasol (closed). On the side of the arm of the chair will be a nouveau (not deco as my sketch says) design of vegetation. I also plan to add in a few butterflies (perhaps one or two might be mechanical!).

Pallet I have in mind right now is a variation of light to darker chocolate brown, pink, and possibly an addition of green, blue, or yellow. And of course, white. This is going to be mixed media: spray paint, acrylic, (if it were later possibly even collaged herbs set in the paint), colored pencil, and ink (or marker).

I've never painted on a chair and this is probably going to be more tricky than I imagine. A thought occurred to  me today to ask whether or not it would be alright (and not cheating) to create a 'canvas' slip over the seat and back of the chair. This would be so that I can negate dealing with the breaks in the wood.

Either way, the design will get transfered. I'll keep ya posted on the rest of the process.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Frog Prince: A Star Wars Twist WIP

Over at CGHub there's a wonderful challenge to illustrate out of the Brothers' Grim stories. Even though I am already working on another challenge piece, I couldn't resist working on something from the Brothers' Grim. I settled down on The Frog Prince, as it's easily one of my favorite stories and has been on a list of projects to illustrate since the start of the year (kinda a resolution list, if you will.)

Initial Sketch

It's no big secret that I am a HUGE Star Wars nut, and while my original intentions for this piece had nothing to do with Star you can tell by the sketch above it quickly gravitated that way. Originally I wanted to do something a bit darker in theme with the classic story, but I was unsatisfied by my previous sketches and started to lose interest in it. But late in the evening when I was trying to go to sleep I got the idea to do a Star Wars twist to this piece. And well....those inklings we creatives get NEED to be listened too.

Quick Color Comp
So that lead me to searching through some excellent reference sites I had previously tagged for such an occasion, spending most of the morning and afternoon developing a sketch. I decided that despite my tendency to rely on my drawing as opposed to my skill as a painter, that I would go with it. Why not? So I was hoping for a bit of an Arthur Rackham vibe to this (especially since he illustrated so many of the original fairy tales!) I chose to stick to a muted, earthy pallet for this piece...

Finalized Pencil

And so I used the sketchbook doodlie as a rough template. Taking that into Photoshop, I set to work using my pen and tablet to free hand sketch out the final composition. I decided I did not like where Padme was in the first sketch, and so I moved her a bit. I'm also taking into consideration type, which is also in the original sketch. I'm not 100% fully committed to the type as of the moment, it's in there more or less for a reminder.

Coloring Process

And after about a day's worth of work, this is where I am currently with the piece. Digital media is still not a strong suit, in my personal opinion, but then again neither was watercolor with I started out.

Pretty happy with where this is right now, so I'll let it be....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eowyn & The Nazgul: Art Order Challenge WIP

It's time for yet another Art Order Challenge, this one for Eowyn & The Nazgul out of the classic Tolkien novels. I've spent a few days sketching and looking at various references as well as illustrations from The Brothers Hildebrant to John Howe. I've filled up nearly a quarter of a sketchbook playing around with composition (this one has been hard to tackle), as well as armor and monster concepts. 

The above sketches are two that I find myself playing around with the most. I don't often do 'tight' vertical compositions like this but there is something alluring about them. While these are really rough, whichever one I choose to commit too will be fleshed out a lot more. The problem is choosing which one to go with. 

I like the first sketch a bit more, with the action of the illustration. I know that in the books Eowyn didn't use a spear, but I couldn't help myself from depicting her with one anyways. I figured that if the Rohirim where supposed to be the vikings of the plains that it would make sense to use spears (not to mention they were mounted and in the movies some did use spears). 

The second is more 'pin-up' in my opinion, focusing on the revelation that Eowyn is 'no man'. 

I am hoping to get some opinions on which of the two I ought to render out to finish. Like I said, once I choose one to do I'll flesh it out a lot more, and I plan to work on this traditionally with watercolor and inks on paper. 

If you have an opinion on which I ought to render please leave a comment, or if you have any crits, as it would be quite helpful. You can also check out more on the challenge here.

Quick Update:

I've asked around about which composition to go with and more people like the second sketch, so here's a quick doodle of it more fleshed out. There are still a few things I want to work out, mainly the actual fell beast, and the POV of Eowyn. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Ultimate Fighter Challenge: Complete!

Steam Roller


It's been a fun piece to do, and Rose Dread is finally done. A couple art crits over at the Art Order along with some WIP's of other participants to the challenge. 

In retrospect I could have pushed the steam punk more, but I also wanted to not get too out of hand or too far from a D&D feel. All and all I'm pretty happy with the way this concept turned out. 

Materials: Watercolors, Ink, Photoshop

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rose Dread, The Steam Roller: Another Art Order WIP

It's time for yet another Art Order Challenge. This one is for The Ultimate Warrior Challenge in which we are to create some type of human warrior in a dynamic pose with minimal or no background at all. 

So the challenge is to think a bit outside the box at less typical warriors that can still hold their own. The concept I have chosen is a Roller Derby Girl (cause let's face it, they kick some serious booty!).  I looked up some references online for different poses and combined elements from 3-4 different poses (arms, legs) in my sketchbook to come up with a better pose that wasn't a complete copy of any of the reference images.

The Sketch
Once that was done I sketched out a few armor options along with variations on weaponry, going from the standard sword and shield, to a pike that mimicked a hockey stick, but in the end I decided on some tonfas. I also decided to follow the suggestion of a friend and make this into a steam punk derby girl, giving her some steam skates and some armor that would help the feel of the steam punk era without going too far away from D&D fantasy.

Refined Pencil
And once I was done sketching out the piece I went ahead and cleaned up the sketch. Originally I wasn't sure if I was going to ink this until I was finished with the pencil portion, but decided that after I colored it I would make that decision then.

Going Into Color
I am working on 11x14in hotpress arches watercolor block with a mix of different windsor & newton watercolors. It was easy going with a steam punk feel, to pick out a color pallet. I have chosen to stick with a pallet I am very familiar with: violet, yellow, and red.

And a closer look at the piece. At this point I am rethinking inking the piece, which I will do once the color painting portion is  through. Deadline is on the 10th, and I still would like to scan this into Photoshop and do a few adjustments (mainly for highlights). 

This has been a very fun piece to work on, the favorite portions being in cleaning up the pencil and watching my watercolors shape up Rose Dread.

Can't wait to finish this piece!