So you’ve probably seen those wooden figures in arts and craft stores that are meant for artistic reference. Well, haven’t you wished they made one that actually had realistic proportions and range of motion? Yes? Well me too! I love to draw and sculpt the figure and after countless hours of design, 3D printing and iteration I’ve finally come up with one that meets those needs and stands on its own two feet!
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Process of my previous post. Incoming wall of text!
I received a lot of information from msbarrows, by which I mean way much more than I was expecting ahahahah. Which wasn’t bad considering that this was such a specific request as it was for a story she had already written, and she gave me a lot to work and play with in the brief. One idea that I was really drawn to was the idea of an epiphany. The story behind this piece focuses on another character coming to understand the character in this painting, Feynriel and his particular set of circumstances and having other character’s views change over the course of the story. So I wanted to illustrate that idea of an understanding, a sudden illumination. shedding light on something, etc.
1-2) I quickly roughed out the idea I had in my head. Basically, I have the character sitting in front of a window, light falling onto a book the character holds and the reflected light being cast up onto the character’s face. Once I’m happy with it, I start working out things like anatomy and how the character is holding the book. I decided to bring the book up to show the cover, instead of it lying in the character’s lap, which I plan on putting a symbol of Dragon Age’s prominent religion to identify what it is. This will also help convey my main idea of an epiphany better. Medieval illumination comes up in the story and a book like this would likely have illuminations, not to mention there is a verse from the religious teachings that becomes important to the story. In a stroke of brilliance, I managed to fold in a bit of symbolism in a relatively simple way. Even better, the doctrine of this religion is known as the Chant of Light. So we have the book of the Chant of Light, with medieval illuminations, casting/shedding light onto (and into) the character. It ended up working out really well ahahah!
3-4) Finalized line art with most of the details sketched out, which I sent out for approval. I also did a really quick colour comp to provide a better idea of where I was planning to go with this piece. It was also a good practice run of how I would later lay in the colour.
5-6) Greyscale work. After I get the go-ahead, I roughly block out my tones keeping in my my light sources, which are moonlight from the window backlighting the character and the reflected light coming from the book (slightly exaggerated for my purposes). I grabbed a brick texture from CGtextures and threw it on the walls, then continued refining the greyscale.
7-8) Laying in colour using a large soft-edged brush, using my colour comp from earlier as reference.
9-10) Once I feel I have enough of my colours blocked in, I’ll start the real painting. I generally begin with the character’s face since it’s an important point of interest. It’s also the one are I have to be careful with painting given the lighting scheme I have going on. Underlighting or light from below is often used to suggest sinister or dramatic moments and I want to avoid that. So I avoid hard-edged shadows and unnecessary darks. After the first painting pass on the character, I decided to start refining the background.
11-13) Tackling that window. I was asked to add frost to the window, a detail from one of the scenes in the story. Not an easy thing to make look right I discovered, or at least to avoid making look like fog. It took several tries and a bit of experimenting with blending layers.
14) With the background squared away and good amount of the piece painted, I decided to take a step and see what I still needed to do to finish it. While I’m working on a piece I will occasionally pause and look at what I’m doing, but it’s really not until I reach an end of a painting session that I’ll take a good hard look at the work I’ve done. With the background in place, I saw that I needed to repaint parts of the character to fix some lighting issues on the character. I also made note of little details to include like the trim on the book’s edges and the decorative stitches on the character’s clothes.
15-16) While I was evaluating this piece, something about it bothered me but I couldn’t quite place what it was. After mulling on it for a while, I found myself asking why there was so much empty space around the character and what was I saying by having so much unimportant background in the painting. I decided to ask a friend for his opinion, and he mentioned how the distance from a character in a painting to the viewer can convey a message, that space and emptiness can lend a mood. Once he said that I knew that I needed to crop the piece and bring the viewer closer to the character. The idea behind this piece is coming to understand the character I’m portraying; emotional distance is not what I’m going for, and so by cropping and bringing the camera closer to the character it makes things feel a little bit more intimate. With that no longer nagging me, I finished painting the character’s face and hair.
17-18) Refining and adding finishing touches.
19-20) Lightened the image and bumped up the contrast a little bit, made some colour adjustments, and done!
My most recent illustration, a piece I painted for the grand prize winner of the art giveaway on my other tumblr.
Feynriel from Dragon Age II, for msbarrows, based on a story she wrote following the idea of if Feynriel were made Tranquil by Hawke. This was my first attempt at painting two different light sources, something more than just standard directional sunlight or three-quarter lighting, so that was an interesting challenge.
Process work of my previous painting. This is how most of my impromptu character paintings go. Part of me wishes I had planned this out better; I like the idea behind it quite it bit, but it fell a bit short during execution.
Some relatively recent work, perhaps a month or so old. Each one of these was done within 4-5 hours, just enough to lay down a good base that if I wanted to take it to a more refined painting level I could.
I usually find myself sticking to mostly 2-3 brushes that are more or less the same. I decided to play around with soft edged brushes and see what I could do with them. They’re really good for blocking in values, and for laying on washes of colour over greyscale.