Saturday, January 21, 2012

#143 Thorin Oakenshield: Digital Process

Thorin Oakenshield
(7 1/2" x 11" watercolor, digital)

Here is Thorin in all his digitally edited glory.
I had a lot of fun exploring this watercolor thing fully for the first time. I will say though that I was quite disappointed in the way I managed the color. I know very little color theory in general, but I knew that the helmet here was going to be gold, so in order to create a somewhat effective image, there would need to be a cooler, contrasting color (preferably in the shadow areas).
I believe that in the end it all ended up pretty muddy, because I was afraid of adding too much color into the image and making it to bright and vibrant. So, I continued to add wash after wash of light, muted color. This turned out to be somewhat of a disaster.
But there was a glimmer of hope! I could use Photoshop to improve this right? This all-powerful tool of pixel wizardry could turn even the worst of watercolors into a masterpiece! So I scanned it, and began.

The Un-Edited Scanned Painting.

The The scan was, of course, very greyed out and bland. Scanners have the evil intent of ruining your every attempt at artistic excellence. So upon entering Photoshop, I had to adjust the Levels to get the values back to normal. After this, I added several (as in five or six) Color Dodge & Color Burn layers. I painted over various areas of the painting in these layers with colors that I sampled from the image. This brightened and darkened the different colors I wanted to emphasize, and that I unfortunately wasn't able to achieve in the original painting. It also allowed me to create the illusion of the highlights "glowing". Finally, I dabbled with a Color Balance layer or two, giving the shadows a darker Violet tone to contrast the Yellows of the highlights.
Another thing that you may notice is that I eliminated those ghastly bags under Thorin's eyes with the Clone Stamp tool. I have no idea what possessed me to put those in the drawing.

So, hope you liked that little run-down of my process. Let me know what you think could use improvement. Now, on to other characters!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

#142 Thorin Oakenshield: Watercolor Progress

Before we go any further, let me make one thing clear: DON'T LEARN HOW TO WATERCOLOR FROM ME.
I really have very little idea what I'm doing. But so far I think I'm doing *something* that looks half decent. I'm learning all I can right now from Justin Gerard who is also doing some Tolkien inspired artwork right now. I would appreciate any comments & tips or suggestions you might have. Lets hear what you have to say! I'll post more progress as it's finished. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#141 Dwarfed

Assorted Dwarves in Various Stages of Completion.

Thorin Oakenshield (?)

A couple of quick Dwarf doodles/studies. Trying to pave the way for some finished Tolkienesque artwork to be finished in watercolor and digital (Yes!! Watercolor!!). I'm actually going to try William Stout's "Rackham/Dulac Method" for the finished pieces (recommended by Justin Gerard here). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#140 New Year, New Directions

Well, it is already 2012, and since I'm sure that you're already sick and tired of hearing about New Year's Resolutions (and of course the finer points of Mayan calender reckoning), I'll spare you much of the sappy gushing about an old year gone and a new year begun.

To be quite honest, I've gone through a lot of re-evaluating the direction of my art goals in the past year, and a lot has changed in the way I look at my approach to learning the trade of Illustrator and Artist. So I thought that I would briefly fill you in on what's been going through my brain so you will know what to expect this year from Drawing the Sword.

One of the most game-changing decisions I've made in the past year is the decision to stop attending Academy of Art University Online. This decision was a hard one, but overall I feel that I'm already better off for it. After talking with several people, including the esteemed Matt Silver of the Silver Agency, I made the decision (based on my own reasoning, no one else's) to quit art school in favor of simply schooling myself in the ways of crafting illustrations.

At this point I hear art instructors everywhere screaming:

And I can understand their concerns. For one thing, attempting this is a very risky business. And they are right, books and YouTube (YouTube especially) can be hit or miss. But one of the best things about it is, it may be risky, but it is far less costly. Accredited institutions are not cheap, folks. And for what I could pay for tuition at AAU I can finance a trip to Amherst MA to attend one of the world's finest week-long learning sessions with America's finest illustrators, learn from them, talk to them, network with them. Buy them coffee. Whatever. That one week would be ultimately more profitable to me than a year in school, learning at a school's pace. I would prefer to learn from real people that I can connect with than just by reading a syllabus.

So ultimately what this comes to is one very important thing: Portfolio.
I will be spending this year, 2012 constructing the best portfolio I can. I plan to do what I thought I could do with an Illustration degree (get very fine freelance illustration work), with a solid portfolio. Most clients will not give a flip about my dusty diploma hanging on the wall in my cramped, book laden, paint smudged studio. They want to see what I can do. They want art, not a piece of parchment with Gothic print all over it and a gold seal at the bottom.

I have several personal projects in the pipeline. I'll be announcing them soon, as the plans become more concrete. But you can bet that I will soon be drawing a great deal of Hobbits & Dwarves this next year. That's all I'll say on that one.

Two other very important goals that I am aiming for this year are this: Obtaining my own Website, and securing an internship somewhere with a studio or independent artist. These are both pretty reliant on how my portfolio is looking. Without a well-rounded portfolio, a website is going to look pretty anemic, and securing an internship of any kind beyond "Official Studio Toilet Scrubber Intern" will be fairly difficult. So, like I said before, Portfolio is the name of the game right now. I'll be hard at work on that, and while doing so will be perfecting technique - drawing, digital, watercolor, oils.

I think that one thing I have learned is this: becoming an Illustrator is more than just an event that happens. It's a lifelong process. The masters haven't perfected it yet. They're still on their own journey. So I figure that I had better get started down the road. The sooner the better!

So here's to 2012 - The Year of the Illustrator!!