Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Border Patrol (or, What to Do in the Event of a Wooly Mammoth Stampede)

This morning I did a lot of warmup sketches. But suddenly I began to think of Wooly Mammoths. Yes, that's right, Mammuthus primigenius, those terrific beasts from the Ice Age. I worked on other things. I tried to shake the thought of them, but there they were, stampeding through my brain, with savage Nordic warriors riding on top of them! So it was draw or be trampled. My pencil began to fly, and a quick sketch was made (bottom). I liked it, and so did the Mammoth (who thought he looked quite handsome), so I tore out a piece of tracing paper, transferred it to the Bristol, and the finished product was born. Now these rowdy fellows are immortalized on paper, along with their wall which is, of course, modeled after Hadrian's wall which I hope to visit next Summer. Let's hope this wall is better at keeping out smilodon and herds of Megaloceros giganteus than Hadrian's was at keeping out the Celts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Winter Dragon: Watercolor (Traditional Underpainting)

So in my last post in this series, I showed you the finished drawing. Since then I've plunged into the watercolor stage of my process. This piece actually marks a lot of progress for me, for several reasons. First, this is the first watercolor I've ever done that I've felt "good" about. I've managed to achieve some pretty good texture, keep the colors within a predetermined scheme, and get a fairly unified look to the whole thing. Secondly, it's the first painting I've done that stands alone as a finished watercolor painting, but still leaves room for some digital manipulation, which I will complete in the last stage.

The image I'm posting (above) was tweaked just slightly to bring up the levels from what the scan gave me, but otherwise, it is untouched by Photoshop. Over the course of the painting stage, I used these steps, which I will give you here in case you are interested:

Here's a very poor picture of what the underpainting looked like. 
Pretty rough, huh? 

1. Light underpainting - wash of warm brownish undertones to unify the colors.
2. First washes of local color. This was the stage where I added in my midtone colors, leaving my lightest areas untouched, and saving my shadows for a later stage.
3. Final washes of darker areas - adding in shadows, etc.
4. Final touches of local color, a little more fine tuning.

The final watercolor. Wrinkled, but still alive and kicking!

That being said, there were a lot of things I learned, and things that I will do differently next time:

1. Instead of doing a wash over the whole painting, do a light underpainting on individual elements of the image, such as the trees, the dwarves, the mountains, dragon, etc. This would eliminate some of the dramatic bleeds that I got.

2. Stretch the paper. I skipped this stage, but it was only because I forgot to do this before I drew on it, and didn't want to lose my drawing. Overall, the drawing held well.

And that's about it. I'm sure there were other things I noticed but can't recall at the moment. Anyway, I got through the whole ordeal without incident, and was pretty pleased with the result!
Now I will retreat into my digital laboratory and tweak the DNA of this thing with Photoshop. We shall see what madness shall ensue!

Character detail.

Up Next: Digital Process!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Morning Warmup

A little warmup sketch I did this morning to start the day. I did it from a reference photo I had in my files. It's great for me to do these to get the creative juices flowing before I dive into my bigger projects. I may try to post more of these as I do them in the future.
Also, I'm in the thick of the watercolor process for my Winter Dragon piece, so expect another progress update tomorrow!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Winter Dragon: Drawing & Color Comp

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on a drawing that I started back in January. It was in response to an ArtOrder Challenge entitled "Winter Dragon". The challenge was to come up with a Dragon and give it characteristics that displayed how he interacted with the world around him. Or something like that. Anyway. It was January. I got started on a much more serious, depressing, savage, dragon-killed-my-family-and-destroyed-my-homestead type piece, and had some great sketches (which I might finish at some point). But instead I opted for a much more light-hearted scene. Two dwarves and their dragon pal having a cookout. I was pretty pleased with how the drawing came out, but still trying to find that balance between being too sketchy and being a tight, finished drawing that isn't too detailed or over-cooked. So, there you have it! Tomorrow I'll be working on starting the watercolor stage (which I'm pretty nervous about). Hopefully we'll end up with a final image that will look something like the color comp above, but with much more detail.

See you then!