Firefly Guitar Ballad
February 10, 2007
I want to focus on the new ground I cover with each drawing. Instead of just re-hashing the skills used in previous pieces, I want to be consciously aware of new realms I explore with each adventure.
With this piece, it begins with the sketch. After completing the initial outline and preparing to shade, I realize that my shading (in the previous several sketches) was quite arbitrary and very trigger happy -- I'd simply blend each line into the barren paper-white next to it. This may have "looked cool" as far as shading is concerned, but ultimately it is not disciplined enough to take me where I want to go. With this piece, then, I wanted be consciously aware of the light source before I began shading... this way, all blending is done with purpose, not "just because I can."
And here is the end result. Nothing super, by any means, but the increasing awareness is what is important. Ideally, if this awareness is properly fostered, I would hope it grows with future sketching endeavors.
What else is worth mentioning? No other new ground is extensively covered, though I do increasingly comfortable with the methods practiced in previous pieces. These include using layers of multiply and soft light to make the colors (and outline/texture) more rich, as well as "color balancing" by using layers of soft light and color. These are techniques that I'm internally grasping more and more (instead of using them just because).
On a final note, I did run into some late complications with this piece. Quite frankly, I was unhappy with how big I initially drew the head. Unfortunatley, I had to fix this problem at the end, after several layers of color, shading, and shadows were in place. It required some tinkering with the transform tool, but I was able to pull it off. In the future I'll have to pay closer attention to the sketch before proceeding!
What is next? I want to do something more involving a landscape or background. Doing prominently-featured characters (and little background) has been fun, but I don't want to get stuck in a rut. Gotta keep trying new things.
And Then There Was Fire...
February 7, 2007
...And right back to work. This latest painting employs much of the shading experience I gained from the previous drawing ("Doorway"), though this time featuring an actual person. I had much more trouble finding colors that "came to life" when doused with layers of soft light... I wonder why? Hoepfully experience will shed light on this one. The turning point in this painting was when I began to add the highlights from the firefly... they really brought things to life (as did the shadowing). Finally, I added some vague color to the otherwise dark background which creates a rather likable effect (for me, anyway).
This scene is from my forthcoming story. In a land where the knowledge of fire-making has been lost, a young Hero learns to summon the fireflies. Might their burning flame unleash the wisdom which grows from the earth...
Doorway: An In-depth Look
February 6, 2007
The most recent of my completed works... and my all-time favorite, if I may humbly say so. This is based of a sketch I've been doodling on-and-off for months. What made this effort unique, though, was the recent addition to my drawing arsenal: blending "stumps" (or "tortillons", as they're called on this particular package). I used these back in high school art class, I recently remember, and they were my best guesss on how to achieve such smooth pencil shading as demonstrated by Cory Godbey on pictures like this.
It all began with a sketch. The layout is something I've drawn a hundred times before, as I said. What was different was the shading I employed -- I went wild on the rocks and around the "mortar" that holds the stones together. To my delight, these shading tools worked well enough to keep the ideas pouring out. Easily enough, I added a bit of texture all over the wall.
After shading came the basic coloring. I applied a single solid color to each element -- the ground, the wall, the door, the mortar, etc. No paint blending at all at this point, aside from a single layer of soft light to balance the colors. Before proceeding, I added a black border (not pictured yet). My eventual goal was to shade this in (to aid the blending transition), but I knew I would do this near the end.
In many of my recent paintings, I've attempted to mimic Godbey's style of using layers of multiply plus duplicate layers of soft-light (done for each individual layer). I ended up doing this, but only after the initial base colors were laid down (in multiply). It took a few minutes of finding the right color for each element, but I'm pleased with how well this worked. Unlike previous attempts, I had better luck doing this at the end (to all the layers at once) instead of doing it to one layer at a time (as I completed the base color layers).
Just when I thought I was done for the day, I decided to keep on pushing ahead and dove into the lighting. Again, using Godbey's mutiple examples of using screen layers for lighting, I went to town. The single light source (the moon and star) made it pretty easy... a layer of orange and a layer of yellow. Next was the "dark" shading (shadows, I think they're called). I used layers of multiply for this (and a few of screen, by accident). Dark red and blue were the colors on the outside. Additionally, I used a low opacity brush to fade in the shading from the exterior. And that finishes it up!
I learned a lot from this painting, and am pleased to see it didn't take too long, either. This is good, I believe, as it speaks to the fact that this style is quite natural for me. I certainly could have gone into more detail in many places, but for now I want to get back to the sketchbook and see where else I can go with this. I imagine I'll try another cartoon-style character, this time with the most-excellent shading tools I now have at my disposal.
Last Month's Portfolio (Jan 2007)
To see the work done in January 2007, click here.