Thursday, January 29, 2009

Digital Fantasy Painting part 3: Reworking the Anatomy

I started in on the sword and probably went into too much detail, but oh well. I decided the abdominal muscles needed some refinement, so I referred to some photos for reference. I’m starting to build up a library of photoreference images, both anatomical and architectural and every subject in between, something I should have been doing years ago.

I added the right foot, something I temporarily overlooked. I also tweaked and repainted the serratus (rib) muscles, lats and obliques. The torso is really starting to come together. The arms and legs are still going to need some refinement, and I’m still not sure about the deltoids. I’ll refer to my anatomy books...

I started getting a bit frustrated with this painting tonight because I’ve spent 13 hours on it so far and I feel like it should be farther along by now. At times like this I think about artists like Marta Dahlig and how much better she is than me, and ten years younger. I look at a painting she made for Corel Painter Magazine that supposedly took her 6 hours and looks like it took weeks.

Okay, with that out of my system, my frustration came from having to repaint the head because I felt it just looked awkward. I’m glad I did, because this new angle works much better, and my proportions are much more solid.

I also reworked the legs quite extensively, looking at more photoreference images to identify corrections to the muscle groups. Runner’s World is a great resource for leg muscles. Weightlifting magazines are rather useful too. I also reshaped the left foot and hand. A couple good digital painting habits I’m developing:

1) Ditch undo. If you make a mistake, paint over it unless it’s something really destructive. It makes the work more interesting and gives it more texture. Thanks to Marko Djurdjevic for giving me this idea.
2) Constantly evaluate your work and don’t get too attached to it. If something’s wrong, it’s wrong. Repaint or redraw it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Digital Fantasy Painting part 2: Initial color and blocking

I started with a dark blue gradient, and then with a large airbrush started filling in the yellow glow of the sunset. Then I established the horizon line with a low-saturated brown, getting darker as I approached the foreground. A little more airbrushing and I have my very basic background; I'll use this as the foundation for now to set the light source, tone and color palette.

I began blocking in the figure’s silhouette, using a standard round brush, and again paying attention only to basic proportions at this stage.

I made some color adjustments to make the figure warmer, as the sun is low in the sky. I roughed in some shadows and highlights, thinking about where direct light would hit the figure. I’m still not sure about these skin tones.

After refining some of the inner forms by overpainting and using the liquify filter, I used Image > Adjustments > Color Balance and adjusted the shadows to a more blue/cyan. I think I’m happy with this overall skin tone palette, but I’ll still mix in some purples and greens here and there to mix it up a bit.

I then added the basic shape of the hair just to get away from the flesh for a minute. Some more refinement here: I noticed some problems with the deltoids; both were a bit out of place and too small. If nothing else I’m getting better about not being so “married” to the art and painting over something that isn’t right, starting over if necessary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Digital Fantasy Painting part 1: Rough Composition

This week I started a new illustration. I’m trying a couple new approaches with this project. One is that I’m drawing and painting entirely digital, with no pencil or ink drawings to scan in, and the other is that I’m documenting the entire process, capturing still images along the way and describing my method. This should be fun!

I have a rough idea of my subject matter, and that is of a winged character in mid-flight, holding a sword. This could be an angel or demon, or just perhaps a superhero-type character or even an alien; I don’t know yet.

My software is Adobe Photoshop CS4. I start off with a blank 480 x 640 canvas. This phase is strictly a composition and value study and I don’t want to get caught up in the details yet. I’ll create a much larger canvas for the actual painting. I lay down a couple gradients for the sky and establish the horizon line with a large airbrush.

On a new layer I start blocking in a silhouette of my character, mindful of only basic body proportions for now. Again, avoid details. At this point I know my character will be some sort of winged person in mid-flight, so I think of what would make an interesting pose; is he ascending or descending, or somewhere in between? I’m thinking about triangle shapes in my composition, and energy in the pose.

Here I added the wing shapes and decided he needs to move up and to the right. I also decide that our main light source will be the low sun in the horizon and thinking about how that will light the figure; which areas of the body will receive direct sunlight and which will be in shadow. There will also be ambient sky light from above, reflected off clouds.

I decided to move the horizon line up so we can see more of what type of landscape he’s flying over and to possibly add some sort of building or battle scene below. I also thought his foot in the previous version was “resting” on the horizon. This composition is more interesting and gives us a stronger sense of vertigo. The sun hasn’t really moved that much in relation to the figure, so the direct lighting remains about the same.

I refined some of the figure’s inner shapes, roughed in some hair and clothing, gave him some flaming eyes and changed the pose of his left arm, as I didn’t care for how it was reaching off-canvas; it looked like I was trying to avoid painting his hand, or he could have been hanging on to something. With this pose, there’s no question that he’s floating in air. And if he’s a magician as well I can paint him holding a ball of energy or a lightning bolt or something. I also bent his right leg further back; this gives the pose just a little bit more energy. The composition is starting to come together. I think it’s about time to start laying down the actual painting.

Monday, January 5, 2009

You should see the other guy.

Alright, so I've been a lousy blogger. I could list many reasons why I haven't updated, but they're all lame.

Anyway, I got a nice little wake-up the other day from my cat. I like to keep a glass of water by the bed at night. It's usually in a bottle or other spill-proof container because my cat Vincent likes to drink out of people glassware, even though he has plenty of his own fresh water.

I felt him climb up onto the pillow to get at the glass, which was on the windowsill behind my head. Not wanting him to knock over the glass, as he has been known to do, I lifted him up and over my head. I'm not sure why, but it was 5 a.m. and I wasn't thinking clearly.

He squirmed and overbalanced in my hands, kicking out with his back legs and accidentally planting a good one across my right cheek. He still has his back claws, so it was quite painful. I yelled and tossed him away, cursing. I chugged the water in the glass and laid back down on the pillow.

Lifting my head up, I noticed a big streak of blood on my pillowcase. I ran to the bathroom mirror and discovered I had a huge gash on my cheek. Not deep enough for stitches, but it was significant. I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and applied a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding.

"Well, I'm up," I said as I shuffled into the kitchen to make coffee.

The good thing is that it looks kind of bad-ass, so I've been telling people I got into a knife fight over the weekend, in a story involving multiple attackers and a damsel in distress.