Thursday, March 31, 2011

Composition Studies - Reverse Engineering 2

Here's another reverse engineering composition study. The original Sargent was blurred, flipped and inverted, which threw me for a trip when I finally looked at the original image, haha. I'm pretty happy with where the composition study went though, seeing the dark blobs as a mass of figures rather than trying to find identifiable shapes in it was a good step forwards I think.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cast Drawing - Refined Block-in

Progress on mr. cast drawing! This is the block-in stage worked up to near-completion, thinking abstractly and mapping out the drawing with light and dark shapes plus a few key landmarks. The goal here is total accuracy, so lots of careful observation and double checking of shapes going on. It's probably about 20 hours in right now, and will need another good 60 or 80 to get to full completion over the next couple months.

The next step will be to lay down flat tone filling in the shadow shapes with one value, then after that separating them in to two values and adding two halftone values to the light, and lastly will be refining the transitions between the values until it's a realistic representation. Lots of time will be spent picking out little dots of paper texture, haha.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ideal Figures Pt. 1

Here's the beginning of a big project in figure drawing. We're just now finishing up with the skeleton and will be moving on to muscles on Thursday.

The project will be to create our ideal figures; one with proportions and body types we think are typical and credible, and two exaggerated to an extreme. In the end we'll have front, side, and back views of fully fleshed characters, as well as some poses of them in action trying to understand their weight and balance.

This set is my first pass at the typical figures, and needs some adjustments in the proportions to get it more accurate. I'm thinking my exaggerated extremes might be a short, stumpy couple and an uber muscular couple. Should be lots of fun!
It'll span over quite a while too, so expect updates every now and then for a while.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Composition Studies - Reverse Engineering

Here's today's nonsense, a new variety of composition study! Reverse engineering, which is taking a well composed piece, reducing it to just abstract shapes, and then finding your own subject matter out of the abstraction. It's great practice cause it trains you to go from abstract thumbnails to final work, which is essential to composing.

I took it to the extreme as far as abstraction goes on this one, me and my homedog Carl set up a deal where he abstracted 10 pieces and sent them to me, and I abstracted 10 and sent them to him, so I had no idea what this piece originally was when I was working on it, haha. Was quite surprised to find that my weird surreal doorway to oblivion was in reality a classy man in a business suit. More of these are definitely on the way, haha.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Still Life Pt. 4

Here's the final for the still life! Gone in and tweaked a few things, cleaned up some of the cloth and flowers, and put on final adjustments and effects to make it shiny and delicious. This one was a lot of fun to do and a great learning experience, I think it's a big step forward in my understanding of light and color as well, not to mention different textures and surfaces. This will definitely become a regular exercise when I have the inclination and time, so much to learn from it, and since you're working from observation all the answers are you in front of you, all you have to do is find them.

And for your potential viewing pleasure, here are some closeups at almost-full res: [Link]

Oh, and on an unrelated note, there's a blogger glitch which was keeping my images from being clickable and enlargeable, but google rustled up a solution so all images from here on out should be able to be viewed at a higher resolution!

Have a good one!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Still Life Pt. 3

Here's the progress on that still life so far. Just lots of rendering and refining; it's not quite done, all the major elements are in place, but I've been working on it all day so I'm gonna wait until tomorrow and come back with fresh eyes and fix whatever needs fixed, then call it done. I think it's turning out pretty well though, lots of improvement over my last still life with the apples and stuff, starting to see much more subtle things going on with the colors and surfaces.

In this first image I refined the cloth and emphasized the form of the book.

More rendering, cleaning up the conch shell, foreground flowers, and the glass vase. Subtle color variation is very important here, it would be easy to just make the conch shell orange and make the flowers red, if this is going to be a realistic final product there needs to be a range of color, warms and cools, in each object.

And in this version I cleaned up the flowers in the vase, added some text to the book, and refined the wooden stand a bit.

There's still some things that'll need to be cleaned up, which will come tomorrow!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Master Copy - Fechin

Here's a painting I did today which is a copy of a painting by Nicolai Fechin. Lots of fun!

The main goal was to further understand the limited palette we're using in oil, which is titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, and ivory black. You can create pretty much every color out of those four, just the cools are relative and muted, so a lot of the color relies on the color that's around it.

This was a great exercise not only to understand the palette, but also understand how to mix color, as well as see subtle color variations and paint them. Learning to mix the right hue, right value, and right chroma and then putting down just one correct brush stroke where it needs to be is hugely important, and it's one of the secrets of making effortless looking work. Needless to say, I'll need a lot more practice!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Still Life Pt. 2

Here's the beginning stages of the second version of this still life. This one has a warm light source that's more diffused, as opposed to the cold spotlight of the other one. Should be a fun thing to work out the subtle differences in color for all the objects, and hopefully since this is a pretty simple setup I'll have enough time to really refine them and make 'em look nice.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still Life Pt. 1

Here's the start of a still life for Painting class. This'll be the first of several in different lighting situations, like the plein-air painting before except hopefully this one won't be so time consuming, hehe.

It's still in the initial stages, this first image is just finding the shapes.

Then this second step is establishing values, color, and lighting, being sure my light and shadow colors are consistent across all the objects and that some of the subtle color variation is being captured.

Needs lots of refining, but it should be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plein-air Sunset Cleaning up

More work cleaning up and refining this puppy. There's still more work that could be done, but this is gonna go on the back burner for now as the assignment its for requires doing two pieces of this level of polish and this has just been too time consuming for that, so I've started up a little still life to satisfy the assignment. But still, I think this one is turning out pretty fun so I'll finish it off on some free time. Getting space to read is a tricky business, having to go in and check every object, every edge, and be sure what's in front looks in front and what's behind looks behind.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Constructive Figure Drawing Pt. 3

Here's an update on that figure drawing. It's made some progress, but is in a done-for-now stage. It's not as polished as I was hoping to get, rendering out small forms and everything with the help of some ref, but I'm pretty happy with where it's at. Might revisit it later, might not, but school's back in session so homework comes first!

The main things I did between this and the last update was strengthening shapes to make the figure feel more solid; in the last one all the shadow patterns were just squishy concave messes that followed the overall form changes. Making smaller angle changes on them and keeping them either straight or convex makes them feel much more solid, same with the contours of the figure itself. Then I did a bit of more detailed rendering in certain areas and added a bit of texture.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Composition Studies - Brangwyn

Here's another composition study, this one of the rather awesometacular Frank Brangwyn who happened to be one of Dean Cornwell's teachers. He had some pretty mad compositional skills, with really clear and powerful abstract shapes. Reminds me a bit of Doré in a way. Definitely worth studying!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Oil Portrait - Zorn Palette

Here's my latest shindig with oil. We are breaking in to.... COLOR!@i&%!*@U#*EasGsj

It is hard. 8|

Yeah, this is my second attempt at this piece. The first one turned out totally abysmally so I emailed our glorious instructor and he had a good lol and explained the many areas uponst which I could improve, and this is my second go after that, haha. It's still pretty meh as far as the colors are concerned, but it's better than the first one and I think I'm starting to get comfortable with handling the brushes and the paint. I also added linseed oil in to the equation, which makes the paint really juicy and delicious and makes me feel like a for reals alla prima painter.

This was really fun though and it's a great way to approach color theory, he's beginning us with a Zorn palette, which is simply white, yellow, red, and black. Through those colors, a whole relative spectrum can be mixed; white and black gives a gray which appears to be a relative blue, gray and red makes violet, gray and yellow makes green, red and yellow makes orange, so there you've got your red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet! It's an easy introduction to adding color and temperature to the things we've been learning about value and handling the paint, so though it's quite confusing and will take lots of practice I'm totally excited to see where this all goes.

Hooray for oils!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Figure Flyaround

More studies for figure class; we're still focusing on understanding the skeleton, reducing it to simple forms and learning to navigate around those forms in space. It probably seems to get a little redundant, but when you look at the final goal of being able to draw any figure in any pose from imagination it's easy to understand why it's so important to spend a lot of time practicing things like this.

Bring it on, yo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Movie Still Studies

More composition exercises, taking movie stills and doing quick thumbnail studies of them. Very good exercise to learn a bunch of different ways to crop or place your viewpoint, as well as see how one shot will progress to the next one.

These are all about 1.5"x4", 10-20 minutes each, and all but the top left are done with a dip pen, brush, sumi ink, and FW acrylic white ink. Very fun combination for doing quick studies!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dark Elf Sorceress + Video!

Just a speedpainting done out of a need for some not-homework and fantasy sparkles, plus I got the Cataclysm soundtrack (which is soooo good) and it gave some srs inspiration. Due to Cataclysmness, my original plan was to do a Night Elf Mage, hence the purple skin, but I didn't really have any plan or reference for this so the armor ending up being more sinister and it turned in to a dark elf. That's what happens when you don't do thumbnails.

It's not the greatest composition and my figure drawing skills still need work, but for a quick sketch I'm pretty happy with it, and it was fun which was the main goal. I'mma try to do more of these quick paintings, maybe one every week or something just to avoid getting over-homeworked. Funtiems!

Also, here's a video of the process! Hope ya dig!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Composition Studies - Wang

Another composition study, this one of the piece Orient Wizard by one of my personal heroes Wei Wang. His handling of color as well as composition is really breathtaking, not to mention he does totally kick-ass fantasy and Warcraft art. If you haven't seen his work, definitely check it out: [Link]

This one was a lot of fun to do, and I got really involved noodling out all the subtle color which is what really gets me going in his work, apart from the cool subject matter and accomplished draftsmanship.

You can probably see the influence from this piece in yesterday's little paintsketch, though mine most certainly can't compare, haha.

Got something fun planned to post for tomorrow too! Something that needs a little... compressing? *crappy hint*
But yeah, it should be fun. In the mean time, go drool over Wei Wang's awesome art.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paintsketching and Comp Studying

Here's a paintsketch I did today; something of an experiment for me, trying to find a fun way to just quickly doodle out an image and get a fairly interesting final result. This is only about 1.5 hours of work, which is obvious by how crap the drawing is, but I think it's a fun way to get out ideas and once I start getting some unconscious competence with draftsmanship skills they might actually look somewhat good. Funtimes!

Also, here's a composition study to bring the average quality of this post from D- to C, haha.

Will continue on mr. constructive figure drawing guy dude man soon, just needed to get out some just-for-fun art after a failed portrait this afternoon.

Have a good one, homebros. Don't get too drunk if you're Miami-ing it up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Constructive Figure Drawing Pt. 2

More work on yesterday's figure drawing! Still not nearly close to finished, but it's getting there and will be done by the end of this week for sure.

The first thing done after getting a good night's sleep and coming back with fresh eyes was to correct some drawing issues; getting back the original gesture of my skeleton and correcting proportions and forms. The main things here was getting the curve of his back in the way it was in the gesture, and also giving the leg on the left a bit of a bow to it like a planted leg will usually have. The hand and face were also tweaked a bit.

Next is to establish where this is going to head as a painting. He could just be left floating in gray smoke, but if I'm going to spend a good 10 or 20 hours trying to render him out to perfection it's going to be worth it to spend some time and make a nice composition out of it.

This step is also very important cause it determines the light source, which is going to need to be very clear if this is going to end up looking realistic. The light here is coming from above, in front, and to the right of the figure, and I'll need to keep that in mind for the entire process because each plane will need to be considered and how much it is facing the light source, then shaded accordingly. Value change = form change, so if there are incorrect values somewhere, the figure will look less realistic because it will seem to have unnatural forms.

However, at this stage big forms come first; just like drawing the big masses, the whole torso is thought of as a block, the arms and legs as cylinders, and shaded like that. All the smaller forms of the muscles need to follow the overall form of the larger masses, or else the figure will flatten out. It's also worthy of noting that this is all from imagination; the goal here is to create, not copy, so it needs to be established the way I want it to look before bringing in reference. Photo reference will only be used to refine the things that I already decided are going to look good.

And now it's off to rendersville! All the layers are merged down to a single layer and I begin painting on top of it. The goal here is to reinforce all the larger forms and get them reading clearly; this first step of rendering is not about detail so a lot of the subtleties are being left out for now. Most everything is left fairly soft-edged, hard edges will be brought in later with the smaller forms. The main thing here is simply to establish front and side planes of each body part, and each major muscle group. From here it will be refined with smaller forms and muscles, piece by piece, which will need some photo reference to get some of the subtleties a real figure has.

And that's all for today; some things are still mushy and need clarification, especially in the legs, and some contours and proportions need tweaked, that will all come next now that the overall figure is established. Also, I'll continue to work on this, but there are some other projects that need to get done so it might be a few days before it's progressed enough to update again. It should be completed by the end of this week, though!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Constructive Figure Drawing Pt. 1

Well, today is the first week of spring break, woohoo! I still have a ton of homework to get done, but I figured I'd start it off with some drawin' just for fun. We've been doing pretty much all skeletal studies in figure class and I've been itching to do a full figure drawing again, but I wanted to keep pushing the anatomical stuff we're studying and construct it from imagination. Gonna see how realistic of a final rendering I can come up with using only supplementary reference, not directly copying any one photo. Still got a lot of learning to do before mastering this, but it's not lookin' too bad.

First step was just a fairly loose gesture sketch to get a feel for the pose. Decided to keep it pretty simple since there's gonna be enough challenges trying to invent the light and form without having to deal with crazy foreshortening. The main thing here is just the proportions and what direction each "bone" is facing.

Next is refining each thing as accurately as possible. Normally figure drawing wouldn't be this analytical, but this is tough for my skill level so I want to be sure of the understructure before worrying about any muscles. Adding in smaller things like the clavicle, scapula, illiac spines and separating the radius and ulna is important here so its easier to find the origins and insertions of the muscles that hook up to those bones.

Here is defining some of the major masses; starting out defining the torso as a big block, the legs as big cylinders and so on for each thing. If I were to just dive in to muscles, there's a 100% chance that my proportions would get totally off; starting with the bigger forms and carving specifics out of them will keep things in check later on. I opened up a photo ref here to double check proportions.

Now comes the oh-so-fun part of adding muscles! I made the image high-res so there was room to work and started attaching each muscle in to its proper place. There's still a lot of gaps in my knowledge here, so I grabbed Bridgman's and Stephen Peck's books to have a look at each muscle and find their proper origins and insertions. A big thing here was also thinking in terms of mass, if this is gonna look real perspective needs to be considered, so instead of just drawing lines where muscles should be I tried to separate them all in to planes and add cross-contours to be totally sure of the 3D form of each muscle, and be sure it was subordinate to the major forms established in the previous step. This took quite some time even with grouping lots of smaller muscles in to larger masses.

And lastly for today is fleshing it out; adding on the skin and fat that'll make the figure look like a human and not like an architectural mannequin. Here I started breaking out photo reference to double check stuff. Once again, I don't have any photo reference that matches this pose exactly, just bits and pieces from my reference folder and online resources. The goal here is not to copy, but to understand and re-create.

And that's all the progress on it so far. Tomorrow I'll go in and correct the things that are wonky, then try to render it out by using the forms already established and additional info from various photo refs. I also need to try and get some of my original gesture back; it got pretty stiff from adding on muscles so mechanically. Hurrah for figure drawing!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Composition Studies - Wyeth

More composition studies, this one of the ever-awesome N.C. Wyeth. These are so good to do, it really helps understand how masters arrange their lights and darks to make interesting shapes and patterns, what tricks they use to add or remove depth, how they handle their color for mood, and a whole host of other things.

If you've only got an hour a day to work on art, it would be wise to spend half of it doing these, as everything in art will ultimately fall second to composition. A well drawn piece with perfect perspective and anatomically correct figures and a great story behind it will never be able to compete with a well composed piece, no matter how technically well done it is.

Enjoy your weekend, and spring break for those of you who are participating in spring break this week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Plein-air Sunset S'more

Some more work on this piece, cleaning stuff up and trying to get the space to read better. I'm really starting to like this piece, with a little more time I think It'll be a pretty fun little environment. Learning so much good stuff from it.

And in other news, next week is spring break! I'm gonna try to get a personal piece done, something high fantasy, and record the whole process to make a timelapse video. Should be funtimes!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Figure Flyover

More figure studies. Tried to push this one a little further, so instead of just swiveling the figure around on the Y axis I tried to get it as if the camera was flying up and over the figure. Needless to say, it was quite the challenge and will definitely need some more practice to get right, haha.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plein-air Sunset Refining

Here's an update on one of those plein-air pieces from a while back. We're focusing on color variation in Painting class, making subtle color shifts in areas of the same value to increase the feeling of light in the piece. It's a great study, and really adds a huge amount once you can start to see it, painting from life definitely helps.

This isn't quite finished yet, it still needs some clean-up of edges, some sloppy strokes need correcting, and some of the areas aren't reading well spacially, but I think it's coming along nicely.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Temperature Painting Numbah Two!

Moooore portraits! This one's a bit rushed as we had an event happening at the pod on Saturday, which is usually when I do these, so I had to jumble this together after class on Friday, haha.

I still need to work on my facial construction, there's some wonkiness going on in all of these, but I'm getting more comfortable with oils. This will be our last monochromatic portrait as well, as on Wednesday our glorious teacher Ron Lemen is going to take us in to the wonderful world of the Zorn palette, which is titanium white, yellow ochre, cad red light, and ivory black. It's a cool palette, well actually a warm one, but it is cool in the too-cool-for-school sense because the actual cool colors are derived simply from neutralizing the warm colors. Amidst all the hot yellows, reds, and oranges you get out of the cadmium and ochre, dulling them down will give you relative blues, greens, and purples, so you can pretty much get a full color spectrum out of just two colors plus black and white. It's a pretty rad bit of color theory, and should look awesome for portraiture. I am excite!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Composition Studies - Sweet

Here's another study from one of the best artists of our time, and one of my personal favorites, Justin Sweet!

Justin has stunning compositional skills, and he executes his pieces with great simplicity and strength. Definitely worthy of studying! This one has some of the best movement and balance (or lack thereof) that I've seen, you could devote quite some time to just studying the angles in this and seeing how they all relate and strengthen each other.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Composition Studies - Leighton

The only downside to posting every day is I don't always have something hugely interesting to post, but nevertheless here's a composition study I did today of a piece by Edmund Blair Leighton. I'm trying to do one of these every day, and have been sorta failing at that but am getting better. I'm gonna make a list of art push-ups to do every day and try to reserve an hour or so for them.

As for all the written jargon on the right, it's really just an analysis for my purposes. In Composition 2 we're learning to abstract artwork and use just the light & dark shapes to create the right feeling for the piece. One really helpful technique we've learned is metaphor, it's kinda tough to decide how to draw a bunch of soldiers, but if you can decide you want those soldiers to feel like shattered glass you have a much clearer idea as to the shapes and arrangement that can be used to get your point across. Sounds kinda crazy first, but it's actually tremendously helpful for composing. And don't worry, it's not pretentious art school crap, this is nothing more than a tool to help the artist compose, it's not some secret hidden message that the audience is supposed to extract.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Anatomy Studyin'

Here's some anatomy sketches from Figure 2. We've been focusing on skull, ribcage, and pelvis and are now starting to branch out with scapulas, clavicles, and great trochanters of the femur. Lovin' all this form analysis, it's gonna be so helpful later on. If there's one secret to drawing the figure from imagination, it's simplifying it to easily imagined forms.

And speaking of figure drawing, the Repin Academy has a figure drawing book that details their process: [Link]
I haven't read it myself yet, but one of my TADmates Dorian is currently studying with them and I've heard good things about it! The price translates to about $15 USD; it's hard to go wrong with something like that.

Have a good weekend, yo!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cast Drawing, so it begins!

Here's a WIP for our cast drawing assignment. This is gonna be a beast of a drawing eventually, as we're spending the entire semester on just this single one, using vine charcoal. This is just the first step and there's already a bunch of things that need fixed, but slow and steady will win the race. The end goal will be a perfect representation of reality!

It's sock-rocking time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Figure Turnarounds

Here's some studies from Figure 2 class, which is constructive figure drawing. This assignment was to draw a skeleton based on a photo ref, then turn it in space from imagination. Quite the challenging exercise, but lots of fun; so 3 of these are observed, the rest are imagined.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Straight Paint Portrait

Yet another portrait for head painting class. This time I tried using paint straight from the tube, no thinner or medium. It was pretty tough, getting the first layer of paint to stick to the canvas was really tough and it took me probably an hour just to cover the whole canvas in paint. I also tried a constructive method to start out, building the head in forms and planes rather than just looking for light & dark shapes. Lovin' the oils, and doing two portraits every week is just crazy helpful, you can tackle all kinds of art problems with just a portrait.