Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fixing Fafhrd

Getting the colors right makes a huge difference!

In a recent post I showed versions of 3 of my old Fafhrd paintings where I did a simple desaturate and even just that helped a lot. So here I went into a little more work, using Photoshop and Lightroom to selectively desaturate those colors that were just too bright, and to boost the contrast and brightness and apply a couple of photo filters to bring the colors into closer harmony. At this point it doesn't really look like a finished painting yet, but closer to a good underpainting, but with a little hint of the final colors showing here and there. I've brought it all down into an earth tone range, resembling burnt umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and just a few hints of a deep dark red like alizarine crimson, and a bit of ultramarine blue in the background. Interestingly, these are all colors I have in my current oil palette.

Here's a quick rundown of what I did to preserve the steps for posterity:
Used an adjustment layer set to saturation to selectively desaturate only those colors that really detract in the original - yellows and greens for the hair and blues for that glowing background. Then I added 2 photo filters, a warming filter and an orange (they're both essentially different shades of orange) and boosted brightness and contrast to punch it up a bit.

Unfortunately, the only existing photo I seem to have of it anymore is the quite small one I'm working on here, so I think I'll take a new much larger picture using soft diffused lights and start over, repeating what I did to this one (should go pretty quick) and then I plan to work on it digitally a bit more. In fact, I Notice now how messed up the anatomy is in various places - I did this one in either the late 90's or very early 2000's, and my anatomy knowledge has increased a lot since then (I think even for my level of knowledge at the time this was pretty poor). I want to stretch the torso out a bit, elongate the ribcage, twist the midsection slightly, and turn/tilt the neck and head a bit to get his neck in alignment with the spine - that curve should extend all the way through the spine and neck (and his neck seems to be squashed down between the shoulders pretty bad). It also needs work on the bow, the quiver (it's on the wrong side of his body for one thing!) and then some actual digital painting overall just to put the finishing touches on it. If I can make all this work, I just might come out of this with a corrected painting that's far superior to the original.

And then it's time to start to find strategies for color planning/mixing to allow me to take advantage of what I'm learning from these digital adjustments in my future paintings - it would be nice to be able to do all this in oil right from the beginning.