Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Treble Fafhrd

Three stages of development.

The important factors:

  • Kept checking anatomy against my ecorche figure (anatomical model)
  • Opened previous version beside photoshop

My ecrche figure from Anatomytools.com comes apart into several pieces - the arms and head pop off and are held in place with magnets. So for the difficult fiddliest part of the painting, which obviously is the upraised arm with all it's foreshortening, compressions, and torsion, I was able to just hold up the right arm at the right angle - one angle for the underside of the upper arm and a different angle for the forearm. This is definitely improving my anatomy, but I can see I need some good reference for that upraised arm - an ecorche doesn't show you ho the flesh compresses when the elbow is in extreme compression like that. Need to find photoref, or look in a mirror and imagine that I have muscles.

Opening a previous version of the image was a lifesaver - as you can see from the second version in the middle, while improving it I was also screwing it up in ways I wasn't aware of. Not only the most obvious - that I made the new upraised arm too big, but also I lost the simple powerful compositional form of the triangular shadow on the back of the upraised hand and the similar dark triangle on the back of his neck. 

Most of the work last night was on the upraised arm - the most difficult and detailed part but vitally important to get just right. This session was totally different from the last one, which went so smoothly. This time it was more of a brutal and difficult struggle, constantly making little changes and then going back and changing it again and again. I've now discovered the power of the Distort tool (under Image > Transform) and that' together with Free Transform and the Liquify filter, have been my best friends. I really wish I had the figure and background on separate layers though - each time you use one of those tools it leaves scars on the background that you need to paint over, changing it each time. Next time Ill know. In fact, later in this painting I might go back to one f the earliest versions of the background and paste it in on a layer behind the figure, and then overpaint where needed to cover the parts of the old figure showing through here and there. 

The importance of David Lemon
David Lemon is a sculptor who posts his progress almost daily on YouTube, and I always look forward to my visits to his studio. He's a great guy and really cool about explaining what he's thinking as he works and reworks his sculptures. And one thing I've learned from him is to continually check and re-check proportioning and anatomy all the way through. At any stage when he discovers a mistake he'll fearlessly lop off the offending part and rework it. And it's always an improvement. Well, making changes like that, little or big is one of the main strengths of digital painting, so might as well take advantage of it. 

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