Monday, October 31, 2016
My attention was being pulled right to the top of the head because it was the brightest part. I did that because the logical part of my brain kept telling me it would be brighter up there, that part is closer to the light source and facing directly at it, plus hair reflects more than skin. Finally I got tired of always getting drawn up to that blank area and put a shadow over it, which immediately allowed me to look a the eyes and the face first now. Ok, actually not the eyes themselves - they're downcast and veiled; mysterious (sharklike actually, I softened them in that regard from the photograph). But that fits her character - cold and inhuman, no interior life, so the windows of her soul are blank and dark. It's actually the eyelids you look at - the blinds of the soul. Fitting methinks.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
I could tweak this till the end of days, but there comes a point where it needs to stop. In some ways I prefer previous versions - the breathing room, for one. She seems too tightly jammed into this little box. Maybe at some point I'll un-abandon Milady (it's based on a screengrab of Faye Dunaway from The 4 Musketeers) and move her into more spacious digs - finish it more.
What bugs me the most is the looseness - everything is just slightly off. Shape of the head, placement of features, size of them. The eyes look slightly different, in terms of size, shape and placement. There's something off about the placement of the temporal bone - it should be higher and maybe a bit scooted forward - maybe a bit too much space there on the side of the head. All of this relates to the process I used - slapping everything down loose and sloppy and unfocused, and then moving things around as I gradually firmed it up. This is like the process I used to use in drawing that I called ghosting it out, where I'd start by drawing very lightly, then look at it and see what needs changing, and then I'd erase parts that need fixing and re-draw, still very lightly, until it all looked right. In fact often I'd erase the whole thing and re-draw over it. Erasing doesn't completely remove the lines - it just makes them less visible. The difference though is I used line, which is much more precise than formless blobs of digital paint.
One of the things that's been improving vastly in recent pieces is my control. Just from experience and familiarity. In fact now I might be able to draw halfway decently using the stylus and tablet - something I couldn't do before. Need to do practice each day and see how it goes - just circles and shapes, but going for precision.
And if I still can't draw digitally then I need to do the drawings on paper and scan them in before painting. Or find a way to make my digital alla prima approach a lot tighter.
There's more critique I could add - about color and a few other things, but this is the most important, and the rest will develop just through practice.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
This one was the result of a very belated realization that I'm 'Frankly' ashamed to admit I'm only having now. I formerly left my paintings very rough with what were supposed to look like brush strokes - largely because that was the way I thought Frazetta's paintings looked. Well, I do know he leaves some clearly visible brush strokes - but I was surprised in looking at a couple of his posters I recently bought that the flesh is painted smoothly. Aside from the occasional background figure in deep shadow or maybe a monster or two. But on the majority of his human characters the skin has an almost airbrush smoothness. So I finally broke down and decided to do the same.
One problem - as I found I had to keep amping up the contrast to bring back the lost punchiness that for whatever reason likes to fade away as I'm painting - areas (especially in the reddish shadows on the side of the face) that were formerly nice and smooth suddenly jumped out in stark contrast and became very ragged, with extremely visible edges. I painted most of them out - several times actually, but there are still a few left. I suppose I'll have to smooth them down again *Sigh*.
Main lessons learned:
1. I need to learn to draw a proper head shape and any time I make adjustments, make sure I don't screw it up! The head doesn't look quite human.
Proportioning is off - eyes too big and oddly shaped, nose too big, off center and angled wrong, mouth too small. The outline along the edge of the face is exaggerated. I could go on..
2. Always start by putting down your lightest light and your darkest dark values from the beginning - how many times do I need to learn this one (by messing it up over and over)??!! I know the technique of 3 value drawing - I need to use it.
3. There's no damn color!! I just used the most straightforward 'flesh color' for everything. Come on man - I know how to do this stuff!!
But on the good side:
It does have a strong sense of solidity and rounded form. I got much more subtle curvature of surface effects than I was getting when using 'brush strokes' all over. It all coheres together much more strongly than most of those earlier paintings. A lot of subtlety in the shading and nice soft-ish edges and out-of-focus effects in shadow and non-focal areas. I'm starting to think of digital painting as a sort of crossbreeding of drawing and airbrush - or something like pastel drawing, which allows for great blending and smoothness as well as a rougher approach, but doesn't lend itself as well to simulated oil painting techniques. I should definitely hold off for a while on trying to get 'brush strokes' - go for smoothness and blending for now.
* * * *
I seem to be a bit intimidated about finishing it - afraid I'll mess it up. Even though I know I can (and definitely will) make a new version, leaving this one untouched just in case; and also that any time I mess something up I do have an undo button. It seems there should be no fear associated with this - and yet there is. Or is it just because I haven't taken a digital painting beyond this point yet - it's new territory? Probably that yes. Now it's about adding the finishing touches - the brightest highlights and the darkest shadow accents - the little patches of texture and detail it needs to make it pop and sparkle. Now it has a nice well-worn cloth feel all over, like a favorite old sweatshirt, but it needs the pop and sparkle to come to life. It also still needs some color. In fact what I need to do now is go in with that spirit of adventure - grinning fiercely and just slash and hack at it like I'm carving out a jungle path. Have fun with it!
And very soon I need to graduate from these studies and start doing full paintings with backgrounds again.
I need to really learn how to draw!!!