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.