Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I'm picking up one from a while ago that needs some more attention. I don't think I ever showed my photo reference - I usually don't, but this time it's relevant to something I want to explain that I'm leaning how to do. 

I should have reversed these, so the original is on the left, but oh well! I've highlighted the important factor with red lines above - the way I modified the gesture. In the picture there essentially IS no gesture - her stance is ramrod-straight. If you trace the line of her spinal column it's boringly straight - in fact so are the legs, and then the head is just suddenly stuck on at a crooked angle as if the neck is broken - there's no nice smooth transition to it at all. 

The ability to modify reference is an important one to develop - there's almost always something you DON'T want to copy from the picture, be it the lighting, the color, maybe the position of the arms, or the gesture. Changing these things represents a pretty high order level of abstraction - you need to basically imagine what it would look like if it was just a little different and draw it that way, while still retaining the information you do want from the picture. If you want to be able to do dynamic art, then it's necessary to learn how to make changes like this. 

Ok, here's what this one looked like last time I posted it:

And in its most recent incarnation. Still more work to be done but looking a lot better:

I've managed to put the emphasis on the abdominals, as it should be. Those core muscles are what is creating that powerful gesture after all, and the center of a fighter's power-base. I used lighting and color saturation to draw attention to the torso, which is a trick I learned first from copying Tiepolo paintings, and then I also noticed Frazetta uses it. Which makes sense - if you're doing heroic paintings you want the emphasis to be on power rather than personality, so you direct attention to the torso, not the face.
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12 - 14:

Important factors:
I carefully modulated color saturation across the image rather than doing a global adjustment. It has a sort of spotlight effect centered on the torso/abs area, the same focal area indicated by the strongest lighting.

Added outlines almost all the way around, which I then carefully worked - making them thicker or thinner in each area as needed. This is a Frazetta thing, and I believe he did it very naturally, coming off 20 years as a comic book inker - he had amazing control over his brushes. I notice using outlines really tightens up the image everywhere - it does away with any sense of the figure disappearing into the background in places. It also gives great control over the silhouette - the curves.

Using black really increases the dynamic range and lets you get some serious punch in, in terms of contrast. So does using some powerfully saturated colors, but controlling where you put them (and using those "colorful grays" elsewhere, as Jeff Jones recommends. I think I need more of them though).

It really came to life when I added the green wrist bands - made me realize how color-starved the image was for anything cool. So I made the bikini blue, which was one of the best moves of all.

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Just about finished!

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