Monday, June 12, 2023

Shape Language for drawings

 This almost seems like David Finch giving away the secret of why his drawings look the way they do. I remember when I was revisiting a particular Fafhrd painting a while back it bothered me that the simple curves everywhere made it look feminine and soft, so I squared it all up, which helped. I found a sort of compromise between the harder straight lines and the softer curves, but this is a much more advanced approach. Definitely worth playing around with. 

He pays tribute to the drawings of Jeffrey Watts at one point.  Proko did the same in a recent video too. Makes sense—Jeff is an amazing draftsman and teacher. 

In places Finch's "Line of beauty" becomes Bridgman's "Line with a hook on it."

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Another excellent pelvis construction method

 Ran across this one recently and wanted to post it here so I don't lose track of it.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Tentatively finished, but needs a lot of detailing work and a few fixes

It isn't really done, but I'm not sure what to do to it at this point. I need to make some decisions. So I'm posting it now as "Tentatively done." At some point I might go in and try to fix some of the problems, but for now I'm ready to move on. 

There's a lot I like about the way it looks. I lightened it up so much because Fafhrd is supposed to be really pale, but in comparison to it most of my earlier paintings now look ridiculously dark. There's always been something weird about the colors I use, but it seems I pick better ones when I'm coloring a line drawing. The lighting doesn't really make any sense—I need to decide where the sun is and then place shadows accordingly. That shadow running down the center of his face says the sun is in one place, and the rest says it's somewhere else. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

I need to learn some serious hand anatomy


Above are some examples of competently done but uninspired hands. They're drawn with hard lines and very squared-off. What I mean will become apparent in the video below. 

These are drawn by Mark Texeira. Much more fluid and graceful in terms of gesture, and they show a solid grasp of the anatomy underlying the surface. This is not surprising considering Texeira spent some time in his early days working at Continuity Comics, spearheaded by Neal Adams, and apparently got some good tips and pointers from him. I just watched an interview with Mark, where he said for his paintings he does an inital rough-in, and when that gets greenlit he'll hire models and take lots of pics for reference. I'll bet he does that for some of his comics work as well. It would explain a lot. Richard Corben, who I talked about recently, also took lots of pictures of models to work from. 

Jae Lee. Frequently his panels are little more than extreme hands and grimacing faces. Those alone can tell the story, or much of it. 

Here's how Jae Lee did hands back in his crazy 90s extreme comics style. The best comic book artists really show what they're made of if you look at the way they draw hands. As bizarre and extremely distorted as these all are, they show a deep knowledge of skeletal structure and hand gesture. Which is not the same thing as 'hand gestures'.  

I plan to go to two main sources for hand anatomy—Bridgman (always go there first) and David Finch (who definitely studied Bridgman). You can also go to Frazetta. Guess what, he studied Bridgman and used that stuff all throughout his work. The reason Bridgman is the go-to for comic book and heroic fantasy artists is because he spent a lot of time immersed in a deep study of Michelangelo's art and ferreted out some of his secrets. 

Ok, David Finch video:

Since I don't plan to be a comic book artist, I won't need to exaggerate as much as he does, but I think it's good to know about it. I always want to aim high, meaning to learn a bit more than I need. If you learn how to exaggerate farther than you need to, then you can always pull back a bit, but if you only learn realistic drawing, then how will you be able to exaggerate at all? He puts so much dynamism into everything he draws. One of the best pieces of advice in the video is to look at your own hands for ideas on poses. I think the guy who's art I posted in the first two images above could have done himself a big favor if he had checked for how people hold telephones and guns. 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Impromptu Chalk Brush and Decent Digital Drawing

 No more Fafhrd updates til he's done, I don't want to spoil the surprize.  It's going well, if slowly. I'm finally done constructing the axe and the hands, and back to actually painting on the figure again. 

I've figured out a couple of important things that will really help me work on this kind of hybrid drawing/painting in the future, and I want to record them here so I don't forget. 

Chalk Brush

First, there doesn't seem to be a chalk brush anymore in Elements. It was one of my favorites. But I've found a way to chalk up whatever brush you're using—just open Brush Settings and raise the scatter. Simple. 

Drawing decent lines digitally

Second, a way to make lines that match the pencil lines, and also this allows me to draw much more accurately with the stylus. You don't just make a sinlge line and leave it, you go back and forth between cutting in and cutting out. meaning make the line, but make it thick and chunky, and then come in with background color and cut in along the edges to shape it. You do this a few times each way and you can make a decent facsimile of my type of pencil drawing with the built-up thick linework. I use a blend of both soft and hard round brushes for it. 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Getting hands on


Finally putting some hands on him. I knew I'd never be able to draw them digitally as well as I can draw in pencil, so I cheated. I looked up pictures of men holding axes, lopped off hands in just about the right positions, and Frankensteined them on. I had to do a lot of finagling and adjusting. Luckily the lighting was just about right for his right hand, but as you can see, for the left hand it's backwards. I need to reverse it, so there's light where there's currently shadow, and vice versa. 

Right now I have the photo hands pasted on, but I'm painting over them so nothing will remain of the original photo elements. 

This torturous experience has made me tell myself over and over that I need to start with a fully developed pencil drawing, where all mistakes have been corrected already and everything is in there, nothing left to invent in photoshop. I've never done that yet. And I suppose I could fix a few things digitally before I start coloring, but it needs to be all done before I start adding color. I need to have that pencil drawing as a layer on top so all coloring is done underneath it. Once you get them stuck together it gets crazy. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Spotlight Effect


Another of my master studies from 2014. This is I believe the third one where I noticed the spotlight effect, where the artist uses creative lighting to accent certain parts of the picture. Here it's the warrior's arms and chest, the strain as he pulls back that bow. It also falls on his raised knee and on the backside of the girl. It's on his face too, but the face is tilted back to minimise it, so the real attention is on his strength and straining, and on what he's protecting. As I mentioned before I think of the head and face as the personality and thinking in a painting, and the chest as visceral strength or carnality. And because the figure grouping of the lizard and the two people is triangular, it gives an effect similar to a sunset on the top of a mountian. There are a couple of dimmer areas of light—the lizard's mouth mainly, as secondary focal areas, and below that a scattering of even dimmer ones to emphasize the triangular shape, which is the strongest shape structurally. A strong classical composition.

This was the first time I encountered it, in my first composition study. A Tiepolo. Oh, how little I realized what I was walking into! His paintings are deceptively complex, with almost every form (even fingers!) using the bounce light/core shadow approach. Not only that, but for my first attempt I chose one with three figures! Foolishness! I did a really rough job (hence why this one isn't at the top of the page), but I definitely noticed the strange unrealistic lighting. The chest of each figure is strongly emphasized, plus the face of the mother and her child. Her chest and shoulder most strongly I think. These areas of dappled light give a shimmering effect across the canvas, complex and pleasing to the eye. 

My second Tiepolo, my second encounter with the spotlight effect. This time it's clearly the saint's chest, arm and upper thigh that are emphasized—his face is pulled back and falls off into semi-darkness. It isn't his personality or his appearance or thought the artist wanted to bring attention to, but I believe his passion and spiritual love of Christ, and maybe the vulnerability of his bare flesh also. The beating heart underneath that flesh, with the dark knife poised so close. 

I'm posting this as a followup to my past one, which deals with the same basic idea. Simplify your lighting and use it to direct the viewer's attention to where you want it. Decide what you want to say with the piece, and think about how you can use lighting to say it. 

Another Frazetta study I did that features creative control over lighting. Again the face is lit, but again it's tilted back so you only see a sliver of it and the emphasis goes to the chest and raised arm. The legs drop off into darkness. Following are a few more poaintings where I used this lighting strategy.

Now I want to look at how Richard Corben specifically uses the spotlight effect in his work. 

Here's the poor dumb character from Mutant World trying to think. The posture and facial expression emphasize the struggle too. But notice he brings something else to it—color saturation. Not only are the head and upper shoulders brighter than everything else, but the colors there are far more intense too. Down below everything is dimmed into cool greens and dull purples. So he's also using color temprature. A triple-pronged attack. There's also a very strong color contrast between the head and that bright green background.

Spotlight on her head, upper back, down-hanging boob, and that other hand clutching the tree in front of her face. It looks like he put a gray filter over everything else to bring the color and light level down. This one is a bit unusual in that the background is brighter than the spotlight effect, but then it's the sun that's creating that effect, so it would make sense. Usually the background is darker, to make the spotlighted area stand out more. But Corben is a genius, he can make things like this work. He did the same in the one above it. I don't know if trees were really blue in prehistoric days, but it looks really cool. Hah! Literally—blue is the coolest of colors.