Thursday, February 26, 2015
Process Post: The Flying Tribe of Janaris
This is another short process post on my last piece which came to be by accident, a common occurrence in my art for some reason. I call it an accident because I had no intention of creating it but when the idea was first planted, I basically ran with it. Also, I was able to incorporate some great advice from the hugely skilled illustrator/artist, David Rapoza.
I first started by doodling on a newsprint sketchpad. I had been using this sketchpad to warm up with my figure drawing but decided it would make great scratch paper to just mess around on. There was no rhyme or reason to the drawing. I, like many times, just made lines, shapes, and never really thought about anything. After about 10-15 minutes of sketching, I had these bird-like shapes. I thought they looked cool, so I kept making a few more, still not knowing where I'd go with them. After some actual deliberate sketching, I had this quick impression. (Apologies for the crappy phone picture)
I scanned the paper but it didn't make much difference as I recreated the figures from scratch, developing them a bit more. Then I started making a few structures. Hmm...now an image was starting to form. I made the people imitate birds in a way. Having some kind of bird-inspired wear. I quickly realized that, if done right, this could fit into my Janaris project as another kind of people - a tribe perhaps.
I quickly moved to color and made some interesting choices. I was a bit back and forth on the color of the bird attire and I was also unsure how much sun/light should be in the background but I had alternatives and knew I'd eventually make a decision. Unfortunately, I'm showing you what ended up being the final colors of the rock constructs and the figures, but I originally had them much messier, and if you can tell, the figures have a yellow light descending on them, but there's no visible light source. Originally, I had just a blue sky and nothing else.
I started painting but after laying down some of the general blocking I started getting a little disillusioned and I knew why. I had drawn a couple of rock formations but they were stuck at the sketch stage ('drawn' is generous, look at the second B&W sketch. I basically just made long lines). Why? I...didn't know how to draw them.
It was mostly a case of me procrastinating because rocks are always a challenge with me. I decided to use reference but was unsure if I could get the exact images I wanted. Then I remembered some advice I heard when I was listening to David Rapoza in his Bog Witch Part 1 video tutorial, which by the way, everyone should buy. It's $5 and SO much more worth that price. In a general sense, he basically advised against using reference in an exact duplicate manner as that's less useful for learning in the long run. Reference shouldn't be used to solve a specific image's problem. His advice was to instead look at whatever you need to reference and do a few studies to learn how it interacts with light, how the forms work, and what its textures are like (among other things). This way, you learn how to draw the object, rather than learn how to place it in your specific image. So that's what I did - I found a few pictures of rock formations and just sketched them on a separate paper. I specifically did not want to incorporate the study in the image. Here's what I ended up sketching. You can see a big difference from the top sketches, where I didn't use reference, and the bottom ones, where I did.
It wasn't much but it was enough (and I'm impatient). So then I used what I "learned" and finalized the rock formations. There's still a difference between the reference sketch and the final image's rock formations since it wasn't a direct application. And to be honest, I didn't expect to do so well, but I was very surprised at what ended up coming out. I also made the decision to keep the sun. While it didn't look very "real" I thought it looked pretty cool and made everything much more interesting which is really what matters. I'm somewhat beyond recreating reality.
Like I mentioned before I was having some trouble with the bird costumes but then I started to think a little more about the tribe itself and made the central character a leader. So, in a way often seen in the animal kingdom, the leader is often the loudest in appearance so he had the brightest colors. A change I couldn't show you was the difference in the bird-wear. Originally it was all orange/pink/brownish, which was very dull.
The last step was incorporating some atmospheric depth in the painting. What is that? It's a term I learned from many good artists. Basically it means that the farther away objects are, the closer they get to the background and the less detailed they are. I'm not going to pretend I mastered the technique or anything, but it helps ground a piece and make it feel less flat. It's a subtle change but an important one and you can see how it brings the focus on the central character. And, as always, I fiddled with lighting adjustments until I had the image just right.
I really like how this ended up especially because it was slightly outside of my comfort zone. I rarely use such bright colors but I was pretty happy with my choices. The next piece I'll be writing about is more detailed non-accidental painting on the Flying Tribe of Janaris.
Thanks for reading,