I've had about a two year hiatus on appreciable art skill improvement, which has of course resulted in being utterly dissatisfied with everything I try. Not finishing anything that doesn't have a deadline these days - I tend to wander off.
Known areas that need improvement include anatomy of the neck and upper body, and the leg and hip area in men. I do alright with linework, but the process between splashy underpainting and lovely finished (nonblurry) painting continues to evade me. I'm currently restricted to a limited palette to help get color issues under control. I wouldn't mind a bolt of lighting inspiration while I'm at it.
Perhaps public humiliation will help. Here goes.
[edit - let's put something a little less gorky looking at the bottom of the post so it'll look better as an icon]
Last edited by gpalmer; June 24th, 2010 at 11:10 PM. Reason: Adding new image
Alright, time to move away from the comfort zone. Not too far, though - if I jump right into really difficult things, I'll just wander off. So, still with a head shot and still with linework only. But it's a guy, which I'm less good at, and there are three colors this time. Plus the terrifying prospect of dealing with neck anatomy.
Still with the limited palette - sap green, burnt umber, caput mortuum and lead white, or rather equivalent digital tones.
Less interesting for spectators today. We're taking on the neck and throat anatomy issue at a crawl. Today, we're starting off with a rather thin lady with some significant musculature. The same stock album has images of her doing scarf acrobatics. In the first picture, her neck looks like it has an unreasonable slope, but I actually checked and corrected it with the photo underneath (after the initial drawing) and I didn't have it sloped enough to start with. That one's a little overshaded, however.
Paint Tool Sai, madder toned background with burnt umber and lead white. There are several hours in these.
Back when I was doing these dailies, I got interrupted. First there was a major project, and then there was a broken monitor, and then there was a large convention. So I've fallen out of the habit of daily sketches. But! I haven't been completely useless.
Here are some of the things I've done in the meantime. The Pygmalion and Galatea is still in progress - only the base layers have been painted. The two fairies and the mechanical dragon both include gold inked areas and the dragon has some interference blue - neither of these scan well.
So, this is what I've been doing lately: a practice piece with lots and lots of hatching in watercolor. Because I'm lazy, here's the text from the artblog post it accompanied:
The end result is probably thirty hours or more, due to learning as I go. I also overdid it the first couple of days and gave myself some overuse symptoms. However, resting it has generally been effective, and I've been able to keep painting - just not eight hours of detail work at a stretch. I haven't worked in this style in a few years, and it looks like I've leveled up a few times in the meantime. This is a very nice thing for me. As long as it took, the process felt pleasant and natural. I got frustrated a few times because of my lack of skill, and because I'm using relatively low quality materials, but very little because of tedium.
This is watercolor on 6x6 Aquabord - a textured form of Claybord that's lovely to work on, but will not be my primary support because of cost. I would like some better watercolors, too. The turban would have done far better if I'd had a nice high value red for the highlights, instead of building up oranges and then glazing them with red. Brushes used: a big number 9 for the initial color lay in, then 0, 00 and 18/0 for the hatching work.
And now it's time for mistake analysis.
Here's a blueline of some of the things that are wrong with the painting. Some of these I noticed halfway through and corrected as best I could, but watercolor is less forgiving than digital media. The eyes were initially far too large, and the right eye was too high and at a weird angle. I was able to paint the eyes themselves smaller, though they're still fairly large. However, the irises stayed way too big. The blueline shows a more appropriate size. His left eye and most of the left side of the face has a slight upward tilt. This is a problem that probably showed up in the drawing stage.
The skin tones in the neck and shoulder started getting a little muddy, in part because I realized halfway through the piece that it didn't have a blue light source, but a yellow one. The cools in the shadows were too cool and dulled the skin tone. There's also a little mud in the shadows on the darker side of the face, and the turban tail over his left shoulder. Values in the turban are too low entirely, and the background has too high a contrast for the rest of the image. It should be darker and lower contrast, and the whole turban should be a notch brighter. You can see what I mean in the b/w version. Those highlights should have more pop.
Am I happy with it? It was a good learning experience and the flaws are minimally noticable unless you're looking for them. I'll never get my hourlies' worth out of it, but that's what practice pieces are for. Perhaps I'll move on to the next one tomorrow or the day after.
Working on that hatching technique some more. This one had an old-style monochrome underpainting, pushed as far as I could take it, then glazed. Acrylic on watercolor paper mounted to board, 6"x6". The scanner is treating the darks badly - it may soon be time for replacement.
I am not pleased with the hands. They mutated between the initial drawing and the final, and my foreshortening skill isn't good enough to fix them properly. I am pleased with the reflected light, which is usually very tricky for me. I also managed to keep the volumes of the skull, rather than ending up with a flattened image, though there could be some improvement there.
I've tried to do this hatching technique on the computer a few times, but it didn't work out well. This try is doing better, though a few adjustments could still stand to happen.
I did this one without reference. This is excellent support for using it! The anatomy is very wonky. It's a tiny little thing, done in Paint Tool Sai, using my restricted 16th centuryish palette. The underpainting was done in grisaille, but I ended up tinting it closer to an umber, because the gray deadens digital work more than it does traditional stuff. Colors were mostly equivalents to red ochre, yellow ochre, burnt umber, azurite, green earth, lead white and bone black. The restricted palette is arbitrary, but keeps me from the digital rainbow explosion problem.
Apart from the anatomy issues, the edge on that far cheek could stand to be pushed back. I also didn't really bother to model the neck properly at all, so it's a grayish blob. This painting still bears traces of the Soviet Realist phase it mutated through while making it, which is a little odd. Nose structure is awful - painting this made me realize that I really don't have much idea how noses go together. On the plus side, the tones are better blended than I can usually accomplish digitally, and the mouth actually looks like it's a mobile 3D facial feature, instead of glued onto an egg shape. I should have taken more of the madder tone through the eyelids, though. They look weirdly dead.
Self improvement indeed! I still recommend to loosen up your lines a little or a lot.
It looks like, as much as I'd like to be a regular participant here, my schedule is unlikely to be friendly to that goal. So, for now, here's another dump of what I've been working on. It shows at least a little improvement, I hope. I've been managing two to eight hours a night of art time, a big jump from rare nights of gonzo painting with nothing in between.
The fully rendered piece was done for a promotional campaign for St. Martin's Press, but I do have permission to post it. Still struggling with rendering without lines. I find it very, very difficult - everything turns to mush so easily!
The black and white piece has a few more flaws than I care for, due to having been done in ink on paper. The undo button and endless adjustments in digital media do make things a lot easier.
I've a bit of fan art that actually represents a pretty big jump in skill, too. But it's anime-inspired, which is looked on poorly here, and there are the copyright concerns.
Anyhow, thanks for looking, even if I'm so infrequent.
Finished a Frazetta copy piece today. I've been advised to loosen up, and I figured that there was no better way to do it than by copying someone with a style in almost direct opposition to mine. It's not an exact copy, unfortunately. Things are rather a lot smoother and just a little off. However, it turned out a lot better than I'd expected. Finished piece below. Step by step at http://gpalmer.deviantart.com/#/d2qkbqs
love your style and the strokes. Keep practicing!! draw from life !!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK~~~~ dont be too hard on yourself KK>?
Hi ! Take a peek in my sketch book?My Sketchbook
What is the world coming to? I finally think I'm working out a rendering style that can be done in less than an eternity and doesn't look like it's chipped out of wood. Of course, it remains to see if I can do something more complex. I like the little guy, though! SAI, as usual.
New exercise: take someone else's painting, and change who's in it. I'm using the lighting, rough composition, and general pose, but swapping the central figure's gender, build, ethnicity, etc. Here's attempt #1, which originally featured a Chinese woman, was from a different angle, and included no dragonfly. Anatomy and drapery are largely from imagination.