Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chasing The Sky - WIP detail shots.

I figured I would toss up some detail shots of the digital piece that I've been slaving away at for personal reference, and because it's hard to see some of the detail so far in the full image due to compression issues.

First up: The white dragon

Second is the red:

And last but not least, the Blue dragon. Their actual names escape me at the moment.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chasing the Sky - WIP

Medium: Painter IX, Photoshop CS + Wacom Intuos 2 Graphics tablet. Tools: Soft Oil Pastel, Smear blender brush, Airbrush. Photoshop was used to reposition layers.

Lately I've been crazy with the holidays, but I have been slowly working on a digital piece that was commissioned back in the summer. When I start a digital piece, I do it one of two ways. I draw out the image on actual paper and then refine and finally scan it, or I just start drawing directly on the computer. With this piece, you can see that the latter method is the one that I chose for this particular piece. I made a gradient background to tentatively mark out where the light will be coming from, and to get the mood for the image started from step one.

I made some significant changes here since the original sketch was done. I changed the angle on the dragon to the far right, as well as the one on the bottom. Something about the sketch didn't look quite right to me so I made the adjustments while I was still early on in the process. I also blocked in the basic colors and shading that will be refined further into the painting process. I also changed the format of the painting to a more horizontal layout. At this point, I need to define where my lighting is going to be coming from, in this case is is going to be from the lower right corner.

I made some further adjustments to the pose of the dragon in the lower left, I didn't like the way the wings were positioned, and repainted it to sit behind him like shown. I also messed with the dragon on the top left, changing the position of the wings after looking at references for bats and how they look when they fly.

I have also roughed in the background, and done some detailing to the sky, and added in the tops of trees/bushes in the lower right hand to give it a sense of space/perspective.

I took a break from this piece for about a month due to the holiday rush at my other job, and after coming back to it I did some more refining work on the red dragon specifically, adding in the stronger shading to start the detailing that will eventually lead to the finished product.

There are arrows originating from the lower right corner, marking where my light source is coming from, and aiding me in keeping the lighting and shadows consistent throughout the piece. This will help when trying to figure out where shadows will be thrown and where they will end up. I also do not work on any one specific part of the painting at any one time, but more around with where I'm concentrating on. This helps to keep the painting together, avoiding having one section be "more finished" than the rest. At this point in the painting, you should have your anatomy and position more or less finalized, because the next step is starting to add in all the small details and fixing things at that point becomes a real chore.
And that brings me to where I have left off as of yesterday.
I used Photoshop to set my lighting guides layer to screen, so it would not interfere with my work but was still visible over the painting itself.

The red dragon and the blue dragon got some detailing and refining, I painted in the spines on the backs, and started to be nit-picky about detailing at this point. The next step after this is adding in the scale details, and adding the final highlights and shadows. I do not use black when I paint, but I try more to use a dark version of the complementary colors in the subject, ie. red/green, blue/orange, and purple/yellow. Warm light casts cool shadows, cool light tends to cast warmer shadows. In this piece we have more of a warm lighting mood, due to the oranges in the sky from the sunset. Therefore my shadows have more of a purple/bluish tone to them than they would at say dawn or mid-day.

Cool colors include, blue, green, violet, blue-violet.
Warm colors are reds, oranges, orange-yellows, and red-violet. Purple is a fun color to shade with as it can be either a warm or a cool color.
We will cover highlights in a future entry.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Gryphon Tarot - The Star (XVII)

Lately I have been doing more work on my Gryphon Tarot, a themed tarot deck with the mythical gryphon as the ongoing theme throughout it.

The latest card to be finished is The Star (XVII). Seen at left is the finished version.

The Star is a card of hopes and aspirations, and is considered the guiding light of the tarot. Often considered the "wish" card, some of the key words associated with The Star are hope, inspiration, generosity and serenity.

On the negative side, The Star is a very inspiring card, but is not a card of practical solutions, reminding us that dreams often fall far short of reality. Real world effort is required to make our hopes become a reality.

Technical information: Watercolors and gouache on board, 7x9". The star shown represents light, and hope. The gryphon is white to go along with the theme of dreams. Two waterfalls are shown to represent the dual nature of being a dreamer, both hope, and rigidity in clinging to dreams even though we know them to be false. Water is associated with emotions in the tarot, the pond here and the lilies symbolizing peace of mind and serenity. When this card appears in a spread it can be a sign that not all is lost. If it appears reversed (upside down), it can be that the querent is placing too much stock in dreams and not enough in reality to get the job done.

The sketch for this was started as part of a batch, along with The Hermit and The Magician.

I started by masking the parts I wanted to remain white before doing a light wash with Ultramarine Blue and Paynes Grey mixed together. I added a slight wash of Raw Umber to the rocks that the gryphon was sitting on, echoing this in the water below to get the reflection. I also blocked in the lighter and darker areas to define where my lighting was going to be in the finished version. Unfortunately with this piece I did a great deal of the intermediate work at my mom's, where I did not have access to scanner. I am still learning watercolors, but this was a good jump for me as I did not have to struggle as much to get the effects that I was looking for. I continued to build the colors and shadows up gradually, using white gouache to get the bright highlights and create the effects on the water.