Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trueblood's Plight Cover

I have been very busy in the artwork these past few months. Summer is a bad time for me for painting, as I have had both children home and doing anything around playing referee is impossible. But I have recently completed the cover art for an upcoming book by Nicole Thomas who's blog is located here:

I am very happy to have worked with her on this project, and would do so again in a heartbeat in the future. The work on this piece was extensive and quite a few major edits were made, but let me post some work in progress shots and such so as to see how I go about my painting process. As you can see here the lighting and general form are loosely blocked in. This is an important part to my painting as it lets me get the lighting and perspective down before I get into any real intensive detailing. I chose a warm palette for this painting as I wanted to portray the time of day as late late afternoon, almost to dusk.

The second image shows that I have done more detailing on the far background and the midground, as well as beginning to define the feather details on the gryphon's wings and body. You will notice that there are several major changes between this image here and the following ones, as I realized that there were some major anatomy and perspective errors that were pointed out by several people.

This is an in-between view while I was making the changes. This is one beauty about digital artwork, the ability to move things around if needed. Things that need to be changed are the head/face/ear placement, tail and ass-half, and the near foreleg. The next image will reflect the changes, and I was in agreement that they were needed. Up until this point I was not totally satisfied by the way it was turning out. I was happy with the rocks though, as this was a breakthrough for me as far as background painting went. I have always had trouble with rocks and stones.

Between the last image and this image there have been some major changes. I realigned the face/eyes, enlarged the hindquarters and moved the placement for her tail. I also blocked in the basic shadows and did some refining work on the big rock in the foreground, along with the far background. This is the point where it started to really come together for me, but there was still something missing from the background. Enter, the other gryphons. The image is more or less complete at this point here. I painted the other two gryphons in the background to provide balance, but we are still not completely done. A critique from a good artist friend pointed out that the moon and stars were detracting from the image, and that moons have mass. Silly me didn't pay attention and put a star right in the middle of where the moon would be. The background was still bugging me too, there was an element missing, and I realized that the stones on the left cut off to abruptly and needed something to bring them out and lighten them up a touch.

And the finished painting. The clouds in the sky behind the main character were refined and detailed more. The moon and stars were removed and I agree it is a much cleaner presentation this way. The position of the white gryphon in the far background was changed, I moved him/her close to where the back of the book will be. The background was refined even more, and a subtle golden glow was added with an airbrush. The rocks were also figured out, I added some grass and foliage to them, and that lightened it up considerably, and got rid of that blackened pit that was taking attention away from the gryphons themselves. Final highlights and shadows were added. Over all I am extremely pleased with this painting. I learned a lot of things in the process and am intending on applying that knowledge to future paintings.

Here are some detail shots of the gryphons. This whole painting was worked on with Photoshop CS, Painter IX, and a Wacom Intuos 4 Graphics tablet. Working resolution was at 600dpi, 7800 x 5100 pixels.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gryphon Tarot - The Tower

The Tower in tarot stands for sudden and often devastating change. Literally the ground falling out from beneath your feet. Oftentimes this is out of your control and can herald a devastating circumstance, ie loss of employment, a death, relationships.
I chose the layout of the gryphon perched on the spire, surrounded by a raging tempest (storm) as this is really what The Tower is.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gryphon Tarot - The Lovers

The Lovers is an interesting card. Taken literally, it can me simply the love between two people. A more in-depth look at the card itself however reveals that it is about relationships. Whether it be romantic in nature, or friendship, or the relationship between yourself and say a job, or a career. This also leads into the interpretation of a difficult choice at hand. Traditional decks showed a man standing on a forked road, with two trees at hand. One bearing flowers, the other fruit. It's ultimately about love though, be it being in love with another person, a career choice or something else.

I chose the yin-yang layout as it is a common symbol of balance and the relationship between the female yin (white), and the male yang (black). The symbol in the lower right I initially had as the symbol for Venus but later changed it to the correct one, Gemini.

What I have done so far here is to mask off the gryphons with masking fluid first, and then go over the background with a wash consisting of Alizarin Crimson, and Dioxazine purple in about a 30-70% ratio between the colors. I wanted the focus of this to be the two lovers in the center, so I opted for a minimal background to this piece. The gryphons themselves are done in gouache and paynes grey respectively.

Here I've darkened the background considerably to get a more vibrant shade of the pink that I was initially aiming for. The gryphons are now more refined, having used a mixture of gouache and paynes grey for the highlights on the black feathers and adding some yellow ochre and cadmium yellow on the beaks and paws to pull the viewers focus towards the linked hands.

And here we have the finished card. The symbol in the lower right has been replaced with the corrected one for Gemini. I added a very thin border around the white gryphoness to add contrast and make her pop out from the background.

Next card up, Card XIII Death.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chasing the Sky - Final

This is a continuation of my previous posting on here regarding this particular piece. The shading and scaling details are beginning to be put in and refined. Which you will be able to see better in the next picture.

Not really too much to say about this shot here, except that I work at 300-600dpi usually when I do digital artwork. This allows for good quality when printed, as well as providing me with the room to add more detail than a lower resolution would. Each dragonlette is on its own layer, which allows me to work on each on separately and/or move them around if I need to. This is a habit I am trying to get out of however, as it's not possible to do this with traditional media.

Here you can see that a lot of the scaling has been added and that the white dragon and the blue dragon have been mostly finished at this point. I start with a flat color and paint in where I want the scales to be before going over them several more times with steadily lightening colors to add more of a 3-D appearance to the scales themselves. I finish them off by airbrushing with a brighter version of the color at about 15-20% opacity to unify them before adding my shading layer over top.

Here I've added more of a light source from behind the trees and put in the corresponding shadows on the dragonletts. I have also added in the dragonflys that they are supposed to be chasing. I used a layer on top of the detail work set to multiply at 40% opacity to put the shadows in. This allows me to get smooth shading without streaking. Do not use black for shading, I can not stress this enough. Deep purples, dark reds or blues/grees work best depending on the subject's color.

And the final version. I added some more of the subtle details into the sky, darkening the upper right hand corner and flipped the entire image. By flipping it, I can check for errors in lighting and composition as it provides a new perspective to look at it. You can do the same thing with traditional work by holding it up to a mirror.

And lastly we have some detail shots of the dragons themselves.