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.