Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Valentine: Day 6

Here's yesterday's checklist:

1. Start dealing with the whole of the piece.
2. Correct the anatomical issues in the hip area.
3. Start finishing up that uniform.
4. Have Valentine visit a head shrinker.

Yup.  I think I've dealt with the lot.  Not that there isn't room for improvement on any of them, but I think we're on our way.

After the Day 4 post, I received an email from the author with some notes on the piece.  I know what some of you reading this might be thinking.  Uh oh.  Yeah, I left myself open for that.  I'm doing this series of posts as I'm working, before the job is due.  That means the client is free to pick all kinds of nits.  But like I said, I knew what I was doing, which means that I deserve what I get.  That being said,  the notes were very helpful, and I really don't take issue with any of it.  They're not the kind of thing that require a complete overhaul, and I'll be incorporating them as best I can as I progress.

To be sure, notes from the client aren't the only danger when doing this kind of thing.  Exposing your process is a little like ruining the magic.  For some, the finished project being born from the ether is what's important.  Finding out how something came to be can take the luster off of that.  Also, you can open yourself up to criticism of your process in general.  There might be some step you take that someone may disagree with or may know a shortcut for.  Talking about the "how" of it all invariably opens you up to the various "why's".  Why aren't you covering more ground each day?  Why did you paint that thing that color?  Why aren't you treating the piece more wholistically?  These may be valid criticisms, but they can throw you off your game in the middle of things if you don't know how to take them.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that your process is just that: yours.  I think it's the quirks of how we go about things that can help define our work sometimes.  For example, I paint a lot on dry paint.  I know that other people reject such a thing because they are hardcore about only painting wet on wet.  But my process works for me.  It's part of the reason my work looks the way it does.  Painting wet on wet is part of the reason their work looks the way it does.  Is one better than the other?  Is one more valid?  I don't really know.  But I see it this way: we each do what we have to do to get the job done.  Still, all that being said, it's equally important to be open to new ideas and ways of working.  It can change your world for the better.

Okay, so where do we stand?  What's next?

I'm going to try and get the figure a little closer to finish, do another pass on the background, and block in the crows.  They're an important part of the composition and value structure, so the sooner they appear the better, I think.  I think I'll also need to supplement my reference again to help with the snow being plowed by the worm in the background, and am considering doing a quick and dirty maquette of the worm itself to make sure the lighting plan for it in my head is accurate and to correct that plan if it is not.

Now, off to work with me!


  1. If you are open to crits, I feel like the upper arm of the arm holding the sword is a bit too long. I realize it looks like that in the photo ref, but I think the thing that is playing tricks on our eyes is the fact that the upper arm is coming straight out with little or no foreshortening while the entire body of the figure has extreme foreshortening. These two things combined is making it look like his upper arm is very long. Plus the lower arm of the sword arm has extreme foreshortening, so that isn't helping the problem. I realize making that sort of change might be a pain to fix traditionally, so maybe it could be something to do in Photoshop after you are finished. I'm not talking a lot, just a bit. I dunno, maybe I'm crazy. Great job though, I always love seeing the process of traditional guys.

  2. Funny you should mention that as I've actually already messed with that today. It got worse after I blocked the sword in. Right now it's a weird visual tug of war as I work things up. One instant it's too short, the next too long again. Weird how you have to lie to get things to feel right, and it somehow is all about deciding which lie is best.

    The posts are a couple days behind where I actually am because I knew I'd have to take Thursday off and wanted to make sure there wasn't a skip in content. So I guess you won't see the change until then.

    Thanks for taking the time! I appreciate it.

  3. Hah, yeah no problem. I think part of the problem is that when people look at a photo they automatically believe it because it is real, but then when we translate that to a painting people suddenly go "Hey! That isn't right!" So yeah, it is weird having to cheat on things to make people believe them. Can't wait to see the final!

  4. I find it interesting that some might criticize process, especially if they already know and like the artist's work. Having painted side-by-side with many professional illustrators now (including some of the best), the one thing I can say about process is: no two painters paint the same way. You grab 10 kick-butt painters (who weren't trained in the same school or class) and you'll find 10 *completely* different ways of applying paint. If one way is valid, at least 9 of those 10 are wrong.

  5. Exactly my thinking, Randy. And if we all did things alike, everyone's work would look a LOT more similar, and the illustration world would be the worse for it.

    Still, there are those out there who'd be happy to say I'm wrong for doing this, or wrong for doing that. Whatever.



I welcome all comments, questions, and discussion so long as you keep it civil.