Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Haiku

"Spring Haiku" - colored pencil and black ink - 7x10

I drew this a few weeks ago while on a binge of illustrating with colored pencils and pastel pencils for fun. I colored this one with Prismacolor pencils, a black Sharpie, and a few dabs from a white oil pastel. It's called "Spring Haiku" because it's a spring scene featuring a rat named Haiku. The actual rat Haiku was a beloved pet for about two years, along with her 4 sisters. Sadly, rats usually don't have a long life, but while they're around, they're a source of nonstop entertainment and affection.

Since this is a "process" blog, I'll include the initial ink sketch ...

... and an early stage of coloring.

Finally, here's the little cream-colored starlet herself, and her 4 beautiful sisters. Haiku was always the most outgoing one, as you can see from the way she's looking toward the camera. I'm the happy "mom" in the middle. This photo is from 2007 or 2008.  From left to right, the rats are Io, Swivel, Haiku, Treacle, and Nutmeg.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Fling with Pastel Pencils

As I mentioned a few posts earlier, October through February were so busy. I packed this past weekend weekend with landscape painting Saturday, nude figure drawing Sunday, and a detailed digital drawing completed over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. By Monday I was exhausted with digital art and traditional art. I'm waiting on a new freelance job to start in the next few days, so I have some time to spare ... how wonderful, a "vacation" to do NOTHING!! I go off driving just for fun, and hit Plaza art store presumably for a new palette knife. Then I end up spending an hour trying out different pastel pencils and chalks on the scribbling paper (which appears to be a spool of unused receipt paper). I'm so exhausted with digital illustration that pastel pencils seem like a beautifully welcome diversion. I finally go with Derwent brand chalk pastel pencils: a basic 12-pack plus some individual pencils in "faerie" shades of pink and peach.

Then I took a nap and went grocery shopping. (A very boring day...I love it!) I did one quick drawing to try out the pencils. Later I started listening to an Eckhart Tolle audio book, and suddenly felt the urge to try out the pencils again. I ended up drawing the purple-dressed faerie below. I used a black Sharpie to tighten up a lot of the edges. (Watch out for the powdery texture clogging up the pen tip)

Starlight Faerie

I think the book's message about living in the present helped me to complete the drawing without excessive fretting or editing. I'll probably make the wings match where they're mismatched and clean up the hands a little, but it's basically finished.

After wrapping up the "starlight" faerie, I still had a lot of excited momentum, but not a lot of actual energy for doing anything too complicated. I found two small pencil sketches and decided to color them. I did both of them quickly, which is rare for me!

Joyful Faerie 

Leaf Faerie  

So that was my little side excursion with a new art medium. It's hard to get precise detail with pastel pencils, and their rough texture scans poorly. Prismacolor colored pencils are better in those areas, but pastel pencils are better for covering large areas quickly and solidly, and they blend much more easily. The pencil form makes them easier to control than the chalk form, which is great if you're intending to work in a fairly tight, illustrative style. 

To borrow a word used by Winnie the Pooh, this was a great way to do "Nothing" during my time off.

Faerie Ring

I added this illustration to my portfolio over the weekend, in response to an author seeking a children's fantasy artist. I still don't know if I got the job, which had 67 other applicants. I'm not holding my breath! At least I have a portfolio piece that is children's fantasy, without also being Japanese anime/manga. As much as I love Japanese influence, I don't think that style will help me win bids for American children's books. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Illustrations for Sunday School Books

Whew...the fantasy blog has been dead for a while. Last November kicked off a very busy fall/winter season. However, much of that work was directly related this blog. I had shown a client my fairy artwork from the first post, and he asked for children's illustrations using the same style. Here is some of the resulting work. The client is LifeWay Christian Resources. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lounging Demon - continuing to color

This past Friday I found I had some time to work again on the demon. When I color fantasy art, I find it easiest to finish the face and hair first, and then let the style of that area dictate how the rest of the picture will be colored. This works for me because I feel the most confident with the face and hair, and if I get that area to look decent, I have a guide to keep me on course with the more challenging areas, the body, clothes, and background. I need to make a mental note to include her will be a classic devil tail, possibly draped over the coffee table. 

I'm not sure what the final look will be, as far as the ratio between smooth and textured areas, tight and loose areas. I'm not sure if there will be dramatic light and dark, or generally flat lighting. This picture is unfolding on its own as I chisel my way through it. With enough experience I'll know what path to follow and just plow on through, but for now I'm meandering about in dense, uncharted woods. At this point persistence and faith in an eventual good outcome is what is keeping me going...I'm beyond the original starry-eyed inspiration. But I enjoy a good fight, so I carry on when I have a break from working and painting. 

One of my goals is to finish this within a matter of weeks, or months at most. I spent over a year (off and on) working on the faerie imp. I really don't want to drag this on that long...I have more sketches to color!

Notice the new hand? The hand in the original sketch took a little too much anatomical liberty. I took my own left hand and twisted it painfully so that it looked roughly like the position I was going for in the sketch. I couldn't get it exactly in that position, but it was close enough that I could use my hand as a reference for an improved demon hand. I don't have the long nails, though...they won't stay long because they keep getting dried out with paint thinner.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Starting to replace pen lines with digital lines

I used the Wacom tablet to trace some hair and face contours, in preparation for parting with the scan layer. I turned off the scan layer to see how I was doing, and was very pleased with the airy look in the hair. I feel reluctant to tighten this up much more. In the fantasy art market, work is usually very tightly rendered and finished...I'll probably hurt my marketability by staying this loose. Well, the beauty of digital work is that as I cover the loose undersketch with tighter layers, I can still keep the loose version as a separate file. Even though I'll probably tighten this up a lot more, I definitely want to preserve the flowing, strokey feel of this early stage.

I listened to songs by Carl Peterson and Marc Gunn while working on the above image. If you want to preview or buy what I listened to on iTunes, use the song information in the screencap. "My Titania" captures the essence of gothic, haunted, musty beauty ... like stumbling across Great-grandmother's forgotten music box in an attic. "Mary Ann" contains lyrical guitar phrases that are sweet and heart-twisting. This song created a sense of bliss for me as I traced the outlines of this character's face and hair. She may be a demon, but she still has a soul.

Here's an example of a tightly rendered, finished product. (Although by fantasy art standards, this still has many "unfinished" areas.) My original intent was to paint the "lounging demon" in the same style as below...but we'll see what happens as the demon painting evolves.

I couldn't work long on this tonight because of freelance work, housework, and general wasting of time.  I can't promise much for tomorrow...I'm probably going to go to a figure drawing session tomorrow evening. 

Lounging Demon - first touches of color

click to enlarge

The lines are all lowered in opacity so I can see what I'm doing when I color. I'll more than likely delete the scan lines as I build up detail. There's an overall dusky-pink tint that came about when I was turning on and off different experimental color layers. I decided to keep the tint and start laying color over, much like painting in oil on a canvas tinted with a wash. On the hair I keep referring to the original sketch scan so that I maintain my values (painterly term for contrast).