Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Not Always What You Think

So from the initial sketch to where it's at currently, you can really tell how much of the original is mostly concept where the details are left to be fleshed out digitally. Had I done the original drawing to completion you can see how different it might have been, and what improvements are possible when you give it more time to bloom.

More attention was given to the dragon on this pass, making adjustments to horns for better contour, adding larger eyes, and pushing the front leg back (even though it might not stay there either). All of the horns are on their own layers which is how we get the overlapping on the human figure. This adds dimension which was otherwise not present.

I do have a confession to make with this image. Nothing progressed from the last blog image until I addressed the human face. Once I did the first pass, it was "alright" and I cleaned the line further for the garments and his hand. But later I felt here was something skewed about his face that I couldn't figure out. First of all it was far more "pose" and less "emotion" than the original sketch. It was missing that angle, the sharp lines. So staying true to the line work, which I liked, I warped each individual feature until it made more physical sense.

You can see from this image my first and second attempts at his face. Though they don't seem that much different, the most subtle curve of a line can suggest radically different angles of a shape. This can be seen easier if you click on the image for a larger version. At first he's looking nearly straight on, the 3/4 perspective a little forced by the shape of the nose, and the mouth feels borderline too big, same with the forehead. It would drive me crazy if I had not tried to fix it first even though I did try to move on and completed the dragon eyes, but promptly after that the annoying human face had to be addressed. The curve of the lines on the left side of his face had to be sharper as they were wrapping around the head and curling up. Foreshortening can be tricky, even on something like faces.

Once that was done I was able to take on the horns and shorten and reshape them as I saw fit. The main horns still aren't quite 100% of my intended twist and turn, but it's close enough where I could either leave them alone or take another pass at them and either way I would be happy.

So far the dragon is really starting to take on more of the oriental feel with its larger eyes and the like. Once more attention is given to the snout and other tendrils I think it will all fall together nicely.

It may be a length of time before my next entry as I'll be going on 4th of July vacation and job hunting soon after, so I will do my best to keep up with Naephos! I hope everyone is learning a little something or is inspired in some way. I can only hope. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Line Begins

So this last week between several drawing projects I was able to make some progress on cleaning up the line. I began with the face and have been spreading out from there. Once I brush up on the robes and boots I will be tackling the dragon. Then following that will be adding detail and editing problem spots. Already his head needs work as I think it's too large for his body, and his hand might have to scale down and adjust to the surface of the snout... small things, but important things that if I spend too much time on initially have the potential to really slow down the project. So I'm trying to ignore these for now and will get back to it once more has been initially cleaned.

For a little inside info on my next series to be released, I have two ideas that will be tackled, maybe even at the same time. One is a group of a dozen sketches or so for potential fighting game characters. This is in collaboration with a good friend of mine who is doing all the creating and writing. Thus I shall illustrate.

The other project is a little unique and certainly not the average task I tend to gravitate toward. It will be a set of portraits in a variation of anime style to humanize the Fraggles. Yes, that's right. Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and Red. I've already done a test run and it's captured my interests enough that the whole cast is due for interpretation. There may even be room for a few others, including Gypsy Boober. It'll be fun to say the least :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lovely Gesture

Sometimes gesture is necessary. Most often I find myself stuck in fine line mode where I have to draw the perfect line and won't stop erasing and retrying until I do. I find there's always an angle or weight issue that just doesn't make physical sense and it's difficult to understand why by looking at line. When drawing objects in space there is always guess work at what you actually see when something loops back and then turns in another direction. You have to imagine what you can actually see and how to translate it on paper to make others believe in what they're looking at.

After a quick mirror for the dragon's symmetry, the first real challenge with compositing these two together was completing the dragon horns. I drew a million lines trying to discover how to perceive a curve twisting back in space. These main horns are spiral in shape but I wanted a specific silhouette. It wasn't until I started scribbling and rotating the scribbles to get the distinct outline and shape that I wanted. Now that I understand the volume I can easily clean it up later.

Scaling his human body down to the scale I understood the dragon to be was the easiest part. Then came legs. At first he was off balance as his weight was not properly distributed to his feet, they were too far forward or their position made a weak pose overall. The best way to accomplish my goal was to first get his back leg positioned correctly beneath his weight. Then zooming out a great deal i based his front leg entirely on strong silhouette which put his foot in the correct place on the ground.

At length I decided I wanted to fill the space and not just have a central floating framed image which I tend to have ALL the time. So with some trial and error I got a body and legs and lots of neck in there with a wisp of tail. I have a feeling I will use his scroll "prop" as a border for the bottom right corner.

Please please click on the image to see better detail. I hope this helps explain some more methods of beginning a work and the options you have when drawing. It's good to remember there's more than one way to get a desired result. Gesture is a fabulous way to conclude proper volume and shape changes in depth and direction. It helps your understanding of the 3D nature of 2D and how lines can do more than just outline a figure. Those horns have full volume and when they're outlined and cleaned and colored this will be reflected just the same.

From this point on it will be cleaning of the lines and polishing up features and details. This no doubt will take the longest to do. That is of course until we come to color. IF we come to color, we'll see how much energy I have by then, and if my fans insist.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Humble Beginnings

As with all things there is a starting point that looks nothing like the finished product. This may not be true for some people, but for most including myself, if time is wasted on a talent, when you start up after long stagnation a sudden anxiety strikes you as you take your first test to see how your skills have degraded. This is not to say it has deteriorated, but just like warming up before a race, skill will ease back into stride with coaxing.

For me drawing never slips off the pencil or pen in perfection. Never. Actually, when I first begin my drawing after an extended vacation it's difficult to even enjoy as nothing turns out the way I would like. A page gets a minimal line drawing before it's erased or the page turned over or smaller posture poses spring up for instructive purposes. In my minds eye I see exactly what I want, but my hand and my plans are nothing but disappointment and more often than not it scares me away from drawing at all, at least until some other time when I have a solid and likely driven plan of what I want.

This newest endeavor is an example of that. I have an Original Character whom has been in dire need of some fanart to show friends what this individual looks like. He is called Naephos and is a dark necromancer of sorts. The fun fantasy aspect of this individual is his race. He is a dragon with human counterpart made possible by an enchanted scroll.

Task one was to put pencil to paper no matter what it looked like. I was already frustrated with multiple attempts and I believe you can even see where I erased at times. Ebony pencil was meant to just get graphite to paper at this point despite what I thought of it. This was my sheet of paper. After a crude sketch I began to draw little posture poses on the side to start narrowing down the image I should strive for. As you can see it took a few swings and misses until I got something I liked.

Also let me be clear at this point there are not many artists who let you see anything this early in the game. Not by a long shot. This is part of the "process" you never really hear about. There's a lot of mental decision making as well as drawing testing. Obviously my first sketch of Naephos looks like it might have been done in 6th grade. But I was happy enough to get something on paper I couldn't erase. I had defining characteristics: black hair, wears a robe, teardrop mark on the forehead, furry boots. That was about it and there it all is. Now comes the refining process.

With the pose chosen I had concluded that he would be hugging some dark grimy tree in the swamp he lived in. That was my original concept when I set to work. His hand took the most time as I held my own up to look at for reference. I decided to leave his back hand out altogether as it was becoming far too problematic. His face was younger than I anticipated and the details on the robe an afterthought. Once this version was complete I knew it would be no use making corrections to anatomy since all editing will be done in photoshop. Already I've taken the liberties of darkening the lines so that you can see the roughness and detail of just how messy this process actually is.

Then came the dragon face of which I had references of what I wanted from several images but must determine how I want to combine certain attributes as this type of dragon is very similar to the oriental style being long of body and without wings. I have a very hard time drawing symmetrically and thus only drew half the face knowing I would mirror it in photoshop later. This took a lot of layers and patience until I was getting the form and design that I wanted. By layers I mean drawing/erasing and repeating. Also I want to point out here that I am showing you the full 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper uncropped. This is about as much of the paper as I ever fill, I never get something perfect in the middle framed neatly on all sides. Most of the time I squish something or something gets cropped off. Sometimes this is fixed by using larger paper in the beginning, but what I tend to find with that is I just draw bigger and the same things happens anyway, haha!

It was only after I had this finished, or as finished as it was going to get, image that I considered the idea to have Naephos' human form hugging his dragon form head. As you can tell I clearly ran out of room for the large horns on top and considered taping it to an 11"x17" piece of paper just to complete the drawing. But here again I stopped myself and knew I would be taking this project into the digital realm, and so I left it alone (painstakingly knowing it's much more difficult for me to draw with my tablet). I would complete the horns and overlay Naephos in one final document before making corrections and beginning on cleaning up the line work.

As you can tell I haven't gotten that far yet. But as I foretold that is the plan, to present to you these steps and reveal my process for a fresh bit of work after a long spell away. Next time I hope so show you the beginning of a composition prior to line cleaning. Then the long tedious process of line cleaning and finessing the drawing. Then, if we're lucky, color.

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! I know I am!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May come and go

I won't fail you my small band of fans! May has passed and I still have naught to show for it. I have done some sketching but am without a scanner. This is the last month of my contract and there's a glimmer of hope that there may be another contract following suit some time after. When I get to my scanner this weekend I plan to start a process series with a little something added each week. Given how busy I am with work, writing, reading and a little bit of play, these weekly segments should be nicely portioned with progress. :)

Looking forward to sharing! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far!