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!

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