Sunday, April 11, 2010

Studies from 2009 - Breaking up cetacean profiles

Quadrupeds are hard to draw because their shapes are very complex while birds and cetaceans have the opposite problem: their shapes look very simple, but they are actually full of subtle curves, and without such subtleties they lose a lot.

Their profile may look a like it can be drawn with a single continuous line. Sometimes it's possible, but the result often feels stiff and lifeless to me, it's just too "designy"/oversimplified. This happens specially in dynamic poses, as real cetaceans have muscles and fat tissue shifting all the time and creating small changes in their profile depending on the movement they are doing.

So I've become used to sketch cetaceans and birds trying to break up the profile into many lines, obviously trying to keep them consistent with the actual variations in the curves of their body. Trying to keep them tangent to the curves seems a good strategy to study their bodies and get a feeling of where the subtleties lie. The results seem lively enough in spite of the hard angles.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Harvest Moon" finished

Most of my current painting ideas are about showing how much wonder I get from animals and the facts of their lives. Owls are awesome and do awesome things, like catching mice in the dark, flying without noise and using their facial masks to filter interesting sounds. I hope this picture gives an idea of how much awesome I think they are.

Painting the owls was less difficult than I expected, it just required a lot of planning. The most difficult part was actually the grain, which could have turned out better, in the end I didn't plan enough the shapes of that. A mistake I won't repeat. Grass and plants feel confusing because I haven't painted them much but the idea is always the same - start painting with abstract shapes and textures, add (sparingly) details such as individual leaves and grass blades only at the end, and only where needed by the composition.

In the end the palette is phtalo blue 15:3, dark cadmium red, Van Dyck brown, titanium white, Mars black, yellow ochre, plus traces of quinacridone magenta. I loved using phtalo + cadmium as the core of the palette. In my brand of choice (Brera aclyics) they have a similar value and similar staining power when diluted in water, which allows to mix them very accurately to choose the warm/cool level  of grays.

I chose on purpose to mix up the hues rather the being strict on the color of the lights and shadows. A very good advice I found about color was that values are the most important thing and if they are consistent the picture will read well even if the hues are not what would be expected. Keeping the values consistent while mixing up hues seems to give a dreamlike feeling which I like a lot, I'll experiment more in this direction. Bot for now I keep the saturation mostly consistent too, I still need to develop more control over it.