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vicmonty
01-03-2011, 09:13 PM
I wrote this up to go into the WIP section. I then realized that it may start a discussion that is better suited for this side of the house. I do have a WIP and please take a look. The following was inspired from it and brings so many questions to me being the beginner that I am. I know Robert has answered a question of mine in the past about the process of practicing and completing finished work in the process. So please, I apologize for posting a WIP here, but it turned into a theory or technique question more than anything....


I'm working on an illustration of a few visioins of the Bible's Ezekiel. The first is a vision of cherubs. I was hoping to get help on composition here. I started out with a wider canvas. Then this thinner longer canvas came and it's what I had envisioned. I haven't really painted many serious works. I'm hoping this will be my first. I want to see this one through, but I am very timid. In your opinion is it ready to paint? I really haven't established my light sources yet. I've been looking at several photos of objects in skies and i'm seeing that there is the sun, but also reflected light fromthe earth. so my lights and shadows can go anywhere! When I thought about this painting several years ago I saw a couple of Alex Ross' JLA paintings and they offered a direction for me. My question to the board is what should I do next? I just realized that I have some costume designing to do for them. Is this the stage where artist do a series of subject specific studies? Is it normal for the painting process to stray like this? See how now I realized that the costumes still need to be laid down solidly? Now I want to go and do some searching and studies on armor or whatever it is they will be dressed in. Does this normally happen to artist. THe whole painting process facinates me. I love how an artist can start with a subject in mind. Just a glance at the end result. Then as they progress they break off to draw, study and learn about specific parts in their work that they are unfamiliar with. I see how this can happy at various points throught the process of one piece. The armor is one. Next I can see how I should do some color and light studies perhaps in the area of the sky. How does light and color reflect up there? That's just 2 quest in one big journey to complete this one painting. that's pretty awesome. I could do a whole series of studies on feathered creatures to nail down wings. I see how this will happen the more one creates. each piece offers a variety of lessons.
Do you guys find that these lessons are carried over into your memory bank and you can use these things later on? Well enough with blabbing I guess, please let me know what you think. Thanks...

http://imagehub.geekfury.com/files/30/ezekiel/Ez1-copy3web.jpg

vicmonty
01-03-2011, 09:15 PM
I will post this in the WIP section also so I can follow it through there for comments and critques appropriately. Please, if you have any feed back on the process question above, let us know. Thank you.

Lunatique
01-04-2011, 05:39 AM
Everything you have described are totally normal and common for artists. In my workshop, I talk extensively about research and references and doing multiple composition layouts, lighting experiments, color experiments, design experiments...etc before going into any detail on an image. Think of all this as R&D for your painting, and everything you learn from the R&D will become part of your knowledge base and experience.

Your current composition is cropping a bit too close on the two sides for comfort and is introducing unnecessary tension in the layout (which is a different thing from tension in the narrative/premise). Try expanding your dimensions sideways a little to allow your composition to breathe a bit more.

My personal stance on doing detailed design sketches for illustrations is actually very pragmatic. If it's a one-shot illustration and not a series where your designs will appear over and over and from different angles, then you can design right into your image, and only design what will look good from the specific angles you have placed your subjects. For example, you don't need to think about how the backs of these angels should look because we'll never see them. Sure, you have to think about how the back probably should look when you are designing the front, but it's more like keeping a mental note instead of actually doing a full detailed design on paper. But if you know this is for something that is a franchise or will spawn future works featuring the same subjects, then it's a good idea to do separate detailed designs for them so you establish a "design bible" for them that you can refer to for subsequent works. This is both for the sake of continuity as well as to make sure you don't cause problems for yourself later, such as not giving thought to how pieces of armor will connect all around the boy and how they conform to the joints and bending limbs, and then later you have to depict the subject in a pose that would be impossible for the armor to fit correctly.

Doing detailed studies for things like feathers is very normal. Artists have been doing studies for paintings since the beginning, and if you study any old masters, you'll see that they do lots of studies for their paintings--from anatomy/figure, details, design...etc.

My suggestion for lighting is you do at least a few different quickie block-ins on separate layers (put the drawing on the top layer and set to multiply, and do the lighting experiment in a layer under, then add color blend layers for color on top of the lighting layer, or do the lighting in color to begin with) to see which one you prefer. You can alter the light source direction, the ratio of strength between light source and the ambient bounced lights, and so on. Don't go into detail--just general block-ins that takes no more than a few minutes each. Do the same for the colors--try a few different variations, such as one where it's very warm overall, one where there's a strong ambient light that's much cooler than the warm main light source, or totally change the time of day to sunset, and so on. After you have done these quickie experiments, you'll have a much better idea which look will work the best for your composition and premise.

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