View Full Version : Bandits

02 February 2010, 03:03 AM
Here's a sketch for my next painting: a group of bandits waylaying a king. The composition will pose some interesting challenges-like doing detailed close-up work on the guys in the foreground. I thought of a few other compositions, (looking down at the king, or looking up at the bandits from the king) but, unless someone is really curious, I'm not planning on getting them to this stage, since I really like this angle.

Let me know what you think! Feedback on the figures and composition is really helpful at this stage.

Here's the text:

Then one day the king on his hunt was waylaid
By bandits who hid outside towns they'd invade.
They tied him atop a great tree as a jest;
They left him his tunic and stold all the rest.

02 February 2010, 07:08 AM
Here's some character mock-ups for the bandits. I could really use some suggestions here to make then each a bit more quirky (like there's a story behind why they are a bandit) as well as being obviously bad dudes you wouldn't want to meet in aback alley. It's important for the story that they have daggers.

02 February 2010, 07:58 AM

Some quick thoughts on composition, try to make this a scary image that makes the viewer feel like he is winessing a very dark deed.
To get that going, try to have very little sky showing and play with perspective, best angles are rather high or very low since those are angles that we are not used seeing and trigger a response quicker.
Also plan the light beforehand with torches so you can play more with what we see versus what we don't see. Night is also better for these kind of things.

The thing with "like there is a story behind them" is... the best way to do that is to actually make up a story. There where some really hard penalties in the middle ages on stealing (cutting of hands and vingers) but also on swindling and robbing (cutting off tongues and or ears, so everybody can see) which is why a lot of bandit wore scarfs and caps to hide those scars.
also new clothes are obviously hard to come by and at least twice as expensive for the lawless so make them dirty, stained or stolen.
Also think about what they have done to become outlaws, what there place in the gang is and how you can show the past before being outlawed, (expensive weapons for example, even if you are a little limited there :) )

quick recap, think about the composition some more, try out other perspectives and try painting some quick lighting so you can incorporate that. (do a few thumbs!) And write a short 5 sentence story about each character, background before the deed, what the deed was that made them outlawed, what they do now (social status in the band, how long they are in the wild, how they live etc)

Looking forward to the next update. Greetings!

02 February 2010, 04:06 AM
How's this one? It's a higher angle, and I'm showing a little more clearly what I'm trying to do with light in a dark forest

02 February 2010, 05:00 AM
Here's the leader of the gang:

Robert Blackheart

Formerly a crafty and cruel knight- murdered a rival for a title in cold blood (using a knife while he slept). He was spotted leaving the scene of the crime, and had to abscond with only his mail shirt, surcoat, and dagger. He encountered a band of petty thieves in a neighboring tavern and convinced them to let him join for some information on how to rob his former collages. He soon took charge of the band, and for five years has made them into the fearsome dagger bandits they are today.

02 February 2010, 07:26 AM
Big Bruce

A quarryman by trade, Big Bruce has always muscled his way through life. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and prefers not to think before he acts (his acting generally far more effective than his thinking). He lost his position at the quarry after a gambling brawl left two other quarrymen dead. Soon after this, he met Thieving Tom and became his (junior) partner in crime. As the gang grew, Bruce has become a bit of a pack mule and a source of brute strength whenever it’s needed. Though the other members take a good bit of advantage of the dim soul (Bruce – your share of the spoils is this nice big shovel; I’ll just take this itty bitty shiny ring), they are careful never to cross him openly.

Thievin’ Tom

Tom has been a thief as long as he can remember. What started off as desperation in a poor family soon blossomed into a profession for Tom. Lock picking, pick pocketing, petty burglary, you name it-he’s the best. Unfortunately his reselling shop proved to be less discrete than his stealing, and he wound up losing an ear as punishment (in addition to being kicked out of town). He’s had more success since he teamed up with Bruce and some others – making sure to keep on the move. Since Robert took over, Tom serves as the resident expert at market value for the spoils, as well as the occasional low-key thieving in a pinch.

02 February 2010, 01:57 AM
(left to right)

Walter Blunt

Walter used to be head bachelor for the squires training at a local castle, where he and his cronies enjoyed bullying their younger counterparts. A squire-in-training proved particularly resistant to Blunt’s overlordship, and his insolence eventually cost him his life. Though Blunt had not meant to kill him, and there were witnesses to the fight who verify the manslaughter was less than murder, Blunt nevertheless lost his place in the castle and his family. He joined up with Bruce and Tom, and finds himself now on the receiving end of such bullying- though folks know not to push him too for.


No one in the band knows what Stalker’s background is – he followed them out of a tavern one day, handed a bag of gold to Blackheart, and has been a part of the party off-and-on ever since. He says little, and no one asks more. He will vanish some mornings for weeks on end, and rejoin them without warning (though he is dependable when they have an active engagement in the works). Stalker pays particular attention to the tavern women, though he pursues them quietly and without bluster on the one hand or charm on the other. In all things he delivers the goods, and is fierce in a fight and cunning in planning. But he also makes those around him uneasy – fearing something dark and menacing in the shadows of his past and present dealings.

Hard-knock Harry

Once a mercenary, Harry’s loss of an eye in combat has rendered him less useful as a professional soldier. He has since lost all his better equipment to pay off various debts. Blackheart offered Harry a position in the band after being particularly impressed with him in a tavern brawl. Harry is a boisterous and even jolly addition to the dagger bandits, though his explosive temper is nothing to be trifled with.

02 February 2010, 02:02 AM
Here's a sketch of the king's hunting outfit

02 February 2010, 02:54 AM
Trying out a color palette here. You can see the reference photo on the upper-right, which gives a feel for the sort of "dark scary forest" tone I'm going for..

02 February 2010, 07:23 PM
Here's some perspective correction, as well as a shift in layout. I wanted to have more space up top to give the trees and the light rays room to draw the eye down into the picture.

And here's a more detailed sketch, where we can see the identity of the characters. The idea is that the log was across the forest path, forcing the king to jump over it on the horse, and run into the rope tied between two trees up high (which the bandit is now taking down). I'm also making the foreground figures bleed off the edges, to create a little bit more dramatic tension. Now that I look at, I wonder if the closest two figures should be a bit bigger?

02 February 2010, 06:37 AM
Trying to get the pose just right for the central figures...

02 February 2010, 09:48 PM
So far so good. I think you are going about the process in the right way. One thing i'm noticing is that the bandit on the far left side (mid-ground) seems to be getting cropped in a strange way. Maybe that was intentional....either way its not that bad...i just prefer full figures. I like the story and idea of the image looking foward to more!

02 February 2010, 04:10 AM
I think you're right about the cropping. I do want a little cropping for the sake of uneasiness and tension, but the top of the head isn't a great place. I'm not crazy about his stance anyway.

here's the finished drawing of the guys in the center.

03 March 2010, 05:53 AM
An update on the painting:

03 March 2010, 04:00 PM
Wonderful progress. You may find it easier to add the light rays towards the end of the you can nail the background details first. On a side note, i'm suprised this 'king' character would be riding alone in such a forrest lol.

Looking foward to more.

03 March 2010, 11:46 PM
I like the color theme what you choose. And the camera position of the scene..sorry for my poor english. =)

03 March 2010, 12:15 AM
Wonderful progress. You may find it easier to add the light rays towards the end of the you can nail the background details first. On a side note, i'm suprised this 'king' character would be riding alone in such a forrest lol.

Looking foward to more.

Ahh -but since this is digital, I don't have to worry about saving the light rays 'til last to do the background. Layers area beautiful thing! I certainly understand your concern about this king's judgment. I guess the story doesn't specify that he's a smart king. Maybe he got caught up in the moment chasing a hart I and got separated from the hunting party?

Here's detail work on the central figures:

03 March 2010, 04:48 AM
Some work on the background forest

03 March 2010, 02:57 PM
Very cool, great atmoshpere so far, you're catching the mood of the story. Did you say this was for a contest of some type?

03 March 2010, 06:50 PM
It's actually a project for my young son. My sister wrote a story with him set as a juggler in the middle ages who rescues a king from bandits. I'll just get it printed with lulu or something for him, but it's coming along pretty sweetly and I may consider trying to get it published at somepoint. But for now, it's just a fun side project to get me into digital art.

07 July 2010, 06:13 AM
Just a little cleanup left...

07 July 2010, 09:00 PM
Done at last!

07 July 2010, 09:37 AM

It has been far too long since I visited your thread. Looks really good. To me far better than the juggler piece in the village. I love the characters, love the colours and especially the wood... it is dark, deep and mysterious.

One crit I have though is that the hand with the dagger in the foreground looks a bit unnatural in its pose, the thumb and fore finger have a strange angle. Hands are hard to get right and to pose naturally. Love the hands on the characters in the background (yes I immediately did a sweep round to see if there are more problematic hands :) )

Looking forward to the next illustration! How many are there going to be?

07 July 2010, 08:09 PM
Hi Matsman,

I may go back and fix that hand - it's a little off, I can certainly see. Here's a photo of what I was going for:

I've got 5 more full page paintings to do - plus more sketches. At the current rate, this kiddie book will make a great high school graduation present! :-(

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