The Blind Tree - WIP

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  07 July 2006
The Blind Tree - WIP

This is a piece I started in *embarrassed* August 2004, and I really ought to finish it. Of course, this is something I say about all my works (I've got an obscene number of them in my hard drive). I hope starting a separate thread here will help me be more dilligent. I really work in a very haphazard manner most of the time.

The initial sketch was just a doodle amongst my uni notes.

Thinking about composition, laying out some values:

The text reads as follows:
The blind tree
had been standing there for years and years
hating the world it could never perceive.

One of the reasons I want to finish this piece is that I think of it as a strong symbol of self-delusion and the feelings that accompany it. I don't know if I will be successful, but that's what was on my mind anyway.

And then I forgot about it for a year.

Last edited by eilidh : 07 July 2006 at 06:21 AM.
  07 July 2006
July 2005;

Deciding the colour scheme: I wanted something both moody and tense that would fit the mix of solitude and dead-end anger I attribute to this piece, but even though the colours agreed with me, something about the picture didn't.

Again, several months' break.
  07 July 2006
April 2006;

Switching to Painter; I decided I wanted a less figurative approach. A face with a blindfold struck me as a little cartoony. And while the body will be essentially feminine, I'd like it to be hinted rather than fully illustrated.

And back to Photoshop. I thought I might introduce some photographs as textures, trying to revive the feel of some older photomanipulations of mine (if anyone is curious, they are still in my account at deviantART -- my username is the same as here). These are a) the pebbles on the land, messed up with the warp adjustment (such a wonderful thing, warp! I had been wishing for it since Photoshop 5!); b) some pillars from an orthodox church, also heavily distorted, on the main body, and the very subtle stars on the sky (30'' captures on a clear night during my holidays in 2004, when the room I was staying in was infested by hundreds of small bugs and I was forced to spend the night in the garden ). All of these will be painted over, but they serve as nice textures and guidelines.
  07 July 2006
July 2006;

I recently downloaded ArtRage, and I think it's a very intuitive software. I have played a little trying to make textures, and during one of these attempts, I remembered this piece. So I hauled it over, and started working again. I think that tree is going to be very intricate after all.

I'll be posting its progress from now and on and until its completion. Feedback is very welcome. :)
  07 July 2006
more detailing in ArtRage...

I'm mainly using metallic colours and impasto as a texture base, and then I am painting on top of that. I often have to take steps back so as to maintain some forms I like. This will take a long while, I think.
  07 July 2006
I think this is starting out beautifully - nothing really to crit, as it's so stylized - and everything looks tied in right now. It will be cool to watch this one grow
"Convention is like the shell to the chick, a protection till he is strong enough to break it through.



  07 July 2006
I really the colors you're using. Good concept as well
  07 July 2006
real nice. i like the texture thing. what is artrage? is it free?

maybe try to put a little red in the sky? might help the stars and black sky blend in.
  07 July 2006
Thank you all. :)

Renee: it is stylised, but matters like balance and feel still apply, as well as conceptual-related issues. Right now, for example, I am seriously tempted to make the tree genderless rather than female (that is, remove the breasts). Also, that highlighted tube-like structure under her right breast starts to tick me off -- I think it's messing up the whole flow -- so I'll have to do something about it. It would be nice if people spot such little things. :)

sickelsick: you're quite right about the sky. I am not working on it at all right now (I want to finish the tree), but when I get back to it in Photoshop, I'll see to make it blend better. Thanks!

You can get ArtRage here. It's got a free downloadable version with only a couple basic tools, and the full costs only some $20. It simulates traditional media (pencil, oil, marker, glitter, airbrush) but in a pretty different approach than Painter. I've been using it for a couple of days and I like it a lot.
danielh68 uses it in some of his sketches. Look out for his sketch thread to see more implementations (it's updated daily so you can't miss it).
  07 July 2006
Still shaping the bark...

I'm having issues with the colour management in ArtRage. Each time I export my image, the colours become significantly more mute. This is a problem; I try to rectify it somewhat in Photoshop, but I've reached a point where the colour balance is off, too saturated in places, dull in others, altogether the image has a 'flat redness' or some sort -- as I see it. I guess I'll have to wait until I'm done with the detailling in ArtRage (and it looks like it's going to take a while) before I get to fix this properly.
  07 July 2006
I had reached this amount of detailing in ArtRage, but the colour issue was really getting out of hand, so I decided to switch over to Photoshop.

Grrr. Put it back together in Photoshop, corrected the colours, integrated it somewhat with the old background, changed the sky a little... and compared it with the April version. Bang! The flow and shape of the torso in the April version were actually better -- more dynamic and closer to the original feel I had for this picture.
Of course, I've got to repaint that. *laments all the detailing on the torso already* But I'll definitely have to find some more efficient way of doing it in ArtRage (if I use it), because if I have to go through all this to fix the colours again, I'll go dire.

I should add to my notes that the colours might be altogether too strong. (Could be because I am used to working with more pastel tones, though.) Do you think it's too much as it is?
  07 July 2006
I stubled across this thread from my own. But so far it's a nice tree. Great texure.

I enjoy the color sceme. As much as the highlights from July '06 apeal to me, as far as the lighting's concerned, it makes sense to to dull them down. Maybe dull down the highlights some in the tree's midsection some. You noted that you thought the colors were too strong. I think a consideration to make, especially when viewed at a smaller scale, are how the colors contrast. That might be where some of your trouble could steme from. But since it's stylized, you can always claim "artistic licence". :P

Anywho, I'll definetly keep tabs on your progress.
  07 July 2006
Thanks for the input!

Overall contrast -- okay, this makes sense, and I'll bear it in mind. I think I will tone the sky's colours down anyway (it's a large picture; at a 75cm height I think the colours will really be overwhelming) and as for the tree, I guess just making the highlight duller will help. I know it's stylised, but I still want to achieve a high degree of integrity. I don't like the idea of artistic liscence as an excuse for inconsistencies. :)

Hope to work more on it soon. I'm having my exams at uni and these days are pretty tough and packed with papers, so there's very little time left to paint.
  07 July 2006
I think your main problem is that you can't decide whether you want the tree to be darker or lighter than the background- you seem to want strong highlights, but you're fighting against the background the whole time. Put a hue/sat adjustment layer on top of the stack, turn the sat down to 0% and you can toggle it on and off to see how your values are doing. I think once you have the values a bit more to your liking, the whole thing will pull together better.

You're doing really well- I really like the texture on that tree! Keep going!
  07 July 2006
eilidh, just saw this thread. Great work It's both mysteriously surreal and sensual. I hope you continue with more updates.
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