Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A twist of sublime

Denise is one of my favorites. She's an artist as well as a model and that is a very informative duality. She doesn't just strike a pose she becomes the pose, and she enunciates it all the way out to her toes and fingertips. She poses with an elegance and a defiance of physics that makes you feel as though she exists in a liquid environment. She will also throw these twisting helixes of foreshortened form that challenge the mind as well as one's confidence.

Mike under construction

We had Michael in for our Saturday costumed figure drawing session. For his 20 minute poses he decided to go with a full construction worker setup. He mentioned that he was thinking of working his way through the entire cast of the Village People.

By any other name

This process of heating and cooling the figure based on temperature and tension also applies to painting. I believe this combination creates a unity between line, value, and color, and this unity is what creates something more than just a colored line drawing.

Of course a great number of these rules don't necessarily apply when painting a face. A whole different set of laws apply there, and for now you're on your own.

image from the collection of Jedi Johnny.

A Rose for mike

The linear work I do beforehand on watercolor pieces was something I started in an effort to get a graphic sense of weight and dynamics to watercolors. Due to the nature of the medium, I find that watercolors often get too soft and dreamy for my liking. I also found that if I delineated the edges with watercolors the pieces ended up looking too overworked. This way I can stay clean and simple.
I used to do most of this work with Koh-i-noor Nexus pens, but they are getting difficult to find, so I'm slowly migrating into using Faber-Castell Pitt pens or acrylics.

I first think in terms of temperature and tension and then I translate that into color. Blood is more visible in areas where bone is close to skin. Areas like fingers, elbows, knees, and toes really illustrate this property. I consider these visible blood flow areas as warm or hot regions, and my color choices will demonstrate those temperatures. Fingertips, knuckles, and elbows will get the absolute reddest lines. Whereas flashier "cooler" areas will get orange, ocher or sienna lines depending on their relative temperatures.
I also tend to heat up areas of tension. Note the area where the T-shirt pulls tight against the skin and rib cage on the above Red Rose set up drawing. This is not so much about how it would truly appear, but more about how it feels.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Druuna dismount

I think I met Serpieri at about the halfway point. It's impossible for me to avoid the angular style of the figure, but I think she's has curves where it counts. Surprisingly I think I'm happiest with the hair. This was a fun experiment and very educational. I think I'll spend more time in the future at the College of Serpieri.

Butt wait there's more

It's just moving into the final stages. I know the details are working, but I want to make sure they harmonize well. At this point I'm spending a lot of time squinting at peace, or stepping far back and looking at the whole thing. I'm looking for those noisy bits that need quieting. This usually consists of a flattening the values in the shadows that pull too much attention away from the light.

Thinking not doing

I also think of Serpieri's mad crosshatching style as synonymous with the character, but it's miles away from my comfort zone. On these occasions I try not to simply copy or mimic what an artist does, but instead I try to figure out their thought process. I believe the education comes from figuring out why a person uses a particular technique instead of how to reproduce that technique. I found it very intriguing how he uses his line work to not only delineate lighting and value but to sculpt the form as well. His crosshatching flows over the form like cascades of contrasting rivulets. It really heightens the three-dimensional quality of the figure.
I'm setting up most of the stage with a combination of acrylics and pigmented markers.

Loose a tight

The drawing really worked out well. Serpieri always maintains a sketchy quality even in his finished paintings, and since I wanted to marry my style with his, I thought I'd keep that unfinished freshness in the drawing.

Druuna sketch

I thought I'd just let my ideas free flow on a single page as the assignment is not specific and I don't have to send a sketch to an editor. This is just doing quick sketches of the character and seeing if anything develops, actually it's doing sketches of a nice butt with a small woman attached to it. Druuna’s butt is as integral to the character as the “S” symbol is to Superman.
Serpieri tends to go very explicit with the character, but I'm not very comfortable in that venue, so I'm hanging out in the cheesecake neighborhood. In fact, I would caution any image search for Druuna, and limit that to individuals 18 and above.
I liked the chair pose best, but I thought her body language was a little too dominant for the character. Softening the posture and tying her down did the trick.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Flash #1 dismount

This was a fascinating experiment in that I probably ended up doing more work in Photoshop than I did on the original. This is a little more special effects than I usually like playing with, but hey… it's the Flash

Speed drawing

I knew I would eventually lift the bees to a separate layer in the coloring stages, but I didn't want to draw them on a separate sheet of paper, so some of them are not in their final position.

I also tried to distort and simplify his anatomy to really give a sense of movement.

Flash sketch

I just recently got an assignment to do covers for a flash miniseries. He's definitely a fun character, and I thought this would be a great excuse to do a study of motion.

All new

We had a new model for this Tuesday’s figure drawing session. She was a little nervious as she was new to the whole figure modeling thing, and she did’nt want to disapoint us with lackluster posing. That all evaporated once she hit the stage. She tossed out poses so interesting and graceful that I found myself constantly cursing my lack of time and talent.

I thought I would try something new during the 20 minute settings. Since I was using gouache for the Perfect Storm cover I completed last week, I thought I'd see how they would do in life drawing. The portrait sketch above is one of two gouache pieces I managed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Perfect Storm dismount

It's not quite as obviously rubbed out as I initially thought, but I am both surprised and very pleased with the results. This technique is a constant combination of making a mess and cleaning it up, so you're only partially in control of the steering wheel. You have to collaborate with the procedure and allow it to go where it needs to. Sometimes when I'm at my luckiest it takes me to places like this.

Inkjet transfer

Here I printed out a top-secret FBI letter on a sheet of inkjet transparency film and transferred it to the board. It's an interesting but somewhat unpredictable procedure. Lay down a thin wash of acrylic gloss medium on the board and quickly lay in the printed transparency face down on the medium. After less than a minute, and if you got the mixture just right, it pulls the inkjet printing off the transparency film. The transfer is always slightly distressed, which is perfect for this situation.

Finished wash and rub

Here is as far as I'm going with the rubout work. Now I'll go back and fortify some of the shadows and clean up loose edges.

Flesh and freckles

After rubbing out the lighter areas of my base flesh color, I'm starting to add deeper values and color.
For portraits I always try to separate the face into three regions of color. It's like thinking of the colors on a traffic light. I try to go amber or a neutral yellow-orange on the region above the eyebrows. Then red for the region below the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose. And finally a greenish blue for the region below the nose. You can make the blue-green more obvious with guys, but it's a good idea to try to be subtle with the girls. This technique really turns the face in three dimensional space.
While the final red wash was still wet on her cheeks, I give it a light spray with the misting bottle. The atomized droplets of water disturbs the underlying wash just enough to give it that freckled look associated with redheads.

Gouache wash

At this stage I'm just throwing the gouache down and letting it run. I'm trying to be cautious about overworking or scrubbing with the brush, so I spray the board with a misting bottle before laying in pigment. You can see here that I've already washed in some neutral blues and a purple on the gun and flashlight.

Tuesday session

Here is another offering from one of our Tuesday figure drawing sessions.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Last of the acrylics

After I established the darks of the gun and flashlight I washed in the yellow and green to set up a base of the background and hair. I did this in acrylics because I didn't want the ability to pull things out too far in these areas. I'll eventually wash in darker values of gouache, but I will only be able to rub back to this base color.

A note about workable fixative. This stuff can quickly get to a point where it repels water, so I always add a flow improver to my water. Golden acrylics makes something called flow release that's great for the task, or you can just add a few drops of isopropyl alcohol to your water. Be a little careful if you are using paper cups. Adding flow improver to your water will break those things down faster, and that can be a bad thing.

Wash and rub

I've given the board and light spray of workable fixative and ample time to dry. I got the area around the gun and the flashlight nice and wet. Then I washed in some indigo gouache. Working very quickly with Q-tips and paper towels, I removed the pigment that spilled outside the lines. If you're fast enough, you can pull things almost back to the absolute white of the board, but on most occasions you'll get a slight ghost. That ghost is what gives this technique its pebbled texture. I wait for everything to completely dry before pulling out the highlights on the gun and flashlight. It doesn't pull all the way to white, but it's bright enough to set up an additional wash later.

All aboard

I'm using Strathmore regular surface heavyweight illustration board. It's adhered to a sheet of permanent self adhesive foam core. This technique uses a ton of water, so I'd like to avoid any buckling. I've also taped off the borders with 3M painters tape. This stuff can take a drenching and still hold a clean edge. Available at your local hardware store.
I want the drawing to show through to the end, so I'm going fairly heavy-handed, and I'm using Berol Verithin pencils. They are a lot like Prismacolor, but they are harder and hold up a little better under wet conditions.
I'm also starting to set up the permanent acrylic work. I will eventually do rubout work in the highlights, and for that I will need to use a non-permanent pigment like gouache, but I'm using fluid acrylics for those areas of the deep shadow.

There's a Storm coming

In the early 80s the fluid yet sketchy styles of Bart Forbes and Bernie Fuchs gave rise to a new breed of illustrators. I refer to them as the rubout guys. Led by Mark English and David Grove, these guys crafted a look that would eventually dominate book illustrations. Reckless spontaneity fused with powerful draftsmanship and overwhelming composition were the hallmarks of these masters of picture making. Their ranks would eventually grow to include Robert Hunt, Michael Dudash, and the explosive Kazuhiko Sano. What made their work interesting was not the craftsmanship behind the application of paint, but instead their technique was based on the removal of pigment.

That's the inspiration behind this Perfect Storm cover. I want to incorporate some of the rubout techniques to give this the feeling of an 80s spy/thriller paperback.

I'm quite pleased with the composition of this sketch, but the colors are way off. My plan is to go considerably warmer with the colors by building the color composition off of her bright red orange hair. I'd also like to go warmer with her expression. She should portray a confident sexy quality.