Friday, November 27, 2009

Frustratingly unproductive lately... I have been working on an application for a freelance contract so that's kept me busy, as well as the family crest (which I still have a lot of work to do on).

Below I've posted some WIPs for the Charater of the week (C.H.O.W.) activity at This week's description:

Cú Chulainn

Cú Chulainn is an Irish hero from Celtic/Gaelic culture. He also appears in Scottish and Manx storytelling. He was a knight of the 1st century and often compared to Achilles in Greek Mythology. When enraged he would become a ‘bezerker’ as in Viking culture. He was slain in a fight and like El Cid in later history, was propped up in an heroic pose, spear in hand to strike fear into his enemies even after death, and it was only when a raven landed on his shoulder that his demise was revealed.

He was seen as an Irish hero, riding a chariot, and defending Ulster against usurpers including Queen Medb of Connaught and even appeared to Saint Patrick as a ghost.

Cú Chulainn‘s appearance is open to interpretation, but he is described as clean shaven, young ( he died at 27 ), and some tales tell he had seven fingers on each hand and seven toes on each foot. And seven pupils in each eye. There is much description of him on his Wikipedia page, as there is of his life. There should be plenty of inspiration there in his adventures for an interesting version of this mythological hero.

Remember, knights of the 1st century would have been nothing like middle-ages knights. Their appearance would have been more ‘Asterix the Gaul’ than traditionally styled Arthurian knights. So leather, furs and armour more suited to Romano-Britain and Europe.

Although not strictly a two parter, this ChOW will be followed up with a linked character next week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Commission WIP Family Crest

So the other day my PC died due to windows and it's usual relapses of retardation and (as well as other things I've been busy with ) it's slowed down my productivity (which is depressingly low anyway actually..) but I did manage to get started on redoing a family crest for a friend. Once this is finished (there will probably be a few amendments and stuff) it will eventually be a reproduction on cloth- hopefully looking like an aged banner from medieval times but with a bit of a modern twist.

Below I've attached the original, embroidered version of the crest I've been provided with, the first sketch I did and then the resulting draft I came up with.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anatomy sketches 03

I did some more anatomy studies from posemaniacs. I'm still unsure if they are helping or not. I've been doing them in under 90 seconds and when I look back at them I can't really remember drawing them (sounds odd!) but I think what is happening is the I'm focusing on the shapes and negative space so much so, that I don't look at the overall figure and think about how the limbs relate to it. It's like I'm seeing it as an object to be drawn and not a human figure. This is a great method for people beginning to draw because if encourages you to draw the shapes that you see rather than the symbolic shapes you have established in your mind. I think the difficulty I'm having is switching back to that symbolic way of looking at things, only the symbols I need to remember are the shapes of the human anatomy and how they relate to each other in a 3D space and as an organic whole.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when somebody untrained begins to draw, usually they are wired to the left side of the brains. To copy and image accurately, it becomes important to draw using the right side of the brain (Betty Edwards has written a famous book all about this) but when if comes to drawing things from your mind, you have to use the right side of your brain the recognise information and store it for the left side of your brain to use later when drawing without reference. I'm so used to copying images that my mind is not really actively studying what I am drawing.. so I think some slower-paced anatomy studies will give me the time I need to make those associations. Also, like any learning, some activities based on what I've learnt will help. I'm currently participating in the character of the week activity at which will encourage me to put what I've learnt about the human form into practice and also give me the opportunity to receive some feedback.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Satyr Slayer WIPs

Here are the 'in progress' images for my Satyr Slayer image. I was trying a new technique of colouring in black and white first and then using an overlay layer to colour the image. I ended up using a few other layers as well as the overlay by itself was too dull. You might be able to notice that I skwed it half way through... it was really weird. I flip my images horizontally to check for mistakes (usually there are a lot of symmetry issues and things like that) but this time the whole image was skewed and I had to skew it quite severly to get it to look normal again. I may have been drawing this from an angle, I hope that's all it is and not some sign that my vision is skewed..

It wasn't very popular in the poll at concept art and I didn't receive any really critical feedback (kind comments for sure!) . I think I the creature was a bit too generic and didn't really fit into the storybook/fantasy nature of the satyrs. Oh well, I'll just have to try again :)

I think this time I'm going to go back to whatever style of colouring feels natural and see if there's any improvement.

Anatomy sketches 02

I did some more anatomy studies and a bit of a focus on hands. I find myself sometimes looking for 2D shapes and negative space when sketching these, when really I should be focusing on the 3D form of the underlying bones and muscles. I've got to try and shake that habit and concentrate.

Argh, sometimes I also feel as though my art has gone backwards! Some older drawings will have a really well drawn hand or face and I wonder if I just fluked it or if I had a better understanding of anatomy back then that I have since forgotten from a lack of practice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anatomy sketches

I tried to get some anatomy studies done. Pose Maniacs is a great reference tool for anatomy drawing, especially when you can't decide what to draw.

I don't know if it's obvious to anyone else but I changed the way I thought about drawing the anatomy on each page. I think this top image (the last one I drew) came out the best, I used few strokes and thought about them more carefully before drawing them. I do wonder though if the rushed nature of the studies allows me enough time to absorb what is really happening with the bone and muscle positions.

I did some facial studies as well from a book- at first not worrying about how they looked or if they even resembled a symmetrical person's face. The last one was supposed to look a bit more like the model in the photographs.I don't feel like they helped me much - I seem to have no problem copying things but absorbing the anatomical information is another thing.

I'm sure even in copying a lot of images though, you brain will start to remember the shapes and invent shortcuts which means they are being retained somehow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

C.O.W. #160 Satyr Slayer

My entry to this week's C.O.W. Photoshop.

Description: A Satyr Slayer is a creature that slays Satyrs. I'll post a pic for those who are not familliar with the word. The Satyr Slayer should probably look like it inhabits an environment where Satyrs would dwell. Mostly they live in forests, woodlands and grassy glens. Satyrs are fairly pleasant creatures on the whole. Given to hunting with bow and arrows, playing the pan flute, drinking too much, getting rowdy, and knocking boots. (Or in their case -- hooves.) The Satyr Slayer should probably look pretty mean. Bit of a killjoy, perhaps. Maybe they get irritated because Satyrs always look like they're having such a good time.

My Description:
The satyr slayer was a vicious demon set on the satyrs by Hades. Their noisy merrymaking infuriated Hades and after his polite but stern knocking on the roof of the underworld were ignored, Hades sent up on of his most effective means of pest control. The satyrs tried to fight back with their enchanted weapons but their fighting skills were hindered by the vast amounts of wine they had consumed. The satyrs were subdued and Hades returned to doing his evil deeds in peace.

I was pretty happy with where the black and white versions of this were going, but I felt pretty disappointed with the results of the colour. It has muddy black outlines I've noticed before in other people's work, I think I could have eliminated that and improved the details with more time but I don't think this is the image I want to spend more time on though. I'm taking too long anyway, need to speed up a bit.

Kind of off topic, I browsing back through the Nibru meme thread and saw Andrew Jone's awesome picture, then followed a link to his website where I found he has a poster of 1000 self portraits he's done (he draws a self portrait every day). I feel incredibly lazy now, and niave for hoping that I could oneday reach that level without that kind of committment. It's given me some inspiration to get a proper timetable together though and start drawing seriously.