Star Citizen Commission

Painting of Super Hornet spaceship from Star Citizen, by Jameson Gardner Art

I finally have a decent image of a painting I finished at the end of the year. In my rush to get it shipped to the client, I didn’t look closely enough at the photographs I took to notice the glare from the painting’s texture until after I had already sent it off. Luckily, the client was able to send me some photos (thanks Bonnie!) that I composited with mine to eliminate most of the glare.

The commission was to do a painting of one or more ships from the game Star Citizen. The client was giving it as a gift to her favorite star citizen. Though there was nothing special about the way it was painted (oil on panel), the challenge for me lie in drawing and painting mechanical components with which I was not familiar. I did manage to find some rough 3D models, and there were images on the game’s website, but I felt like there were a lot of details I was missing. The client and I agreed in the beginning that a little bit looser retro vibe would be nice, even though most of the images that I could find from the game tended to be more sharp computer-generated-realism. I looked at a lot of artwork from John Berkey and John Harris for inspiration. Both those artists tend to hint at details while actually being pretty vague about the nuances of their space ships. I really like this, but when I got started myself, I found I had a hard time abandoning what details I’d uncovered when I was supposed to be painting a specific and concretely designed ship.

Don’t worry, it still didn’t come out super detailed.

I also ran into the issue of all the game images showing this ship with a shinyish metallic finish. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be possible to do, but considering the time-frame, the budget and the scale of the painting, mocking up enough shiny reference to paint it believably in a relatively small space just wasn’t in the cards. So we stuck with the retro vibe and the ship got more of a Star Wars, or original Battlestar Galactica paint job.

Other than that, it was mostly the usual sketching, approving, drawing, approving, painting.

Sketch by Jameson Gardner Art for Star Citizen commission painting

The thumbnail turned value comp above, and the final drawing below. Between the two we discussed and decided to add another planet in the back, an element that had been included in one of the other thumbnails.

Drawing by Jameson Gardner Art for Star Citizen commission painting

Painting steps of Star Citizen commission painting by Jameson Gardner Art.

Some steps in the painting process. I kind of like the empty planet.

Image with glare from surface texture

Above is the final painting, but with glare from the surface texture visible, despite my best efforts to fix it. And below, the final image with reduced glare and proper values on the top half.

Painting of Super Hornet spaceship from Star Citizen, by Jameson Gardner Art

My take on Rogue One: A StarWars Story

SPOILERS! I highly recommend you see the movie before reading this. This isn’t meant to tell you whether or not to see it, it is commentary you might appreciate after you’ve seen it and know what we’re talking about.

I’ll admit I didn’t have very high expectations when going to see Rogue One. That is due in large part to how far short The Force Awakens fell. But, there wasn’t much in the trailers to convince me to abandon my cautious skepticism (I did get a little excited seeing that scene in the teaser with a classic star destroyer emerging from the shadow cast by the Death Star’s super-laser dish being installed.)

So, seeing the movie I was not disappointed by 80% of it 🙂 There was even a good 15 to 30% that I really, really enjoyed.

Lets go ahead and discuss what I didn’t like. I noted both major and minor faults with the movie. The minor ones are bound to show up in any movie and don’t seriously detract, but it doesn’t mean you don’t notice them.

MINOR AND and in some instances maybe nerdy nitpicky FAULTS:

Use of hyperspace travel: Like The Force Awakens, Rogue one suffered from ITS (instant travel syndrome). You might recall in A New Hope when Luke, Obi Wan, and the gang have arranged travel with Han and Chewy to Alderaan it has a sort of road-trippy feel. You see luke training with his lightsaber, the droids playing claymation chess with Chewbacca etc. It gives the impression that we are glimpsing a few moments of what is likely a minimum of a few hours of travel. Yet in Rogue One people seem to be able to arrive pretty much instantaneously. P.S. How  did they make the jump to hyperspace within Jedha’s atmosphere and gravity well?

shoretroopers-main_a5fff2a7

New (or old) trooper and tie fighter designs: It didn’t bother me much, but it does make you wonder why we never saw any of these trooper classes or tie fighters in the original trilogy which is supposed to take place directly following Rogue One. Yes, I did hear the troopers on Scarif mentioning that something or other had been declared obsolete and maybe the explanation is that the alternate trooper armor and vehicles are being phased out. That doesn’t really seem to jive with how it appears to be the more elite forces using the alternate designs, though.

Captain Andor coming back from falling 30 feet and conking his body and head on a bunch of beams on the way down so that he can save Jyn from  director Krennic at the last minute. It was kind of cliche and interrupts the feel of inevitable sacrifice that makes the Scarif battle so good.

Throwback(or forward) cameos: Ok there was a little too much fan service in this film. Maybe not as bad as TFA, but just as obvious. My friend pegged it well when he pointed out that the camera wouldn’t linger on a couple of droids conversing at the Rebel base if it wasn’t supposed to excite some kid who would go “hey look there is R2 and 3P0, so this is definitely a good Star Wars movie”.  Same goes for our cantina buddies who miraculously escaped the destruction of Jedha. I actually liked seeing some of the Rebel leaders and pilots, though I’m not sure Mon Montha would have been at the rebel base, or Bail Organa either. They were both heavily involved in politics and served as senators. It would make sense that their involvement in the rebel movement would have to be secret until after the dissolution of the Imperial Senate, which is the obvious explanation for why Mon Montha was not seen with the rebels in ANH, but was in ROTJ.

These were the minor issues though, and didn’t really detract that much from the movie. All movies are going to have a few things that weren’t perfectlike why did So-and-so not get shot after his friend was blasted by tons of storm troopers seconds earlier in the same spot when there was no force-guided plot-important reason for him to still be alive? Or why are they using moisture vaporators to farm on an already incredibly moist planet? Or why would experienced rebel pilots even bother to attempt to punch through the shield gate by hitting the actual shield with individual gun or bomb runs. I mean come on, a planetary shield system wouldn’t be much good if a couple of X and Y wings have a chance of disabling it. Why didn’t they coordinate volley’s, target the gate controlling structure, or pound it with sustained fire from the turbo lasers on their capital ships? Ok ok, I’m done.

rogue-one-gallery34_49839bf5

MAJOR FAULTS:

CGI Tarkin: Why oh why… I understand that Grand Moff Tarkin is an important baddie who is closely associated with the first Death Star. So, having him in the movie makes sense. But, why would you put a CG character on the screen for so long and right next to real people. Every time Tarkin was on screen I was just distracted by his fakeness. The sad thing is it would have been really easy to keep your plot, keep your dialogue and not have had the distracting Tarkin problem. If they didn’t want to make-up a look-alike actor, they could have just had Tarkin communicate with Krennic via hologram for most of the movie. He is a high ranking official who would have plenty of reason to be at other locations. Then when it comes time for him to take command of the Death Star we could see him talk to Krennic in the reflection of the glass, like when he was introduced, and maybe turn and we see him for a split second. It makes sense in the Star Wars Universe and in the plot. It would not only have saved money and time, but it might have saved certain scenes in the movie.

The Leia hand-off: This was the thing that irked me most, which is saying something when you have CGI Tarkin running around for half the movie. No, I’m not going to criticize  how Leia looked. I’m really let down by how Gareth Edwards, who claims to have watched the original Star Wars 300 times as a kid, would finish his movie off in a way that doesn’t seem to jive with the original Star Wars at all. Lets review the first meeting on screen meeting between Princess Leia and Darth Vader. This occurs very close to the beginning of ANH, after the Star Destroyer has overtaken Tantive IV and Vader and his troopers have boarded the ship and Leia is captured. This is basically one of the first Star Wars scenes ever…

Leia: “Darth Vader, only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. When they hear you’ve attacked a diplomatic…”

Vader: “Don’t act so surprised Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by  rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.”

Leia: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan.”

Vader: “You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor, taker her away!”

Imperial officer (Daine Jir): “Holding her is dangerous. If word of this gets out, it could generate sympathy for the rebellion in the Senate.”

Vader: “I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base.”

Officer: “She’ll die before she’ll tell you anything.”

Vader: “Leave that to me. Send a distress signal, and inform the Senate that all on board were killed.

vader-leia

Ok, now think about this exchange from the Original Star Wars in context of the end of Rogue One. We are supposed to believe that Leia was at a battle over the imperial archive at Scarif. That she was on board a rebel ship sitting in the hold of the rebel flag ship (which would be a pretty dumb place to keep a whole corvette during a battle, why wasn’t it out fighting?) That the plans were transmitted to the flagship, then loaded onto a disc and carried by rebel troops who are attacked by Vader himself, who’s had time to board the ship. That Vader Kills most of them but is slowed down enough by a door and some guys getting in the way of his lightsaber that another guy with the plans makes it on board the corvette, which escapes. Vader literally sees the disc with the plans go aboard her vessel. There are thousands of imperial witnesses that the corvette Tantive IV was at the battle. A battle where two Star Destroyers with thousands of men on board were destroyed by the rebels. Where the archive itself was besieged and probably hundreds more troops killed on the ground. After that, we are expected to believe that when captured, Leia would try to pretend she was just on a diplomatic mission and the Imperial officer would be concerned about how it would look to keep her in custody. That Vader would also apparently be worried enough to order that they fake a distress call and pretend that everyone was killed. Let’s be clear, like Mon Montha and Bail Organa, I don’t even think Leia would have been with the rebel fleet (which means nor would R2 and 3P0… why were they at the base again?). But if she was, she definitely wouldn’t be dumb enough to think she can just pretend like she is on a diplomatic mission when Lord Vader who watched the plans walk (not transmit) onto her ship, catches her. Again, you wouldn’t have had to change much to save your continuity. Rather than Vader chasing the plans onto a ship while other guys try to defend them. They could have had a guy uploading the plans to transmit to Leia’s corvette which could be hanging out at a nearby system because her dad told her to be ready. Vader could still cut some guys down in a cool scene. It could still be urgent and get the plans away at the last second. You could still see princess Leia at the end receiving the plans. And, we wouldn’t have to ask whether the director Gareth Edwards had bothered to watch Star Wars again as an adult, since seeing it “300” times as a kid apparently wasn’t’ enough. I’ll forgive him for not jiving with the Expanded Universe because his Imperial, I mean Disney, overlords dissolved its validity. But when you don’t jive with the Original Trilogy…

rogue-one-gallery71_e2289066

Other than that, I liked the movie. I especially liked the battle on Scarif and the way the Rogue One crew slowly got picked off—the sense of doom for a small group, but hope for the galaxy was very nice. The battle also felt a lot more like a real Star Wars battle vs The Force Awakens where it seems like Poe Dameron is playing a video game rather than actually flying a complicated machine. I’m Glad Edwards was willing to commit to killing everyone, without (mostly) any Disney style “Oh wait, I’m actually ok” business.  So I guess I will have to wait for the special edition where they fix the Tarkin scenes and change the ending to match. Because that would actually be a great movie. (don’t get your hopes up)

(photos used under Fair Use as part of a film critique and review)

Valkyrie Painting (finally)

A lot of things have been limiting my art production. First, we had a baby. We didn’t really bother with anything but learning to be parents right after Halvor was born. Then Bethany went back to work, and I was taking care of him during the day. The little squirt barely let me shower and put clothes on, much less get a lot of painting done. Then when I finally started figuring out how to get some work done and had begun painting on this valkyrie piece, our apartment flooded. Luckily none of our stuff was seriously damaged, but after moving all our possessions back and forth trying to dry the carpet out, we eventually had to move out for a couple weeks.

Well, I’m back and I have an artwork to share.

I started this piece with the combined goal of making something nice (hopefully), and also testing to see if the oil painting with overlaid drawing technique from my folktale princess piece would be viable for book illustrations.

Concept:

Not too long ago I had been listening to music from Wagner’s Ring Cycle and reading a little about Brunhilde and some of the other characters. I started to think that making a painting of a valkyrie or shield maiden would be cool. I sketched out some little ideas and started doing more research. I thought maybe I would have a woman all armored up and spearing people from horseback! Sounds pretty sweet right? But, the more I read the more my concept for this painting changed. That isn’t to say that the Norse epics don’t include plenty of foundation for a valkyrie staining the field of battle with the blood of her enemies. However, I started to focus more on the idea of valkyries enabling the transition of slain warriors to the immortal realm of Valhalla. I combined this with the idea of the valkyrie bringing drink to the warriors in the hall of the slain and decided to try to illustrate a tender valkyrie bearing mead from the gods to ease a fallen warrior’s final moments of life—a sort of rite—the last sip of mortality and the first taste of Valhalla.

With this in mind, my idea of how she would look and dress also changed. I based her partly on this silver amulet from Sweden (found on Wikipedia):

Wikipedia commons: A silver figure of a woman holding a drinking horn found in Birka, Björkö, Uppland, Sweden.

I also decided to give my valkyrie wings. That was a decision I felt would help compositionally and would also easily distinguish her from mortal women. I’m not displeased with any connection that draws to depictions of Christian angels either.

Process:

The process was very similar to that described in my post Painting a Princess. Only this time I planned  from the beginning to bring the drawing back as an overlay. I began with a small sketch of the basic composition and then spent quite a bit of time compositing reference. Various vintage photographs from the internet as well as a few photos I took myself were cut up and combined into my composition. My preferred method is usually to shoot all my own reference, but, sometimes I get impatient if I don’t have models available. For just the valkyrie I ended up referencing 3 vintage photos, an eagle’s wings, my wife’s arms and hands and a grouse wing I happen to have around the house—similar story for the viking warrior (there is even a little bit of Elvis and a little Colin Firth in there).

With all of my reference composited I did a pencil drawing.

Valkyrie drawing by Jameson Gardner 2016. Study for Painting

I then photographed the drawing and mounted it directly to a panel and sealed it with matte medium for painting. I sometimes use the photographs to make a print which I mount and paint on so that I can keep the original, but again, I was a little impatient. Looking back, I think a lot of those decisions on this painting were made with the baby’s schedule in mind.

With the panel ready to go I began painting. I tried to include adequate detail and opacity in the areas of interest but also be a little more transparent farther from the center. The idea here is really just that I am more comfortable painting with oils and I like some of the detail and opacity for faces etc., but I want a sort of watercolory feel. Which is why, when finished with the oil painting, I photographed the whole thing and used my photos of the drawing to bring back the pencil lines that had been obscured by paint, but which would still be visible in a watercolor.

Four stages of process painting valkyrie by Jameson Gardner © 2016

In order to get a really high res digital version of my painting without a giant scanner, I usually take it in 3 or 4 overlapping segments in landscape orientation. I left enough room around the edges and overlap, enough to be able to eliminate the vignette that my 50 mm lens creates. I used the 50 mm to minimize distortion ( the last thing you need when photographing artwork or even reference, is lens distortion.) I also usually take a shot of the full image to use as a guide when stitching them together, which I do manually (unfortunately, photoshop has never yet succeeded in putting my artwork back together without distorting it). I corrected any angle problems with the guide photo and made sure the dimensions and proportions were accurate. Then I scaled it up to the final size and brought in my higher res segments. I aligned them to the guide, which in this case was actually the photo of the original drawing, using the edit-transform-distort to drag the corners and line up all the details. I put the new layers on top at 50% opacity. This can take a little time depending on how easy it is to identify landmarks to align and how close they are to the corners. The closer to the corner you can align things the faster it will go. Then I manually merged the segments with layer masks and moved the drawing on top as a multiply transparency at around 55% opacity.

Even though I knew I would be overlaying the drawing to complete the image, I was a a little surprised by how much I like bringing the pencil back.

Valkyrie bearing mead painting by Jameson Gardner © 2016

Hope you like it as well. I’m adding some prints of this to my inventory. The Etsy shop was sort of closed down when the baby was born. But if you can’t live without a print of this, I’m happy to take orders by email. Or, any Utah folks could drop by my booth at Sugarmont Plaza on July 23rd. Cheers!

 

 

Star Wars: Can Disney See Past The $ Signs?

New Storm Troopers

This is probably a post I should have written way back when Disney first bought the Star Wars properties. But, I figure I’d better at least get it out into cyberspace before The Force Awakens is officially released. I’d consider myself a Star Wars fan. I remember watching return of the Jedi before I was old enough to be capable of sitting through a full length movie, or of understanding what was going on in it. I spent a lot of my youth reading Star Wars novels, playing Star Wars Video games and drawing Star Wars ships and vehicles. I was at just the right age when the Prequels were released to think pod racing and Darth Maul were pretty awesome, but have serious reservations about little Ani and various other aspects of the new additions to the franchise.

Well, I have some reservations about where Star Wars is going now as well. The first of which is J.J. Abrams. Though some of the material released about making The Force Awakens has admittedly eased my mind on this score, I still get nervous when I think about the latest Star Trek offerings, or…. Lost. I sometimes have nightmares that in a flurry of lens flares the Star Wars cast might wake up on a strange island…

I’ve also been irked by some of the redesign of costumes and ships we’ve been seeing in trailers and other material. Everybody jumped into the discussion of the trifoil lightsaber when we first caught a glimpse of it. But I was also asking myself if I am ok with new stormtrooper helmets and armor, white blaster rifles, or the color inverted TIE fighters. I know some of the new designs are based on original concept drawings from the OT, and that is kind of cool. But I don’t like it when I feel like something is being changed just to change it. It is like a concept artist somewhere wants to make sure it looks like he/she is working hard.

New Tie Fighter

Let’s just talk about the TIE fighters briefly. Why? They have the same silhouette, with only minor changes to the structure of the pylons and such—changes that average joe won’t even notice. So why change them? And most especially why invert the color scheme? It was widely accepted (though Disney may rewrite it…) that those are solar panels on a TIE-fighter’s “wings”. So somebody better explain to me why the panels are now white. Apparently with current earth technology, it is totally possible to make white solar panels. However, there seems to be only two reasons to do it. First: aesthetics. Second: to reduce heat absorption. Well…. neither of those seem to be good reasons in space, unless the Empire decided that their TIEs weren’t easy enough for enemy fighters to see. Ok, enough of that, my wife pointed out the other day that if I were making The Force Awakens everything would look exactly like it did in the OT.  which is probably true 🙂

new tie pilot

Now on to my most important point. Disney’s Star Wars Canon. This part casts a shadow of gloom over the whole thing for me. For years and years novels, games and comics were being produced by great minds, licensed, approved and released into what was known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Expanded Universe told everything from the earliest Jedi to threats against the Galaxy long after our Original Trilogy heroes were dead. I did not read every book or comic—probably not even a significant fraction of the material available. But I did read a bunch. I especially enjoyed the story from directly after ROTJ to 50ish years following. This was because the novels I read told the story of the continued rebellion and A New Republic with both new and familiar characters living in the galaxy that I loved. Isn’t that what Disney says they are trying to do with the Star Wars franchise, isn’t that what J.J. Abrams or Carrie Fischer say in interviews? Well, then why did Disney throw it all out the window? Disney’s only official Canon for Star Wars before the Force Awakens are the 6 films, and two cartoon series? I’m not saying that a cartoon show can’t tell a good story, but I’m not sure the stories cartoon writers are coming up with on a deadline really compare with the Expanded Universe—a monumental feat of continuity and additional depth. So why would Disney do this to us Star Wars fans? Because they like easy money. They don’t want to be tied down with stories other people wrote. You can see that evidenced in Disney’s Frozen (and most other Disney movies). The only thing Frozen has in common with the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Snow Queen upon which it is supposedly based, is that they both involve a guy named Hans.

Well, easier definitely isn’t always better. It may be easier to hire people to write new stories that don’t need to fit into the continuity of the Expanded Universe. But, it is unlikely that the picture of a Galaxy created in the space of a film’s production time will be better than the one crafted over decades by dozens, if not hundreds, of writers working together.

To all you who want to tell me that it is ok, “all my favorite Star Wars stories still exist as ‘Legends‘”, I say, would you be ok if Disney acquired rights to all Tolkiens work and then issued a decree that the Silmarillion was just “Legends“—that if it wasn’t in a Peter Jackson movie or one of Disney’s upcoming Bongo the Hobbit adventures it wasn’t part of the official story? Well the unfortunate part is a lot of people would be ok with it, because they haven’t read it and don’t know what they are missing. That is why Disney can get away with the way they are Handling Star Wars.

So, to you Disney minions who now hold the reigns to the greatest scifi franchise in existence. Please at least read some Star Wars novels and consider the events and storytelling therein. The only way the Expanded universe becomes canon now, is if you guys reference it for future creations.

Thanks

(All images in this post are from StarWars.com ©Lucasfilm 2015. —Included here under fair use as a profitless commentary on the upcoming film)

Standard Bearer

I wanted to add something with a sort of fantasy battle bent to my portfolio. The concept was a warrior carrying a standard or banner behind which an army could rally and charge. Initially, I intended to work in watercolor and then make some digital enhancements. Justin Gerard is a great example of an illustrator who often works this way. Justin’s work has a sort of whimsy that I wasn’t really looking for, though, and I made the mistake of also looking at some fully digital work from Blizzard projects and things like that. I started covering more and more of the watercolor underpainitng with digital, but still trying to leave some of the texture showing through. The result was turning into a horrible hybrid that did no justice to any of the styles, or concepts that inspired it.

This is one of those instances where I hesitate to share some of the images from this process. But, since I make fun of people on social media who only share the best parts of their life, and only the most flattering photos of themselves, here goes.

First up the Drawing and watercolor underpainting.

Underpainting and drawing for Standard Bearer painting

Next is my first pass of digital “enhancement”. At this point I was realizing that I hadn’t done my drawing and underpainting large enough and with enough detail to leave this much of it showing.

First pass digital

I started adding more and more digital color etc. But I wasn’t willing to go full opaque digital, I was still trying to keep texture and color from the underpainting—I was also having a hard time forcing myself to zoom in and get the details right.

Failed attempt at digital painting standard Bearer

Like I said it all turned into a frustratingly horrible hybrid that made me wonder how I ever thought I could make art. I then decided to give it one last try. I would go back to the physical watercolor painting, seal it, and paint the whole thing in oils. There were definitely some draw-backs to this. The texture of the paper wasn’t may favorite, and I was limited by the original scale. But, at least it was a medium that sort of makes sense to me.

First sections of Standard Bearer painting in oil

I immediately felt a little better when I put down the stylus and picked up a paintbrush.

Oil painting of Standard Bearer charging into battle. By Jameson Gardner

Like I said, texture and scale were limiting, but I feel like this is 147 times better than my digital attempts. I learned some important things from the experience. First, pick a style and stick with it (at least for the course of one painting). Next, if you want to do all Justin Gerard you need to draw and paint at a scale where you can get all the detail. If you want to go all Blizzardy you need to be willing to go full out opaque digital. I’m not giving up on that either, I’ve been practicing my digital painting skills and have already produced some studies that are more appealing than where this project was going. Maybe I’ll post one of those next.

Heroes Playing Poker

Heroes Playing Poker Parody of Dogs Playing Poker. By Jameson Gardner Art

I’m sure most of you have seen some of the paintings by C.M. Coolidge of dogs playing poker. According to Wikipedia Coolidge was commissioned to create the paintings as part of an advertising calendar for cigars. Dogs Playing Poker has become an icon of American low-brow art. It is the type of art the common man can get really get behind—the type of art that looks great cut from a magazine or calendar and slipped into a cheap frame to be found 30 years later in your grandmother’s attic among Uncle Leonard’s boyhood effects.

Naturally, I had mixed feelings when I was approached by a client about doing a parody of one of Coolidge’s paintings—a portrait of the client playing poker with a few favorite comic book superheroes. The concept was undeniably fun, but not the type of art I had seen myself making as I studied in college. I took the job.

First step, as always, was to work out an initial sketch. The basic composition was already set by original Dogs painting, so I just had to figure out how to fit in our new characters. This is the first sketch I sent to the client.

Sketch for heroes playing poker commission by Jameson Gardner Art

When that was approved I shot and composited reference photos.

Composited reference for Heroes playing poker painting by Jameson Gardner

Using the reference I began the final drawing onto which I would paint. I also sent photos of this drawing to the client, getting feedback until the drawing was approved.

Drawing for Heroes Playing Poker Painting by Jameson Gardner

Finally I got painting, and then it was just a matter of pushing paint around until it landed in the right spots… Which can be a little tricky when it is supposed to be a portrait of someone specific, but their head is only 2 and a half inches tall. (Yes I did negotiate an increase in painting size, but the client only has so much space in his office.)

Painting process of Heroes Playing Poker by Jameson Gardner

Dogs Playing Poker by C.M. Coolidge

Heroes Playing Poker Parody of Dogs Playing Poker. By Jameson Gardner Art

Hope you enjoy!

Painting a Princess

Graphite sketch of princess with decorative french hood. By Jameson GardnerI’ve been drawing and painting again (bet you wouldn’t have guessed). I wanted to do a queen or princess with a kindof renaissance feel. I’ll admit right up front this isn’t supposed to be a historically accurate period piece. I guess it would be more of a historically inspired fantasy piece. Using a combination of some headdress references i found on Pinterest, a vintage photograph (for her face) and my own imagination I figured out the gist and went ahead and started drawing. It wasn’t for a client, so I didn’t plan it all out in detail—I just wanted it to have a certain feeling. I did the drawing on a some paper that I inherited from my grandmother. I’m not sure how old it is, but it had definitely yellowed and even has a little bit of foxing starting to show up. That is right—the image above is not just a bad scan with smudges, that is the actual color of the paper.

Originally I was thinking to achieve the feeling I wanted I would use watercolor. I got attached to the drawing though. I wanted to keep it, and decided to print a copy to mount and paint. Unfortunately, I get impatient and wasn’t willing to wait 4 days and pay extra to have it printed really nice. I ended up with decent copy from a copy shop (I made them print it on my paper, which helped a lot). I mounted it on a masonite panel being careful to preserve the top surface so that it would absorb my paint. Just in case, though, I tested some water with a brush on my backup copy and determined that no matter how much fixative I used, the ink was not going to hold fast if it got good and wet.

Plan B: I coated my carefully preserved top surface with matte medium and broke out the oil paint.

Progress on oil painting of princess by Jameson Gardner

I started with a wash of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine and lifted some highlights out of that before I went to town on the opaque parts. It is 11 x 14″ so she has a 3 inch face. I know some people are great at painting small but this is right on the verge of being too small for me so keep that in mind while you judge 🙂

I used a very limited palette Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, and White. You can get lot out of just a few colors and it is way easier to feel unified. I tend to do some transparent washes at the end to unify things even more as well. You’ll notice the blue of her blouse, pretty bright above, is tempered by some Burnt Sienna in the final below.

Oil painting portrait of princess by Jameson Gardner

I tried to be transparent where I could and let it just fade away rather than paint up to the edges. I also decided not to paint a background and just let my original wash show. This was all to try to keep it in line with my original vision. I’m pretty happy with the result but I feel like I lost the quality of the graphite drawing in her face in a way that I wouldn’t have with watercolor.

To get a high resolution image I took multiple photos in segments and merged them in photoshop. I let photoshop do it and—as usual—the old girl didn’t catch the vision of how to bring things out proportionally. So I did it manually. When finished I wanted to double check to make sure I hadn’t skewed or stretched it. I overlayed the digital file of my original drawing, which lined up pretty much perfectly. That is when I had the thought that maybe I could get closer to my vision by bringing back some of the pencil over the top. All it took was that drawing on a couple of transparency layers and there it was 🙂

The original painting still looks pretty good (even better in real life) but I think the pencil overlay version really matches what I wanted to share. So, here it is:

Fantasy/Renaissance Princess by Jameson Gardner Art

Is that cheating? Well if you belong to some kind of purist traditional school, yes definitely. But, let’s face it, these days the fact that I drew it on paper with an actual pencil and then painted with actual paint probably puts me closer to those purists than to a lot of what is being produced in the digital world.

I hope you enjoy! I’m considering making prints of this—if you’d like that, leave a comment, head over to my Website and shoot me an email, or contact me through my Etsy shop to let me know so I can see what kind of interest there is. Thanks 🙂