Shipwreck Color Comp/Sketch

Man enters hulk shipwreck sketchThis was an idea I had for an image last night. If I don’t record the idea somehow, they don’t stick around. So, I made this little color comp. I just scanned a little sketch and added digital color.

It’s a guy climbing into the decayed hulk of an old shipwreck. I’m thinking there is something inside that he is looking for… maybe a beast. If I make this into a full painting I think I’ll have to give some clues about whatever is inside.

From Mind to Paper: Thumbnail Sketches

pen and ink

Anyone who has taken illustration classes has probably been expected to conform to some sort of process involving  thumbnail sketches. Thumbnails are small preliminary sketches that communicate the gist of an idea. I think sometimes students feel like the only purpose of thumbnails is to figure out an idea and if they are already thinking of something awesome it is an unnecessary step. Well, I am a believer that there is more to it than that.
In my experience both as an illustrator and as a graphic designer, translating an idea from your mind to your paper or design isn’t always as easy as it seems. When I worked for the BYU Universe, sometimes my coworkers would ask me to take a look at designs that they felt were struggling. I told them to explain to me what they didn’t like about it. The response usually included something about how the idea in their head had been significantly more awesome than the version they had actually produced. Of course, we would proceed to discuss the specifics of what was falling short, but I think problems like that could be avoided with a little more work on the front end.  The purpose of thumbnails is to avoid errors in translation from mind to paper. Figure out what is important about the idea. Figure out what compositional elements can convey the important things and what can create the right feel. And remember, if the composition works small it will work large.

You might have a specific image in your head, but until you draw a little version of it, you aren’t going to realize how vague your imagination can be sometimes. Don’t forget the golden rule of creativity either: Your first idea usually isn’t your best idea. I think I’ll write more about that later… but for now, use thumbnails to try some variations, chances are they will get more creative and interesting as you go.

Thumbnails can also convey the gist of your idea to a client before you get too invested. I think most illustrators and art directors are on-board with the process of approving thumbnails, sketches/comps and then the final piece. Thumbnails can work for a lot of other people too though. Landscape commission, or portrait? Show the client a little sketch before you spend a ton of work on it. Thumbnails for graphic design could save some hassle too. My coworkers and I used to complain about all the changes for which our boss or clients would ask. Sometimes I think we were totally justified, but other times we probably could have avoided it by sending them a sketch of what we were thinking.

So don’t underestimate what a Thumbnail sketch can do.

Image

Thumbnails can convey the gist of something even when they are really tiny. All of my thumbnails included here are 2″ tall or smaller.

Preliminary sketch for illustration from Tremsin and the Firebird

Thumbnails can be used to jot down ideas for characters or objects too, not just entire compositions.

masked villain, comic book

Schooner Sketch

I mentioned previously that painting the schooner for the iceberg scene was frustrating. In spite of that, it kind of made me want to try it again. The texture of the masonite after toning it is so nice that I gessoed up another as soon as I was done and started drawing a schooner at a larger scale.

The sketch is done and the panel is toned. It probably isn’t responsible of me to paint it right now when I have other more important projects. So here it is as it is. Maybe later I will paint it or maybe it will just stay like this.

Sketch of a schooner on gessoed masonite, toned with oil color.

This ship presented it’s own problems too. I used some of the beautiful reference I had collected for the iceberg scene, but none was from the angle I wanted for this drawing. At least that way I am not just copying some photo, though. I also spent at least twice as long toning as I usually do and feel like it came out half as nice as the quick careless ones that I paint right over. I guess that is life though.

progress photo of sketch of schooner on gessoed masonite toned with oil color

Schooner and Iceberg Composition

Composition photo of miniature icebergs with schooner sketched on seamless backdrop.

Now that we are back from our little adventures, I am back to work on the iceberg scene. I have been building the set and was finally able to sketch the schooner onto my backdrop to take a few composition photos with the icebergs. If you haven’t been following, the icebergs were cast from resin in my own custom plaster molds.

I just finished building the backdrop, which is more or less seamless, so that once I add the ice flows around the base of the bergs, I will only need to paint the backdrop and let forced perspective do it’s magic.

The backdrop panels are masonite attached to a pine frame. I shaped the curve in the lower panel by giving it a hot bath for a couple hours and letting it dry in a form. I plan to have the final photos for this shot by the end of the week.

Photo from 3/4 view of set up for iceberg and schooner scene. Schooner is sketched on unpainted backdrop.

Sketch with Pastel, Ink and Such

A sketch created using oil pastel washes, ink, and nupastel

Here is a little sketch I did (about 3″ x 5″) using a new technique.  I did the drawing in ink with a Pentel® brushpen then I colored it using washes of dissolved oil pastel. I had previously melted various colors of the oil pastels into a little palette. After letting them harden into cakes, I used mineral spirits to rewet them. It’s like oil based water color. I then went over it with NuPastel. I like it, hope you do too.

Hidden Face

Oil on panel, woman in veiled headdress from fantasy culture.

This is a painting I did fairly recently. It is Oil on panel.  It isn’t supposed to reflect any real-world culture or religion. Once again, I’ve painted something that is actually directed at the fantasy crowd. I started with a sketch, transferred that to toned paper and worked in some highlights. I scanned the toned version and printed it and then mounted the print on my panel using acrylic matte medium. I painted in three stages.

Stage 1 involved painting until I was really tired of painting on it.

Stage 2 was taking a break and not working on it.

Stage 3 was looking at some of the artists I admire and thinking about how i could improve what I had done based on what I learned from them.

Stage 4 was doing the things I learned in Stage 3.

Yep, I told you there were three stages, but it was really four.

Sketch for painting oil portrait on panel

Toned drawing for oil portrait on panel