Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art
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Monday, October 24, 2016

If you don't know what to draw just Doodle.

I go through phases where I have no ideas to draw so I just doodle little curlicues and stuff in my sketchbook.  Some of the resultant designs show up in later in fabrics, jewelry, architecture and stained glass.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bot and Souled

Almost finished here but I've started to lose the strength of contrast that I had initially so I'm just going to go back and darken the dark areas and drop in some even brighter highlights.  The previous coats of paint are almost completely dry at this stage so I can add a clear dark gray glaze over a light area without picking up white paint into my brush and dulling down the glaze.

In addition to darkening the shadow areas I drop a shadow onto the floor beneath her and add just enough brown to the floor to justify the brown colored reflected lights on the robot without actually making the floor look like wood or dirt.  A little rusty maybe.  When everything else is done I finally paint the wires coming off of her head.  If I'd done them earlier I'd have to paint around them and that'd be a big pain.

"Bot and Souled"
Oil paint on wood panel.
I gave this one to my brother who really likes robots.

My brother has a great story about a robot, he could tell it better than I can.
When we were small (he's 4 years older than I am so I'd have been very small) we lived in a town called Newport Vermont.  Somewhere close by, but not really close, was a construction company with a bunch of old trucks and other useless junk rusting out in the back yard.  My brother Ken who was always a scientist, explorer and master spy discovered an old electric motor of  some kind lying on the seat of some broken down truck.  Well they weren't using it for anything so Ken decided to carry it home and build a robot out of it as kids do.
Carrying this heavy sucker all the way back to the house was a monumental task for such a small boy, but his enthusiasm for the realization of his dreams lightened his load.  After all once he was the master of a robotic army he'd never have to carry anything again.  Mom and Dad would be so proud.
  Well it turns out that our father has different ideas about the legality of walking off with other people's belongings just because you think they don't need it and the prospect of a robotic servant to do all of our chores in the future did nothing to sway his scruples.
So Dad made the poor exhausted lad carry the thing all the way back to where he found it and apologize to the owner.  
It was a lesson to us all.  Dad remains as morally inflexible as he ever was and Ken has never built a robot servant out of stolen parts again.

The End

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Playing With Toys

All of the apparent drastic color differences in the robot from one picture to the next are just the result of my crappy photography skills and the changing light in the studio.  I've really changed almost nothing on the actual robot except to add some very pale blue to the light areas.

I found a Silver Surfer toy in a thrift store and some kind of hubcap thing on the ground.  Both are useful visual references for painting this kind of thing.  although in this photo they're sitting on a blue box in a warm colored room so the color is opposite of what I've showed you.  I took them outside a few times to get a better idea of how the reflections should look.

Buying "Props" is not only a great excuse for collecting toys, but they really do help.  Set toys up in front of a desk lamp and you can get a very good feel for lights and shadows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Creating Contrast

Adding paint to the background, I've done virtually nothing to the figure, but she is looking completely different now due to the change in contrast.  It was a challenge to make the background very similar in color to the robot, but maintain enough contrast for her to stand out.  I kept the back wall a neutral gray while the floor could be a cool blue which contrasts well with the warm colors along her bottom.  The sign painter in me jumped on that as a solution to the problem of contrast, but it creates a different problem.  If the floor is blue then the reflected light below her should be blue too which would dilute the illusion of chrome.  She'd just look like a shiny blue robot.  In truth a chrome object in an all blue room would just be blue.  It would still look reflective because of all the intense black and white reflections, but there'd be no warm browns to provide the visual shorthand that this is a chrome thing.
We see them all the time, hubcaps, bumpers, door handles, we know what it looks like; blue sky, brown dirt, black reflections, white highlights.  I used to airbrush chrome lettering all the time back when that was popular and it was an easy formula to follow, but it may not work here.  I'll go back and forth on this during the painting process.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Painting Robots From Life.

I didn't take a lot of step by step photos of my work back when I did this but I used the same method that we saw earlier with Tracing the Goblin Queen.  Then I strengthened the lines with India Ink.  Once the ink was dry I washed over the canvas with a thin brown under-painting.
Notice that the color on the Robot is as minimal as the colors in yesterday's post.  Except for the brown under-painting there's very little here besides black and white and just a touch of blue.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Drawing Shiny Things

Sorry for the delayed follow up, we had a long and horrible weekend.

So last week I showed a sketch of a shiny robot  drawn from life and I promised a demonstration of how to depict reflective surfaces in a drawing, which incidentally works the same as it does in a painting.

I used a jar lid to make some circles on the paper.  My father always said "use the right tool for the job."  I have my own saying, "use whatever's closest so you don't have to get up and go looking for stuff.

I made a few too many circles and a couple irregular shapes representing nothing in particular.

Using a wide charcoal stick I drop a shadow below and a little to the left of each object.  This suggests that the light source is above and a little to the right.

With the same charcoal stick ( you can use a graphite pencil or anything else you like, but I like charcoal) I dropped in a shadow onto each object.  But you'll notice that the circles on the top row are shaded in their low left area while the circles in the second row are shaded on the top right.  What gives?  The top row are opaque objects while the second row are transparent.

Now I use  a sharper pencil to create some reflections.  Reflections don't behave like shadows.  Shadows and rays of light move in whatever direction they move  without regard for your point of view.  Reflections on the other hand always come straight towards your eye.
So if the ball on the top left is a dull stone, but the one on the right is a chrome plated ball then the stone one has no discernible reflection on its surface, but the chrome has nothing but reflections.

So let's imagine you're looking at this ball on a wooden table at the park.  There's an open field all around you but a tree line in the distance behind you.  The curve of the ball will compress the reflection to a thin dark line at its point closest to you but will expand as it moves to the sides.  But it will continue looking like this weather you move the ball or yourself.

To give the paper some tone I smeared the whole page with a paper towel.

With the tone in place I could use an eraser to pull out lighter spots in the top right where the light is hitting them.  We've turned the second ball into an opaque, but highly polished ball of stone like jasper or something.
Notice that the two transparent balls have a light spot on the ground below them because the light shines all the way through them and onto the ground.  Also the ball itself doesn't seem to have a shadow on the low left because light is scattering all around the interior surface of the glass ball.

Now using a white chalk I exaggerate the highlights even more.  This makes it all the more shiny.

Just for the fun of it I got a couple colored chalks and added a touch of blue on the chrome things.  Not much, and keep it up near the top.  The color is concentrated at the edges and diluted by the over expanded reflection where it bulges towards you.
Also a touch of brown at the bottom reflected from the ground.  I added this tiny amount of color to illustrate what a small role color plays in creating the illusion of metal or glass.   Most of it is accomplished in black and white, color has very little to do with it.
 Many beginners including myself long ago tried to depict things like armor with silver paint.  Wow did that look wrong!  And it's really quite easy to do it right.

Here I added some red to this darker transparent ball.  This would be how you'd depict gems or a grape, or wine in a glass.
Also notice the reflections on the cube here at the bottom.  If in fact there was a row of trees behind us a chrome plated box would probably show a truer reflection than a ball because there'd be less distortion.  But as you go around the corner you might be tempted to draw the reflection in perspective with the box like it was painted onto the surface, but it's not painted on it's reflecting right back at you.  So even the mirror surface facing the right would keep the tree line level from your point of view.

I draw way better than I teach, but I hope some of this made sense to you.  If you'd like me to clarify some part of that please let me know even if you discover this blog  a hundred years from now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

That Girl's a Robot!

I'm going to be honest with you here, my model was not actually a robot.  She is in fact a very nice lady.  She's tall and strong and beautiful and can hold a difficult pose for a good length of time.  The kind of figure one would describe as statuesque...for a couple reasons.  While I'd love to hire her to model for action poses with swords etc she utterly sucks at the more sensuous poses.  She won't relax, ever.  Her posture is always perfect, kind of like a statue.  Her back is always straight, her shoulders are always high and back   So as I sat there roughing out this drawing I thought to myself "This girl's a robot!"  At which point this drawing just gushed out the tip of my pencil including all the highlights and shadows.
A classmate asked me how I did that so I did a quick demonstration over on the left hand side of the page.  I'll reproduce that again for tomorrow's post.
The key thing to remember about shading a shiny stainless steel robot is that the shadows are exactly the way they appear on the actual model, all you do is exaggerate them.