Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Barbarian King

There's probably a distinction between arrogance and honest self certainty but I'm not always sure that I can tell what it is.  Some people are inordinately full of themselves and some people are just plain superior to the rest of us for real.  I'm fairly sure Conan the Barbarian would be called arrogant by some people and would be confused by the accusation.  He wasn't arrogant he was superior.
As Americans we often confuse the right to be treated equally with the idea that nobody's any better than us in any way.  But that's a little like saying to a tall guy "Don't go walking in here acting all tall!"  The dude's either tall or he's not.
 Now be you Conan or a professional athlete, politician, or intellectual, if you're abusive you're going down.  There's 350 million of us, nobody's that superior.

Here was a throne-like chair and a thoroughly capable looking and thoroughly arrogant looking dude sitting on it.  So I decided he must be a king.  A barbarian king.

If he's a king then the chair wasn't quite throne-like enough so I added embellishments.  This is what I love about charcoal, it's forgiving enough to allow changes like this on the same sheet of paper.  Now his face looks less cocky and more glowering like King Conan or some other heroic fantasy figure.
While the first figure was nude the second one is at least borderline pornographic due to the paraphernalia.   Nonetheless I kind of wish I'd left it that way, it made him seem even more disdainful.

I can't decide if the helmet was a good choice or a bad one.  It's a cool helmet and I like the slight jaunty tilt to it, but I feel it takes it back in a less serious direction somehow.
What do you think?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Barbarian Queen 5


Here at last is the final painting and the client loved it so I'm happy.
But every time I look at it I see things I'd like to do a little better.  It's possible I'll always feel that way about all of my work, but some paintings kind of beg me to come back and do it over while some do not.  This one calls me back so one of these days we'll re-visit this story.
I do love the blue color.
I love the indistinct background that leaves the viewer filling in the missing information.
I don't love the lizard anymore although I did at the time.
And although the model really does have shoulders just like those portrayed here, I'd like to dial that down a little.  Paintings are visual and if something looks wrong visually it's wrong no matter how accurate it really is.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Barbarian Queen 4

The board was bigger than the paper so it was not until the drawing was transferred that I could start filling in the remainder of the background.  Not that it has or needs to have a lot of detail.  I wanted vertical lines behind her to suggest a tall space and horizontal lines out front of her to suggest a level surface for her feet to rest upon.
I meant for the two vertical shapes to be pillars, but they could be anything; a doorway, a window, curtains or banners.  I was waffling on what to put in the area to her right.  In one earlier sketch you can see that there was another animal briefly.  I asked a friend of mine what I should put there; a burly barbarian guard, a demon, dragon?  She said "a planter with palm branches."
"A Planter?!!!  With Palm Branches?!!!"  So I tried it and she was absolutely right it's perfect.

I then glazed over the whole thing with a thin wash of blue acrylic paint.  Once that was dry I achieved many of the white highlights by scraping it with a razor blade.  This gave a nice rough effect for the stone especially.
I did this intending to work over the entire piece in warmer tones of oil paint keeping the blue under-painting for all of the shadow areas.  But someone saw the painting and wanted to buy it just like it was.  I said "no, it isn't finished."  They pulled hundred dollar bills from their pocket so I said "OK" because that's just the kind of artistic integrity I'm known for.
I did however insist that they let me do a little painting on the figure before I sent it off to them because up close it really was a little rough.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Barbarian Queen 3

Now that I like all the elements of the draw and their placement I can rub charcoal on the back of the paper and transfer it to a board for painting on.  This board was fairly smooth and had a couple coats of Kilz primer on it which is as flat a finish as paper.  As always the board is recycled wood.  If you are careful you can do a very nice charcoal drawing on a board prepared this way, but you can't do any erasing.  However mistakes can be painted out with more primer if need be.  Then I spray the board with workable fixative and she's ready to paint.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pear Shapes 2

So lets talk for a moment about what is my favorite subject and almost certainly yours as well: Pear Shapes.  Pear shapes which are basically two circles or ovals mashed together are the foundation of many objects in the world.  Make yourself comfortable drawing and shading this basic shape and you are most of the way towards being able to draw pretty much everything.
The next two images illustrate this point overtly.  The rest of the images illustrate it more subtly. 


I always carry a little sketchbook everywhere I go so that I can doodle any time I'm bored.  But I only get bored if I'm not doodling.  Even if my head is entirely empty and I have no impulse to draw any particular thing I'll often begin with a pear shape.   Pretty soon something else will suggest itself to me and arms and legs and heads will appear. 

Note that as you move towards greater realism this in no way ceases to be true.  On the contrary we find hints of repeating pear shapes in the masses of the arms and legs, tail neck and head.

The centaurs cat body began with a pear shape defining his belly and rib-cage.  The humanoid part is an inverted pear defining his chest and abdomen.

This portrait of myself as Santa Clause began as a pear.  The nose did too.

They don't have to be pretty.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pear shapes 1

After I've traced the image onto a new paper I tape that up in the window and place yet another clean sheet on top of that.  On this one I only need to roughly trace the girl's but and leg and the shape of the throne.   This gives me a space to design a pet for her.  I know how big I can make him and how to wrap him around the edge of the chair and the girl's leg without covering her up or otherwise conflicting with the image.

I start, as I usually do, with pear shapes.

Drawing with a soft vine charcoal I can scribble out some details, wipe them off and re-scribble until I like what I have.

Once I've got something I like I can place this sketch back in the window and hang my new tracing of the girl in front and trace the monster onto the drawing with her.

And Bob's yer Uncle!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Barbarian Queen 2

Later while working on the drawing at home I made some improvements on the cat, but I still really didn't like it, possibly I'd drawn too many cats around that time and just wanted to mix things up a little.  Also I thought her posture was a little stiff.


 Placing the drawing in the window for a light-box, I'm able to tape a clean paper in front of it and trace the image.  Doing this allows me to shift and rotate the paper around as I see fit and thus altering the posture of the legs etc.  Here I've tilted her to the left so that when I trace her right leg it will angle up a little more than it did in the original sketch.


With the two sketches side by side you can compare the positions of the legs.  Her right leg angles up a little and her left lower leg angles back a little.  It's subtle  but the new one is more dynamic.  It has just that touch of energy and drama that the previous flat footed stance was missing.  This is another instinct acquired from sign painting.  Horizontal and vertical lines are stable and have a quiet dignity.  Diagonal lines feel unstable.  They have a sense of urgency and tension making you feel that something is about to happen.  Neither is right or wrong inherently it just depends on the feeling you're hoping to convey.