Friday, March 27, 2009

Dragon WIP 2

I've been spending some time with this every day for the past few days, trying to get it to cooperate. Until this afternoon, it refused to do so. Cooperate, that is. I couldn't quite create a satisfactory backdrop, and the lighting situation was being troublesome. There are two light sources: the somewhat weak, warm light of the setting sun, and the hot purple-white light of the dragon's breath weapon. Now, I have some decent cloud forms blocked it, to be blended and softened later. I stumbled upon the solution to the lighting situation by playing with the blending mode of the breath weapon layer and changing it to color dodge, which made it quite a bit hotter and brighter, which therefore allowed me to put some brighter highlights on the creature's body. This increases the creature's sense of mass, and the hot, bright colors and values reinforce it as the focal point of the picture.
The structure was obviously made in SketchUp. Whether I make its base visible in the picture, or have it extend up from below the bottom of the image, I haven't decided. I haven't decided if there will be more buildings yet. Probably, since this scene is supposed to be taking place over a city. There will also be some more dragons and some fighter planes in the background, though I haven't decided where to place them yet.

I would have waited and posted a slightly more developed WIP than this, but just as I was getting going my tablet and Photoshop decided not to play with each other nicely, and I wanted to post something before I restarted my computer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guncraft Character: Feather Man

This is the third member of the main trio of characters that I'm developing for my Guncraft world, the other two being Hawk Girl and Skullface. I really need to figure out the names of these characters soon, because these silly placeholder names are becoming an integral part of their identity in my mind.
Anyway, Feather Man is an aged protagonist, a man of incredible bravery and spiritual strength. He's a member of a mostly-vanished tribe known as the Sky People, a counterpart to the Earth People mentioned in my Manticore portrait, of whom Skullface traces his descent. Birds, and especially eagles, are of great spiritual importance to the Sky People, so Feather Man has golden eagle feathers tied to his hair and his rifle, as well as an eagle skull hanging from his neck. These are talismanic objects, increasing his spiritual strength and enhancing his Vocal abilities. His tattoos (which, more than anything else in this image, are subject to redesign and change) represent the hills and valleys of the earth (the dark lines) and the sky above it (the light lines). His choice of weaponry furthers the eagle symbolism. The eagle chooses its prey carefully, from a distance, and once it dives to catch its prey it is committed, for it is difficult to fly back up and dive again, and by then the prey will have fled. His gun is an old-timey breach-loading rifle which must be painstakingly reloaded after each shot; therefore, each shot must be taken wisely and carefully, just like the eagle diving for its prey.
As stated, this character fills out the main trio of my Guncraft characters. He and Skullface represent opposing forces. Skullface represents youth, idealism, war, vengeance, etc., while Feather Man represents age, compromise, peace, forgiveness, etc. Hawk Girl, as my best friend in the world put it when I was explaining the story to her, represents the human element of the story.
Feather Man's theme song is Ceremony, a guitar instrumental by Joe Satriani. Youtube link to the album version: [link] . I think it shows that there is much more to this character than meets the eye.
On a related note, Skullface also has a theme song, Hill of the Skull, also by Joe Satriani: [link] . I've been keeping my ear out for a theme song for Hawk Girl, but so far haven't found anything fitting.

As far as the technical aspects of making this image go, I was sort of experimenting with a new rendering technique in this image. I used only hard-edged shapes, not blending the values at all. I think this had a nice effect in the face, making it nice and craggy and blocky, but I think it was somewhat less successful on the rest of the body. But it's hard to see underneath the layer effects and textures that I put over the original rendering anyway, so whatever.

This man's face formed the basis for Feather Man's features.

Feather Man's feather-laden hair is based on this man, Last Horse, below.

I have no idea who these photos belong to. Sorry.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Manticore Portrait

In my time alone I visited the ruins of Pueh. I walked through the abandoned roads and took shelter in the houses that had not held anyone since before the Grandfathertime. I hunted and foraged and spent time with my own thoughts. One day, as the winds were turning and growing colder, I met a Manticore.
Because they are both beast and man, the Manticores are revered by the Earth People, for beasts are truer to the Way of the Earth than men, and their Ghroi more powerful. This Manticore walked on things that were both hands and feet and paws. It panted and growled like a beast yet moved its lips as if muttering to itself. Though it walked on four legs, it was tall enough to look me in the eye. I looked back, and because I did not make obeisance as a man should when he faces a Manticore, it struck me in the face, opening my cheek. I was furious, but also terrified, and I bent and pressed my face to the Earth. The Manticore stood for a long time before it was satisfied with my abasement and left. It was then that I knew that I was wrong to hate my people for giving my sister to the Manticores. I should hate the Manticores for taking her.


This was fun fun fun to paint, and even better, it broke me out of the art funk I've been in for the past few weeks.
This is a manticore, and it lives in the same world as my Guncraft characters (though a few centuries earlier). Michael Jaecks [link] put the idea in my head to paint a manticore, and several weeks ago a unique concept and idea for the manticore came to me. I plan to do a larger painting of this creature, showing its entire body as well as its native landscape.
The italic text above is a snippet of a short story I'm writing. I'll post it in its entirety once I do a more complete and involved painting of a manticore.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beatific Dragon Sketches

On there is an activity called Creature of the Week. As the name suggests, each week a new topic is given, and anyone registered to that site may post their own interpretation of the topic. This week's topic was Beatific Dragon. While jumping from article to article in Wikipedia, as I sometimes do, I came across the Mute Swan, and thought it would make a pretty sweet basis for a holy dragon design.
Here is what I've sketched for it so far.

In addition to swans, I also looked at some dinosaur and iguanid lizard reference. The iguanid reference doesn't really show in the design at all, but it is definitely quite dinosaurian. Someone has already commented that there's quite a bit of Oviraptor to its design.

After choosing which design I liked (which didn't take very long) and roughing in a color scheme, I drew it in the more interesting pose above. And that's as far as I've gotten. I tried a few backgrounds, but they weren't working, so for now there's just a blank white background. Because of schoolwork pressures (next week being finals week), I highly doubt I'll get this done in time for the Monday deadline, but I do intend to finish it. I've found digital painting to be somewhat awkward recently, though, so what I think I'll do is finish a large paper drawing, photograph it, and then colorize it digitally. Or something like that. We'll see.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Figure Drawing 2009, episode whatever

Here's another batch of my figure drawings.

A few weeks ago, we had to demonstrate our knowledge of skeletal and muscular anatomy by changing parts of the figure into mechanical forms that are analogous to the muscles and bones of those parts of the body. This was very fun. It's not a serious piece of mechanical design at all, though.

Another assignment a few weeks ago was to do a study of some draped cloth. This was as far as I got on mine. I'm going to do it over with a smaller and simpler setup.

I did this drawing earlier this week. This is the only part of the drawing worth showing. The head doesn't really look like the model, but I think I did a good job modeling the form there.

In the previous drawing, we were urged to go dark, to use a lot of compressed charcoal to put a lot of black on the drawing. In the drawing above, we had the opposite goal: go as light as possible. So, this drawing is rendered only using a white charcoal pencil and the tone of the paper. There's some regular graphite pencil in there, remnants of the initial sketch. I think it may be my best, or at least one of my best, figures so far.