Sunday, October 21, 2012

Landscape, continued...

So, after I had the composition and my basic color scheme figured out, it was time to get over my qualms and start the piece. I should have taken more in progress shots, so you all could see how ugly an oil painting starts out, but I was actually focused, and didn't think of it. Oops.

Initially I had this piece planned for a larger canvas that was about the proportion of those initial sketches, but because of time constraints I had to do some quick problem solving and figure out how to make it work on a smaller canvas.

I've done a piece before with this really lovely vignette effect that I thought might look really nice if I got the right level of detail into the interior of the painting, and frame the image, leading the eye in deeper to the image. I think in the end it actually worked, and my teacher seemed to get it. He actually gave me a couple of suggestions to make it a little more successful that I'm going to try once the paint sets a bit more.

Anyway, with all that prep the painting actually went really smoothly, especially for anything oil paint related and me... up till this point. And then something about the composition just really started bothering me.

At this point I remembered a post I'd read by Justin Gerard about something Rembrandt reportedly did- whenever he got stuck on a painting, instead of pushing through and, like I always do, risking ruining the whole thing, he would do small studies of the painting to figure out the problems. Gerard picked up the idea... but digitally. So, I decided to give it a try.

It actually helped a ton!

Many hours later and a little more back and forth and I'm actually really happy with where it's heading... and i've hit that point where the fear sets in. You know you're close, and you have that last set of details you want to add, and you know they're absolutely crucial to the painting.

You also know that at this point you have every potential to absolutely destroy everything you've done so far.

So, I took one last photo, and went back to my trusty Paint Tool SAI and started messing about again. It really saved my tail. It doesn't seem like much, but this was the first substantial composition change I'd made to the painting since I'd come up with it in the first place. It is much better for it, really, but there's really no way it would have happened without the digital 'inter-medium'...

And after another few hours of touch-ups and fiddling, here's my final piece. :)

I am rather pleased with the end result. There are certainly things that need to be fixed, but on the whole I think I'm finally getting the hang of oils :D

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Landscape in Progress

Finally, some original art! Yay! (that I'm not afraid or ashamed to show! Yay!)

To get things rolling again around here, I'm going to start out with a couple posts on the progress of this oil paint landscape. First stage- reference. Color, composition, material, whatever you are referencing, find it. It's always best to get your own shots, so you'll be certain to get just what you need, but in a pinch the internet sometimes has something close. I can say I definitely didn't take that lovely foggy shot, but it ended up helping me a ton in my color roughs.

Also, on-site studies, even better than any photograph ever. I'm terrible at them, but they still help a ton.

Next stage, composition sketches. I struggle with color a lot, so I keep them in greyscale and leave the color out of the mix entirely. Also, I'm really coming to love doing almost all of my fiddly composition work digitally. It seems to save a lot of headaching.

These are a few of the best that I thought up. I still struggle with this a bit. I used to do this part all in my head, which is problematic in a lot of ways. It's like doing math in your head. Yeah, you might do it alright most of the time, but then sometimes you're wrong, or you miss something, and you won't know where or when it was because you never wrote it down. So, I'm trying to train myself out of a very bad habit and actually draw out my thought process. My art really is improving as I do so.

Next comes the color studies. This is my favorite digital trick in the pre-painting stage.

See? So simple! You just take your favorite composition and go over and over and over again with all your different color potentials. Which is the same thing as you'd be doing by hand, except in this case you don't have to worry about the composition constantly accidentally changing on you, too. Fewer happy accidents, but far fewer frustrations as well. 

Aaaand I think that's it for tonight. Next post I'll get into the actual painting :) I'll have to see the finished thing in the light of day, but I think I actually like this one.