Friday, February 22, 2013

Visual storytelling

I have a fascination with illuminated manuscripts. One could argue that all artists are visual storytellers , but the illuminators where the masters of this craft. Their work was done at a time when people could not read words. They had to be able to read the pictures to understand the stories and meaning behind them.

The illuminators had a distinct disadvantage over those that were doing fresco's and large painted works. Where most of the artists had an entire wall or an entire ceiling to describe the biblical text, the illuminators were forced to work with the single page. In some cases they didn't even have an entire page to work with. Many times they met this challenge by presenting an entire story in one Illustration. I have quite a collection of illuminated pages on my Pinterest board if you are interested in seeing them. 

Over the last month I have grown to appreciate the problem-solving that these illuminators must have done. What do you leave out? What do you illustrate? When presented with an entire book out of the Bible these questions can be very difficult. In my case the book is Revelations. I am limited to three images. If you've ever read the book of revelations then you know it is full of imagery. The entire book is metaphor and simile.

With that in mind I have finished my second line drawing of the book of revelations. I decided to go with The woman in the Dragon. Since my first piece deals with how the writing began, iI decided my second piece needed to describe with how the war began.

Thumbnail sketches for Woman and the Dragon
Thumbnail sketches of Woman and the Dragon

My processes been fairly simple starting with a lot of sketches. I did thumbnail sketches because I wanted to figure out what my page layout was going to look like. I went with the second thumbnail sketch because it complemented the first piece I did. When everything is put together these will act as bookends to my story. My design is very circular in nature. That not only works well as a composition but it describes a circular nature of the book of Revelation. 

Michael S. Vieira has some very quick an informative video's concerning composition.  You can catch his channel HERE.  As I pull this all together, his advice and the advice given to me by my instructor James Werner about putting together a composition is sitting in the back of my mind.  Line, rhythm, unity.. all the words I learned are taking form.

Rough Sketch for Woman and the Dragon
Using Pink Breeze 8, I did a rough sketch of my main idea
My next photo is it sketch that I did to get the overall feel of what it is going to look like with some values. I used a photo reference from Deviant Art called Pink Breeze 8, by Auroradreams.  As you can see the Seven Headed Dragon is surrounding this woman. I did that because I wanted to present the urgency of the Dragon waiting to eat her child. In the final work I change the direction of his tail  because I wanted to show that his tail was knocking out one third of the stars.

I used the glass top of my desk as a lightbox
I slid the glass top of my desk out so I could use it as a lightbox to trace my sketch on to my paper.
I did most of this using the glass top of my desk as a lightbox. I traced what I wanted to keep. Then I turned the paper upside down to make sure was reading well in reverse.  It is a trick I learned from watching the methods and techniques of Michael Parkes.

In the next photo you can see my line drawing. I've added the angel, Michael, at the very top left, and I have added some angels going down the side to show that they drove the Dragon down to the earth. At the very bottom there is a woman looking at the wings of an eagle.

I placed the drawings side by side to see if they work together visually
I placed the drawings side by side to see how they would read visually.
Once my line drawing was done I put them side-by-side to see what they would look like together. I want to make sure that when they are displayed together that they show it congruency in design.

I have one more line drawing that needs to be done and then I'm ready to start painting.  I fully intend on using watercolor/gouache for this project, simply because I want to learn to use it effectively.  I love the glow watercolor gives.  If I do not get the results I am looking for, the line drawing can easily be put on canvas or panel and painted in oil.  That is the glory of having a line drawing done like this.  I can use it over and over until I get the look I am going for.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back in the saddle

After many tries at many different social outlets, I find myself back here at blogger.

Without much ado, let me share what I am working on, currently. As you can see my first try with watercolor was a failure. That's nothing new for me. The advantage to failure is that I get to see where the problems are.

I started with a basic sketch in my sketchbook. From there took it to paper I could add watercolor to. Things were looking pretty good at the underpainting. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.

I decided to go for redraw. There is a distinct advantage to working on paper that is semi transparent. By looking at the image in reverse I can tell where the mistakes are. This is just a basic white sulfite paper from Dick Blick. The advantage to using this paper is that I can draw on both sides. Once my drawing is complete I can transfer the final copy onto a clean sheet of paper.

I plan on giving this another try with a better drawing, and most importantly, a much better idea of what I want this illustration to look like.

One for the road. #mtg #mtgalter