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Sunday, July 31, 2011

After the Final

In terms strictly of painting, of adjusting individual pixels, I was done.  But I couldn't resist fooling around a bit with Photoshop filters and modes, just to see what might occur.

Here is what happened when I simply increased the contrast (under Image/Adjust/Brightness-Contrast) to 100%:
(Click on pictures for larger view.)
What I got here was a hot rendition--not only high in contrast but apparently high in saturation as well.  Compare this with the relatively subdued image in the previous post.  By comparison, this is like a pulp magazine cover.  And incidentally, if you are unfamiliar with illustration for print, this much variation is well within the sort of color rendition you might expect on different press runs of the same picture without someone doing press checks.

And you know?  I like it better.  The high contrast  suits the mood of madness implied by the animator's expression.

I then tried one more thing--I wanted to see how the image would look without color. So: Image/Adjust/Black and White.  This give you a popup panel with sliders not only for yellows, magentas and cyans, but also greens, reds and blues.  I tried pushing the Yellow slider almost all the way to the right, and it naturally brightened the whole area where the light is radiating up from the animation board.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Final Painting

(Click twice on the picture to view larger versions.)
Differences between this and the last version are few and subtle but worth doing.  I did more on the shirt, working some on the shadows of the folds and brightening the highlight on the back.  The wristwatch is more detailed, and I darkened the shadowed area of the chair back.  In a light gray I added suggestions of calibration markings to the black peg bars of the drawing disk.

On a new layer I then airbrushed a dark cool tone over everything except the figure and the desktop, which has the effect of bringing up the glow of the papers and their light source still more.  As a last touch on yet another new layer, I added a mist of gold emanating from the drawing surface and reaching to the face, like light on tiny motes of airborne dust.

A few posts back, I mentioned that I had the pencil drawing layer always available in the Photoshop layer stack, above all the painting layers.  I could turn it on and off to check detail, perspective, and anything else I had first deliniated in pencil.  Just for fun, here is how the final painting looks with that layer turned on:
Final with pencil drawing overlay turned on.  Click on picture for larger view.

As you can see, this layer, useful as it was, now adds nothing to the painting except a degree of darkness and loss of saturation.  Everything I wanted from it I have transferred into the painting, which was my intention from the start.

And so it's finished, I thought.  And yet...

Next:  Beyond Final

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Foreground Detail_Part Two

Now at last I have taken on the face, the hair, the eyeglasses with their dramatic reflections, the folds in the shirt, the edge of the desk, working with extremely small brushes in some cases, and doing some blending.  But not too much blending; I like the more painterly look and the vibrancy of juxtaposing unblended color areas.

Also, as in some of the best portrait photography, allowing some areas to remain unfocused or otherwise unresolved adds an even greater appearance of sharpness to the areas that are more fully developed.  Not everything should be in HD!

Here is the photo that was my main facial reference (and obviously also for the right hand):

Next: Finished!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Foreground Detail_Part One

Again, working carefully from back to front, I have now detailed the aluminum drawing disk, the hands and the papers.  A pencil appears in the right hand.

I had a number of reference photos to work from for this composition.  Here is the one I was using most at this point:
Reference material, while quite useful, should nonetheless be used selectively and not too slavishly.  But here you can see that I did rely on it heavily for the light effects on the bevel of the disc and for the effect of the light coming up through the papers from beneath.  (In case you don't know, the aluminum disc has a rectangle of frosted glass inset in its center and a light source underneath, giving translucency to the paper and thus the ability of the animator to closely relate a series of drawings to one another.)

Next: The Face and Torso

Monday, July 25, 2011

When the Background Takes the Forefront

As you see, there are few changes to the foreground from the last version.  This is very hard for me!  My tendency is to want to get right to the pose, the hands, the face, because those are the things that interest me most.  It explains part of my attraction to animation:  the animator, I once thought,  is free to play with the character and leave the background and other tiresome detail to others.

Of course this is a mistake of snobbery, for the setting and surroundings are important in the extreme to the overall persuasiveness of a scene, whether it be a single painted image or an animation sequence.  In another way of thinking, the human or other character is just the central element among a host of contributing elements.  So I have learned to give due attention to the layout and background, and I have not been sorry.

Also, in opaque media it makes sense to detail a scene from back to front  so that, once established, edges and forms closer to the front are not interfered with by any subsequent work on forms behind.

An exception here is the forward desk edge that I decided to add.  It gives a more accurate impression of the proportions of an animator's desk, and it strengthens the composition as well with its strong angle that sweeps the eye back around and into the picture.

Here was an instance where I turned the drawing layer on frequently to check the alignment of the painted contours with the ruled lines on the drawing.   I think the result is a fairly convincing space from the back wall around the corner to the wall on the left.

Next:  The Foreground At Last!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Establishing the Palette

Here I have blocked in the colors and, to a great extent, the value range I want.  Most important is the effect of light coming through the glass and paper on the drawing disk; it bathes the animator's face in its glow, enhancing his mad and zealous look.  There is a cooler secondary light coming in from the right.  This is daylight coming through windows and must not overpower the other.

Most of the palette is made up of colors selected from this reference photo.  Note all the detail of the photo that I have left out.  As important as knowing what to put in, is knowing what to omit.

Next:  Detailing the Background

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tight Pencil

Here I have added a little more detail and discipline to the drawing, putting in some architectural elements to the room, changing a few minor proportions, trueing-up the ellipse of the animation disk.  These are things that are hard to change at a later stage in painting so are best done now.

Ready to Paint
Now the drawing has been uploaded to a Photoshop file, the background copied onto a new layer, and the layer set to Multiply (Layer/Layer Style/Blending Options/Multiply).  This action with a gray-scale layer causes the white areas to become transparent, thus making my drawing  useful as an overlay which I will keep above the painting layers throughout the painting process, turning it on anytime I want to check the painting against the drawing for accuracy.  But the goal is to eventually make this drawing layer redundant as the painting becomes in itself fully detailed and complete.

The sepia color you see now is from a new layer added beneath the drawing layer.  This is a mid-value tone that I will now paint over and is equivalent to the wet media painting technique of laying in a mid-value brownish wash as a starting point before applying color.

Next: Establishing the Palette

Friday, July 22, 2011

Early Concept

I did this drawing many years ago, probably in the late 70s (before I grew my 'stache).*

I like the new one much better, but this does show the idea of the glow from the backlight of the animation board shining up into the animator's face as if he were some wizard enraptured by the aura of his crystal ball or magic spell.

By the way, I have a long history of self portraits that spans my entire career.  In future posts I will publish some of them.  I think you may find them entertaining, as most of them are more in the nature of cartoons or caricature than these.

*And for anyone who is a stickler for English stylebook rules, I know perfectly well that the books say that the period should be inside the closing parenthesis; I just have never liked the look of that, and I don't find it logical.