Hey guys, want to give a quick introduction here before I post -
I work as a VFX artist full time but always had a passion for drawing, and designing characters, video game levels, and illustration. When I went to school initially I didn't have the confidence to attempt traditional drawing and figured I would just learn programs and become a 3D artist. I ended up regretting this decision as I always wanted the skill to bring my visions to life, and just knowing programs like photoshop and maya isn't enough. I assumed I just didnt have the innate talent to draw because I compared myself to the best on the internet. However I changed that view after seeing some artists and hearing how they learned it like any other skill. I was just never properly taught what and how to study art so I assumed it was 'magic' - now I see it like learning math or language, you need to start with foundations and move one step at a time. I tried taking some classes at come colleges but because teachers are paid to pass everyone, I never felt like I was really learning. I've decided to take a path of being self-taught but utilizing as many great information and critiques from good artists, which brings me to taking this Level Up / Start course.
All right, enough about me, onto the art.
Rubens - Prometheus Bound
I chose this piece because I loved the dramatic contrast of his body against the dark landscape, and the almost impossible flowing shapes. I feel with the way Prometheus is flowing down the bottom half of the image gives it a strong sense of his powerlessness and his demise.
I am a big fan of dramatic violent pieces with strong contrast and serious themes which is something I want to see incorporated into my work.
I spent 55 minutes total on it, and the time flew by.
As soon as I started, I doubted my decision to pick this piece, there is so many different values and forms all crammed into one frame that I was overwhelmed, but I stuck with it. I am not very satisfied with my result but hey, at least I am leaving room for improvement.
Great to meet you. Welcome aboard. I will look forward to your updates. Thanks for the intro.
with that said I will share some thoughts on shapes that I shared with another earlier. When you are first getting started it is very important to really focus in on the mapping out of your shapes as accurately as you can possibly get them. If you put a shape in the wrong place and commit you end up having the other shapes off and require fixing, which increases painting time. By taking just a few extra minutes early on to measure out your shapes, to compare your shapes, and be sure they are placed and drawn accurately will make the rest of the painting process, working out your values and edges, much much easier.
You should flip the images horizontally and vertically so that you see the shapes with fresh eyes. This should be part of the process and if you are already doing that, keep doing it more. The professional artists will often flip images or use a mirror to see with fresh eyes as many as three or four times a minute as they are working when things really get flowing. You can also back away...actually get up and back away...and doing this works for shapes as well as checking values and edges.
Point being, painting textures on a model with mesh and uv issues would be very similar to moving forward into further rendering without nailing down those shapes. You are close...but you must get closer..which no doubt you will and can, given the work you do for a living is as complex and talent requiring as it is. You are on the right track..just want to push you to be all the way on it. Keep it up.
Thanks Jason for the critique.
I will really focus on that, I have to admit I'm finding trouble nailing the shapes and getting detail in one hour, but I will keep pushing with this time limit as I think its forcing my brain to make better decisions quicker.
With that said, I still ran into shape problems with this one, after finishing, I overlayed it on top and I realized I am putting things in mostly the right place in the frame, but sort of scaling up the size of the characters and shapes. I will work to correct this.
2) Rembrandt- Deposition from the Cross
The second I saw this piece I was impressed with the use of the emphasis to suck me right into the middle and the point of focus. The glowing white cloth and Jesus' body contrasts with the darks around it and I especially enjoy how the light fades out over the stairs, which helps to transition between the dark ground and angelic whites. Also enjoy the flow of the characters moving around the left of the piece, and the very slight ground on the right that curves around and back into depth.
Still accidently scaled some areas but I think I did a little better.
3) Caravaggio - David
Chose this piece because I loved the chiaroscuro that really dramatizes and emphasizes Goliaths face. One thing I notice too, is the rhythm of Davids leg and arm, both aligned in a way that balances out and directs movement in the composition. And of course the flowing clothes has a nice rhythm too and gives some energy to the piece which is kind of static with the way everything is placed in the frame, not a lot of breathing room along the edges.
yes you are doing better. you might want to add another 15 mins to the pieces so you go in and amend and adjust your shapes now that you are catching yourself. that is the only way to nail them down and get them right...to just jump in and do it. it will get faster...and easier...as you go.
Thanks for the critique Jason. I will put in more time per piece to make sure I get the shapes better each time.
I remember one thing a professor told me once that its best to get accuracy before speed, because you can always decrease the speed but not increase the accuracy. For this attempt I didnt keep track of time, I think it was probably more like 2 hours.
4) Sargent - A Dinner Table At Night
I really loved the rhythm created by both the pictures on the wall, and also the three lamps.
The variety of detail between the table and the walls creates a nice balance. The contrasting woman's clothes and face against the wall creates a nice emphasis. I also like the man being partially cutoff on the side, leaving the rest to mystery.
I was feeling really good about matching the shapes until I finished it and A/B'ed with the source. I accidentally shifted everything over by making the furniture too long. Other than that, I was happy that I put in more time and managed to control the scale of the characters and objects this time. I feel I got the values down, but because of time didnt get the nice textures from the original.
Hey guys, was gone for a long time there, got hit with a major deadline for a movie through July so I fell off the bandwagon, but I'm not giving up! I will inch towards mastery even if takes my entire life!
Here is my next exercise, in all honesty I don't even want to show it, I simply wasn't able to finish it within the time I gave myself, and I easily spent 3+ hours just to get this far. I am going to pick pieces with less detail from now on, because I'm going way too ambitious with these ones, I'm picking the ones I like the most instead of being practical! I got the values down OK, but some spots like his helmet are distorted from the original shape, and I simply wasn't able to get all the details and shapes I wanted. Very challenging for me..
The note you guys gave me still applies, I am missing a lot of the paint texture. Any advice on the best way to quickly and accurately mimic paint like textures? Easiest solution would be just grab a texture and turn it into a brush and quickly add spots, but that wouldn't be anything near the accuracy of the original...
La Belle Dam Sans Mercie - John William Waterhouse
Anyway for this piece, I was captivated by it! The emphasis on the two characters is perfect, the rhythm of the background trees, and the petals on her dress wraps thins up, plenty of variety of shapes, the economy is fantastic with the details of the knights clothes and face fading into shadow, same with the trees in shadow..Repetition of the cloth, trees, flowers. Balance, putting the characters in the upper left quadrant and having more light areas in the bottom right. Great stuff (and it looks even better in color). I would love to be able to capture this style of lighting in my artwork.
6) Rembrandt- philosopher in meditation
Lots of fun stuff in this one, emphasis on the philosopher, the rhythm, repetition, and movement provided by the stairs. Secondary emphasis on the lady in the corner. Awesome lighting as everything fades into shadow.
Was a challenging piece (as they all have been for me, ha!) and very fun to see how he manipulates the light and shadow. I was really excited to see as my study started to form into something that looked like it had depth.
Tried putting in some paint texture, it was a half-assed effort at the end, but its something I suppose.
On the textures...use textured brushes after you get things roughed in a bit...and you can even use photo overlays at really low opacity as an overlay layer...sometimes rust textures or pavement textures can work if they are high resolution enough to get in and show grit.
download a brush pack from whit brachna, jaime jones, or kekai kotaki. That should give you some more painterly brushes too.
Here's my next one, I am doing these in a smaller size like the original assignment actually said. This way I can actually complete them in an hour!
7 - Madame X by Sargent
Has been a few times by other students.
I chose this because I needed something simple and I love the black and white contrast. Nice emphasis on the face. Very balanced. Nice grounded with the table on the left. A fun piece to do.
Also put more effort into making legit texture this time!
Keeping them small so I can keep busting them out.
8) The Moorish Bath by Jean-Leon Gerome
Dont have time to go into a deep analysis but I love the mysterious use of shadow, the godrays coming down for rhtyhm, emphasis, repetition.
Nice use of perspective. Really awesome piece I loved drawing this one.
Very nice work on your shapes. Values can improve in the following areas. a. sargent-the gradients on her flesh could be more accurately handled with a soft edged air brush at low opacity. b. the gerome needs those light light bits on her flesh and the wall that spark the entire image.
Outside that you really are doing great and so keep pushing and keep doing analysis of the compositions too!
I spent much more than an hour on this guy, it took me an hour to get the basic values and shapes and I realized I wanted to do this one justice with the details so I just kept pushing and pushing...I am really happy with the result.
Air Castles by Maxfield Parrish
Rhythm - The bubbles, branches in the trees, and folds in the cloth all create rhythm.
Emphasis - Boys face placed just out of center, framed by his black hair. Secondary focus on the castle in the BG with less detail than FG
Variety - Various sizes in the bubbles. Different shapes mixed, we have round bubbles, vertical castles, rough trees, soft hair.
Economy - less detail on the BG elements like the castles, the sky and skyline are solid colors which gives it a real graphic feel
Repetition - clearly the bubbles repeat for a nice effect
Balance - Character is comfortably sitting in the bottom left quadrant, we have nice negative space in the upper right. the bubbles flowing down create a nice sillouhette to cutout the sky
Continuity - Great movement with the way the bubbles flow across the top. Same with the figure and the outstretched arm and overall pose.
Unity - I dont have the vocabulary to fully describe it...the piece just works as a whole, due to the use of negative space, position of the character, and direction created..
Rhythm - folds in the cloth, shapes on the shirt
Emphasis - primary focus on the face, framed by dark hair, also the profile of the face is framed by a bright piece of the cloth. Head is tilted to profile so we get a clear look at the direction of his eyes.
Variety - folds in the cloth vs flat shapes, shadows and bright whites, lots of different shapes and edges
Economy - background is completely hid in shadows to pop the character out.
Repetition - obvious repetition with the reflection being a subdued copy of the character. folds in cloth. the arms are basically mirrored across each other.
Balance - character sits at the top of the frame and is held up by his reflection at the bottom. Negative space around the top gives it room to breath while the crop at the bottom grounds it a little.
Continuity - pose of the character creates an arch that is completed by his reflection, making a whole circle which the eye can travel around. Direction of the eyes sends us to the bottom to the reflection.
Unity - Shadows, symmetry, folds, edges, all work together.
I spent less on this than the last one but definitely went over 1 hour. Was a nice piece to do as the negative space allowed me to focus on the areas of interest.
Bathsheba by Jean-Leon Gerome
Rhythm is established with the building structures on the bottom left. Also clouds in the sky.
Emphasis is on the figure placed in the bottom right, works great by having the character rising about the horizon line and framing her figure with the white sky.
Variety established with soft clouds and figures compared with the geometrical structures.
Economy established with the sky as a negative space and things left in shadows such as the figure in the top left.
Repetition is evident with the geometrical structures on the left
Balance is created with the piece being grounded at the bottom with the rooftop, the top left is balancing out the bottom right.
Continuity is created by having the angle of the of the viewer at the top left going down at an angle to the figure at the bottom then flowing to the character right below her.
Unity is established by the whole piece being well placed and having similar edges and shadows and letting things fall out of detail.
Hacking away at these. I've got a good momentum going now.
12) Titus van Rijn in a Monk's Habit - Rembrandt
Chose this piece because of the emphasis with the bright light thrown on top of the figures face. I love the use of lighting and shadows in this one. The technique is something I'd love to incorporate into my own work. Great economy with the negative space and less detail around the edges.
Would like to revisit this after all 20 and touch it up a bit.
Been sitting on this for over a week and just finished it up tonight.
Started a new job, I'll be working prepping shots for the upcoming Jurassic World, Game of Thrones, and others so I've been excited about that!
I'm starting to think a job as a matte painter would be a good next step, as I've really enjoyed learning the principles of painting and composition.
13) Girl_with_a_Red_Hat - Vermeer
Well I didn't really nail the likeness of her face but had to cut my time on it as I spent a lot on it overall.
Great emphasis with the lighting, I love that. Nice variety of textures and shapes. Economy of a simple background.
14) Portrait of Louis Betts by William Merritt Chase
Decided to continue with the portraits for a few more studies.
Chose this one for the emphasis and economy utilized by having the bright light on the right side, and his right eye completely dropped into shadow.
Fun stuff also it was a little easier because the brush strokes were loose.
I took a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes on this guy.
Also made a timelapse showing my process:
Last edited by TheSwan; November 12th, 2014 at 03:51 AM.
I love this piece, the primary focus in the bottom right, and the secondary focus in the middle left. love the lighting casting a shadow up on the wall.
nice use of rhythm on the brick oven or whatever that is.
Man this piece ended up taking forever, I wanted to get as many details as possible and every inch of this piece has small details!
I spent 6 hours total.
Here is the timelapse as well:
18) Egypt by Maxfield Parrish
I love the meta quality to it, the egyptian is standing in the same pose as the one typically shown in egyptian wall drawings.
Great use of balance, with the bottom horizontal floor, rhythm with the cracks on the wall, etc
I did notice after completion that I made his shoulders a bit wider than the original, but I spent enough time on it to call it 'done'. About 4 hours total.
Well finally got the last two done! What a feeling of accomplishment.
I wish I could have posted these sooner but I was swamped with overtime at work.
I'm now on a break between contracts so I have time to practice art again.