Art: Book cover in oils, step by step - Page 2
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  1. #31
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    I'm glad you posted this. It's the first of your work where I noticed your name and resolved to seek out other work by you, as I liked it so much. Mostly, however, I'm glad you posted it for the chance to raise what may be a sensitive question, regarding a problem I see with much fantasy illustration, which tends to involve the depiction of a pre-modern, generally medieval milieu. The characters look more like modern people in dress-up than actual people of the period.
    I can't quite frame what there is about these depictions that suggests moderns in dress-up to me, except to say by comparison the figures of Jon Howe and Jon Rush look "period" where most other fantasy illustrator's figures don't, yours included.
    But is it even a problem?
    This work is a cover for a book about a teen-age girl in Arthur's day. The target audience, presumably modern teen-age girls, will relate to an image reflecting their experience, that's just good-sense marketing. This all assumes the anachronism is intentional, rather than an accidental by-product of using photo-reference, of painting in fact "a modern person in dress-up".
    After all this, I guess that's the question, is the anachronism intentional or accidental?

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  2. #32
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    wow man, nice work! So refined and yet you work so small(imo). The sequel cover is my prefered but both are blatantly excellent.

    Random story(I hope it was you they were reffering to) : Went down to the local art store(I'm in New Zealand) to get some canvas and got chatting to the couple who had recently bought the place. Saw that he was busy working away on an illustration(very slick pencil piece) and so scooted on over to check it out. So we get talking for ages about illustration and turns out this guy knows his shit inside out and has STACKS(as in more than 2000 he tells me) of books on illustrators from past and present which gives me the preverbial hardon. Turns out his name is Jim Auckland(appropriate considering he's just moved to the city of Auckland) and was one of your old art teachers... atleast I think so!. Bizzare coincidence if I do say so myself. Been back a couple of times since and milled over some of his books and generally geeked out on the fact I've met (bar Rusty) someone who is into this stuff as much as I am.


    ..again, stunning work!

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  3. #33
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    this is great ... beautiful work ...



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  4. #34
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    hi! Good work man, i especially like the fact you're using oils, I love traditionnal rendering! the suggestion of the background is well done, the red and the weapons gives us just what the mind needs to imagine all the warriors behind!
    I'm french, and I would like to know if american editors are giving you a lot of time to do your cover, because oil is so long to dry! And also Know how much is payed a cover , to compare with french editors... bye!

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  5. #35
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    Elwell, i really have to say thank you... i love this peace .
    You made my day, Really you did .

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  6. #36
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    Hey Elwell,
    Way to go, pal! Cool to see some of your stuff.
    Cheers,

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  7. #37
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    Cory Hinman-
    You raise an interesting point. I agree that a lot of F/SF illustration can appear too reference bound, and it's something I'm guilty of sometimes myself, even as I work against it. I know that I always find it somewhat distracting when I recognize models, costumes, or props in an illustration, and it's only gotten worse as publishing has tended more and more towards what are essentially photo manipulations for covers. I generally try for as much accuracy as I can in a historical piece (within the demands of the picture), but there is a certain specificity to working with models and photos that can work against a feeling of timelessness. On the other hand, when it works, the right models, props, lighting, etc, can give you things you never would be able to invent.

    Lukias-
    I know Jim Aukland's work, but I never studied with him. Pump him for all the info you can, though, he knows his stuff!

    OldNoobie-
    Thank you very much.

    keul-
    I think I touched on a bunch of your questions on the first page. Drying time isn't really an issue the way I paint because of the acrylic underpainting, keeping the layers thin, and using a drying medium. It's very rare for the paint not to be touch dry in twelve hours or so. As for prices, I think on average U.S. rates are higher than in Europe because the market is larger.

    oma-
    Thanks a lot.

    Chupacabra-
    Thank you, sir.


    Tristan Elwell
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  8. #38
    Ellingsworth Guest
    Awesome stuff, Elwell. I have sort of a strange question, do you actually read all the books you paint the covers for? Yeah, I know. Silly question.

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  9. #39
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    this pictures are looking very good!!

    but i have a question about your process. i mean staying so very close to your photo-reference looks not very creative to me.
    you would save time overpainting the photo in corel painter or ps. the result in print would make no big difference.
    i don´t want to say you where chaeting. i only want to know if it´s the artdirector telling you to have it that photo-look-like... -or is there a reason you are doing so?
    don´t get me wrong, it´s no crit on your process only a question.

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  10. #40
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    The frontshot spear one is jawesome and the steps by steps are great. Do you ever transfer to digital? maybe to try/test quick alternatives?

    Alex

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  11. #41
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    Ellingsworth-
    It depends on the project. Sometimes I'm given a very specific brief spelling out exactly the scene/concept the client wants for a cover, with descriptions of characters, costumes, setting, etc. Other times I'm simply given a manuscript, and my job is to read it and generate cover ideas. And anything in between those two extremes is also possible. Given the choice, I like to have a manuscript even if I also have an editor's/AD's brief, simply because there have been times in the past when I've caught errors in the materials I was given. Also, editors aren't necessarily visual people, and may not pull the same information I would from a manuscript. Although covers have to be prepared so far in advance for marketing purposes these days, that there have been times where I've done paintings for books that haven't even been written yet.

    Arne S.-
    I'm sure someone could save time working that way, but I would have to completely relearn my process at this point. At some point in the future I may decide to, or be forced to, switch over to working 100% digitally, but at the moment I'm so busy that I can't take the time off it would require to teach myself how. I won't argue with your opinion on creativity, but I will say that the creative process starts long before the brush hits the board, and if I'm doing a job that requires shooting reference, then I consider research, choosing models and costumes, and directing the shoot part of that process. Also, not every job requires or warrants a shoot; probably about 50% of my figure work is invented.

    alxcote-
    I know my way around Photoshop pretty thoroughly, but I basically use it for preliminary work and "post-production." I'll scale and combine reference material, and play around with color palettes, but I do very little digital painting as such. And when a job is finished I'll scan, clean up, and color correct it. Occasionally if I have to do major changes on a finished piece I'll paint them separately and patch them in in PS.

    Last edited by Elwell; August 7th, 2007 at 04:04 PM.

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  12. #42
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    thanks for your answer.
    creative process starts long before the brush hits the board
    yes, you are definitely right. i wasn´t thinking about.

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  13. #43
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    This is putting your money where your mouth is!!hehe..joke.

    Yes, I'm one of your crit victims
    And which I have to thank you because
    it made me push harder to learn the real stuff and stop faking my art.
    Still faking it though....

    But thank you! Thank you for your process...Very very inspiring!

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  14. #44
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    Beautifull works!
    Thanks to put your work method in your thread!

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  15. #45
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    Thanks Elwell,

    Definately interesting to see your process, you're obviously great with handling traditional media, laying out successful compositions for print etc, It's interesting to see the level to which you work with reference too.

    I have to say that your work fails a bit (in my most humble opinion) when it comes to appeal and excitement. All the technical rendering in the world can't make a bored looking character feel exciting.

    I'd say your previous cover is more successful in that the character has a look that matches the feel of the piece... it being a more subdued scene. For an action shot like this new cover, the character doesn't look fully engaged.

    If the AD wants more action, give them ACTION! This girl looks like she could almost be yawning. Open her mouth more so she looks like she's actually giving a battle-cry. Arch her eyebrows and give her wild eyes that tell us she's charging into an arthurian-style melee that could be her last. Have her standing up a bit in the stirrups like she's on a charging horse instead of sitting on a wooden pommel horse in a photography studio. Push the expression so that your potential readers can feel her excitement and will want to be as excited when they read. What you've done instead is perfectly reproduce the image of your model's bad acting.

    I would say for you, this will have to start with your reference shoot, since you are directing them, it is within your power to get more excitement out of your models.
    Seriously... give your models 4 redbulls or a triple espresso before the shoot or something! Liven it up, play some death metal with the volume on 11, yell at them, get them PUMPED!

    You've got the technical ability, and while you may be a bit "reference bound" you are still directing your own photo reference, all you have to do to make your pieces more alive is too push your models (or not book them at 6 am) and if that fails, practice drawing some bolder, more expressive faces on your own.

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  16. #46
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    Sexy.

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  17. #47
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    I have been gone from here for quit some time, however, when I read this thread, I just had to say how awesome I think it was to do this for us. Thank you, Elwell.

    Honest, I don't try to be an asshole, it just happens!

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  18. #48
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    thanks for the praw-cess shots

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  19. #49
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    Great fun elwell, this is like jumping from trampoline to trampoline. Keep delivering, cheers!

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  20. #50
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    nice tutorial sir. really informative ( i suck with oils so i really appreciate the methods used).

    love so see some more in the future.
    Nice work

    Slainte!

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  21. #51
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    Thanks for giving us an insight into your process.

    "Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius in sensu" | SB | Portfolio | FJGC (blog) | DA (Profile) | EJERCICIOS DE COLOR
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  22. #52
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    That's a very interesting post

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  23. #53
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    I really like the sense of 'completeness' about these. Without being over polished they have have a welome feeling of being resolved.
    Interesting what you were saying about the problem of achieving 'timlessness' when using reference closely. There is a sort of reverse problem when working without any reference at all whereby the work sometimes displays a rather disconcerting 'insular' claustrophobia that is the result of ones own 'quirks' becoming distracting. As you say, the most satisfying feeling is when there is a marriage between one's own formal invention and the suprises that overwhelm us when trying to come up with equivalents for the 'stylessness' of mother nature.

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  24. #54
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    Great job this is fantastic.. i love how you show the reference images.. gives me an idea of what i would like to do for poses... keep up the effort!!

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    Wow great piece! Thanks for the generous donation of your time and energy in posting up the step by step. I always learn so much from fellow creators when they do this, professional or amateur. So thanks.

    KM

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  26. #56
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    Following your steps is awesome. Thank you for sharing your working methods here!

    Best,

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  27. #57
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    You just have to wait til last minute on everything, don't you?

    Nice piece--nice job...

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  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Thanks again to everyone, especially for the stars.
    You deserve nothing less, Your work and progress is truly amazing. Keep inspiring us all, thank you Elwell.

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  29. #59
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    I love zombie threads...especially when they're covering material this excellent...and I missed it the first go round. Already 3 years old as of last week (October 9th, 2004, 01:15 PM) and it's still popping up -- sweet!!

    t

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  30. #60
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    Very interesting.

    I'm actually surprised by how little drawing there is or research on the values, those being replaced by the photo work and by tracing directly on the board. I understand that this is to save time and to add realism but the final painting curiously seems to have anatomy problems, with the torso and legs too short (is it because of the camera lens?).

    I know some people are going to tell me tracing photos and referencing colors or values from them is perfectly normal, but at the same time people like Marko D don't do it, so it seems to me more like a clumsy crutch that ends up producing stiff images.
    Nothing very wrong with that cover but it looks always too posed and stiff to me.

    Feel free to ignore me. Don't want to rain on the parade.

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