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Illustration of the Week #5: Crossing the Marshes
This week I'm giving you a one-week, open topic contrasting last weeks strict two-week brightly colored challenge.
This weeks topic is Crossing the Marshes. Your task is to illustrate someone or something crossing some kind of marshlands.
It is important that you include enough information for the viewer to be able to understand what's going on.
Give me a story.
Color scheme, characters, creatures are all up to you.
Focus on the narrative, your illustration could be for video games, role-playing games, tabletop games, movies, television, book covers, children's books,
magazines, commercials, posters, anything you can think of that features illustrations.
Try to decide in what context your illustration will be featured and make it the ultimate marsh-crossing!
This weeks requirements are as follows:
- Something must cross some kind of marsh
The deadline is Sunday 25th of September, 23:59 GMT
This weeks topic was suggested by Rob Powell, if you have any suggestions feel free to post them here.
Haha, of course Im in. I have too many ideas roaming in my head, so let's see what i can come up with.
ok.. so couldn't fall asleep. Did a quick sketch for the challenge instead.
the first one felt really empty.. the gap between the two characters on the foreground and the ones in the middleground cut them off completely, there's nothing in the composition binding them together.
The second one is a crop of the first one, which works fine on its own
the third one have 2 more characters added to it and a gesture binding the two foreground characters together with the rest.
this is fun! I've never done a narrative piece before
looking good so far defiledvisions. though at the moment i can't really tell what market your aiming here, the 2nd images style and dimensions look towards book jacket, but your other two images look to aim else where. Not wholly important at this moment, but if you pick a direction early on, it could make a difference to how you proceed with design and composition. btw, as a book jacket, i quite like the 2nd image, it doesn't say much, but does have that epic adventure feel to it
Defiledvisions: great start, the third one instead of the gesturing you could jsut have the middle character looking back at the other two, because the pose looks a bit odd, I like the second one better, it doesn't quite look as empty as the first. def add some sort of mysterious object in the background, will def add to the story as well as give your characters a purpose to go through the marsh
generated some thumbs, the second one is sort of lazily done, mainly because the environment is a bit similar to 1 just wanted to put the idea down, 2 was sort of about having a herd of some creatures crossing the marsh to new feeding grounds/mating groaunds, etc.
4 was inspired by Anacondas, perhaps the creature isn't a predatorstalking the explorers maybe it's a companion or guardian...
I'm liking three the best, still not sure to generate a character design or just keep the cloaked figure...
Thinking about the willow the wisps that lured the unwary into drowning in the marshes.
grenogs - Thanks! I came to the same realization and made up a brief story for the piece. Right now it's more like a scene from a fantasy novel. I guess it could be used partly as a book cover, but its dimensions are too wide.
I agree with you on number to, it's simple and adventurous but I feel it's "over" too quickly. I like the wider composition more. There's more happening. I made same changes, feedback appreciated
Rob Powell - Yeah I'll try that. I think it could work pretty well! I agree with you on the pose.. instead of stretching out a helpful hand it feels more like he's painting up the view with his hands.. "look at this grand marsh!". Not really the feeling I want. I'll think of what to do with the distance.. right now its night so you wouldnt really be able to see whats happening at the horizon. I'm thinking of changing the time of the day to mid-day.. I could play around a lot more with atmosphere that way.
btw, I like your number 3 too. Actually I think all of them are good except for number 2. It doesn't have the narrative, I don't feel "crossing the marshes" in it. I think you should play around with the cloaked figure. You can still show a lot through gesture and accessories with a completely cloaked character.
Thanks for the feedback! Here's a small story I came up with for the piece
"Gromwick's crossing was just a week's journey ahead. We'd been travelling for days at a steady pace when the cold weather was starting to take its toll. Struck by numbing fatigue my body felt like rock. Strange.. the wind feels unusually sharp. If only my boots weren't so heavy..
- "'s the matter lad? Find anything of interest in the mud?"
Daeryn's torch aiming at me, lightening up his face and a rugged grin.
- "Leave the boy alone. The mud's the least of our problems in these parts. We're in the marshlands now."
Jovian's outstretched hand helped me up and I nodded a thanks.
- "..Won't be stepping where there's no soil again.. that's for sure." I muttered.
He was right though. I've heard strange things about these lands. They say there's something in the wind playing with people's minds. The old folks at home used to tell about ancient evils slumbering.. Not that I care about bedtime stories to scare children with. Though it wasn't really reassuring to think of them as such either.
And the men, they say the marshes are cursed. The sooner we reach the crossing, the better.
A strange noise cut through the night.
- "Better stick together! Don't wander off, not even for a piss! We've been notified by the Screechers. By god I swear they're the only good thing in these parts, even for being birds of carrion."
"We're entering 'its' territory now. A moist and newly pissed body is a real treat I tell ya and I won't have another death my shoulders today."
By captains orders we stuck together and moved forward. There was something with that wind though.. Something wrong. One word came to mind, and it brought shivers down my spine. Death."
In this story there's emphasis on the wind blowing, there's something strange about it. I added a wind in this wip having it blow from left into the piece, guiding the eyes. I am thinking of painting subtle bony hands in the wind to show 'death'. And perhaps something in the far distant.
As I mentioned to Rob Powell though, the piece is during nighttime and you wouldn't really be able to see whats happening. Thinking of changing time of the day to mid-day and play around with atmosphere a lot instead.
I'm open for crits and feedback! anything that helps!
LibertineM - Right now I get more of a character feel from your piece. There isn't much "crossing the marshes" in your sketch. You should do some thumbnails if you feel stuck and see what comes up!
Feels like it's been forever since I participated here- this looks like a great challenge to dive back into the contest world! I see this as an illustrated panel in a young adult fantasy novel- I've got a rough story in my head, so let's see if I can tell it through the image.
Here's the initial sketch, and the first color pass I whipped up on the train this morning. I'm already getting into trouble with this one- right now the focal point is the lantern and not the girl's face, and her colors aren't meshing with the scene yet- I'm open (that is, desperate) for any suggestions!
defiledvision: i think rob is right about the object in the background, one idea would be lights from a village on the far horizon, and being a night scene even just a very subtle hint of light would work. It would give the crossing purpose, also help with composition. Also since its night with a full moon, you could add a shroud of mist amongst the marshes, that would give it a feeling of eeriness.
rob powell: as an adventure type image i like 3 and 4, i like the camera angle on the 4th, maybe add some sort of shadowy image underneath the waters surface would give it a little extra. For the 3rd image though, i would change the camera angle, put it around knee height would add a little drama to the image.
libertinem: looks interesting so far, but still to early to comment on this one, going to be interesting how you develope this, the lighting could play a big part here. Either good photo ref or even a 3d prog like daz studio or poser could help with the lighting effects.
grumbleputty: does the lantern have to be in the image? would it be possible just to show a hint of there being some kind of lantern there, just through the light source alone, or even move it much higher up the image out of the main viewing area. try putting the lantern on a separate layer, then moving it around to different areas to see what works best. Just an idea here, and one you may totally hate, but if the lantern is quite important to the story, why not instead turn it into a glass jar filled with fire flies, could even add some flying around outside the jar to make a more magical scene.
Last edited by grenogs; September 20th, 2011 at 10:56 AM.
Nice work everyone!
DefiledVisions: Wow, nice expressiveness in your character postures- even at this stage they feel really dynamic. I'd love to see the marsh feel like a character as well- maybe as you progress there's some twist you can put on it that makes it more than just a typical marshland.
Rob Powell: Really nice work, particularly 3 and 4. #3 starts to suggest a really interesting place... similar to what I was suggesting for DefiledVisions above, the marsh becomes a character in that one. It almost looks like the marsh grass meets overhead, forming some sort of really weird swamp tunnels, which would be a fascinating place to see our heroes have to get through. Sorry if I'm reading things into your piece you didn't intend!
LibertineM: Great stuff- love your grasp of the lighting and palette! Can't wait to see this one develop!
grenogs: Thanks for the suggestions- I'm going to play around with both tonight on my train ride home, but I kinda like the idea of letting the lantern have some attention, and just making it interesting enough to warrant it. I think as the girl's face comes together a bit more it will naturally pull some attention back, and taking some detail away from the lantern should help.
Grumbleputty: Just a quick point, the water looks more like a river than a marsh at the moment, I second Gregnog's idea about putting fireflys in the lantern. ^_^
Funny you mention that, I was planning to hound my reluctant models into a photoshoot tonight + booting up the poser.libertinem: looks interesting so far, but still to early to comment on this one, going to be interesting how you develope this, the lighting could play a big part here. Either good photo ref or even a 3d prog like daz studio or poser could help with the lighting effects.
Well, this is my first time participating in an activity of this forum.
I'm going to follow the classic path on this. That is about a hero in a marsh with the task of saving the princess before the beast devours her.
Hope this is related to the concept of the challenge.
WIP number 01...
libertinem: yeah i somewhat become a bit of a daz studio freak lately, i recently installed the newest version and finding it especially good for setting up strong lighting scenes.
c-rallis: i think the concept is pretty open, and 0pen to interpretation, your rough is looking pretty good so far, and i may sound a little picky here, but you may want to look up the actual definition of 'marsh', from my understanding, marshes are more grassy, similer to the ones frodo crosses in lotr, and any wetland type of land that has large trees would be considered as a swamp.
Grenogs, you were absolutely right about the "marsh" definition. Thanks!
So, I changed the bg and added some color. Still rough...
Any critique is absolutely welcome!
Dile: I dig it, but something about the scale seems off- the figure in the middle distance seems to be on the same plane as the tents further off, so it read like giant colonials (which, incidentally, would be AWESOME). A little atmospheric haze between him and those tents should clear it up.
c-rallis: Really great creature design, and a classic theme. I think you can increase the intensity of the scene with a more dramatic camera angle- play around with some different vantage points and I think you'll find it adds a lot of energy to your piece.
Kitten Poker: Thanks, and you're right- My ripples in stagnant water look like a flowing stream. I'll hunt down some reference for stagnant pools and see if I can get that looking right
This is a great topic! Might have to find some time to try this one...
Rob Powell - #3 has sooooooo much potential! My favorite by far! I hope you go with that one!
Book jacket illo (young adult range), going for a turn of the century type image, sherlock holmes, great expectations period. i want to try and keep it quite misty and atmospheric, though i'm not to sold on the colours yet. crits more than welcome, be as harsh as you wish guys, i really don't mind
hmmm.... with or without grass foreground?
Last edited by grenogs; September 20th, 2011 at 10:28 PM.
Wow! Great stuff ppl! Grenogs, I like the grass foreground. A simple but great addition to the depth of field.
Taking Grumbleputty's comment under serious consideration, I changed the vantage point. Lowering it actually, made the beast look more intimidating.
This is the outcome...
#3 wins...thnx for all the feedback guys, some promising stuff so far...
changed it up a bit, made the guy more of a swordsman as opposed to a boring guy with a walking stick, changed the lanterns to torches, and added little floating candle thingies....
hopefully I'll get to actually painting something as opposed to brainstorming...
@grenogs: I really like your first one. It kinda reminds me of Frazetta's "Neanderthal" image in terms of the threatening mood it creates. I think the second one with the grass foreground kind of kills that. Possibly because the grasses almost form a heart like shape it almost seems welcoming. I think the foreground stuff could work if you could figure out a way to have it reinforce the threatening aspect. Anyway, just my two cents. Hope it helps.
Anyway, here's my first WIP:
"Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote
Web, FineArt, Sketchbook
@defiledvison looks great in such earli stages, deffitnly feel the cross the marsh look forward to how you move forward with it, it's gonne be during night time?
@robpowell some cool looking thumbs you got going, my favorit would probbaly be 3 and 4 ( for your 2nd post i noticed you chose 3 ^^ it's looking cool, look forward to see you dropp in the colours
@libertineM story seems very intressting, look forward to how it will turn out
@Grumblepetty very cool sketch i think one things the sketch has and colour version dosen't is the glipse in her eyes, so much emotion in the sketch but it kinda fell off in the colour phase but easy to fix
@Dile_ its looking cool, and quite like the selection of "timeperiod" or how you wanne put it
@c-rallis so much tension and power! i love it!
@grenrog quite a soft colour palatte choice and personally i prefer the one with the grass in the foreground
@jonafunart i do the marshland feeling from it, tho i didn't quite fully understand what marshlands really was until a few minutes ago
@jpacer It feels like your are inviting the viewer to follow them on their journey which is something that i quite liked, wether it was intetional or not that's what when i look at it, can't wait to see the colours pop in
so many great ideas and inspiration from everyone, i want to deal with some things i find very hard to do, here's some thumbs i have made to try and figure out what i want to go for, i am aware they might not give the into the marshlands feeling fully yet, which is something i will take care of in next update hopefully
thanks for the help guys, much appreciated , most likely going with the 2nd image.
jpacer: weren't sure which frazetta image you were talking about, so had a quick google. And as much as i like frazetta's work, his "Neanderthal" image was exactly the style i don't want to achieve, so thats cool. I think once i start adding the detail to the main figures, i'm hoping it'll make a little more scence.
snatti: so far i'm steering more towards #3, but that could be mainly because it's not a fantasy piece. As much as i like fantasy and sci-fi art, it is really nice to see something much more modern and down to earth.
c-rallis: i didn't really want to mention the angle on this one, as i had already mentioned it to some others earlier,lol, but yep, this 2nd image works for me.
jpacer liking the feel on this one, my one big crit on this though, as i also mentioned on c-rallis original image, at the moment it's looking more swamp like than actual marsh.
rob powell much prefere this one, looking forward to see how you develope this,
going to make a sotry about giant monster crossing marshes, and brave hero stopping it.
I didn't say it will be original ;P
just need to find the color palette