Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Reference and figure drawing

I thought I would take a break from working on the final drawing of my Game of Thrones painting to share a little bit about how I do the drawings of my figures.  The most important thing is to have good reference,  It is very hard to create a piece of art from your head without having some sort of jumping off point for theme, concept, idea, anything really.  Generally speaking, if you want to have believable figures in your paintings then you need to shoot and have reference.  A couple of weeks ago I had some friends came over and we all took turns posing for some of the various figures for the painting.  I make and use props when I can (I do not have a suit of armor to wear for a knight) but posing in the right or similar stance gives me a great jumping off point to add the armor around the figure.  Household items like broom handles or swords (what you mean to tell me every house does NOT have a sword!!???) or some fabric from a fabric store can give you a great place to start from when it comes designing and drawing characters and items for a painting.

(I have to say I make a very fine Barristan Selmy)
After I shoot a bunch of photos with my camera I load them onto my computer and start looking for the photos that match the look and feel I had in my rough sketch (also always be on the lookout for something different and interesting in the photos that you did not think of when drawing the sketch, the more photos and different poses you use the better chance of finding the right image or series of images.

Once I have found an image that I like I bring it into photoshop.  I then lower the opacity on it and start tracing over the image onto a new layer.  Lowering the opacity makes it easier to see both the drawing and the important information that I need to see while tracing, you dont want the image too dark or saturated or you wont be able to find any of the important lines or edges.

I make a quick initial pass of the photo only tracing the important landmarks like the face and hands and any special props that I have in the image.  After that is done I turn off the layer with the photo and I start refining the drawing, making the arms thicker, adding more of the drapery and fabric of the costume, changing the pose to get it to fit and feel the way that I want it.  Once the drawing is finished I then copy and paste it into the document with my final drawing, there I will size it, rotate it, and maybe even make more changes until it sits and feels right in its placement and context of the overall drawing and composition.  I then repeat this step ad nauseam for every figure (in the end there should be at least over 20 figures!)

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