Monday, 29 November 2010

The Test

Next experiment: simple and almost flat colours. There isn't a grey shade in sight - how often does that happen in my watercolours? I tried to forget most of the colour theories I have been pouring over recently and just paint. I did start off with layers of yellow wash before adding the other colours, so hopefully the image looks more unified than the last one :).

And look: it's not a portrait! It's an illustration! ;P Considering that I started this without any preliminary sketches (I just wanted an image to colour), I think the drawing is not too bad. I tried to stylise and to prioritise readability, doing my best to take Walt Stanchfield's lessons to heart.

PS: it's called "The Test" because it illustrates an episode in which Gawain completes his training and his teacher Conchobarre subjects him to the admission tests of the Fianna. That is why his hair is braided. Of course, to optimise the storytelling in this one, you should also see a few pursuers in the distance :).


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Morgana & Lucy: watercolour

I did my best to take this small painting Very Seriously. All the paints were mixed in advance, I thought about the contrast between warm and cold, I created my own blacks, I dried my brush regularly and I used a damp brush to blend different layers.I DID MY BEST. So this is probably as good as it gets at this moment. Mind you, I'm not at all sure whether my efforts actually show. Do they? (Please try the full view.)

I made a version with a Photoshop texture as well. It seems like I am drifting more and more towards traditional art + texture for the look of my Gawain illustrations. I like how this technique allows me to choose a paper with which I am comfortable and then add a textured, old-ish look afterwards.

I can't believe I've painted a cat. I see one around the house every day, and yet cats remain very difficult to draw for me. This particular cat is Lucifer (Lucy for short), Morgana's pet. I shiver at the thought of having to draw him for pages on end, but - well, I simply must have cats in my story. Here's to hoping my skills will improve :).

Princess-of-Shadows' textures

Sunday, 14 November 2010

In which I try my hand at watercolour again...

I think I mentioned before that I would like to do the comic in pencils and watercolour instead of in inks as I originally intended. The reason for this is that I find that my sharp inked style does not suit my story very well. The tale has a dream-like quality that is better served with colour and pencils.There is only one snag: I am one lousy watercolour artist. I don't master the medium, for one thing. And I don't understand about colour, for another. Then again, I am very stubborn and not willing to admit defeat. I'll just keep trying.

The image below is an exercise - it is an idea I had for a possible back cover of The Darkest Hour. I added the text and frame in Illustrator, having discovered that it is so much more convenient for adding text than Photoshop. I haven't tried it yet, but I think I'm going to use Illustrator for lettering my pages too. It's much easier to draw speech bubbles with it than with Photoshop.

I discovered that adding texture in Photoshop can actually cheat people into thinking I had a half-decent watercolour to start with. But I am going to be very honest with you and show you the watercolour as it was before I started toying with it in Photoshop. As you can see, it's ... utterly incompetent. The dress went reasonably well - I like how it looks. But the contrast is not very good and the colours ... well, they don't clash, but they don't exactly spark either. I also did some damage with the masking fluid. I masked Ygraine's plaits and the contours of her figure when I added the dark washes. Not only are the dark washes a complete mess; as the masking fluid came off, it took some of the underlying paint with it and smeared the pencil lines. *sigh* So instead of having white hair with delicate blue-grey shadowing, Ygraine now has dirty grey plaits. I couldn't simply repaint because the paper had suffered as well.
This doesn't exactly bode well for my comic, does it? I have a LOT of work to do before I can tackle my pages with some confidence... I don't understand. It seems like everyone and their sister can paint with watercolour. Why do I find it so hard?

The above are two small, quick sketches of Gorlois. The bottom one was done  some time last year; the top one I did last night. Neither is good, and I completely ruined the top one with my clumsy attempt at shadowing the cloak. But they do illustrate where I am trying to go. Even if I did ruin it, I like the top one in its simplicity. I think - but goodness knows I may be wrong again - that I had better focus on painting as simply as possible, with few layers. And I'm doing my best to study colour.

Opinions and critiques are most welcome. 

NB: I have no idea why the "back cover" image has a green hue when you enlarge it. It seems like Flickr and Photobucket do something to my colours! 
ETA: Fixed! It was a CMYK image. Screens don't like that...

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Pencil sketch: Kundry

Meet Lady Kundry, Gawain's third wife. She first appears in Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, where she is not given a proper name but gets a few telling epithets instead, such as "l'Orgeuilleuse de Logres" or "la Mauvaise Pucelle". Apart from having the most alluring mouth in Christendom (as per Wolfram von Eschenbach), she also has a marvellously sharp tongue that she uses deftly to lash out at every knight she meets. She makes no exception for her future husband.

I thought she should have a proper name, so I gave her the one she has in Wagner's Parzival, even though the character in the opera is quite different from my version.

Obviously, I like Kundry an awful lot :).

Monday, 1 November 2010

Pencil sketch: Arthur

Here he is: the King Arthur you will eventually meet in my comic. The "classic" Arthur is often blond, but I like mine to look like a lion with a black mane :). (I really need to draw a silhouette in which the lion-like quality of his hairdo is more obvious - I'm rather fond of it...)

Clearly, when I say I want a simpler style and more stylised, I am not talking about my characters' hair. A few simple lines simply will not do in that department ;-). I am so doomed.