This week’s post is a follow up from last week about focusing on improving my style. I originally had wanted to work on a bunch of pieces and see where they took me but ultimately I decided to place my focus on one piece. I pushed myself with this piece by adding in a detailed background, something I’ve never been comfortable with nor have I focused on improving on in the past. I’ve also gone back to work on my love of details and the human anatomy with this latest piece.
Below is a step by step guide to how this piece progressed:
As usual, when I’m searching for an idea I’ll take to pinterest for inspiration. When I found the image below I instantly fell in love with it. I could see this image turning into some sea squid woman and I couldn’t wait to start working on the piece. I loved the movement and lighting in the original photograph so I knew this fit within my goals for this week’s piece.
I started off by sketching some thumbnails. I typically skip this step but I’ve been pushing to start working with the fundamentals of art and have been attempting to do thumbnails now before starting a new piece. I wanted to get the proportions and composition perfectly prepared for my final image so doing a thumbnail sketch would definitely save me a lot of time and effot. Below is the first sketch that I did. I wasn’t pleased with the composition, the figure didn’t have room to breathe and was pretty squished within the page, so I decided to try again.
Below is my second sketch. I made the figure smaller and fixed the composition of the piece. I felt that the image was still a bit boring with it just containing the figure so I added a jar around the figure, as if she were a pet fish, and an idea sprang to mind.
Seeing this mersquid in a jar reminded me of specimen jars and how much I’ve always loved them. I decided to try a new composition with a bunch of fantasy hybrids stuck in variously sized jars all placed on a shelf. The thumbnail below is what I eventually came up with. This is one reason that thumbnails are so important. Without sketching out the piece a few times I would have ended up with a poorly composed piece that was a lot less creative than this one. My idea was allowed to grow because I took the time to figure it out and I was saved the time of correcting the piece over and over again because I had already done that in a smaller, less detailed piece.
As you can see by my sketchbook page below, I only did three thumbnails. Technically I should have done a bunch more before moving on but I was too excited to get started so I jumped right in. This would end up causing some problems so I definitely learned my lesson on this one.
Getting the jars and figures on the paper was harder than expected since the format of my thumbnails above tended to be a bit wider than my final paper format. This is one reason why having multiple thumbnails of a final piece is super important. With some maneuvering, and taking more time that I should have, I got the basic line art down. The composition could be better but that’s what I get for only drawing three thumbnails.
My next step was to decide whether to use powdered graphite or to hand shade this piece. I decided against the powdered graphite for this one and get back to my roots of hand shading. I didn’t have enough references for the powdered graphite to really work well and I don’t have the experience that I’d like with it to start such a detailed piece. So jumped in head first with a 3h, 2h, hb, 2b, and 5b pencil. After a few hours we can see progress.
I should have the final drawn image finished by Wednesday at the latest. After that I’ll be deciding on a color scheme and will be starting the digital coloring. 🙂 I’m super excited about this piece thus far and am super pumped to see where it goes from here!
Let me know what you think!