I'm sometimes asked by people who see a drawing of mine, 'how do you do that?' And the probable answer of anyone with some skill is likely to be the same as mine 'I don't know.'
But of course we do know, we've spent a long time doing this stuff, but we can't explain, because we're not teachers. The internet has allowed artists to film a drawing as it proceeds and put it on youtube so that it can be studied by others. I'm not completely sure how useful that might be as I've always felt you learn mainly by doing and only a little by watching but maybe... maybe I could be a teacher too?
I don't have any fancy cameras to film my drawings, so I thought it still might be useful to break down a work in to handy bite sized chunks - little pictures of the work in progress and see if there's anything useful at the end.
For a while now I've been producing my 'classical' range of decorative designs, merely drawn from ancient sculpted reliefs so there's not much original work in them, but I don't trace them (which would be so easy with a computer,) I attempt to freehand draw a version of the relief which I then colour with a rough stone effect.
In this blog I thought it might be interesting to show one of these designs as it progresses through various stages, and for this project I've chosen a cavalry soldier from Trajan's column. This image is found near the top of the column, representing the culmination of Trajan's Dacian campaign, where a number of Roman cavalry caught up with the fleeing Dacian king Decebalus, and the king commits suicide by cutting his throat with a knife.
|The death of Decebalus, from Trajan's column. Conrad Cichorius.|
If it's too small for you, click on it. You may get a bigger image.
I have mentioned before that with a digital image made with software it is usually possible to design the work on layers which 'float' above one another, allowing elements of a design to be separate and to be worked on separately. This is similar to painting lines on sheets of glass placed one over the other.
With this one, however, rather than fragment the drawing I've kept it simple so that the complete drawing is on one layer, with colour layers floating below.
So to begin. I'll be drawing the horseman on the extreme left foreground of the scene.
|I begin drawing the head.|
|Head and upper torso drapery. The image is scaled down so it can be added to.|
Digitally its possible to cut into a drawing, rotate parts, scale them distort and skew lines and generally make an image plastic and changeable. Now as I go on I'm really looking hard at the painting, with it blown up on my computer screen, looking at the drapery, measuring angles and looking for positioning points. I'm also trying to interpret odd looking things within the image such as the odd structure just behind the soldiers neck, hanging down from the helmet. What is it? I don't really know, possibly something used as a helmet liner - it looks like a tassel but I'm not sure. All I can do is draw it as it appears.
|The image continues to be scaled down. If the start file is big enough, say 8000 x 8000 pixels it shouldn't lose too much resolution.|
|The image seems too short, so a break is made in the middle figure and the gap redrawn.|
|Beginning the horse. The actual horse looks a bit odd in the sculpture itself. A bit too small, perhaps?|
|Short - but I think its accurate.|
I did say earlier that I had other references that I could use, and one off these is another of Conrad Cichorius' beautiful painted scenes. Here I found another horse and grafted its back legs on to my own horse. Like so.
|Not exactly finished but the whole figure of horse and rider is there. Now I'm darkening the outlines and putting in colour.|
A man decides to throw himself off the top of a giant skyscaper in New York. He plummets and is caught by the wind which throws him back against the building. He hits the awning over a window and he bounces off - is caught by the wind and thrown clear across the street, tumbling and somersaulting through the air.
He falls down through a number of awnings, slowing down at each window, until he is caught by the wind again and pitched back across the street, accomplishing double someraults as he flies. He falls lower and lower until he hits a giant awning near the foot of the building bounces off, does a double - triple - quadruple somersault, and lands safely on his feet on the sidewalk.
Nearby a little cat turns to another little cat and says 'you see, that's how you do that.'
And so, my friends - that'd how you do that.
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