Saturday, 14 February 2015

Wings, teeth and claws Part 2.

Last week, I drew a dragon, as an exploration of the thought processes that go into creating an image of a mythical beast.  When an image is drawn using lots of cross-hatching and lines for shading, then an artist has to decide if they want the lines to be part of the finished image, or if they will act only as guide lines in the painting procedure.  With a water based medium such as watercolour or gouache, its possible to place a thin covering of paint over the lines, and if those lines are indelible such as ink then this works well.    
Even with a pencil its possible to do this as long as you don't overdo it.  You have to be careful though, and be aware of how these materials effect each other.  Charcoal for example will mix badly with paint and make the colours dirty, this can also happen with a soft pencil.

I have also noticed it affecting the colours of oils and acrylic when these paints are used thinly over soft and dirty lines.

Last week I showed an old drawing of a dragon from about five years ago, and here is the image as I finally finished it.  It's changed somewhat in position (I believe I actually laboriously redrew the dragon on paper which was large and in sections taped together!  I replaced sections that didn't work anymore.) and I took the decision to use solid colour which completely overpainted the original lines.  It was scanned and coloured digitally, and there are, just like real paints and drawing implements two ways to go with digital colour.  You can set individual layers with colour options that make the colours behave like those watercolours I mentioned earlier.  These options have different properties one of which is to allow lines to be seen through the colour.
Here the drawings lines show through the base yellow layer.
Different layers can be added on to this with different layer properties and a 'ink on paper' effect is achieved very like that seen in comic books.

The other option is to paint with solid colour and lose those lines.  Digitally this can be done exactly as an artist might do it with conventional material, they can just paint on to the lined surface with paint, but then you lose your guides immediately the paint goes on.  This was the way painters worked for centuries however, so it's not wrong, just skilled.

Even when I regularly painted with traditional media, for some reason I always favoured yellow ochre as a ground colour, and I still usually start off an image by flooding the whole drawing area in this colour.  Digitally it is possible to have your cake and eat it by placing a floating layer of paint over the drawing, and then by reducing the opacity of the paint, you are then able to see the drawing through the now semi-transparent paint.

Here the paint has been laid over the drawing, and is still at full strength.
As the image progresses the opacity can be brought back up to full strength so the effect of the work can be seen and understood, and so that colours can be chosen at their full strength, and then the opacity slider can be taken down again, so that the lines of the drawing are visible.

This takes place less and less as the picture nears its completion, and as most of the important lines are placed onto the paint layer.
Here the opacity of the paint layer has been reduced so that the lines beneath are visible.
This sounds as if it might be irritating or that it might slow down the painting process, but it's as easy as reaching for paint tubes or sharpening pencils.  Then the normal process of painting a picture comes to the fore, darkening and lightening areas, texture, tone and so on.

Comparison stages from painting in reduced opacity to paint with normal opacity.
I won't finish the full picture here, but have worked up the dragons head in the manner I would use for completion and so here it is.  As to whether I shall finish the complete image, I can't say - maybe. 

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