Saturday, 27 June 2015

Flight ready

I swore the arms would be done this week, and they are, just about.  All flight systems are on line and she's taxiing on to the runway - well, hopping would probably be a better description.  Hopping because she has legs and feet, as well as arms.  And as you can see from the picture at the top of the page, she has eyes as well.

As usual I began the arms on a separate layer, which was just as well as I've had to cut them up, and rotate them, and bits of them, and move them slightly back and forth over the shoulder region trying to decide what looked right.  And rub out parts of them and redraw and repaint gaps, and cut areas and generally curse and swear.  Was it worth it?  Hmmm, that's debatable.

As I said last week, I decided to have her holding a box instead of a scroll, because I thought that a scroll of the type I envisaged would be awkward and would obscure parts of the arms and chest of the bird.  And you have to be able to see that she's a bird with arms.  Both arms would also have to be pretty extended so I could show that she was unrolling a large scroll.  My sketches weren't promising.

Arms above the basic lines.  Note the gap at the right elbow where I cut it and rotated the forearm.
Above you can see the underlying lines with the arms placed over them.  They don't look right of course, and I've had to pay attention to the left arm, shortening it at the elbow and darkening it for shadow.  But the arms aren't to my liking.  I mess about with the shape of them, redrawing and colouring but I don't really improve them.  They look like a dolls arms, and even though this is an arch fantasy subject it should still look as real as that allows.

Seeing the arms with the rest of the colour layers.  Still no hands.
The box is now in place as well, and its position has migrated around the image by millimetres while I tried to finalise the arms placement.  I've also darkened the feathers just under the arms.  Then began to apply myself to the tricky problem of hands.  I didn't want to spend forever on the web looking for references, as that task can be endless.  You always think that if you look a bit harder you'll find the perfect image, and end up with masses, only to find when trying to use them that they don't really match with what you intended anyway.  But that means trying to 'busk' your way through it.

First hand in, and look at that box - it's slipped down the layer tree so its now under the hair!  I'll have to drag it up again.
Well, the first hand is in, and I'm not overwhelmed by the result, but soldier on anyway.  I manage to make a slightly better hand for the other arm that covers the box, but neither is brilliant.

The finished arms.  That box is a bit plain, it could do with some hieroglyphics or something.
And the legs, which I haven't really shown much of, are finished with scales toes and claws, and it's about this stage that I begin (in fact quite a while ago) to see how funny the thing is.  And that's the genius of those Egyptian painters that they could with a brush and some papyrus quickly and deftly depict this strange being and make it cool and attractive but not funny. 

The finished Ba bird - with added shadow.  Hah ha - sparrowlegs!
  And that's a lesson about approach and style more than anything else; those ancient artists needed images for a single well - defined purpose, to depict a mystic being in the papyruses of the Book of the Dead.  They needed to be quick, clean and easily identifiable.  They had the advantage of having to conform to a particular style, the flat side - on look of the Egyptians, and the images were small, so much so in fact that it's often difficult to see if it's male or female.  Simple, quick, clean.

So there it is.  The trouble with too many Ba birds is that the feathers get up your nose.  Something else for next week I think. 

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