Friday, April 13, 2012

Preliminary Steps

Here are details of two preliminary sketches for the painting "Garden of Hope" from Dinotopia: The World Beneath.


On the left is the "charcoal comprehensive." This half-size drawing, which I drew after completing all the thumbnail sketches and photo reference, allowed me the chance to figure out the basic arrangement of light and dark tones, and how the figures overlapped. It was so easy to erase and change things in charcoal that I felt free to add or subtract elements until I was really sure I had the composition I wanted.

On the right is a very quick color sketch over a photocopy of the charcoal comprehensive. It was painted loosely and quickly with big bristle brushes, forgoing all detail.


With those studies behind me, I felt a lot more sure of myself when it came to painting the final image. There are always so many issues to figure out with any painting, that I find it helps to solve them systematically in advance.
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Added later -- for John and Frank, here's one of the early color sketches, before getting models and doing the charcoal drawing. This sketch followed many horizontal compositions that just weren't working.

15 comments:

Eileen Keelan said...

Very interesting - a lovely insight to the workings of the painting. Thanks for sharing!

Kellee Wynne Conrad said...

Love to see the process...but I admit, it's intimidating at times to see so many steps and it makes me analize my own process. Maybe these are the things that would help make my paintings more sucessful!

Johnnyburn said...

I wonder how heavy a weight of paper you can photocopy to? It seems like standard copy paper would get pretty soggy with paint on it.

Thanks for the post. Using a copy will help with my fear of irreparably ruining a good undersketch.

smileyginger said...

I like that part about the color sketch on a photocopy of the drawing. Will have to give that a try!

smileyginger said...

@Johnnyburn - I think cardstock is the heaviest. Any more and it won't feed. Jim mentions something in one of his technique posts about coating illustration board with acrylic matte medium. I wonder if that would work?

James Gurney said...

Kellee, I wish I could say I followed all the steps on every picture, but I don't! When I do, I'm glad of it, but I'm not as diligent as you might think.

Johnny: SmileyGinger's got it right: card stock is great to copy onto, but then I adhere it to some illustration board. To do that, I coat the board, then the back of the copy, brayer them together to get out bubbles, and coat the top with more matte medium. When that dries you've got a good surface to paint over.

Andreas K said...

Always love to see preliminary work. James, as someone who works almost exclusively digital I'd like to ask how long the "very quick" color sketch took?

Tom Hart said...

It's so easy (for me) to forget how darned easy charcoal is to work with - in the sense of correcting and changing. I'm glad to be reminded of that.

I'd be curious to know what paper you, James, and others, find to be a good, yet economical, choice for charcoal work.

John Fleck said...

Great post, James.
Was there more than one "quick color sketch" before you arrived at a color scheme that worked?

Adele Hawkins said...

I love seeing color studies for a piece, and how loose they are compared to the final.

frank pichel said...

So nice. Can you post some of the earlier thumbnails as well? Thanks a lot. Great post.

frank pichel said...

So nice. Can you post some of the earlier thumbnails as well? Thanks a lot. Great post.

James Gurney said...

John and Frank, I've added to the end of the post one of the earlier color sketches before getting the model and doing the charcoal comp.

Julian Wong said...

It is great to see the process... very Pre Raphaelite. I guess that's how they would do it too. (without painting on the photocopy...)

erlson said...

I need to start doing this. Jumping to the final work hasn't been working for me