Monday, May 18, 2015

Tone Paper Studies

I drew this study from a live model in charcoal and white chalk on brown wrapping paper. It was made in preparation for a National Geographic illustration. 

I drew the study instead of taking a photo because it's faster. In 20 minutes I had all the essential information I needed. Getting a pre-digital photo printed out would have required driving to the one-hour-photo place at the mall or shooting a Polaroid (which I never used). 

Here's a detail of the figure in the final painting, along with other figures that were also based on charcoal studies from models. The model for the guy working the lever on the ground is ski instructor Mike Rogan, back when he was still in high school.

Iron smelting at ancient Populonia, from The Etruscans, National Geographic
Tone paper studies are one of the oldest of old-school methods, and it's still one of my favorite ways to develop reference for multi-figure work, not only because it's efficient, but because it allows me to immediately begin selecting significant details and making a statement. 

Previously: Doing a mirror study for Kushite King
More old-school methods in my book: Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist


Ник said...

An optional way! Some people think that the photo reference is... Not natural. This is a great solution afterall. I love your paintings and this one as well. I saw something like this at your blog a lot back there. Did you have this topic before?

Sesco said...

I've read many of your books, viewed Fire&Ice, but my "Imaginative Realism" arrived just last week. After browsing, I think I should have ordered sooner. I love the photos of you at work, in a busy studio, with a budgie on your shoulder. thanks for your generosity. With your help, I'm beginning to understand how to unleash my imagination with paint.

Dean Johnson said...

James, in what ways do you find toned paper with charcoal and white chalk more effective than, say, an hb pencil on white copy paper? And what scale do you like to work at at this stage?

James Gurney said...

Dean, tone paper with white chalk lets you define changes in the light areas more precisely. This drawing is about 12 x 18.