Sunday, July 5, 2009

Line Drawing

We’re continuing a daily progress report on the poster for the Utopiales Festival in Nantes, France.

During the preliminary drawing stage, the studio fills with clutter.
Near the maquette of the flying machine are model horses, photos of Nantes, books about insects, coffee cups, and audio cassettes with recordings I’ve made of steam engines and street noises.

I love this photo of the square called Place Royale in Nantes. This is the period I’m trying to evoke. My dream is that a little over a hundred years ago, Nantes had strange visitors who arrived and departed by moonlight in this incredible flying machine. It flew very gently and majestically like a sailing ship, creaking and hissing steam.

Here’s the line drawing. This jpeg is a pretty large file, so if you click on it, you can see most of the details. Even though it’s just a line drawing, I’m thinking ahead to tone and color, which is coming up next.

Here’s a 40-second video showing a little about perspective and how to seal the drawing before painting.
More about the Utopiales Festival
Previous posts on Perspective Grid, Sealing the Surface

Part 1: Initial Sketches
Part 2: Researching Insect Flight
Part 3: Maquette
Part 7: The Painting


eric said...

wow! the line drawing is awsome! based on your thumbnails i didnt think you were going to go with that much detail, this is really fantastic!

what kind of board/canvas? do you draw and paint on?

cant wait to see more progress this is going to be great!

only disappointing thing is that you took out the guy who was toasting to the great machine in the sky, haha, that was hilarious sad to see it was deleted!?

Daroo said...

Excellent post.

Besides adding the solid draftsmanship you've clarified the staging and removed any awkward tangents that were present in the small color sketch (i.e the legs and fountain overlap).

I swear I remember a post that talked about setting up the perspective when the vanishing points are way off the page (involving hash marks?) -- but I can't seem to find it. I'd love to see a video about how to set that up.

Daroo said...

Oh and I get it -- you draw MOS and then go back and add wild sound later.

Thats what my work is missing: audio perspective.

Do you have a big collection of sound FX?

Roca said...

Love the short video...especially the budgie chewing on your eraser as you draw!!! I often let mine sit with me in my studio, but I have to put him away when I'm doing a serious piece because he's likely to poop on it!

Steve said...

NOW we know how you actually get your results! At critical moments in the drawing, the budgie (parakeet?), with its superior mental memory of perspective based on hours of aerial views, takes control of the pencil and redirects its path, saving you from errors.

Unknown said...

I love this series, watching the painting from the beginning to the end! The line drawing has amazing perspective.

The videos are nice too. You did a very good job putting them together (and the parakeet is a nice touch too ;)

Dan Gurney said...

With the amount of air movement needed to lift something that heavy from the ground, wouldn't the townspeople be grabbing their hats and having their clothes buffeted by strong wind currents? Wouldn't they look approximately like people standing that close to a helicopter?

Tim said...

Nice on James! You strike me as more of a herpetologist though. No iguanas for you? I kept Leopard Geckos, a green iguana and two Savannah monitors. Awesome pets!
But back to seriousness.

Have you ever been worried about the oil delaminating from the acrylic in the future? Thats one of my big concerns now, to ensure that my sold painitngs dont fall off the support 10 years down the line. Thats a phone call i can live without!

Ive been using plywood that I coat with 2 layers of matte solvent based polyurethane varnish (vapor seal, because the glues used in plywood manufacturing will release acidic gas over time, its also a natural process in the wood) and then putting Galeria gesso on top,about four layers. I'm particularly concerned with having both chemical, not just physical bond, so I eagerly await my batch of W&N Oil primer next week, and I got the tip from W&N that I wouldn't need any sealer, the primer would do both. Shellac might be another option. Any qualms or experiences

Gregory Becker said...

do you have any tutorials from begining to finish?
This looks terrific.
And was that a parakeet nibbling on your pencil? LOL

Nita Van Zandt said...

Ah, I, too, think the mini video reveals the hitherto unmentioned, secret artistic power of an eraser-nibbling budgie to create great drawings.

But my cats would doom that plan in a minute!

Unknown said...

Why do you use Matte Medium instead of a spray fixative? I'm just curious if it works better? I've never thought to use Matte Medium to seal a drawing like this.

jeff jordan said...

I love what comes out of reference clutter.

What's the size of the drawing, Jim?

Andrew said...

I imagine the matte medium is a better seal than the spray fixative and doesn't mess with the oils down the line...

This has been a real treat to watch unfold! The lepidopter reminds me of some of the strutters you've designed before...perhaps some Dinotopians found a way back to France?

And budgies do make some great studio partners...mine likes to ride on my wacom pen, or shove my pencils/pens off the desk juuuust as I need them.

Glendon Mellow said...

Fascinating - I've always loved how you are able to combine architectural elements with something plausible and fantastic.

Concerning the matte medium, I've read that artist Donato Giancola likes to do something similar.

I tried it, and found it didn't work as well for me. It kind of smeared the drawing, perhaps I used too soft a lead.

Instead now I've taken to scanning my pencils and printing them out on Fredrix canvas paper for the oils. Works great.

Erik Bongers said...

There's suspiciouly much work going into those video's.

The line drawing looks promising.

Daroo said...

I think the point of the matte medium is to preserve the drawing more than just fix it (I sometimes fix it then use the matte medium). That way you can easily rub back your oil painting to expose the line work of the drawing.

Timpa -- I don't think there would be much of a difference between acrylic matte medium and acrylic gesso (primer) its still not the chemical bond you seek (maybe that's what you meant). The advantage of the transparent medium is that you can draw on a pencil friendly surface (like illustration or museum board) and THEN seal it as opposed to trying to draw on the very rubbery acrylic gesso surface.

I've used both the W&N oil ground and the Gamblin oil ground -- They both take 5-7 days to dry. I was confused about how to seal the panels so I wrote Gamblin and this was the response from Scott Gelaty their product manager:

"I would recommend sealing the bare panels with a mixture of our Galkyd painting medium, thinned with an equal amount of our Gamsol OMS. Apply a liberal mixture to the panel, allow it to absorb in for a few minutes, and then wipe off the excess with a rag. Like any sealers, you want the material to penetrate and seal the substrate, rather than to make a discrete layer on top."

I think both products are alkyd based which is different than just priming a surface with oil paint (which would degrade the substrate).

Supposedly, masonite is less acidic than plywood.

innisart said...

Beautiful drawing!

Shawn Escott said...

This whole step by step process is AWESOME!!

James Gurney said...

Wow, thanks, everybody...Erik, those videos aren't that much work...I just let hand the job off to my large staff of trained macaques.

And yes, my budgie makes a fuss and grabs my pencil when something is getting out of whack.

Dan, you and others have raised a logical point about the amount of downthrust for a real VTOL. But with every fantasy concept there are times when you have to say to heck with realism, and do what feels right according dream logic. I just want this thing to take off like that slo-mo butterfly did.

If you want an explanation, let's say this vehicle was built in Dinotopia with sunstone technology that can lower the Reynold's number and increase viscosity in the vicinity of the wings.

Jeff: the size of the heavyweight acid free illustration board is 20 x 24. I tape off the very outside 1/4 inch (behind the rabbet of the frame) and use that margin for the perspective grid marks for those pesky remote VPs.

I should have pointed out, as Drew and Daroo did, that I first spray Workable Fixative on the drawing before applying the acrylic matte medium. That way it won't smudge the graphite.

Matte medium makes an excellent under layer. It seals the surface of the board to keep the oils from soaking in, and I've never had any problem with adhesion. Matte medium is essentially similar to an acrylic medium. Oil over acrylic paint or gesso is standard practice, but I would be cautious about anything that places an acrylic layer over an oil layer.

I have to lay off the videos until I can get an external hard drive because those files get pretty big. I also should get a decent video camera that does still frame and time lapse. Any recommendations? By the way, the music was right off iMovie and the effects were downloads from those free FX sites.

Hope that answers everybody. Back to another full day of painting tomorrow. It's fun having y'all along.

Unknown said...

What a privilege to experience this process! Love the insights and the video.

S. Jones said...

Hey James. I don't comment much but I just wanted to say I am loving this step by step series! I find it interesting just how detailed the lines are, I will have to try that sealing technique next time.

Matthew Gauvin said...

James, I learned the matte medium trick form one of your earlier posts and started using it a couple months ago and have had great results. As you say it keeps the lines from smudging when oils are applied and it helps to paint to go on easier.
I have been wondering what you find that works best to get smooth straight lines on architechtural elements like thes ebuildings in your drawing. I mean with the painting stage. I've tried mahl sticks, taping edges and such but it seems to take tons of work. Is there an easier method you know of?I think one of the problems I've had is the rough painting surface which I intend to change for my next illustration. Thanks for any help!

John Calvin said...

Thanks again for showing us the PROCESS, instead of just a finished piece of artwork. This is so educational. Thanks for your time and effort on this.

James Gurney said...

Matthew, for straight lines, I use a mahl stick made out of a wooden yardstick. It gives a good straight edge for architecture. Check out this post: this post

Gregory, I haven't done any video tutorials other than what you've seen here, but the place to find a detailed explanation of this whole process will be in my new book, Imaginative Realism , coming out in October.

badbot said...

so you feed your parakeet with... gum? ^^

ricardo said...

I'm loving this series. I hope you'll keep on doing them in the future!

On the video thing, I think it would be great if you could put those simians to record longer videos. I'm guessing they have to operate some large steam powered apparatus, so if they use it for a longer period of time, it fills the studio with smoke leaving it unusable until all of it is taken out. Give them electricity, James!

Oh, and on the Imaginative Realism book, I simply cannot wait for it. But will it have a paperback edition only?

Smurfswacker said...

No one else has mentioned this one...I like to draw on the canvas/board with a water-based felt pen like the Flair. This gives me a nice dark line, necessary so it remains visible through my many layers of repainting (we don't all get it right the first--or fiftieth--time). Eventually the black line disappears into the painting. The Flair line isn't affected by the turpentine or mediums, but before painting you can "erase" it with water if necessary.

MichaelJA said...

This is great! I was able to find a tutor to better learn about painting and art where there's too many holes in my street education. That with this I just found... Man!

I'm in heaven. I don't do well in classroom settings I'm ashamed to say but I now recognize it and have learned to work within that limitation.

Hardest part was finding someone with enough of a background that would take this challenge.

Thank you James for sharing your skills!

James Gurney said...

Thank you, Michael. I'm a real believer in street educations. Good luck to you.

Unknown said...

Hey Mr. Gurney!

What kind of spray fixative are you using? Before you seal the drawing. I bought Matte Spray fixative by Krylon. Is that good?

James Gurney said...

Playalott, I use Krylon Workable Fixative, just a light coat of it. The subsequent layers go on fine after that. Always good to test on a scrap.

Unknown said...

Okay, I used to have some of that, Amazon really nails one with shipping costs. They didn't have Workable Fixative at Walmart... Also, I wanted to say that you are my Art Hero, and I have multiple videos of your Gumroad series; excellent material! I was also wondering, when you were starting out, what kind of jobs did you have before you finally found yourself in a secure illustration career?

I am just starting out, and I study all of the time. Have you ever experienced some degree of "burnout"? I hold shows here in my local library a lot, and I finally sold a nice Black and White Charcoal drawing of an air regulator. This was great! Although most of the time... I feel like people around here just don't understand art? Have you had this feeling before? Here is a link to my artwork! You are the best!

James Gurney said...

Alfredo, not long, maybe an hour or so depending on the temperature. It's water-based and it goes on thin.