Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ilya Shinshik

Many Dinotopia characters went through various stages until I was happy with them. The mountain farmer from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara was one example.

Normally I try to catch problems in the sketch stage, but this time I was nearly finished with the transparent oil rendering when I realized that this character looked too similar to other characters in the book. Also, the potato he was feeding to the dinosaur looked sort of like a rock.

So I took the pose again and repainted him as a bearded man of Russian descent, made his outfit red, and changed the potato to a Burmese turnip. His name Ilya Shinshik evokes my two favorite Russian painters: Ilya Repin and Ivan Shishkin.

When it comes to such corrections, oil is very forgiving. Naturally, I had to restate everything more opaquely and paint white over the parts I needed to cover. But the change only took a day, and the first character was never seen again--until now.

Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara from Amazon
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara signed from the Dinotopia Store


Moish said...

I like how you did not just change the outfit & add a beard, but rather changed the person. The second fellow has Russian features. Did you use a different model or photo reference for such a fundamental change?

James Gunter said...

How does a painter develop and improve their ability to self-critique? How does someone learn to see their own drawings and paintings as if they weren't so "close" to them?

Unknown said...

Don't forget Isaac Levitan... I bet he's one of your favorite russian painters as well. Yo u might as well call the character: Ilya Shisnitan ;-)

Tom Hart said...

James, I notice that you refer to the original version as a transparent oil rendering. In your use of "transparency", are you referring here to the thickness of application, or to the transparent or opaque qualities of the individual colors? If the latter, does that mean you chose those colors specifically for that characteristic? This is making me think how rarely I consider a color's transparency (as in its inherent characterisic) when working with oils. (But maybe I work with colors that aren't at either extreme end of the transparency/opaque spectrum...)

James Gurney said...

Moish, As I recall, I took the pose again, shot photo reference with a self timer, and also looked through my photo file for the face type.

James, keeping the Self-Critique-O-Meter tuned is super important. You don't want to be too self critical, or it's paralyzing, but one can't ever be completely satisfied.

Wouter, yes, another great Russian painter. How about Isaac LeviShrep?

Tom, I usually start with a small palette of fairly transparent colors (say yellow ochre, permanent alizarin, burnt sienna, viridian and ultramarine) and then if I need to I build up opaques. Oil is nice that way because you can go anywhere from thin to thick in the same painting.