Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tree maquettes

How do you make a maquette of an ancient-looking tree for a fantasy painting? Trees are such complicated things that it would take forever to make all the branches and leaves from scratch.

What I did for Treetown in Dinotopia was to start with a real branch and use that as an armature for the tree. I attached the branch to a wood base, and then beefed it up with plastiline modeling clay modeling clay. Clay is cheap and can be reused when you're done with the maquette. I built the treehouse structures in the tree out of other sticks and cardboard held together with a hot glue gun. Chunks of styrofoam from a packing box served as rocks, and a mirror stood in for a lake.

The final painting didn't look much like the maquette, but building the miniature helped me to really imagine the world in three dimensions.

Order the original Dinotopia book signed by the author with a "making-of" afterword.
Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time from Amazon
Previously: Treetown (Part of the series on the making of Dinotopia)


JoopaDoops said...

That's some nice architecture for sticks, cardboard and hot glue. I love seeing the miniatures you make to inspire the paintings.

Rick Lovell said...

Reminds me of Maxfield Parrish's reference constructions, especially the mirror/lake idea. It really helps to see the relationships of things upside-down.

Aaron Becker said...

Ridiculously cool. If I were to have spent that much effort on reference setup, my final would have looked a lot more like the photo; only because there's so much good stuff in there to use. It amazes me how you're willing to deviate from the research to make the painting how you want to, vs. how the reference is dictating.

Unknown said...

Wow, it's amazing how much preparation work you must put into each painting.

David Glenn said...

That's pretty cool. Getting a visual and working from that.

AHAviews said...

That's very inspiring - to allow the mind room and time to wander in the new world as you make it from scratch, rather than scramble to put on paper something that is less than it could be.