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So I've been slacking on both updating here and on my blog. Here it feels odd because I don't really paint minis these days (though I want to!) and the blog kinda died when I switched hosting away from wordpress.com, my views basically dried up. I'm active on FB but I keep my friends list very tight (no offense to anyone intended), I should open up my image folders to the public, but I hesitate to do that on FB. Here's a link to my thread from last year:
Anyway, I'll try to catch up a bit for year 3 (what!?!). Here's the YTD WIPs from oil portraiture class. Same model, same painting. Getting into some more advanced stuff with glazes, trying to add physical depth to the painting. At this point it's starting to get pretty luminous in some areas. The physical light on the painting can pass through some of the oil-heavy layers and pick up color from pigments along the way, hit the underlayers and shine or dull for the return journey. Cool stuff, I begin to understand the reason people say you can't appreciate an old master oil painting in a photo, you miss all the complex stuff the physical light does interacting with the layers. Each of these represents a 3 hour session, or about 2 hours of painting time.
I've also narrowed my focus in drawing to portraiture, so I can bring up my skills for heads. Since I want to pursue figurative works, having solid portrait skills is going to be crucial, and it helps me stay focused in my studies and hopefully avoid lulls between studies. I'm taking Stan Prokopenko's portrait lessons as a premium member, but he makes most of these lessons free on his Proko youtube channel. I like to make study sheets while I watch the videos, and draw as many examples as I can. I picked up this amazing habit from Patrick Jones, it's really helpful for learning and later reference. Each sheet is 18x24 charcoal on newsprint.
The final two lessons are charcoal portrait copies, where the reference photo is on one side of the screen and Stan draws on the other side, explaining his process as he draws. Here I've just about wrapped up the lay-in step. Charcoal on newsprint approx 11x14.
(apologies for large sections of text- I like trying to explain what I'm thinking as I'm going, but I promise it will have lots of pictures!)
Right, so I need to get started on a few new projects and one of the things folks expressed an interest in after reapercon was busts. I went and bought this bust:
…planning to see if I could use it for a class. And when it came, I realized it was a bit larger than I expected, even with the description. Also, the mold removal didn’t seem to go very well for the sender, so I wasn’t as happy with it as I might have been. However, I got to thinking I could use it for a WIP at least, and that that might be more helpful to start with anyway. I still might do a class, but the bust called to me and I had an idea and it ate away at my resolve… so here it is.
The plan is to make her into Mother Nature. Originally I’d planned to do a bunch of the sculpting first, but I felt like painting. I’ll get the face mostly done, then do the sculpting and finish painting. She’ll have a tree growing out of her shoulder, a bunch of leaves and flowers in her hair and probably some other natural and unnatural things to make the whole a more interesting story. I may attach a few animal companions as well.
Right. When I decided on the theme, I knew I’d need green skin. One important thing to think about when it comes to skin is that our brains are hardwired to recognize varying shades of tan, ocher, rust, etc as skinlike. The more saturated and intense the color, the less we believe its skin. So no matter what color I want the skin to look like, I need to chose a softer more desaturated color. Green yes, but it has to be a nice quiet and pleasant green.
I went to my stash of greens, took a few deep breaths and asked myself why I had so many greens, and proceeded to pick the warmest ones. I played around with a few of them on paper. I find when working with colors I haven’t before, if I make a few washes on watercolor paper, I can see how they thin, how transparent they are and how they play with each other. See how the pthalo looks cooler compared especially to the viper green? I wanted to compare and knew that one was cool. I can tolerate the peacock even though its on the cooler side comparatively,
You can see here the ones I was looking at. I ended up going with these:
I added the fair skin mainly because it adds more warmth to the whole. Alone, the green will end up looking too weird, but adding a touch of flesh makes a difference- I'll explain with pics in a bit. The peacock green is still fairly cool. I couldn't find a really warm dark green. But I can glaze the viper over it in places to warm it up. Next, I slathered some paint on the bust to get a sense of how the colors look.
Two things. I must decide early on where my light source will be. For a bust, this is probably even more important than a smaller mini, because there’s so much surface area to work with. I have to add enough interest to keep my viewer’s eye moving. Since the bust is looking down and to the viewer’s right, I’ll make the light source come from the top left. Second thing, I need a model to help me place all of my highlights and shadows appropriately on the face. You know how the phone/digital camera has that cool “face recognition” thing these days? (…showing my age…) We people have the same thing. When we look at a face we expect to see certain familiar features. At 28 mm scale, there’s not much space to work in, but at the bust scale, if I don’t paint the highlights and shadows in a familiar fashion, it’ll look weird.
What's with the Picasso? Ah hah! The face is made up of a bunch of planes and mounds and shapes that flow in to each other. When we’re babies, the division between the shapes is less defined. Our baby fat fills in all the gaps. As we age, we can start to see the skeleton behind the flesh. When painting a bust, I make a choice (often based on the sculpture itself) about how old or young I want the figure to be. In this case, I’d like mother nature to have fairly smooth features, but maybe a few lines to make her matronly. I’ll get to that. But whenever you choose to paint a bust, think about things like that ahead of time and it will make the process smoother. Cubism among many other things breaks down the human into basic geometric shapes. Learning what those shapes are will help you build up a basic volume in each area. Once you have an idea where each of the highlights go in each basic shape, the rest is all blending. But if the bulges don't match the anatomy, it will seem off. If that makes sense. This was a hard concept for me to pick up at first.
Ok, I generally choose a model for my bust. In this case, I chose Scarlett Johansson. She has lovely clear skin.
Now, using her, I can see in great detail with a larger blown-up pic where highlights tend to live and where shadows tend to fall. See how her cheek are sort of square or maybe triangular? The forehead and chin are circles? I grab a variety of pics from hollywood, because I can zoom in and see where all the little fiddly bits go around the eye and whatnot. Having a high resolution photo is helpful as a map to follow.
here's me debating gaze direction.
and playing with the eye. I've sketched in the basic parts.
I did some blending and smoothing.
I put this one in to show the way the bust sits on the table. So the direction of gaze makes a bit more sense in context. It's hard to make eyes look directly ahead and make them match up, especially with this sculpt because one eye is sculpted larger than the other. It's a lot easier to have an off center gaze. I promise to come back to the eyes, but when I first start, I bounce around and let things dry while working on other areas. So it progresses more quickly.
I did some smoothing on the skin and cleaned up the eyes, chose where I wanted a few more highlights on the cheeks.
Worked on the lips. See how the top lip is dark and the bottom lighter? That has to do with the anatomy of the face. the bottom one bulges out and the top slants back and doesn't catch the light.
Also, just to give you a sense of scale, here's another bust and sir forescale:
She's ginormous. So, it stands to reason I have to put more detail into her features and work harder on the blending to make it smooth. That is one of the tricks with larger minis. You have to blend the heck out of it or it won't look like skin.
Ok, it did more work on the eyes. I should explain eyes at this point...
My trust internet model! Take a look at the eye and see where all of the highlights a shadows fall. This is based on the anatomy underneath. The eye is a big oblong ball-like shape. The lids cover this, which means they bulge out towards us. Generally, that means they catch light at their outermost part, and are shaded below. Take a look at the corner on the left of the eye. That’s the tear duct. Adding that to a bust really adds a sense of realism to the painting. Adding the lashes and the iris lines will tuck in little details to make it more like a real eye. The sclera (white) of the eye is actually a more blueish in color, though in someone with liver issues it can look yellowish. I save pure white for the reflection so it’s the brightest spot and can still be differentiated from the scelera. Pure white in the sclera means we won’t get the full impact of the highlight and also pure white is colder.
see the palette here:
the two whites near the middle are linen and pure
I’m using linen because it has a hint of yellow in it and I want the skin to live on the warmer side. Also, see how the highlight on the eye isn’t directly over the pupil, but more over the iris? The eyes is constantly wet with our tear ducts, so it should always look shiny- that highlight spot helps sell the wet effect, just like light on a wet road or a metal sword edge
ok- must work. more soon! I'll probably edit this post and add a bunch more explanation and details, I just want to post in case the computer tries to eat it!
So I am working on a batch of vampires.
Up until now I have generally painted vampire eyes either like regular eyes, but red
or kind of glowy red-gold.
I felt like I wanted to try some other options.
So I gessoed a piece of bristol board and painted a patch of grey on it (I paint vampire skin grey and white) and added some black blodges to represent eye sockets.
From the centimeter scale, you can see that these are way bigger than mini eyes. That is because I am not a masochist where practice is concerned.
Then I laid in some eye shapes in pale grey (the whites of eyes are pale grey in general, not pure white). You can see a column of them still unplayed-with, third from the left.
I played around with types of preternatural eyes, using a limited palette of Golden Matte Fluid Acrylics: Titanium White, Carbon Black, Red Oxide, Yellow Ochre, Hansa Yellow Opaque, and a very limited amount of Quinacridone Magenta.
Some of the eyes are based on leopard eyes and gorilla eyes.
This way one can test eyes on a large scale before committing to figures.
So for those that pay the least bit of attention to what I paint, you may have noticed that I paint mostly Ral Partha figures, which is a brand I really do enjoy quite a lot. I've been painting figures for their online catalogue for a number of years, and I just recently tried my hand at my first little tutorial, which was posted over at their site. If you are at all curious, you could find it here:
It is by no means the end-all, be-all of painting eyes, but just shows the way I typically approach painting eyes with four recent examples of figures that I've done. I think it almost feels like a WIP for four different figures. So anyways, have a look, hope you enjoy it, and hopefully somebody somewhere can get a little bit of eye-painting inspiration!
I started this figure for my friends celebrating this month.
I have had the figure for many years, and the one I have isn't the best cast, but she'll be beautiful.
Plan is to have brown outer dress, darkish hair, and rainbow wings.
Tried a new eyes technique; I mixed Schubert's method with the Bette Davis method. DKS's guide has the eyes after shading up the face, and the Bette Davis ones are at the start, then cover the edges. I used DKS at the start instead of the end, so I can still meet the eyeliner as I fill in the face.
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