New WIP and James Gurney
New WIP, Dragon Age and James Gurney
Hang on, Ane, what do all those things have to do with each other?
James Gurney is the author and illustrator behind Dinotopia, a novel from the 90s in which dinosaurs and humans live together. One of his publications is Color and Light – A Guide for the Realist Painter, often recommended in artist circles. It has more than 200 pages focusing on the study and application of color and light and how to make fiction look conceivable.
The book does not ask for a linear reading and you can read each topic individually, according to your studies. These topics range from studies of night lighting, candlelight, differences between watercolor and acrylic paint, diffused light on a cloudy day (yeah, very specific), what happens at sunset…
And this is where my paintings comes in! I always find myself consulting this book in my routine. I’m currently working in an illustration about Dragon Age: Inquisition (Brace yourselves… This game has awakened all my fangirling instincts and I intent to talk a lot about it in the upcoming posts.), but I’m still in the early stages, making thumbnails with different color schemes and lighting, as shown in the studies below. If any color scheme does not work very well, it is recommended to set it aside and start all over again. That is why those studies are usually made in small resolution. I’ve also set up a folder filled with photo references from catacombs, nocturnal environments or anything that could give me more insight on how to reproduce a realistic color scheme for this piece.
(Edit: The painting is finished now!)
Which brings me to another subject: We often wish to draw stuff “directly out of our heads” – if that makes any sense. This way the art would feel more genuine. I’ve often seen artists kick and scream because they felt like using references is a form of cheating. And thus, to be blunt, some of them were condemned to series of odd-looking works in which they couldn’t exactly put their finger on what felt wrong in the painting, and yet became very defensive whenever facing critique from other people. “This is my style!” or, “It is meant to be like this!” or worse, “I won’t copy anything from photos!”
The proper use of references, though (which is different from blatantly copying something) is the key to an illustration that comes closer to our original intention … Even experienced artists who may have abandoned the use of them only did so after spending a lot of time practicing their observation skills. Anyway, this is a subject with the potential for extensive discussion, and I’ll stop here before dwelling even further on it.