Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Part 3, Prancing Pirates

A very early progress shot of my revisions to the pirates.

I brought them closer together so they read as a unit and re-posed them so their limbs would create a sort of sunburst shape out from the Captain's head (but only as far as it felt natural).

I tried to make the characters feel stronger and more able, but also accentuated their differences in face and body type. I went a bit further with the caricature, so people hopefully won't be confused about whether the picture is supposed to be serious or not. I also think this will just make the image more fun, (even if it's just more fun for me to work on, you have to consider that as a factor too). I might find ways to simplify them more as I put color into them---just get them more streamlined so people aren't distracted by unnecessary details.

I'll talk about what I'm doing with the background and the ninjas in a later post. Right now, I'm tired and I'm going back to bed.

Also, you should stop typing without punctuation and capitalization. It makes you sound like a robot in my head when I read your sentences.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Part 2, or "What the crud is going on here?"

I'm starting to realize that I shouldn't have picked such a complex picture to start with. But like I said, I'm committed, so I'll stick with it and take it as far as I can.

The first question to ask yourself when doing a picture like this is, "Why am I doing it?" In my case, an art forum was having a drawing activity titled, "Pirates vs. Ninjas." Not a good enough reason to spend a lot of time on a picture, especially now that I'm going to spend MORE time on the it. I don't think I can get away from the fundamentally odd idea going on here without destroying the purpose of the "fix bad art" thingy, but I can try to make an image that has enough appeal to make people like looking at it even if they don't really understand it.

The second question is, what am I trying to communicate? At the time I only had a vague idea of something funny with singing pirates and confused ninjas, which is probably why the image is neither that funny, or really, all that clear either. So my new goal is, show why pirates are better than ninjas: musicality.

Now that I've got an answer to important question #2, it's time to figure out how to pull it off. I have a few ideas: 1-Emphasize the pirates, de-emphasize the ninjas. 2-Make the pirates look like they are having fun, and the ninjas are not. 3-Make the pirates look cooler, instead of a bunch of drama pansies (sorry to all drama pansies out there).

Third "question" (Not a question. More of an "issue."): Appropriate format and composition. This is the biggest problem with my original piece. I created a composition that would look great for a full-color image, but went with a completely wrong format. And since nobody who is not named Eric Canete should tackle a subject this complex in just black and white ink, I think I'll convert the image into a painting.

This has a lot of compositional problems to fix if I'm going to do a painting, but the first is value and lighting scheme (this will affect how I compose and design the characters and background, as you will see later). I did a few thumbnails to test a couple ideas.

Full daylight: pretty good, but the pirates really get lost against the bright background. Making the sky a darker blue might fix that problem, maybe.

Sunset: Very dramatic. But totally wrong for what I want to accomplish.

Night: Better than the other two, might work.

Day with modified background: Also good.

I'm having a hard time deciding between the last two. I even did a quick color pass for each to see if that sorted anything out:

The night scene is very theatrical, but the day scene allows for nice color. Chime in if you think I should go with one over the other.

Next post: Revising the character designs, and how writing sentences without capitalization or punctuation makes you sound like a robot.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fixing Old Art, Part 1

I keep resolving to post more, but the resolution barely survives past the post where I make the resolution. So, this time I'm going to commit myself to a series where I show how I would improve the cruddy art I did years ago.

Here's the image I'll start with, something weak from years, and years, and years ago. Or, 2003.

I know, some of you will look at this and think "What's wrong with it?" Others may be thinking, "Only five years ago you were doing this garbage?" To both parties I say, it's not really that bad, and some parts are working well, but it's both planned and finished poorly. We'll see in time whether my improvements will be actual improvements.

There, now I'm committed.

In other news, a couple months ago I got whooping cough. It's not as fun as it sounds, I haven't whooped once (I'm a little sad about that). I didn't go to the doctor until it was obvious something was really wrong with me, and although he gave me antibiotics, the damage was already done. Apparently, the coughing part of whooping cough can sometimes last for up to a year after the bacteria is dead. Unfortunately, the coughing part is a lot worse than you'd imagine---constant coughing fits, difficulty breathing, and in my case, a runny nose that makes the coughing worse. So when you're wooing your love interest over a plate of manicotti at Olive Garden, and some guy is coughing constantly in the next booth, messing up the romantic ambiance? Yeah, that's me. Sorry. Maybe it will help to think about how good my wife is for putting up with it all.

On a positive note: These days, two hours of uninterrupted sleep feels awesome, and I'm ecstatic every time the doctor finds a medication that gets my throat to relax, even if it means I have to use some kind of strange drug paraphanelia while I'm at work, closing my door and crouching in a corner with a guilty look on my face if anyone comes in to sate their curiosity. Anyway, it's nice how perspective can help your attitude, making you grateful for things like being able to breathe. And I can use the time I'm awake at night to work on posts for this blog.

The moral of the story: Get your booster shots. I think the Tetanus booster has a vaccine for whooping cough in it, and it lasts for about ten years.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Work in Progress, Just for fun

It's been a week, so I figured I'd better post something. This isn't done yet, but at least it's something to look at.