Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hide and Seek

I taught at the Masters of Digital Painting workshop in Moscow earlier this month by invitation from Max Kostenko. At the workshop, Denis Zilber taught about light, and Serge Birault taught techniques of pin-up illustration. I talked about some rules of composition and then did a demonstration on controlling a composition, starting with this image, which I deliberately made a bit over-detailed and convoluted:
It could be worse, but it's still a mess, right? Almost every artist runs into problems like this sometimes, so I wanted to show how to sort through a flawed and complicated composition.

I took the picture to this point during the workshop:
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to do more than push the values and colors around. I've spent a couple hours on it since then, trying to take it where I thought it should go. There is one thing still bothering me, but I can't figure out how to fix it without damaging the theme and integrity of the picture.
I've taught before that when you can't control the size at which people will view a piece (like when posting it online, where you can't control monitor size or other things like level of zoom), you should design your composition to read clearly at almost any distance. But when I tried making the silhouettes clear and cropping it so the boy was visible at smaller scales, it lost that epic sense of exploration that I wanted.
A stronger composition? Maybe, but I still like most things better in the other one.
Not to mention that obscuring the monster a bit feels right for a game of hide and seek---in fact I may have pulled him out from the background too much as it is. Anyway, the point is that this one is meant to be seen large so make sure to click on the image. Sorry, thumbnail-aficionados! I guess I have to conclude that no set of rules can cover all compositions.

Thanks to all the people who came to the workshop and made me feel welcome in Russia. It was fun!

28 comments:

  1. Great post, and I like your solution to highlight and pop the important elements of the composition. It's too true that we sometimes over detail our pieces, just like a writer can over write a scene, because we are so invested in it that everything becomes important. But we must remember that our piece must carry one strong message and can't be lost because of other smaller ones.

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  2. You're amazing! Thank you for the helpful tutorial :)

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  3. I like the before-dropping version more too. It tells more of the story.

    Thank you for sharing those tips!

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  4. Wow Sam! I love this one.

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  5. Reeaaallly love this post, Sam!

    would you say your first "flawed" image is nothing but ambient light? It looks like a scene from a game before lighting... only flat textures.

    Seems like a fun exercise to do deliberately.. Just "texture" your painting, and worry about the lighting/atmospheric stuff afterwards....

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  6. Amazing!
    I wish I could draw like you!

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  7. This picture is my favorite now! You are master! and Im glad that i had chance meet you;)

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  8. Thanks everyone for the comments and compliments!

    Tyson: I did a large cool fill up top and a large warm fill on bottom. I figured that would look good once I put in the other light from the sun bouncing up underneath. But other than that, you're right, it's basically just ambient light/occlusion.

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  9. Thank You for your lecture on Masters of Digital Paint! It was very interesting and helpful! Hope You like Moscow, we will wait You again! :)

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  10. WOW!!
    Only just great artist
    My biggest inspirations!
    congratulations!
    study hard to achieve the level of art from you!
    far way yet....

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  11. Great work. Can you share some tutorial so new artist like me can learn from you? ~ Carolina

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  12. Awesome Post Sam! I really like how you used the first image to contrast the further designed light image. And I love the painting itself!

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  13. Thanks to you Sam for not only striving to always be a better artist, but for your never ending selflessness in always sharing your techniques and lessons. You are an inspiration to this industry!!! Thanks again!

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  14. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. And by the way, I don't know who took the picture of you but it is excellent!

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  15. Wow, the lighting and design and rendering--ok, ALL OF IT IS AMAZING!!!

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  16. woauuh lov your work Sam ! photoshop only for this picture ? thanks

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  17. Thanks everyone for the comments!

    Meï BOYINGTON : Illustratrice/Auteure: Yes, Photoshop only.

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  18. Very cool, it looks like a highly-rendered scene from Adventure Time.

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  20. I've seen you draw that picture a million times!

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