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.


  1. who are you calling a robot

    by the way i like the night one it seems more theatrical to me

    beep beep

  2. Oops, you already said it was theatrical. What I meant to say was it seems more _dramatic_, and like the right time for such an important musical showdown.

  3. Night or day. Either way you could make it seem more like it is on a stage and thus more musical. My first response was night. You could have multi colored spotlights on them.

  4. Ooh, I like the sound of a musical showdown. But does that mean the ninjas should be about to attack with a banjo and tambourine instead? Hmmm. Someone stop me before I ruin this thing.

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  7. Maybe they could have their hands tied together like in Michael Jackson's "Beat It". I never understood why they did that. I guess it works in a music video sense...or not.

  8. Whoops, that last comment as Marilyn was supposed to logged in as me---making her sound like she's carrying on a conversation with herself. Sort of crazy, actually. That's pretty cool, something I should take advantage of later. :)

    Adam: I've thought about multi-colored lights too. I wonder if there's a way I could do it without making it seem like the "Cabing Fever" sequence in the muppets all over again, though? Maybe if I could make it feel natural somehow.

  9. The composition was much stronger in the original drawing. Also your tonal values have got confused in the transition to colour. Not that i'm a genius or anything. Just swallowed 'creative illustration' by Andrew Loomis

  10. Roland: Thanks for your thoughts. I knew when I started this that there would be people who disagreed with my "improvements." This is totally understandable, because my changes are intended to make the image appeal to a different audience than the original was (you're likely part of a very small, yet valid, audience that the original appeals to).

    As for Loomis and Creative Illustration, I'm going to be applying his principles to this image as I push it further---I'm certainly not going to just paint over the old drawing like I've done here. I plan to carefully reconsider the placement of every character, limb, and prop to make the composition work. The purpose of this 5-minute, muddy lighting scheme studies is to provide some context for the decisions I'll be making with the composition as I go further.

  11. I concur that the night scene is better. Something about the spotlight/stage effect makes the pirates look like they are having that much more fun, and the ninjas that much more out of their normal element.

  12. i'm going to go with the night scene, just a better feel. Also, not to many ninjas running around in the day time.

  13. Anonymous5:49 AM

    this is very interessting. The thumbnailing stage is where my stuff is underdeveloped and that shows later. I'm reading along and looking forward to more learning stuff


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