I made a promise to a friend to do a walkthrough of my process for The Guofang and Yue painting. So here goes...
Step 1: Exploring the palette.
After the initial pulling of hair and cursing at Liv’s choice of palette, I started exploring it further…
At this stage I thought only of the colours, and I had no idea what I was going to paint with them later on.
I made a few washes (adjusting the layer opacity – but washes sounds so much more painterly) to tone the colours of the palette. And did a few warm dark washes to add some dark values.
At the end I separate the colours with white lines – because it helps me to differentiate and see the colours better. Maybe I’m just weird that way…
Step 2: Barinstorming
At this stage I played around with different designs and combinations for costumes. To me it is important to stay loose at this point and don’t get carried away with detailing. This is not supposed to be beautifully rendered and perfect.
When brainstorming you use keywords, unfinished sentences etc. – I think of this as visual brainstorming.
So while having fun brainstorming, I gradually began to get an idea of the painting I wanted to make - and how I would use the palette.
Step 3: Sketching
I knew at this point that I wanted to make a painting of Guofang and Princess Yue going for a ride in the desert. And then my heart sank… You see horses are really not my forte. But I had this scene in my head, and I simply had to get it out of there! So I spend almost an hour just looking at pictures of horses, and then went back and tried to sketch out the scene.
I know it is not the smartest thing to do, but I tend to just jump right into sketching – no preliminary sketching, no thumbnails, no trying out different perspectives and poses etc. – I save all that for work related stuff. Why? I simply don’t find it that interesting - and this is just me having a good time after all.
When I have a general feeling of the painting sketched out, I always confer with Sig. Fibonacci.
At this stage everything is still very loose, but if the overall composition looks ok, I feel confident enough to start refining the sketch.
(I use the term sketch, but sometimes what I do is more like blocking out colour and shapes. It depends on my mood)
Because I was still a bit unsure about the colour palette I went with sketching for this one…
Step 4: Initial colouring
I start by separating the figures from the background. Then I fill in the basic colours.
Step 5: Refining colours
This is by far my favourite stage! This is where I set the mood, and in a way I feel this is the when the soul of the painting is born.
So what did I do?
I guess the first thing I did at this stage was to decide on a light source and hinting at the shadowy areas.
Then I added some blue coolness to the shadows to enhance the warm light from the sunrise. I felt this had a nice feel to it and translated it to the sky – throwing in a few stars to give it that cool clearness of a desert morning (well, at least how I imagine one to be).
Step 6: Painting
This stage is basically me trying to clarify to others what I have suggested in rather loose strokes to myself. Does that make sense?
Here is what I did with the groom:
Step 7: Finishing.
Well, it is always tricky to know when to stop. But I have begun to set strict deadlines for myself, and when the deadline is reached – that’s the end of it. To bad if I forgot something (like I did in my last painting!) or if I am unhappy with something… I will just have to try my best not to make the same mistakes again.
And that's it. This was a rather neat process – it is far from the case every time I paint.
Normally it is a much more organic and overlapping process - and then again sometimes it is simply a chaotic mess, and I have no idea how I managed to get from start to finish (which, by the way, I don’t always do! … I am imagining the folder with all my failed and abandoned paintings to be something like Raistlin Majere’s Lair of the Live Ones, filled with crippled and deformed creatures hiding in the dark depths of my hard disk)...
Well, I hope you have enjoyed watching over my shoulders for this one.