Friday, July 1, 2011

Illustration Master Class 2011 - Painting

Before I left for the 2011 Illustration Master Class I posted here on the blog about some concerns I was having. Well, having been and returned I feel a little silly for all the stress I put myself through worrying about what was going to happen at the IMC. Needless to say the environment was creative, informative and built around getting the students on the road to creating better illustrations. People arrived with all levels of preparedness for their painting and everyone had different amounts of revisions and edits to deal with before they were ready for paint. I prepared a lot... because I am who I am, and when I have time to think I have time to over think which means I have time to overwork. I will say right up to the moment my critique began I was imagining all manor of terrible outcomes... chief among them having to complete start over. I know now that would not have been the worst thing in the world and would have been a tremendous learning experience.

The IMC assignment I picked was a piece involving a DRAGON and two or more FIGURES one of which needing to be HUMAN. Other then that it was completely up to the artist to interrupt. This assignment was chosen by a lot of the students and each and every person came up with something different! But enough talking, lets get with the images. It all began with some ideas and some thumbnails...

Here is a selection of some the thumbnails that went into my piece. I thought I had the idea early on and was beginning to overwork the thumbnails, but as my ideas started to come to me (ideas I liked better) I moved on and made sure to work small. Eventually, I came upon some exterior ideas that are tied into some personal work I am working on and was really starting to move in that direction. I had a lot of ideas at this point and was talking about them all to my wife and she kept leading my back to some ideas I had about a dragon being sold in a bazaar. The more I thought about it the more that it felt like the right one. Once the overall composition was worked out on paper I gathered together my photo reference (most of which had me posing as all the characters - even the dragon) and moving onto a digital mock up where I started fleshing things out...

I took a lot photos of myself in a variety of poses and came up with some stuff on the spot. You never know what happy accidents you will come across or what pieces can be cobbled together to make a better over all image. Now that I had my reference and began making my elements digitally I could move things around and play with sizes. I was really unsure about the size of the dragon for awhile. I knew I wanted to go with a wingless alligator like body but how big it was compared to everything else was a tricky one. Eventually I got all the pieces in order and was ready to create my drawing...

Working at about 13 x 17 here is my drawing. Over all it was really well received by everyone, which eased a lot of stress I was having. My critique group was Rebecca Guay, Julie Bell, Greg Manchess and Iain McCaig. Things that were brought to my attention: A lot of horizontal and vertical in the piece which make it feel very still - need to add diagonals, the goblin can be more dynamic in pose which would help accomplish the first point, switch up the interaction with the dragon between characters, once the goblin and the dragon are interacting this will allow for a more dynamic interesting presentation of the dragon's exposed teeth, and finally add foreground elements to break things up, add more diagonals, and give the viewer the impression that they are looking into the image through an environment. I think that about covers it... sounds pretty straight forward, right? Rebecca, Julie and Greg used a print of my drawing with a sheet of tracing paper I had taped to it to better explain their thoughts. Iain McCaig helped out with a quick gesture drawing of me as the more dynamic goblin...

An Iain McCaig original! I took some time to think about all this advice and to filter it all through the brain to come up with some new ideas and a game plan to move forward. I decided to draw the new elements on separate sheets of paper and combine them with the original drawing digitally rather then going in and erasing and adding to the original drawing. Once that was all done I have drawing version two...

Much happier with how this one is looking now. There are still some areas that will get further attention as I move forward with the painting but I am at a point I can move forward. Each of the following images is a record of my completion of each day at the IMC (except the very last image). Every facility member talked to me about this piece and gave advice and suggestions. Sometimes the advice conflicted with other advice from another instructor, but this is to be expected. As artists we all have our own methods and techniques, likes and dislikes, and like everyone else have our own opinions. At a certain point you need to learn how to get the most out of critiques and take away from them what is best for you or work. It is a lot harder then it sounds. NOW, on with the painting...

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 2
Laying in the under painting. Adjusted the chain and the man a little more. I had several photos of some really cool bazaars and looked a lot to their colors and mood. Tried to work slower and more thoughtful since I had the time and really wanted to think about what and why I was doing things. I found the IMC a really great opportunity to analyze my own methods and techniques and to figure out why I do the things I do and to see if there are better ways to reach my goals.

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 3
Begun painting. Now the hard work begins... pulling everything together into one unified image at the finished level I am happy with. Still working slow and trying to address everything as a whole.

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 4
Painting continues. Got rid of the cages and boxes behind the figure to make sure he reads well. Breaking up the ground so in does not draw the eye to it. WORK WORK WORK!

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 5
Painting Continues. Revisited my face reference for the man. Learned a lot by doing that. Too much to try to explain, but when I did that I felt like my eyes were opened for the first time. Working on lights and darks to make sure forms read and the eye goes were it needs to go.

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 6
Painting Continues. Brighten and add contrast. The whole piece was getting gray and needed to be brought back up. Working on the secondary light sources and overall detail level.

At the end of 2011 IMC Day 7
And done... at least for the 2011 Illustration Master Class. This was the finished level I was at when I displayed the print in the studio open house on the last day. Really happy with the piece as a whole and learned so much though out the entire process. Thanks needs to be given to the entire faculty again for all their advice and experience and to Jeff and Marc for making me stop working on it finally.

© 2011 Christopher Burdett

After resting up from the trip back from IMC I took a fresh look at the piece and made some final tweaks to the piece and I am now calling it done. Officially. Since being back I have already finished another painting for myself and I have begun another. I am feeling really energized to make my own work and that is something I have been missing. More on these personal pieces soon!

That is all for an exciting week on the blog as well as the conclusion to my coverage of the 2011 Illustration Master Class, hope you all have enjoyed it! I will not be posting on Monday since it is a holiday in the US, but I will be back on Wednesday and Friday with lots of new art released while I was busy with the IMC! Until then...

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  1. Awesome illustration! I learned a lot from this post about the process going into the illustration. Thanks for such a cool post.

  2. Thanks so much!!
    I found you in ImagineFX magazine :)
    I am doing Character Creation at Uni next year :)
    Love your monsters!!

  3. Thanks to both of you! :D

    Gummy-Worms, you saw my work in ImagineFX? When was this, which issue?