Thursday, March 27, 2014

Galileo's Daughter

About ten years ago I listened to Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter on audio. I don't remember much of the details, but the idea stuck with me. Midway through last year I worked up a rough sketch on the topic, which sat on my desktop until about a month ago, when I found I had some free time to work on my portfolio. 

Galileo had three children, the eldest of which, Virginia Gamba, corresponded with him from her convent in Arcetri (she and her sister Livia were placed in a convent as Galileo could not afford to raise them or pay their dowries) until her death. There is apparently some evidence that she prepared some of his manuscripts for print, and there are references to his work in her letters, and she appeared to be fairly well educated. The idea that Galileo must have shown her what he was working on seemed to me a nice topic for a portfolio piece, and I plan to do a few vignette illustrations to go with this full-page piece. 

This illustration is set in April 1610, when Virginia was 10. She would enter the convent when she was 13 and take the name Marie Celeste.

Here's a detail of the faces:

And here's an animated gif showing the main stages of my process:

I started off with a rough digital sketch. I used pose mannequins and the perspective rulers in Manga Studio to get the rough basics down, and elaborated on that in Photoshop. I then did a rough tonal study to get an indication of whether or not it would work in black and white. 
I refined my sketch in pencil, and then inked it and added watercolour and black pencil. I converted it to full black and white in Adobe Photoshop CC (it was painted in black and white, but there are variations in the tones of the different paints I used)

Winsor and Newton watercolours, Ecoline liquid watercolour, Copic Opaque White, Pentel brush pen, Prismacolour pencil on Moleskine Watercolour paper. 


  1. This is lovely, one of my favourites.

  2. Beautiful work, Alene! Your values are soooooo good, and I love the oversized moon.
    I really really need a good perspective grid tool, but I don't have Manga Studio. I'm sure there must be a Photoshop equivalent, I just need to look for it.

    1. Thanks so much Kelley! Manga Studio is quite cheap, so I splurged on it pretty much exclusively for the perspective rulers (perspective is the bane of my existence) and the pose mannequins (sometimes it's too hard to take a reference of me with the self-timer =P). I still use Photoshop for practically everything else, but I do like the pen tool in Manga Studio, it does nice crisp inky lines that work well for some of my digital sketches.
      As for the tones, I've watched a lot of 40s Noir in my time! The Ecoline ink is fabulous for strong darks, too.



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