Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bramble and Briar

I'm dividing my new website by age (so children's, middle grade, young adult) rather than the previous division of colour/black and white, digital/traditional, and realised that my Young Adult section was a bit thin. While staring into space trying to think of something to do for it, my eye fell on a portrait I did of a friend back in year 12, as one of the three paintings I did in TEE art. It's very dated now, my skills have improved so much, and I was never entirely happy with it as it was - and what better to put in a Young Adult illustration portfolio than a redo of a piece I myself did as a young adult? Plus, I'd come across the photos I took for it back in the day, while I was sorting out files on my computer. It was fate!

Here's the final piece:

I designed it as a book cover. I know everyone generally says that you shouldn't include text in your illustration portfolio as illustrators aren't qualified to work with type - but I have a degree in design, and I do a lot of work for self publishers, who need to see that I can apply type to a cover for them. So as a compromise, I have a version with text available upon roll-over on my website. Best of both worlds!

This isn't a real book. I came up with a title that fitted the image, and used a random name generator until I snagged one I liked for the author. I envisage that text being shiny gold foil....

It's quite a radical departure from the original painting I did back in 2004. I was referencing the Pre Raphaelites when I did it, and looking at the Victorian language of flowers. The plan was to do something very lush and a bit Bollywood inspired, with a huge bunch of white carnations, with a single red rose in the middle. But my art teacher didn't like that idea, and insisted I use coloured carnations, which really mucked up the message. I didn't paint the flowers very well anyway (not aided by the fact that I was working in oil paint, which gives me a bad migraine. Not the best situation for good painting!)

Here is the original:

Yeah. Oil paints really aren't my thing! 

So this was a chance to do it over, see how much I'd improved, and get more of the feel I'd originally been going for when I did the painting. However, I'm still scarred from painting all those carnations with a migraine, and I just couldn't bring myself to do a page full of carnations. So I went with all roses, influenced, no doubt, by the fact that I was listening to Robin Mckinley's Rose Daughter at the time.

Here's the reference photo. Isn't my friend gorgeous?

And here's a progress animation:

As you can see, one of the final stages was to add a colour adjustment and some lighting. That's the beauty of Photoshop. I also duplicated a lot of the roses, for which I am not sorry. =P 

All-up this took about 20 to 25 hours, and I did it in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. No oil-paint-migraines for me this time!

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