Monthly Archives: March 2011

Just when you thought you were done…

So, the last entry, I showed some goblins standing in a field near a forest. I thought the illustration was done, and sent it out to some friends for opinions. For the most part, they agreed it’s there, but that I could push it a little more. So I did. Here are the two versions, and the second version, I agree is much better.

However, The top one is closer to style of this illustration:

I wanted to stay closer to this flatter style of illustration. I did find myself getting more and more detailed as I worked on the goblins. Take the sleepy goblin in the back on the right hand side, he’s leaning against his spear. I had to go back and flatten his face some, because the level of lighting and details I had on it were more realistic in style then say the goblin sitting on the rock.

And I certainly feel that the grass moves much farther away from the style below.

Not that I think the after version is a failure. I love it. I’m glad I took those extra steps and pushed it even more. The far right goblin, picking his nose, I think his feet and legs are awesome. They have a real sense of space, direction and shape. I love the sitting goblin, his face, the legs. I feel I managed to really make each goblin have character.

What is lacking is any sense of story, as they are just standing around by some trees. So, now I have an idea to do a second drawing of these goblins around a camp fire, as if bedding down for the night. It will also let me do some lighting from a strong source, as I’m working to expand my skills and learn something about light and coloring.

Sticking with an idea.

The background was far harder to get right then each Goblin was. In fact, the Goblins were easy compared to the background. I had an idea of what I wanted in my head, but getting there took a lot of experimenting. I redid just about every aspect at least once, the tree trunks took about 4 tries to get to the stage I wanted them. First they where too tall and thin. I finally got the shape, size and texture right.

The foliage also took a lot to figure out. At one point the foliage and trunks were blending into each other. So I thought, lets darken the top of the trunks as if being shaded by the leaves, which lead to the thought of dappled light. That took a bit to get right. Eventually it all feel together.

I really learned a lot working on this, the background in particular. I had thought to try and do something different, like putting them inside a cave, as that would be easier, but I stuck with my idea, until I worked out a solution I was happy with.

How to get better

One hurdle we often face as artists is how to get better? It’s hard to look at your own work subjectively sometimes. You might have an idea and think that’s good. And then later say, Oh, wait, lets do this! And you have a better idea. Then you show it to others, who offer much better ideas, and you think…man, this sucks compared to what it could have been…

The fact is, we all have to make our own choices on the road to the final piece. I’m working on some illustrations for myself, as a form of practice and skill building. Recently I sent this to a few friends to get some feedback on it.

From those three friends I got 3 different kind of feedback. All valid too. It’s my choice on how much of that feedback I use and incorporate into the piece.

I then posted the image on a site that has a monthly crit of work either finished or in progress. And I got some more feedback, some of it similar and some of it different. All good and valid. So this work will have some tweaks done and some parts reworked in more major ways. But hey, since it’s for me, that’s fine!

Right now, though I had another idea I wanted to get down on paper. A goblin raiding party.

So, here are the first rough pencils:

I just wanted to get the different characters in place and a general composition set up. After I went and did tight pencils of each of the different goblins. First I did the axe wielding goblin in the back.

I knew he needed a much more action ready pose then what I gave him. Then I moved onto the goblin mage to his right. This one, man is that boring, it looks like he’s just doing parlor tricks and is about to ask “is that your card?” rather then blast you eldritch energy. But he took a while to get something I liked. First I thought I would make him more sinister, but also frail. Wasn’t to happy with that, so I made him less frail. Then I decided, it’s partly the direction he’s facing. I imagined he was the kind of mage that delights in his craft, and cultivates an air of mystery by being devious. So he might hide what he’s going to do. So I turned him away from what the group is looking at. It added some variety to the com as well, so that not everyone looks like they are holding the same pose.

I like this set up much better.

So, on I went, with each character. What were they wearing, what features in their face made them different from another goblin? In particular the Rat Master was fun, since I decided that he’s kind of filthy and particularly smelly compared to your average goblin, he does after all, sleep with the rats he trains. After I had all the characters penciled in, I tweaked their positions, as I had a few spots where I had bad tangents, where several elements meet that become distracting. For example the Squatting goblin, the archer and the one rat all meet up and made it a confusing mess, it wasn’t clear what was what.

So here is the tight pencils as they stand now. I will not start on the final version till later, so I can go back in a day and look and see if there is anything I want to change.

For example, I think the lower leg on the squatting goblin is too short compared to his upper leg. So I will go back and fix that. I’m also not sure about his hair. Maybe he just needs to be bald and an eye patch. His dagger will certainly have a poisonous¬† The goblin mage needs bigger hands. Maybe a few animal skulls and feathers and such. These aren’t quite savage enough right now. Perhaps the archer needs to have his cowl down over his face more. The warrior and rat master I think are at good where they are. The rats are certainly what I want.

After heating some good feedback on the first illustration, I took those thoughts into developing this drawing. And before I start on the final work, I’ll get some feedback on that as well.

If you don’t know any artists personally or professionally, I suggest finding a site that offers a forum for posting work and getting feedback.