Making Of 'Black'

There are, in my opinion, three ways of creating artwork. The first way is with a clearly thought-out idea and a clear image in mind, and in this case we need to move the image from our imagination to a canvas. This is the best way to avoid big problems in the process of painting artwork, and eventually you get a clear result. I actually have this happen to me very rarely. I try to use this method to translate my work, always leaving room for 'happy accidents'. The second way is an associative search, when you create chaotic canvas of lines and shapes and then find something within the chaos that you can add to. This way of making artwork comes in when you just want to draw but don't know exactly what you want to do. The third method is when you have some vague images and fragments of images in your head and start to connect those images, and you eventually get the work done in very fun way.

With this work, I understood clearly the image that I wanted to create, as well as the mood of the piece - daydreaming, sadness, anticipation; a picture with some unknown history behind it. For this image, I used my favourite software: Corel Painter X.

After a quick search of my idea in sketches, I created a clear line art (Fig.01). Line art is very important because in the process of drawing you can fix things simply and painlessly, and get a clear vision of the image. When you're done with the line art the drawing can then move onto the next stage where you can just fill the frame with a specified pattern of shapes and colour. The quality of line art will depend on the remaining lines in the final image. If you need to, you may have to sweat to create a perfect line art, but in my case, with this image, it was not necessary.

Fig. 01_Sketch_concept_outline

Fig. 01_Sketch_concept_outline

In the second stage, I filled in the different layers of the main shapes of the figure, broke in some colour and created the background (Fig.02). All this was done underneath the line art. Another important thing to mention is the contrast of the image. In this piece, there's mainly the contrast of the dark hair and dark dress upon a bright background, and the main colour contrasts is the warm skin tones against the cool colour of the background.

Fig. 02_filling_in_the_outlines_colour_blocking

Fig. 02_filling_in_the_outlines_colour_blocking

I configured Painter for my needs, switched on the layer Preserve Transparency function, to feel free with the rough shading and colouring in selected layers, and then setup the paper. My favourite tool is the Round Oil Pastel. Pastel interacts with the paper and gives gentle colour shading. My personal favourite canvas is a basic paper, but it is slightly more granular than I needed, so I reduced the texture size of the paper to 60-70% and decreased the contrast to 35-40%. What I like most about Painter is the fact that the colours you're using interact with the layers below, and you get very nice shading and don't need to use any blenders.

At this stage I did some quick shading of all forms, and got the basic colour accents (Fig.03). The light comes from the right and is focused on her face, so I had maximum accentuation in this part of image. I painted the lips with bright red lipstick - a bright colour to add further accent to the face.

Fig. 03_adding_base_colours

Fig. 03_adding_base_colours

In the next step I turned off Preserve Transparency, because at this stage I no longer needed the line art. I created a new layer over all other layers, where I started to add detail to parts of image, working initially on her face (Fig.04). The face is the most important thing for me, and in this image I was searching for the exact tone and colour solutions that were to be used for the rest of the image.

Fig. 04_adding_details_to_face_and_hair

Fig. 04_adding_details_to_face_and_hair

I continued refinement of the image by working on her hands next (Fig.05), and adding little touches to the dress and bag strap in her hand. I gave her nails red varnish to support the bright red if her lips. I also gave a slight touch of silhouette to her hair.

Fig. 05_painting_hand_details

Fig. 05_painting_hand_details

The next step was adding the detail of the hair and painting the jewellery - earrings and a pendant on a chain. I was aiming for a certain romantic image feeling, the kind that come in pink hearts in a golden frame. I wasn't too fond of some of the curls here so I started fixing them (Fig.06).

Fig. 06_painting_jewellery

Fig. 06_painting_jewellery

The big curl on her shoulder popped out from the style of the image and looked too heavy. So I made it thinner and lighter, and continued work on the hair (Fig.07).

Fig. 07_shoulder_and_hair_adustments

Fig. 07_shoulder_and_hair_adustments

At this stage, I carefully and critically considered the entire image. I found that the transition from the chest to the stomach broke the line of the body and made the silhouette look ugly. To resolve this area I removed the light spots on the dress below the hand, and the whole silhouette looked greatly improved (Fig.08).

Fig. 08_removing_light_spots

Fig. 08_removing_light_spots

I removed some of the inaccuracies and random spots within the image, and then started work on the background, making ambiguous silhouettes against a background and adding some drops of rain (Fig.09). This background added greater mood and feeling to the image, and the whole piece began to raise more questions about the history behind it.

Fig. 09_final_image

Fig. 09_final_image

The image was then complete.

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