Tree’s Company / The Leaning Tree

These days, all victories are hard-fought, but all the sweeter for the effort.

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “Tree”.  In contrast to the creative block encountered while trying to select a suitable scene to illustrate last week’s “Shy”, the image sprang immediately to mind.  The two characters,  their positions relative to each other, the vantage point, the background – that was the easy part.

Then, I had to go and make it complicated.  After a quick sketch in Photoshop, I set out to find a compelling color scheme to emulate.  I found it on Ian Laser’s phenomenal website: Ian Laser (here).  He’s a professional illustrator whose site has been in my favorites for some time now.  I borrowed generously from the palette used on the dog-walking picture, so please repay him the favor by clicking around his place.

The main color blocks weren’t too tough, but then I set to task of tightening the drawing.  What followed were some ten hours of swinging back and forth between too tight and too loose.  The kid in the tree’s torso was an early stumbling block.  The slightest shifting of a line transformed him from steroidal to emaciated, then back again.

Eventually a balance was struck.

I can’t guarantee a deal with the devil wasn’t involved.  Totally worth it.  I had already tried to sell my soul on Craigslist, and the only taker wanted to haggle.  (My asking price was $3.  Reasonable, I thought.)

Once the main drawing issues were resolved, the colors needed to be re-painted so that would somewhat match the lines.  I slapped a few special effects here and there.  Just a bit of blending.  The goal was subtlety.  How did I do?

At some point, Tony walked into the office, on his way to bed.  He casually observed that the kid on the ground looked like Bobby Hill, from King of the Hill.  So I had to completely redraw his face again, too.

I spent the better part of the next two hours trying to draw a car.  Does anybody else remember middle school like I do: all the boys would draw cars in their notebooks while the teacher was talking, and the girls would draw horses.  I missed out on that early practice.  Although I’m getting better with horses.

Round about 1am, I finally eked out a collection of lines that I could convince myself was automobile.  I doubt that Henry Ford would agree with me, but who cares?  He’s dead, and dead people can’t drive, anyway.

And on that note …

I’ll finish with a couple of early snapshots, submitted for your approval:

Originally, the nearer boy’s head wasn’t facing his friend. Rude.

Notice how the background color shows through.  Not only does it lend a cool, stained-glass effect at this point, but it also asserts a certain moody influence on the whole piece.  I made sure to leave some of the little mauve ‘seams’ exposed in the finished version.

And for everyone who actually reads all the way to the end of these things, AND who expect a tenuous musical tie-in, here you go:  Sun Kil Moon’s “The Leaning Tree” from Admiral Fell Promises fits wonderfully with this drawing.  The acoustic tune starts sweetly, then pivots into darker territory at about the two-minute mark, only to lighten up a bit again with a long coda.




This entry was published on November 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Tree’s Company / The Leaning Tree

  1. I had a look at that tree prompt, Gabriel, but didn’t manage to look that far ‘out of the box’, as the saying goes, and my plain tree was just that. And very plain.
    You’ve done a great illustration here, I like the angle and perspective, the figures, the colours and the car! And you can definitely see where it’s going in the white-line sketch.

    • I find it fun to take the assignment for a ‘twist’ sometimes… and then other times, it’s nice to just be straightforward about things. There certainly *is* such a thing as too clever.

      P.S. I’m having trouble finding your tree. Any suggestions… or have you not chosen to share it. Which is fine, too.

  2. Nice work Gabriel!

  3. I was tremendously interested by your post, about your process; yes, I read several times until the end (English is not my native language, so sometimes I have to check words).
    I am going to follow your blog, I am sure it will be an inspiration for me,as I am a beginner in digital painting.And I am going to read your former posts.
    Tell me, how long did you take to draw and paint this? It would be encouraging to know, because when I take a lot of time, I think I am a zero.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and have a good day!

    • Sylviane… First of all, thank you for the compliments. I’m glad you found something here that excites your imagination. Digital work is something I’ve started to do in the past half year and it offers a lot of challenges *and* rewards.

      The Tree drawing took about fifteen minutes to do the white line-sketch (near the end of the post). Then I spent over an hour just tring to decide on a color scheme (not actually drawing). Blocking in the main areas of color took about another half hour (the other small drawing). From there, I spent two very long nights working towards the finished piece. I was at it constantly for six hours each night, so the whole piece took about 13 hours of steady effort.

      Some of my pieces take much less time, and a few take more. Especially watercolors. I hope this gives you some encouragement.

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