My Other Talent

At some point I may have promised to post the first attempt at the “Talent” picture.  Today is the day that promise is kept.

It wasn’t a completely awful picture, really.  It had a lot of good things going for it. But after two or three days of work on it, the picture wasn’t improving very quickly, and I could no longer see the way back from the brink.

The characters were stiff.

The colors were bland.

The shading was choppy,

Most egregiously: the composition was static.

Talent - My True Account

The stiffness of the characters can probably be attributed to the technique I was trying out.  Instead of doing a cartoon-style outline filled with colors, this one was meant to be more “painterly” – no outlines in the finished piece.  But in translating the original line sketch (see below) into the eventual piece, some of the life got lost.

The palette for this piece was simply not that well thought-out.  There isn’t much movement or variation in the colors.  The best part is the sky and the mountains.  Other than that, the colors come across as both random and dull.  I even tried “shifting” the hues using a tool in Photoshop, which was an improvement, but not enough of one.  Once again, gimmicks and shortcuts can be great for enhancing a good piece, but rarely can salvage a mess.

The choppy shading was not a mistake, per se.  Many of my pieces start out with blobs and blocks of color that get blended in as the piece progresses.  The problem was that there was a lot of blending to do, with not much time before the deadline for Illustration Friday.   The faces, which are a bit more “finished-looking” were added just a few days ago, just so I could where this piece might have ended up.  Meh.

The composition was the main flaw of this illustration.  The triangular relationship that I imagined between the two main characters gets lost in all the scribbles – not that it was compelling in the first place.  As evidence, see the line sketch below:

Talent - My True Account - sketch

The whole attempt, however was a valuable learning experience, frustrating though it was.  Plus, the lovely background landscape was recycled much more effectively in “The One Talent.”


This entry was published on March 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm and is filed under Digital Drawing, Figures, Illustration Friday, The Artistic Process. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “My Other Talent

  1. I am impressed by your self analysis. That is a really difficult thing to do, but you are spot on. I love the “sky and mountains” too, and I agree, the composition in the line sketch is really dynamic and pleasing.

  2. I like this one as well, Gabriel. I don’t find it bland, choppy or stiff. The picture sets a scene for a bigger story for me: I want to get to know the characters more, and what they do in their mountain top kingdom. I love the mountains in the background, which I mentioned in your other post, and your use of colour.
    I’m drawn to colour, the more colour the better, in my mind!
    Reading through your comments, I too think you may be a little harsh on yourself as well, but I read your words as pointers and tips to help me improve as I get back into my ‘artistic stride’. You point out things that don’t work as well as those that do, you provide tips and suggestions which I’m eager to try myself, and you provide excellent examples of your work. If I notice something that I feel doesn’t work, I don’t comment on it because the other 99.9 per cent of the piece does, and I don’t feel I’m in a position to criticise anything anyway! I only concentrate on the good.
    You used this style (back to today’s image again now!) in a recent picture set in an attic, if I remember rightly… I liked that one too!
    Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  3. So true, we only learn from what doesn’t work, not what does.

  4. By the way, I forgot to say three things, I love your drawing style, it is good you are so honest to yourself and finally feel free to comment constructively on my stuff. I won’t mind at all. Being an artist needs both self-belief but also an openness to others views that can sometimes provide useful feedback. It is important those views are nonestly held. Best, Nicholas.

  5. You are not off your rocker! It is good to be demanding on ourselves as artists. I often feel dissatisfied with my work, (often rightly it must be said!) but I always re-look at things a few weeks later, that way I can take the good things out of the piece and sometimes I realise that the piece worked all along or can see what needs to be done. I find that sometimes a piece can be 90% good but it is the 10% that kills it and then it is best to start again I find. You are right to say there is little constructive comment here but that is hardly surprising as who would wish to be judge? Not me. I just do my work as best i can. I have though found much work to admire, including yours btw. Keep up the good work.

  6. You are much too hard on yourself. I like this! There’s nothing wrong with the color scheme or the composition. And the characters are not too stiff. Love the cool tones on the mountains, the bits of green, and the rust colored robe.

    • I have to hard on myself… no-one else is gonna be! Browse through all the comments on this blog, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than a half-dozen ‘constructive’ critiques.

      Which is fine. I know that’s not really how things work on these kinds of sites, but I have to keep pushing myself to improve. It may sound arrogant, but I know that my artistic abilities are superior to probably 95% of the world’s population: but that’s mainly because most people have other interests and make no strenuous attempt to be artistic.

      On the other hand, compared to most professional artists and illustrators, my skills would probably rank closer to the *bottom* 5%. I am not currently a professional artist, but I’d sure like to finally break in someday soon.

      Compared to other part-time artists – I am probably somewhere in the middle of the crowd, talent-wise. But to become a professional in this competitive field, that’s just not good enough. I approach my Illstration Friday submissions as if they were actual professional assignments, and so I critique the works as though I was being paid to do them, and as if they were going to be published. It’s not so much that the original “Talent” piece is *bad* … it’s just not something I would have been prowd to turn in to a paying client.

      Whew! Does any of that make sense, or am I off my rocker?

      • Hi Gabriel, don’t worry. The passion you have shines through. That is all that matters. I like your style, it inspires me. If you like the composition to be more dynamic, you could choose a less ‘equal’ background (maybe one side clearly higher than the other side, or top of mountain cut off by frame of picture) for instance. Also, you write that you are looking for more colors. Could be, but sometimes it helps to do the opposite and limit the number of colors. For example: try to mix more grey in the background. I’m not sure, but I think you basically need only 4 or 5 colors for any picture. If you like more flavours you could experiment with the transparency of the paint. I’m looking forward to watch your next pictures.

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