Monday, October 22, 2012

Joy - In progress sketches

It has been requested, so I'm going back through these last six pieces and posting the in-progress sketches and phases. First up, Joy.

Medium: Watercolors
Size: 9x12 inches
Prints available: -here-

Each of the cards for the Dreamdance will be based on a dance form. For this one it is a veil bellydance.

 The very first sketch. I liked the flow of it, but was not initially happy with it. Funny enough, it ended up being the winner, with a few tweaks.

Tried scribbling a few random thumbnails to get some concept for a composition. Liked the figure on the lower right, so tried expanding on that one.

Attempted to see where that one would take me. I liked where it went, but it didn't fit into the framework of "Joy". Set it aside for possible future painting. But not what is needed here and now.

Went back to the first sketch. Didn't like something about the head position, so tried resketching it with a slightly different angle for the head. Ding! That was it!

Fleshed out the rest of the composition. Wanted the "veil" to be wispy clouds and wind, as she's so high up. Satyr was worried initially after seeing this sketch that it might look like smoke swirling up from fires down below. But I had colors vaguely in mind for it already and didn't think that would be a problem. Set the horizon at a wild tilt, for a less static background.

...because it would be bright green! So, I tried something a little different here than usual, technique-wise. I knew I wanted a green-ish tint to it all. But it's a delicate balance if making the whole sky greenish too, not to take on a sickly hue. I wanted some bright spots of red as well. And, personal taste, I generally try to stay away from circling the whole color wheel. As in, I like to try to stay within a 2/3rds section of the color wheel, to avoid a rainbow look. Contrasting colors also good. But if I wanted red and green, I didn't want blue. So I took the sketch into photoshop to try to see what I could do about striking that balance.

In the past, I've just scribbled in photoshop brushes to give myself a rough idea of colors. But it's hard to get a real good idea of what that looks like for watercolor, because I can't get the color shifts and irregularities. So instead of just painting directly, I took a big section of sky from one of my other paintings (I think it was Wind Machine) and pasted it into a separate "multiply" layer. Then I fiddled with the color balance of various selections on that layer, until I was satisfied with the overall color scheme.

I used that photoshopped thumbnail as a guideline for my colors as I started to paint.

Turned out, it worked fairly well in helping me press to some color subtleties and interactions I otherwise would not have done!
In-progress shots of the other 5 pieces will be coming in the next week!


  1. Oh, this is really gorgeous! Such lovely colours and that wonderful sense of being an illustration for a magical, enthralling fairy tale.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you Stephanie! :)