Sunday, June 05, 2011

Illustration Friday - Shadows

For the past couple of 'Illustration Fridays,' I've used work that I had previously done that seemed to fit the theme. At the moment, I'm in limbo over the final details of an illustration job (an actual paying job!), so I decided I would paint something new for this week's 'Illustration Friday' word challenge which is "Shadows."

I actually ended up creating two pieces on this theme, both involving trees and their shadows. My first attempt was a digital pen and ink drawing that I created from my imagination. I'm not very good at drawing trees without a reference, so I'm not completely satisfied with this first attempt (see image at left). I'm especially dissatisfied with the middle tree, maybe because its branching structure is too symmetrical. I also couldn't get the shadows on the ground to look right.

I decided to give it another try, this time using Painter's digital oil brushes. But this time I also decided to use a photographic reference. I love photographing trees, especially in the fall when they put on their colorful show. I took this panorama photograph last year in Bryan Park which is just a couple of blocks from where I live.

I made a sketch based on the tree that is just to the left of center. Here is my image at an early stage with the sketch still visible. I wanted this to be a somewhat loose and impressionistic piece, so I kept my sketch fairly minimal. I started off painting with fairly light tones.  As I went along, I added new layers with darker glazes. Every once in a while I would collapse the layers so that everything was on one layer and then, when necessary, I would add a new layer and once again add darker glazes. I created my glazes by using Painter's Wet Oily Blender brush set to a low opacity. Since I would paint these glazes on their own layer, I could also layer the opacity of the layer itself, which gave me much more control over how dark the glaze appeared.
The finished piece