Thursday, October 20, 2011

Illustration Friday - Scattered

Click on image to see it larger.
Walking my dog, I see lots of squirrels. My dog has a squirrel obsession, so we often end up following them. I would never let my dog catch a squirrel (at least not intentionally) but I do let her 'be a dog,' and engage in her instincts by allowing her to track them up into a tree. Once the squirrels are safely sitting in the trees above us, my dog is perfectly content to sit beneath the tree and stare up at them for as long as I will allow her to do so. Some of the squirrels are quite brave and will climb part way back down the tree to check us out. I always have my camera with me so while my dog is fixated on the squirrel, I try and take pictures of them.

One thing I notice while standing under the squirrel-laden trees is how many acorns and leaves are scattered about on the lawn. So, when I read that this week's 'Illustration Friday' challenge was the word "Scattered," I decided to do something with squirrels and scattered acorns.

I started out by doing some sketches based on a couple of the squirrel photos I had taken. At this point I wasn't sure in what direction I was going to take this image, but I kept sketching. As I worked on it, I decided I would do an image of a mother squirrel who has discovered that her son has scattered their acorns all over the floor of their den.

I finally decided I would put clothes on the squirrels. You can see at this stage I also decided to change the position of the mother squirrel's arms.

I thought the female squirrel looked too young and not at all like the mother of the other one, so in order to age her, I gave her a few extra pounds and put her in an apron.

At this point, it was just a matter of shading things in. I created the image entirely in Corel Painter 12. For the most part I used the 'Real 2B Pencil' brush, but for the background, which I created on a separate layer, I used the 'Real Sumi-e Wet Brush.'

I decided that I wanted to make the mother appear to be backlit so I added another layer and created some darker shading.  Once I had the shading the way I wanted it, I collapsed the various layers I had created so that it would be easier to do blending and smoothing out of the overall image.

Monday, October 03, 2011

How Would You Hibernate? - Illustration Friday

This week, the word challenge for 'Illustration Friday' was "Hibernate." In announcing the challenge, the host of the site provided this quote from Anais Nin: 

"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death."

Hibernate detail
This is not how I picture hibernation. First of all, I don't think of it as a restless condition.  Restful, yes, but not restless. An absence of pleasure? I suppose that would be true if you define hibernation as withdrawing from life. My idea of hibernating is to stay in bed, which can be a most pleasurable thing to do, especially if one has a good stack of books at the bedside. I suppose my idea of hibernation is probably closer to the concept of cocooning. In other words, not going anywhere, staying inside surrounded by the things that comfort you. 

When I think of hibernation, I always think of bears. So, in my illustration I have depicted a bear, cozy in bed with a couple of stacks of books. He's not quite ready to hibernate yet, he wants to spend some time reading first. I've also given him a pal - down at the foot of the bed, is a little mouse with his own blanket and pillows and even his own books (see detail at right, click on images to see them larger).

I created this image in Corel Painter 12 and I worked in a slightly different manner than I have in the past. First of all, I spent more time on my pencil sketch. I did a number of sketches until I got the bear looking just right. Once I had the bear the way I wanted him to look, I tightened up the sketch and made a cleaner drawing. In the past, I've inked in my drawings, but this time I decided I would keep the sketch visible and not use any ink pens. Another thing I did that I don't usually do was to create selections so that I could paint in areas while protecting others. I created the selections by creating new alpha channels and painting the areas I wanted to protect in opaque white on the alpha channel.  Once I had the areas painted that I wanted to protect (think of this as applying a frisket mask to watercolor paper), it was easy to load and save these areas as selections. 

First sketch
Second Sketch
Third Sketch
Fourth Sketch
Fifth Sketch

Final Sketch

Starting to paint, I protected certain areas by using selections created from alpha channels

Screen shot showing selection
Almost done. I completed the illustration by adding some darks and some colored pencil details