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Old 15-07-2012, 08:14 PM   #1
bladnman
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bladnman - The Circus - One-Sheet Panel (poster)

Okay, I have never participated around here, and only recently have I discovered these forums at all. I was looking for this kind of general idea to help me stay continually motivated. A monthly off-the-wall concept is perfect.

My main goal recently was to learn a bit about digital painting. I've never tried my hand at it and have been both fascinated and frightened by the thought. My background is with illustration art.

With all that said, I decided to try to create a simple circus poster following some of the reasons and styles of those found in the 20's and 30's. I've always been interested in those posters and how direct and unabashed they were. I also wanted to try to create what was called a one-sheet panel. This would be a tall and thin poster usually pasted in a shop window so that it did not eat up the whole window (since shop owners were not paid to display these).

With that in mind, the knowledge that this is an entire learning experience for me, the fact that I will be unavailable for the last week of the month and my awe at the quality of art around here, I will say that I am "entering" the contest. More, I'm interested in ideas, critiques and community.
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Old 15-07-2012, 08:16 PM   #2
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Poster Sketch

It started with a poster layout sketch.
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Old 15-07-2012, 08:17 PM   #3
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Then a bit more detail on the robot

I know, this whole "robot circus" thing is something I have not explained. I guess I only have time to say: more on that later.
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Old 15-07-2012, 08:18 PM   #4
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Some head ideas

I had to work on the head of the robot a bit, so I spent some time with tracing paper and my sketchbook.
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Old 15-07-2012, 08:20 PM   #5
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Back into illustration

I was really struggling with my first attempts to "paint" the sharper shapes of the robot in Photoshop. I suppose I could have created shape masks to fill and use there, but I dropped back to my iPad and vector tools to get a rough color block-in.

Honest, I'm still trying to learn how to paint. It's hard to not use the tools you're good at though.
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Old 16-07-2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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A 30's poster is a nice idea !
I'm looking forward to seeing next step.
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Old 17-07-2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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Old 20-07-2012, 05:33 PM   #8
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A few detail shots

Learning to digitally paint has been a blast, though it's pretty tough. I am making hundreds of strokes in places I'm sure all of you would make only a few. It's a big distance from illustration, that's for sure.

I've been buried (RL) so I haven't posted much, so I thought I'd post a few detail shots here.
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Old 21-07-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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hey, nice work so far. that is interesting to hear your thoughts on the different thought processes involved when it comes to both painting and vector illustration, and how you are attempting to bridge that gap. I myself have done some vector work, but have more experience with the painting/sketching side, so trying to imagine things from your perspective is kind of enlightening. even looking at the vectorized robot torso you posted makes me realize that I generally don't tend to think in flat shapes like that, although I can see how it could be useful. it is cool you are trying to expand yourself in this way because I think painters and vector illustrators can really learn from each other in the way they approach things (I know there are plenty of people that do both, but still, actually thinking through and parsing the differences and similarities is perhaps a useful exercise).

anyway, this robot circus idea is definitely all in good fun, and the idea of formatting this piece as a poster really fits that retro sci-fi type of theme it seems you are going for. you're right, there was just something about the advertising of the early twentieth century that seemed somehow more honest and up front about things, if a little over-the-top at times. it was interesting seeing in your first sketch how you were working out the logo and type design off to the side. it is clear you come from an illustration/design background, haha.

as far as the actual painting work, from the few detail areas you've shown you seem to have some good tones going on, but if there is one thing you could work on I'd say it would be upping the contrast by a lot. at the moment everything is sort of blended out which does give some volume and surface quality to the shapes, but at the same time everything also looks uniformly diffuse. maybe you are intentionally going for that look, in which case, don't mind me, but if you actually want to make those metal surfaces seem shiny there needs to be some stronger highlighting in there. as an experiment, you could even try just temporarily flattening the image and then raising the contrast in your image editing program just to see what it looks like. that alone could produce some noticeable improvements which might help you plan things out for any final color corrections you might do at the end. but really when I say to increase the contrast, I'm not just talking about the range of colors. I'm also referring to the notion of having your light and dark colors coming right up against each other instead of doing a smoothly blended gradient everywhere that there is a highlight-to-shadow transition. having that juxtaposition of tones is what really gives a surface a reflective, specular quality.

I know that maybe what I'm saying here might not make much sense as it's sort of hard to describe in words. so for further explanation, if I may recommend a tutorial, I would like to point you to an all-time classic of digital painting: the PSG Art tutorial. maybe you have seen this before as it is one of the better-known tutorials of its kind, but it is certainly worth a look if you have not. it gives a lot of detailed tips for painting different types of surfaces in an easy to understand way. if you read through all of it, I think you'll be well on your way to understanding more about the "painter's mentality." of course, even for the real masters it's a lifelong learning process, and there is always more to discover, so don't get discouraged if things don't start clicking right away. a lot of times practicing painting seems to be a constant game of waiting for the other shoe to drop so you can take the next step. but with patience it will come (or so I hope!).

keep at it and good luck in your quest for digital painting domination!
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Old 21-07-2012, 03:11 PM   #10
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Nucron, thanks for all of that, really. And I will actually read the tut you linked to. I think part of the trouble I am having here is that my skill here is so low that it's hard to reach any of my concepts. So I have had to change the style a few times to adjust for what I can actually do.

It's been a real learning process and enjoyable. The whole painting thing is fascinating. With illustration things are much more pre designed and technical in the approach. Painting has so many "happy accidents" which really brings some exploration and adventure to it all. But to be honest I am still trying to recall that I can "just paint over an area and make it different". That still surprises me. And the brush/blend techniques have taken me weeks to even begin to really understand.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
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Old 28-07-2012, 11:26 AM   #11
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hey, no problem, bladnman. I can totally understand the feeling of always butting up against the limits of your skill level. believe it or not, even professional painters who have painted for decades often talk about how the idea in their mind for any given painting is usually somewhat beyond the reach of their skill level. the key is to just keep adjusting and trying anyway, because you grow in the process. in some sense, if you're not hitting your limit, you're probably doing it wrong, no matter what your skill level.

in any case, since you are just starting out you are quite right to be focused on the process and mentality of painting. oh, by the way, sorry if that tutorial I linked to before was too far ahead for someone at the beginner's level. I was thinking more about suggestions for lighting and painting materials and so on, but I can see how it might be a lot to take in at once.

with that in mind, one final tip I can give is that one of the best ways I've come across for learning painting techniques is watching screen capture tutorials on YouTube. the proverbial act of "looking over the shoulder" of master artists has been an important teaching tool for apprentices since at least the Renaissance. but now modern technology means there is a seemingly limitless supply of these videos that show the entire process from start to finish. a good one to get you started might be Marco Bucci's painting fundamentals video. be careful with the "related videos," though. you might just find yourself clicking from one related video to the next for hours. what a wondrous age we live in, eh?
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Old 28-07-2012, 04:02 PM   #12
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Thanks for the notes and links! I'll keep plugging away.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bladnman View Post
It started with a poster layout sketch.

Your layout character sketches looks very nice
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:37 PM   #14
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"Final Entry"

I suppose I should post this here too. I was too late to enter my final image to the contest, and I need more time to "really" finish it, but here is where I am at the end of the contest period
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:04 AM   #15
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hey, even though this wasn't finished in time for the challenge, it's good to see you got as far as you did. I think overall you managed to get something that more or less accomplishes what you set out to do in your initial sketches.

I know you were not able to finish it all the way, but as far as giving any crits, I would say the first thing that stood out to me is that perhaps the colors and typography could use some work. it seems like maybe there are too many fonts going on (the more "refined" thin font at the very top seems especially out of place in light of the chunkier stuff below). also I'm not feeling much of a connection between the red/white and yellow/blue areas, and it's as if they are too different in style to be part of the same poster. that is all easily fixable, though, so not too big of a deal.

as for the painting itself, one thing I noticed is that some areas such as the body of the robot look properly 3D, while rounder things such as the head and the dumbbell weights seem sort of flat. I will say, though, that the area around the eyes of the robot actually looks like real metal, so good job with that. I know it probably was not intentional, but seeing this mix of 2D and 3D-looking areas and the "handcrafted" look of the eye rings kind of reminded me of found object collage (something like this). to make the round shapes more dimensional, remember to block out your light and shadow areas before starting to add more detail. in terms of vector art, think about what it takes to make a ball shape look round and shiny. a lot of the same principles apply in painting.

anyway, I know you're probably done thinking about this piece, but I thought I'd provide one last crit for the road. don't get discouraged; for someone starting out in painting you have a lot more skill than you might realize. keep at it!

peace.
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