Sometimes its fun and challenging to take a simple premise of a “forest” and see how a little creativity and imagination can expand upon it. In this case where I was exploration ideas I came up with Giant lily pad based one and a giant mushroom variant. Nothing really original but again fun to paint up.
Do your drawings and paintings look flat or are hard to read?
The largest and most difficult aspect of learning to paint for me was getting the values right. All my images looked overly dark and muddy, on top of that there was no color harmony. Now my lack of understanding color theory played into these muddy early days too but not as much as the value.s.
So what are values?
Value pertains to how dark or light your image is. Values are often considered tone as well. They are the shadows, the highlights, and everything in-between. Every color can be assigned a value and should not be mistaken for saturation which is the intensity of a color.
Why are values important ?
Value is the conductor of your orchestra. It will dictate several facets of your image. The arrangement of values in a painting determines the flow and movement of the viewers eye. Value is the primary way of defining forms. It shows the viewer the texture, the shape, and how the lighting is set. So to put it simply value creates the visual structure of an image.
Tricks to improve your values!
Assign the planes of your illustration; the Foreground, mid ground, and background a limited value range. this will help you work out the image from a design standpoint and look at the shapes and flow of the composition.
If values are similar, shapes will appear to flatten out. Its through the contrast of value that space can be determined and shapes be clearly defined.
Are you an artist that has trouble conveying your ideas onto the screen or canvas? Do your compositions need improving? If so the reason may derive from an early stage that many beginners overlook or skip altogether.
It is likely this stage is the thumbnail sketches and its generally recommended to fully explore your ideas here so they blossom into their full potential. These small sketches are really just doodles that may vary in detail that are usually 1-3inches in size.
Why so so small? Well they are small because their purpose is to explore multiple ideas quickly. Also by keeping them small and loose its likely anyone creating them will not get overly attached to one idea. This is a common mistake seen more frequently in less experienced or casual painters and illustrators. What happened to me early on is I would have an idea in my head and wanted to paint it out as clearly and quickly as possible. Getting the image out of my head before it would become to foggy was the only thing I was concerned with and not taking the time to plan it out carefully.
So for example in your head, there is a knight battling a monster. Do you draw it out and then begin to paint it? Well you can BUT a better approach would be do draw that one scene from several angles exploring multiple compositions eventually choosing the best one. Right? After all, authors write several revisions and film directors shoot multiple takes on a scene for a reason. The odds are just that my FIRST attempt to visualize a concept will NOT be perfect.
If I can get a sheet of thumbnails and narrow that down to one to three ideas Ill be satisfied and make sure they read well enough so ill know what Im looking at the next day or week. As a planning tool they wouldn’t be very useful if they are unreadable so I prefer to keep them as simple as possible. If a drawing looks good 2 inches wide it will look fantastic when it comes to the finished size. Its important to note this doesn’t apply to the opposite. I feel its a proven test that if an image isn’t distinguishable as a thumbnail with shapes and silhouettes its not that strong of a composition.
There’s a few techniques I use regularly to help generate fresh ideas. After drawing a sheet of thumbnails rotate them vertically and horizontally then use a new layer or tracing paper to pick out more shapes and silhouettes creating a new batch of compositions. Another Strategy is that if I’m Having trouble visualizing the space on the paper then I prefer to draw out a horizon line first . Doing this will show me the eye level of the viewer and aid in sensing the depth and angle of a scene.
Remember draw thumbnails with what your comfortable with, pen, pencil, marker, or digital. Anything can work. Just keep them light, fast and fun.
A concept artist and illustrator residing in New England. He embraces his overwhelming passion for creating on a daily basis.
When he's not creating and gaming, he loves to spend time at the beach or hitting up the gym.