Posts Tagged ‘talking about process’

Artist Problems: Trust The Brush

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

So I’m doing the line art for the Night Attack painting (which may actually be a crossover with Frogpants since for lulz and awesome I’m throwing Scott Johnson in there) and I have one of those Anemic Line Art moments.

An “Anemic Line Art” moment is when the line art is technically sound, but just feels really barebones and weak (hence, “anemic”). You know that once you move onto the color phase, it will look SO MUCH BETTER because the hues, values and blending will bring out the details that line art just can’t accomplish with the necessary subtlety– soft folds in fabric, shallow face dimples and beard stubble, to name a few– but the lack of details in the line art still bother you. The really annoying part is that the obvious solution (going into add more details in the line art layer) is counterproductive as they would be overkill. You wouldn’t want to outline every single wrinkle in a shirt, it would be too distracting in the finished composition and take focus away from where it ought to be.

When painting people, I encounter this often when painting middle-aged faces and long pants/skirts with few hard folds or other strongly-defined surface details. In the case of the former, they have some wrinkles (often on the forehead) that are visible, but to render them with line art would be overkill because said wrinkles are relatively shallow. You’re better off holding off until the color phase and using a soft detail brush. As for the second, unless the pant legs are bent, they’re not going to have a lot of hard wrinkles. You can sort of get away with suggesting the softer folds with a faintly-drawn seam, but it’s still more worthwhile to wait until the color phase and relying on carefully-placed shadows/highlights and blending to sell it.

The absolute worst case I’ve encountered so far is with animals, birds and dogs having especially terrible line art compatibility. It’s at the point that I just bypass the line art phase entirely because the “anemic” factor is just that aggravating. See, with animals, there are SO many surface details that would just be distracting if given solid line art boundaries– feather layers and skin folds, DEFINITELY skin folds when it comes to bulldogs– that it’s just better to not even bother with it. If you still need to establish anything resembling hard boundaries at the end, it’s best to do it with foreshortening via lots of blending and soft detail brushes.

In a way, this Anemic Line Art issue led to the recent “LOL INCREASED ATTENTION TO DETAIL” look as seen in the bulldog and Law and Order paintings. This kind of puts me in a bit of a conundrum where I have to be mindful of whether or not such detail levels are appropriate for a specific composition. Being photorealistic is nice and all, but I am still primarily an “anime-like” artist. Fortunately by that definition I don’t need to use photographic reference, so it’s less tempting to try to replicate every single detail.

Artist problems! Who DOESN’T have them?