Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Final Wk Digital Painting - St George & The Dragon

    In this 8th week, after doing thumbnails and brainstorming about the composition, character designs, poses, and color for the St.George Slays the Dragon painting, and arriving at a consensus with my instructor on which of those studies I should go for, I've decided to start the painting in greyscale and deal with the colors much later after I resolve the design and poses of the characters first. Understanding colors is still a challenge and difficulty for me.  So I need to approach this painting in a slow and methodical way.  

     Focusing first on the main characters, I started sketching and painting the horse, which I've decided would be white. Gathering references for the horse was quite a challenge, since it is an original design, and it was difficult to find an exact pose like that of my horse design. So I just relied on what I know and looked at different photo references and hopefully, it looks believable. Here is the initial stage of the painting of the horse in greyscale. (click to enlarge)

     Then St. George was next, I haven't resolved his design and costume yet, so his look evolved as I went on. Same with the design and colors of the dragon. This is how I am, ideas doesn't come to me quickly enough. I seem to get ideas as I go, thus making my painting process quite slow, and time consuming.  Here's the initial design for St.George...

     After a good night's sleep and fresh eyes, I looked again at my design of St. George and now disliked it. So I spent another day changing his look, pose and costume completely. I have to gather some photos of good-looking Hollywood actors as reference, and I got inspired by the idea of a superhero. So.... my St. George kinda look like the Man of Steel. Haha. I revised his costume to be more a black sculpted armour with a cross in the middle of his chest. And of course... a cape.  He's not wearing any helmet, so we can see his face more. I know.... he's more vulnerable against the dragon's fire, but who wants a hero you can't see the face of. I digress.... So here's the new design of St. George with a cape now. I also started sketching the dragon in a bit more detail...

 Then I started blocking the dragon roughly and revised George's cape to be flowing more upward. 


    The following day, I found the dragon's wings seem lacking in terms of design so I revised it to look like it's tattered. I also added some horns on his head to make him look more fierce and scary.   He's the bad guy in this piece representing evil, so the uglier and bad he looks, the better.... At this stage, I'm quite satisfied with the designs of the characters that it's now time to add colors.

     For the colors, I wanted the setting to be dark, maybe around dawn before the sun rises.  And yes, the cape is red.  Then I clumsily tried to figure out the lighting scenario of this piece and this is what I came up with.

  Not quite sure how I'm doing in terms of colors, I asked a friend who have more experience in digital painting to have a look at this. He kindly gave me some suggestions and I love what he did that I almost followed everything he suggested. Thanks to my animator friend, Chan Ghee Leow, for giving me some useful tips.  Here's an improved version.  The lighting is more intense and dramatic. The dragon seem to want to burst into flames in demonic anger. Hahaha..

I further added some background details and improved on the dragon details. Darkening the scene a bit more. 

 I further revised the pose and design details of the dragon and clarifying a bit more it's details. There's a subtle secondary light coming from above that I wanted to include which signifies God.

      Playing around with the colors and lighting further, I finally settled on this one where the colors are a bit purple-ish and the scene a bit more darker.   After an incredibly exhausting 8 weeks, here, finally, is my first concept digital painting of St George Slays the Dragon.

     I still have so much to learn in terms of colors and light, aside from digital painting techniques, composition, and character designs.  And I think it would take me some more time and experience to be able to judge objectively the quality of my own work. But for now, I consider this an accomplishment, and a start. Prior to undertaking this course, I always find digital painting intimidating.  Now that I've taken these first steps, it doesn't seem that unachievable for me anymore.

      To see previous weeks, click here : Week 1, Week2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7

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