New Silmarillion paintings underway

I’m working on two commissions at the moment, both Tolkien, both Silmarillion, and both of the House of Fingolfin. One of them is “Fingolfin’s Challenge”, of Fingolfin riding to challenge Morgoth to single combat. If you don’t know the Silmarillion, Fingolfin is the cousin of Galadriel and a great-great-great……….grandfather of Aragorn, and Morgoth was Sauron’s boss. Yes, boss. Imagine the slaughter.

It also is a good excuse to show my sketching process.

I started with a digital sketch of the basic layout and figures.

I used a reference shot for the horse, but changed bits so as not to stay too close to a photo. I also used one of my favourite drawing aids – my little Andalusian toy horse from the company Schleich. I love those little animals. They’re really true to actual horses, very realistically done.

Pity is my little daughter loves them too, and regularly abducts my pony and my Frisian.

I always planned to do Celtic knotwork in the frames. Years ago, those patterns pretty much used to completely elude me. I have become slightly better, but for this one, I opted for premade ones. I found lovely patterns from deviantnepstock, and traced them for the top frame. For the bottom frame, I used a design from a royalty-free Dover book and changed it to resemble a dragon (as this scene takes place at the end of a dragon battle).

I drew the patterns in A3 size and the figure in A4, to put the whole thing together in Photoshop later. I “ink” with a pencil (in this case, a H one and a mechanical HB). It works well under watercolours and I never really mastered the art of inking.

I also noticed that I put Fingolfin in the same armour that I always draw for his son Fingon. So as to avoid them both looking as if they went to a local Dwarven chainmail sellout together, I put Fingolfin in plate armour, with the client’s permission, who said, “I’d wear plate if I had to go against THAT!”

Now it’s time for some correctional work. As mostly everybody who goes from sketch to inked picture knows (and if you don’t, I envy you), you tend to lose loads and loads of movement between these stages. Some of this loss has to do with sketchy lines being more dynamic by default. The rest just happens as you lose lines and features that didn’t seem important but suddenly are dearly missed.

On the left, you have my scribble. In the middle, there’s the first version of my pencil-inks. When I put those next to each other in Photoshop, it’s easy to see where I lost movement – I lost the tilt of the head, and the drawn-up shoulder. So using the “Liquify” tool (ctrl+shift+x) I can nudge the lines back to where I started out in my sketch.

So now I have my finished pencil piece.

Before I start painting, I make sure I have my colour scheme all planned out. I do this digitally as well, and it usually takes me less than twenty minutes.

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