I am a sci-fi and fantasy nerd. Actually I shouldn’t specify, I am a nerd in just about every way. I think that there were two books of my Mom’s, The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson and Wayne Anderson and Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, that are responsible for me becoming an artist. As a child I spent hours looking at the pictures in those books. I spent hours tracing the figures in those books. I spent hours trying to draw my own creations that fit into the worlds created in those books. The images in those books inspired me to learn about art and painting and to eventually become and artist.
Now it may seem funny then that on my website there is little to reflect the origins of what inspired me when I was a kid. It has been years since I have painted anything fantasy or sci-fi related. That changed last year when I had my painting classes work on a movie poster project. As the students worked on their projects I demonstrated my own process and did a pair of paintings. (My original blog post about it is here) I was happy at how the paintings turned out and I had a lot of fun working on them. I thought that would be it for these paintings.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when, while browsing some art websites I like, I read that Spectrum’s deadline for this years entries was coming up. If you don’t know what Spectrum is I can simply say that it is a showcase book put out every year which highlights the best of today’s sci-fi and fantasy illustration. I have admired the artist in Spectrum since I was in college and the idea of submitting a work of my own was one long forgotten. Until I read about the deadline that is. I decided that I should submit some of my work and what would be better then the two sample illustrations I did of The Crow and my Flash Gordon movie posters. I was really excited until I opened up this
This wasn’t the painting I remembered. I remember how much I liked how the hands and the Earth turned out but the face was a lot looser then what I recalled. I guess I would have to do some work on it to tighten it up. I sat down one evening thinking that it wouldn’t take too long to do. I was very wrong. I felt like I opened a giant can of worms once I got started. What was a fun demo suddenly became a nightmare when I realized that the face was very off. One ear was way larger and higher, the eyes were off, the face too fat and the light source I painted around his head was not working. I needed to make some tough decisions and it wasn’t fun at first.
First thing was to repaint the headdress/collar costume of Ming’s. The shadow didn’t work and it killed the eye catching design of the red gold circle with an arrow shape which lead right to the globe. I thought a flat bold color would be much more eye catching. Next I had to redraw the face and really pay more attention. That of course led to repainting the face with better tones and a bit more drama in the shadowing and color choices. It took a few late nights but the end result was
You can decide for yourself but I think the second version is much stronger. The lessons learned was to slow down and pay more attention in the drawing stage, even for what was supposed to be a simple demo. Now I have no idea if I will be fortunate enough to be selected for admission into this years Spectrum book but I am really glad that I submitted. First off it made me go back into a weak painting and make it better. I learned a lot from it. Second it is about time I show some faith in my paintings and at least try to get them out there. So here is to crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!