Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Water Gun Sky Attack Solves A Problem Like Maria" Back Cover Process pt2

Be sure to start from the first installment of this series of posts or else this won't make any sense.  If you're read all previous posts, press on!


Keen eyed readers might notice that this isn't the exact same image we left off with in my last post.  However in the interest of speeding things up and since there really were only very minor changes between this image and the last one, I wanted to start off with this.

So here I've taken lightship69's idea of a signboard and run with it.  It solved my problem of where to place the album title and songlist perfectly and fits in seamlessly with the illustration.  It also has the neat effect of framing Panic (our protagonist).  Speaking of Panic, I've changed her pose here so that finally she does looke a little tired and weary, almost like she wants to curl up into a ball.  I've added more zombies into the mix to sugest a proper fight took place here.  Lunatique also suggested that I make the moon a little less exaggerated  which I did along with fixing up the town some.

So far I'm really happy.  I like what I've done and I think I'm going to stick to this composition.  With some words of encouragement from the forum goers, I dive into a value study of the image.  Quick note: a value study is essentially painting the image in monochromatic black and white.  You do this so that when you're laying down colors you take one more thing out of the equation; balancing warm and cool colors is hard enough without having to figure for light and dark, so this eases the way for people like myself who aren't fully prepared to grapple with color theory.  Okay so maybe that wasn't a quick note.  Anyway here's the value study I came up with:

Value Study 1

While I knew this image still needed work I felt pretty confident that I was moving along quite well, until I read this post on

I realize that this image is for a specific real-world project, but I really think that you should re-visit the thumbnail stage. There are many things that are not working currently that don't involve the composition specifically. The most critical of these issues is the perspective. For example; in the background, one house that appears to be in front of another appears visibly smaller when it should be larger; also the drawing of the truck appears really elongated; lastly the sign posts do not appear to rest on the ground based on the location of the truck.

It may be a good idea to consider the heirarchy of the elements in your image as well. What is the main purpose of the image you are creating? It seems to me that this would be: to show the track numbers and names. By this logic, the track list should occupy a premium position in your image. Right now, in your image, the sign that will have the tracks list, takes up only about one tenth of the image. Elements like the moon and truck are much more prominent(the truck takes up almost half the image). In fact, the order of elements in the image read as moon, then truck, then sign in terms of visual importance. The figures are almost insignificant.

I must admit that when I saw this post I felt really disheartened. I felt like I was moving on to the next step of the image but now I was being told that there may be a need to go all the way back to the thumbnail stage.  Had this been a less informative comment I would have brushed it off and plunged on with the image.  However the amount of care taken with the comment and the fact that he actually made a pretty elaborate thumbnail for me to illustrate what he thought would be a better composition.  I looked long and hard at that thumbnail and felt a bit of panic well up in me; should I go all the way back to the thumbnail phase and do the whole thing over again or should i just try to integrate some of his advice into my current composition?

Ultimately after a lot of soul searching (seriously!) I decided on the latter.  My rationale was that while i realize I could have done more thumbnails for this, I can take that lesson to the next piece I create.  Since this isn't a properly paid artwork and something I'm doing for my own education, I shouldn't worry too much about getting it absolutely perfect.  I'm not going to learn everything I need to learn in a single piece, so I shouldn't feel guilty about accepting the weaknesses of my work ye at the same time acknowledging that I'd learned something in the process.  My guilt now assuaged, I proceeded to start sketching out some quick fixes for the piece:


This is still rather rough but since I've decided to post my final composition in the next installment of this series I thought it would be good to leave you with this in between image that I can still comment on.  I fixed the angle of the signboard here, essentially just flipping and enlarging it, and instantly it looked much better.  There's a lot more space for the album title and songs, and they're more prominently displayed, as they should be.  I've made another pass on Panic's pose, basically drawing her in the same pose as before but in front view, which i think accentuates her tiredness even more.  

I also added some story elements that I think aren't very important but help to sell the story a bit.  I removed some of the extraneous zombies but added one in particular in the front passenger side window.  The story I'm trying to tell with this addition is that the zombie broke through her truck's window and damn near killed Panic, so she's in a bit of shock.  It's also the reason she's sitting outside in the back of the truck instead of the relatively safe inside.  It's a tiny story element that almost no one will notice but I think these little story bits help sell the illustration and generally make them more entertaining to create.  

Lastly I pushed the town farther out into the background and simplified its perspective immensely to make my life easier.  Going back to the idea that this is a learning process, I figured I'd learned a little bit about perspective here and I can focus on that more in the future.  There's no need for me to try to learn everything all at once, and no need to introduce a difficult perspective "just because".

Well, that was a mouthful!  I hope you're all finding this as useful as I am.  I'm probably going to release the next installment in the following week but if I get enough comments or requests to do it earlier I just might do it earlier.  So if you're keen to see what happens next please do post a comment here or even email me to tell me to hurry the hell up!

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