Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Werewolves

After posting about the Monster Stand-Ins project last week and looking at my werewolf painting, I realized just how far I'd come in the past year in terms of my artwork.  To show that off, and to hopefully help people learn from my own past mistakes, I decided to dredge up an artwork that I'm frankly quite ashamed of now, in order to compare the two pieces.

The artwork on the left is a werewolf that was created in November of 2010.  Let's take a look at what makes it a weak illustration, ignoring the obvious difference between the styles (ink and painted) and my own improvement in rendering.  The werewolf on the left is very stiff.  In fact if you reduce the pose to geometric shapes you'll see that his shape can be divided up into a few triangles.  This makes him look like a cardboard cutout, and visually is not very interesting.  Related to that is how his shape doesn't suggest any kind of movement at all.  While this may be okay in some cases, this again leads to to a very boring image.  If your illustrations can suggest any kind of movement, it's always better than if they're still, with the exception of a character whose foundation is sitting still, like say, Jabba the Hutt.  Lastly while I used hatching to try to suggest a 3-D form, once again his pose and lack of movement keep me from really suggesting that he exists in a 3-D space.  I've posed him in a 3/4 view but I might as well have had him facing straight to the front for all the good that did me.  Illustrations are also supposed to tell a story.  What kind of story is being told here?  Nothing.  He's a werewolf being menacing while standing behind a full moon.

The artwork on the right is a much more recent work that I created in November 2011 for Monster Stand-Ins.  It's the superior artwork to the werewolf on the left for a variety of reasons.  First of all his pose is much more fluid, but at the same time it's still easily composed into 3 distinct shapes.  His form also shows a lot of movement.  His body is twisted up so that while his lower body is almost in profile, the upper body is in 3/4 view, almost front facing.  This suggests that he's in the middle of a sharp, twisting motion from walking to the side (the right) to suddenly looking toward the front (ie towards us).  This twisting motion, as well as the positioning of the two legs, also helps to suggest form, and makes the werewolf feel like he exists in 3 dimensions.  Lastly, the way he's posed conveys a story.  In my head at least, the story is that the werewolf has been wandering the forest, seeking his prey.  Suddenly he hears/smells/sees something to his right, snarling and drooling at the thought of his prey nearby.  While it is questionable whether or not I ultimately succeeded in telling that story, the point is that I was thinking of  story, and that informed my choices when painting this piece.  In fact, I was actually snarling at the monitor every now and then just to get into the mood of the piece and push it even further.  I did none of that in the previous werewolf piece, and I think it shows.

I hope you all found this little self-critique useful, and once again I'd like to ask for your support in making the Monster Stand-In project a reality.  I will likely learn a lot more in the process of creating those monsters, and I will happily share whatever I've learned with you in return!

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