Monsters and composition


Before the first strike

Those of you following my tumblr blog may have seen a couple of work-in-progress shots of this. I’ve found my happy place working on several paintings and sketches lately, and this has been the second biggest (and tied for first-most compelling) piece I’ve been doing.

I started this piece to explore the following ideas/tick them off in my folio:

  • a quick and rough-but-complete looking concept illustration (check – I even learned a bit more about using the palette knife!)
  • a complete scene (check – this piece isn’t just another portrait with a background)
  • composition (check that too – I had only a rough idea of what I wanted to do when I started, so I plotted it all out using divine proportion and kept those principles in the front of my mind throughout the painting)
  • values (yep – learned very, very quickly to stick to a distint and set value range for each ground)
  • working from a gamut mask (check and mate!)

I think I achieved most of what I set out to do. I feel the picture does look rough and concept-y enough. The one rude surprise I had working on the painting stemmed from point one: I’d started with a very small to print canvas, as I’d only intended to do a light digital sketch. My very patient partner, who provided critique and a fresh set of eyes throughout the process*, mentioned he wanted a print of the picture when I was done with it. Lucky for me, that got me looking at the picture dimensions and I blew it up just in time to put in the colour.

* as fresh as they could be when I was messaging him every ten minutes to show off a new development in the painting, anyway.

And there was plenty of my favourite part of painting: finding the mistakes myself and correcting them. A fun exercise where I learn a bit and get a painting at the end of it? Sense of achievement, fulfilled!


This is a concept illustration for a project I’ve got on the go at the moment. TTTSNB readers may already find the heroine familiar. And, dear readers of this blog, you’ll likely be seeing much more of her (and the Sweet cast) on this blog in the future.


She can’t eat neatly with that helmet on

3 thoughts on “Monsters and composition”

  1. I checked this image out in Grayscale and it looks like, aside from the foreground figure there’s not really a lot of contrast so it comes across a bit muddied. I’d set the background as the darkest color so that everything pops out with your middle ground being the second darkest. This leaves the figure and monster to balance each other out. The brightest hues should be saved for the monster’s light ray to help create a sort of balanced bridge between Viddy and the monster. Also, I feel like the glass of the helmet should be more reflective and the glowing hand should be causing more color reflection on the clothes and maybe the rocks underneath the leg?

    1. Haha I was working in grayscale for most of it, so the values are mostly intentional: I restricted myself to a different set of values for the background (including the monster), the cliff and then the foreground, so they went from lightest to darkest. Given the nature of the story I’m writing, I also wanted everything beyond the main character to be blurry and unclear.

      I think something I could do next time is have the monster’s face a bit darker, to bring it up front and toward the character, and kick up that light ray thing the most.

      Undecided about the glow on the clothes, but you’re totally right about the ground. :B I wouldn’t mind revising the image to try out a stronger reflection on the ground and the helmet.

      I need to do a few more concepts for this project, so perhaps the next one can be the mostly-dark piece 😀

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