Can you give me some advice on simplifying a complex composition?
Timmy Bevan, England
When I approach a complex painting I always try to think several steps ahead to work out the easiest and fastest way to my desired goal. So for this task I want to paint a Viking ship figurehead with a variety of materials. I also want the ship to feature different and interesting colours and patterns, and place it in a atmospheric setting. Painting these ideas all at once would be a real pain. So how do I approach it? By splitting all tasks into little digestible bits.
I start off with the drawing, where I just focus on composition and design. It doesn’t have to be too clean, but the more design questions I answer at this point the less work I have to put in on the design later on.
After that I’ll block in the most important shapes on separate layers and lock the transparency. This way I can go wild with my brushes, but will always maintain a clean shape.
Now that I’ve got my shapes I start adding colour. I just pick the ones I need and put it in without thinking about light and shadow.
After that I get to the light and mood part. I use layer and brush modes such as Color Dodge, Multiply, Lighten and so forth. I establish my light sources and start rendering the materials in the way I think they would react to them.
I always try to push the look with different adjustment layers. Even after I’ve finished painting, the art is almost never complete! At this point I just think about the value. I pick a red tone I like and
paint the tongue.