Mixed me­dia

Wylie Beck­ert trans­lates her dig­i­tal process into tra­di­tional me­dia to cre­ate a paint­ing that en­ables the un­der­draw­ing to shine through

ImagineFX - - Contents - Wylie’s a free­lance il­lus­tra­tor who’s painted for books, card games, ad­verts and an­i­ma­tion. www.wyliebeck­ert.com

This June, I was lucky enough to find my­self at Il­lus­tra­tion Mas­ter Class, a week-long art work­shop staffed by some of the best artists in the fan­tasy genre. It was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to try repli­cat­ing my dig­i­tal colour­ing process with real live paint and brushes.

One IMC as­sign­ment jumped out at me: cre­at­ing an il­lus­tra­tion for Ni­cola Grif­fith’s Tor.com story Cold Wind. Al­though I set out to cre­ate a paint­ing the old-fash­ioned way, at al­most ev­ery stage I found my­self tap­ping into my dig­i­tal art back­ground. From printed sketches to dig­i­tal colour comps, I found that the dig­i­tal tools I’ve been us­ing for years were ca­pa­ble of meld­ing seam­lessly with the tra­di­tional tech­niques that I’m only now be­gin­ning to try out.

My dig­i­tal work re­lies on a highly ren­dered pen­cil un­der­draw­ing, fin­ished out with trans­par­ent lay­ers of colour in Pho­to­shop. To mimic the process in tra­di­tional me­dia, I chose to tackle my paint­ing with di­luted acrylic ink and thin glazes of oil paint, to cap­ture the same sense of trans­parency as my dig­i­tal work and pre­serve the tex­ture and style of the pen­cil draw­ing un­der­neath. What I wasn’t ex­pect­ing from tra­di­tional me­dia was how for­giv­ing it was of much of the push­ing and pulling, grad­ual ad­just­ments and back­track­ing that are the hall­marks of my dig­i­tal process. I found that many of my dig­i­tal tech­niques had tra­di­tional ana­logues: glaz­ing in a wash of colour, for ex­am­ple, stands in sur­pris­ingly well for ap­ply­ing a gra­di­ent, and a brush dipped in sol­vent is a nice stand-in for the Eraser tool for carv­ing out edges and fine high­lights.

Cre­at­ing a piece of art with­out the ben­e­fit of the Undo com­mand was an oc­ca­sion­ally nerve-wrack­ing process, but it was eye-open­ing to trade my lap­top for an easel for a few days, and I’m hop­ing to con­tinue delv­ing into the mys­ter­ies of tra­di­tional me­dia!

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