Mytho­log­i­cal crea­tures

An­nie Stegg Ger­ard taps into the style of 18th cen­tury artists as she shows you how to il­lus­trate clas­sic crea­tures of mythol­ogy, from sketch to fin­ished paint­ing

ImagineFX - - Issue 152 October 2017 - An­nie en­joys cre­at­ing work in­spired from folk­lore, mythol­ogy and na­ture. Through her work, she strives to cre­ate im­ages that will evoke emo­tion and imag­i­na­tion in the viewer. Her clients range from video game com­pa­nies to fine art gal­leries to pri­vate col

T he 18th cen­tury Ro­coco painters have al­ways been a big in­spi­ra­tion to me, and their work has been a large in­flu­ence on my own method. The imag­i­na­tion, dream­like pal­ette, ro­man­tic at­mo­sphere and lively brush­work all con­trib­ute to cre­ate a won­der­ful at­mo­sphere of en­chant­ment.

This pe­riod was one of the first times in art his­tory when painters sought to truly trans­port us to dif­fer­ent worlds and fan­tas­tic places. This is some­thing that I strive to recre­ate in my own paint­ings.

In this work­shop I’ll dis­cuss how to il­lus­trate a scene in oil that has this clas­si­cal, Ro­coco sen­si­bil­ity to it. You’ll be learn­ing how to use an un­der­paint­ing to achieve a light­ing ef­fect that cap­tures form and vol­ume. I’ll then be show­ing you how to use glazes to en­hance the colours and cre­ate a jewel-like ef­fect for your paint­ing. Fi­nally, I’ll show you how ap­ply de­tails that bring your char­ac­ters and their world to life.

I’ll be work­ing in tra­di­tional oils for this paint­ing, but the prin­ci­ples I’ll be show­ing here can also be ap­plied to other medi­ums. Art shouldn’t be de­fined by the medium used, but rather the mes­sage the artist is com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Don’t be afraid to try oils out, even if it seems scary at first. Ev­ery time you push your­self and ex­per­i­ment, you im­prove and ex­pand your own abil­i­ties.

1 De­vel­op­ing the draw­ing

Be­fore start­ing my paint­ing, I cre­ate a sketch to bet­ter un­der­stand my im­age. By map­ping out a rough foun­da­tion you can en­sure the sub­se­quent steps of the paint­ing will go more smoothly. For this im­age I’m go­ing to be us­ing three dif­fer­ent pen­cils on a smooth toned Bris­tol pa­per. In the early steps I pre­fer to use a Light grey Pris­ma­color Col-Erase pen­cil to loosely sketch the fig­ure us­ing ba­sic round shapes. I like to keep my pen­cil in con­stant mo­tion and al­ways in con­tact with the pa­per dur­ing this step. It’s fine for this im­age to be messy. The lines help build form, and will al­low for the fig­ure to have more life and di­men­sion later on.

2 Re­fin­ing the sketch

I feel more com­fort­able adding value once the gen­eral idea of the im­age has been es­tab­lished. The smooth sur­face of the toned Bris­tol board en­ables soft and light shad­ows to be cre­ated eas­ily. I work in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion with a dull grey pen­cil. I pre­fer to work with soft forms ini­tially. Darker and sharper lines will be used later on, near the fi­nal stages of the im­age.

3 Ap­ply­ing fin­ish­ing de­tails

By trac­ing over the many lighter pen­cil lines that I’ve de­vel­oped in pre­vi­ous steps, I can give cer­tain ar­eas in the sketch a more fo­cused and pol­ished ap­pear­ance. I darken ar­eas of in­ter­est, such as the fig­ures, us­ing passes of black pen­cil. The 3B pris­ma­color is per­fect for achiev­ing much darker tones. Mo­tion and flow can be de­fined by us­ing thin lines. While I fo­cused on over­all shape be­fore, this is the stage where ev­ery­thing comes into sharp and de­fined de­tail.

Trans­fer­ring the im­age

I tone my can­vas us­ing Raw um­ber paint. This gives the im­age a nice mid-tone to be­gin the un­der­paint­ing. Once it’s dry, I’m ready to trans­fer the draw­ing. I scan and print it on a piece of copy pa­per that’s sized to fit my can­vas, and ap­ply a thin layer of pas­tel chalk to the back of the pa­per. Then I tape this down to the can­vas, and trace the im­age with a 6H pen­cil. This will trans­fer a sharp, clean line down on to the sur­face.

Be­gin­ning the un­der­paint­ing

I be­gin to paint the foun­da­tion of my im­age us­ing Ti­ta­nium white for the high­lights and Raw um­ber for the shad­ows. This part of the process is fo­cused solely to­wards achiev­ing ac­cu­rate value. Be­cause of this, the con­trast of tone is more sig­nif­i­cant than the fi­nal im­age will be. I con­tinue this process un­til all el­e­ments in my scene have been de­picted. Be­cause the uni­corn is go­ing to be darker, I mix Schevenin­gen black with the Raw um­ber for some darker val­ues. While work­ing on this step I’m most con­cerned with cap­tur­ing the light­ing ef­fect. This stage of the paint­ing acts as an im­por­tant guide for sub­se­quent lay­ers.

Ap­ply­ing glaz­ing colour

I start adding colour to the back­ground. Be­cause the en­vi­ron­ment for this paint­ing is in­spired by the Black For­est in Ger­many, I’m go­ing to be us­ing blue tones for the fo­liage: I ap­ply Cerulean blue mixed with Ti­ta­nium white over the sur­face. If the paint needs to be thinned, Wal­nut Oil Alkyd can be added. To cre­ate the il­lu­sion of depth, at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive is cre­ated by us­ing more sub­dued and lighter colours. Be­cause this is the most dis­tant point in my scene, I’m not go­ing to ren­der this part of the im­age as heav­ily as the fore­ground el­e­ments.

Defin­ing the en­vi­ron­ment

The rest of the en­vi­ron­ment is toned us­ing more blue and green tones. Payne’s grey helps to neu­tralise the Raw um­ber in the un­der­paint­ing. I ap­ply washes of Green Um­ber over the fo­liage. Light washes of Bright Green is painted over the moss-cov­ered boul­ders. More de­fined and de­tailed leaves and moss can be painted by build­ing Ti­ta­nium white on top of the ex­ist­ing fo­liage.

Colour­ing the uni­corns

Now that the cool tones of the back­ground have been es­tab­lished, the Raw um­ber in the scene ap­pears red by com­par­i­son. I ap­ply a wash of Cerulean blue and Payne’s grey to the uni­corns to help in­te­grate them into their en­vi­ron­ment. The blue tones will be a bet­ter base for their black coats.

Re­fin­ing el­e­ments of the uni­corns

Once the blue layer on the uni­corn has dried, I can be­gin to de­tail the rest of the fig­ure. Payne’s grey is per­fect for the shad­owed ar­eas. Be­cause it’s be­ing lay­ered over the un­der­paint­ing it ap­pears black. I find that by mix­ing dif­fer­ent hues in­stead of us­ing straight black pig­ment alone, the colour has more life. Ti­ta­nium white is used to de­tail the strands of hair on the mane and tail. Any ar­eas that are too bright can be dark­ened us­ing glazes once they are dry.

Fi­nal de­tail­ing and fin­ish­ing up

Now that the val­ues and colours have been es­tab­lished, I be­gin to de­tail the im­age. I pre­fer to work on each new layer only once the pre­vi­ous layer has com­pletely dried. This lay­er­ing builds a more vi­brant and di­men­sional ef­fect. I pay close at­ten­tion to in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments in the scene. I ap­ply sep­a­rate colour washes to the dif­fer­ent ob­jects to help them stand apart from the back­ground. Green um­ber mixed with Phthalo blue cre­ates dark, rich shad­ows. The smaller de­tails also be­gin to take shape dur­ing this fin­ish­ing stage.

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