maandag 3 juni 2019

Khazar Bagathur Part 2: Pushing Further (2019)

Hi Everyone!

Two months ago i finished my painting called Khazar Bagathur. The Painting had an overwhelming positive response online, and it got me a tremendous amount of high end jobs. However, since the piece is rather personal, I kept going back to it over the last three months, and made numerous minor changes to it. In my eyes, the piece changed tremendously, and i would like to  share my process with you.

Phase 1: First Share

The painting was shared in it's first finished iteration in february 2019. It already received a positive response but a friend of mine told me i could push the face a bit more. Thats where I started to notice a plethora of different things that I thought could improve. I had my holiday in NYC to think about these topics:

1. Saturation: Even though the colored front and background add to the contrast of the warm/cool dynamic of the painting, I felt that the saturation for both was a bit too much. Not necessarily incorrect, but too much for the feeling I would like to convey, which is more realistic rather than Blizzard/Disney style.

2. Face: The first thing i noticed that could be improved. It is pretty funny actually since the face is where people look at first, so it should be perfectly rendered (same goes for the hands actually)

3, 6, 8, 10 Contrast (Shoulder, hands, arms, loincloth and background details): I felt the first iteration could have popped a bit more, especially when the torch is so close to the shoulder as a secondary light source, and the primary light source from above is a useful tool to include crucial elements and exclude secondary elements from the focal area. The loincloth had too much contrast, so I dimmed it down. Same goes for the rock in the background which has the same amount of detail as the character itself almost.

4. Proportions: I used the reference on the left for the painting, which i did not translate that well actually. The perspective is not that clear (something which i only fixed in the last iteration), but the primary issue is the lens distortion. The head looks a bit too large for the torso, which hindered the painting greatly.

5. Hand: The hand holding the chain has a very odd tangent where it is *exactly* touching the top of the fur-trim on his belt. This creates an unnatural composition and gesture.

7. Silhouette: The first iteration is missing a great deal of silhouette below the waist; It is just an upper leg without interesting folds, so i added an extention to the loincloth to make some sort of battle skirt on the sides of the body to make the silhouette more interesting.

9. Foldings on pants/knee: The reference photo used a pants that did not translate the gesture into very interesting foldings, and while in the workflow I blatantly took that to the first iteration. The gesture isn't really showing that much tension, so i added some extra foldings to where the knee meets the boot. This didn't prove as effective either as will be discussed later in Phase 2.

Phase 2: All the little things add up

After i shared the second iteration I started to actually receive the job offers and even better positive response online. Due to that positive feedback I spent more time looking at the piece and over time discovered various minor things that bugged me and which I will address in the second half of this blog post.

1, 2, 6. Perspective: The second iteration did not consider the horizon line like the third version. While the initial reference photo (Phase 1.4) is clearly shot from below, ├índ from an angle,  Iteration two does not translate in any foreshortening or perspective. This is mostly due to an undefined horizon line (6), which did not stand out due to the surrounding being in nature/organic shapes, where a horizon line is a bit tougher to spot unlike architecture/geometrical shapes. In third iteration I established a horizon line and changed the perspective on the fur (1) , and the plating on the lammelar armor (2).

3. Chainmail: Minor part of the painting, but in the 3 months i have been fixing this painting on-and-off I learned from artist Gambargin how to make believable chainmail. Don't just paint  OOOOOOO's above one another, but rather intermingle CCCCCCC's in opposite direction every row


4, 9 Hand Gestures & waving fur coat : I wanted to push the looseness and confidence of the hand gestures. Initially the hand holding the wand was anatomically off, and didn't feel very dynamic. The hand holding the chain didn't feel very natural either. Didn't feel like he was *holding* something. In the final iteration I made the hand holding the wand more expressive, with the thumb adding tension, and in the hand holding the chain I made more of the fingers visible, to show more room for the chain to be held. For this purpose, I shot reference again.

Also, the fur coat in the 2nd iteration felt a bit static, hanging in a perfect 180 degrees. the final iteration made the fur more waving to push the movement (9).



5. 7, 8 Legs: The legs had numerous issues attached to them. The initial reference photo, had the left leg/ our right forward. While that was implemented in the painting, the legs were still too close together perspective wise. The spacing of the legs (5) could be enhanced to push the gesture and make the painting more dynamic (Even though its a portrait piece!) through increasing the front leg's size and decreasing, and fading the hind leg. Increasing the front leg also solved the issue of the upper leg being too long (8). Even though the reference photo was used correctly regarding the folds, the material of the pants did not translate in interesting folds to enhance the all-important gesture. I shot photo of my knee bent;trying to find cool foldings.

Final thoughts



When you improve in your artistic career, you eventually reach a point where the art looks good on a ''first glance''. This proved a great advantage for me in previous iterations of this piece. But as a nitpicky artist you start discovering mistakes the more time you spend with an image, a process which can be tremendously annoying, especially since sometimes you spot ''mistakes'' that aren't there. However, I think around 80% of things that bother you are real issues to be addressed. In most cases, these little issues can be ignored without them having to ''kill'' the painting, but to me those issues accumulated and when they have been fixed the difference started to show greatly. 

Even if for another person the changes mean little to nothing, I have learned tremendously from those little mistakes, that are all little lessons that will be adapted in future paintings (where the problem could potentially hit much harder).

I hope you found this blog useful! Please give me your thoughts; either comment under the blog, social media platform of publishing or an email would be awesome.

In any case thanks for stopping by!


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