I really loved Jon Fosters article the other day about thumbs. The whole composition element is something that I take more serious than any other thing in a painting. If my thumb works, I KNOW I can make the painting and the final work. If the basic compositional elements are unclear to me, every step from then on is uphill and the end result is so and so.
Seeing all Jons thumbs has made me muster courage to share my thumbs. I need courage, because I feel my thumbs are most sketchy and sometimes unreadable even too me. Well, it is because even thumbs gets abandoned halfway if they feel wrong.
I have collected all the thumbs I could find for a specific cover painting I did for Mirrorstone.
The art assignment was pretty simple: The antagonist, perhaps with friends, facing a Chimera in a cave.
So my sketching concentrated on 2 kind of images: One where the monster was attacking in an aggressive way and one where the monster was threatening the boy in…well, a threatening way.
In the end I fell in love with 2 thumbs: One where the Chimera is diving and about to land in front of the boy, one leg already at the ground. The other where the whole body of the monster was almost framing him, crouching onto him. I was most confident that I could make the framing thumb work the best. So that one I mailed to the art director Kate Irwin.
I marked the ones that I like and those could all have been nice paintings. It is difficult to say why none of the others were picked. All I can say is that to me it is a matter of feeling if I can see the finished painting when I look at the thumb.
On the other hand. If I am in a bad mood that day almost none of the thumbs I do appeal to me and I sketch and sketch without ever being able to hit something worth proceeding on. When I come back the next day, all happy from espresso, and look at the mess I did yesterday, I can see a whole bunch of them that would have been good. I might even go back to the first one. It is really sometimes a matter of a physiological glass half full or half empty.
I define the thumb a bit more before sending it on to Kate. I add grey-tones digitally to show light and values a bit better.
I sketched the boy on a separate piece of paper then stitched it together in Photoshop, move stuff around to avoid tangents and print it out. Then I transfer the sketch to board and ink it. After the inking I scan it again and print out a value version I use for a color rough.
I remember that after I did the background loosely and rough I got exited and wanted to do the figures, I felt bad about pulling the masking film off and starting on the figures before being completely satisfied with the background but thought “What the hell. I will just go back and refine cliffs afterwards”. But when I pulled it off, the rock shapes looked great and in the end I never touched them again.
The whole painting process was only three days, but the sketching and the transferring and all up until I dipped the first brush into color was about 6 days or so.
I used reference for the goat face and the lion.
This picture is going into spectrum 17.