So, here we are again. Snow piling outside as the wind howls around the windows. Apparently the days are already lengthening, though seem to be doing their best to hide it. Everything has been very grey for a very long time. That time of year.
In some of my previous ramblings I have tried to explain the – for want of a better word – techniques of my trade. If I tried again to unravel such mysteries, I feel that, haphazard as those techniques are, I would run the risk of repeating myself and causing weary sighs even amongst those of you out there who are drawn to such mysteries.
Equally, I feel reluctant to burden you too much with homespun philosophies about the creative spirit and all the soul searching baggage that goes with it. Anyway – we all know that in the end it just involves actually sitting down and getting on with it. So, those seeking pearls of wisdom will have to dive elsewhere (or look at some of my more informative posts), and those seeking arcane knowledge of short cuts to achieving artistic notoriety…..well – don’t waste your time here.
This will just have to pass as a quick look at trying to establish a character – and make him – at least for me – believable.
Big noses and gnarled hands, usually modelled on my own, tend to figure prominently in my characters. If it’s a troll, dwarf or goblin then the proportions can in no way be said to be realistic. That, however does not preclude them from being portrayed realistically, or at least enough for me to believe the character can exist in whatever world it is supposed to be existing in.
I need to be able to believe in my characters otherwise see absolutely no point in making an image of them.
Although it happens subconsciously now, it is a thought process that runs continually in the background whereby I simply ask myself if I was there – what would I see. If I was hiding behind an extremely convenient rock – just what would that rather angry troll look like. If I was skulking, maybe cowering would be better, in some bracken – just what would those savage goblins look like? Not , what would make a cool painting – just – if I turned a sharp corner and saw it – just what is it that I would see.
It’s nothing to do with trying to make a pretty picture; a pleasing image that hopefully shows off hard earned skills. That comes a bit later when I’m allowed to experiment with colours or tart the whole thing up with alluring details, and usually, I must confess, when I wish I had spent maybe just a little bit longer on the actual artistic design of the whole thing. Of course – it’s too late then, so I resign myself to making the characters as interesting as possible ,in the hope that glaring design faults or overlooked possibilities are simply not noticed!
But, initially, it is always down to “If I was there – what would I see?” and lots of speculation about why a character looks like it does, dresses like it does and expresses itself like it does. Not a spiritual or intellectual exercise, just scribbling and playing with ideas until I feel I have stumbled across a character that I could get to know. The little details that give clues to who it is.How scuffed would his shoes be? How far up a robe would mud splashed or dirt collected? There are bound to be holes at knees or elbows. Does he, or she bite their nails? How would I feel if I was him -or her? A hundred subliminal little questions that go to maketh the man – or woman – or goblin etc etc.
Of course – it is fantasy and we can get away with a lot. Sometimes far too much. Enough sometimes that we can create beautiful images that are sadly completely unbelievable. And it is precisely because I deal in unbelievable things that I feel a need – even a duty – to imbue them with as much life and character as I can. Seeing how much I can away with before the whole thing crumbles into……well……fantasy.
“Tart them up” is a theftable phrase. I will use it. You always make me smile Paul.
Sorry Bill – only just saw this. “A smile on your face….” – then my work here is done.
Nicely written once again and good insight into the thought process. Putting oneself in the scene to be portrayed … noting temperatures, smells and sounds … also noting details about the characters – these imaginations can be conflicting and paradoxical in the mind, hard to hold on to and nail them down (busy minds), but when one succeeds – the results usually speak loudly for themselves. Need to do more of that, and quieten the part of the brain fussing over technical stuff like paints and so on.
Thanks for sharing!!!
So sorry Nico – only just saw this. Glad it hit a chord, and you hit the nail on the head – it is about finding that ever so fine, intangible balance between the feeling of something and the ever needed technical know-how to pull it off. Thanks for the reply. Always makes a difference.
Wonderful post Paul! Loving all those detail shots!
Hi Justin, forgive the tardy reply. Glad it hit the spot with you. Your approval is always taken as a positive thing.
Great stuff Paul. I will have to apply your “What would I see?” strategy to my own doodles. Now if I only had your mad drawing and painting skills. Love the little red-eyed lizard.
Sorry for the late reply Aaron. Glad you liked the post. To paint a window into a world, we have to know that world – so travelling around in it seems like a good place to start! (don’t forget some sandwiches.)
I love his manic, intense expression! You’ve also really given me more things to think about with doodling. Thank you, certainly adding it to my kit.
My pleasure Elena. If my ramblings can provide some signposts – then I’m a happy guy!
Many thanks Jason. I’m glad you see it too. I’m a happy bunny!