Digital: Misc Digital Paintings

by Beauchamp Art

Alongside more considered conceptual reinforced artworks, I have been intermittently returned to digital painting, particularly fantasy drawings but occasionally observational studies. The fantasy-led works were mostly done for technical practice and person entertainment, but also as laments for the incapability of escapism, and the unavoidable desire to avoid the worldly things, to reflect on reality by delving into the unreal (alongside general figurative work).

These images sit parallel to the main body of work within this project, but not totally outside of my ongoing practice and technical development as a multi-media artist. They are done to keep skills and techniques share for when they are required again and so they do not have to be relearnt from scratch. I have also found that digital painting serves as a useful means of developing the observational and aesthetic driven elements within my photographic and film making, in addition to being zero-mess means of keeping up with painting.


 

Sid

Sid

Digital portrait of Sidonie, one of my peers who graduated last year. The image this was based on featured a interesting composition with the image bifurcated by the short wall, offsetting the background, wit the figure in the centre. However, the photo itself was in landscape, where as here I decided to focus on the figure, the folds of fabric and face. The he’d came out reasonably well, however the side of the face turned away from the viewer became somewhat compressed, also the two halves of the face do not seem to agree with one another, affecting the representational qualities but not totally undermining the composition of the painting overall.

Digital portrait of Sidonie, one of my peers who graduated last year. The image this was based on featured a interesting composition with the image bifurcated by the short wall, offsetting the background, wit the figure in the centre. However, the photo itself was in landscape, where as here I decided to focus on the figure, the folds of fabric and face. The he’d came out reasonably well, however the side of the face turned away from the viewer became somewhat compressed, also the two halves of the face do not seem to agree with one another, affecting the representational qualities but not totally undermining the composition of the painting overall.

I believe that I managed to sustain a fairly painterly aesthetic, using a combination of rough textured brush marks and blocking off the colour into sections, rather than creation a constantly modulating, smooth gradient (which is frequently popularised by painters of young women in an attempt to make them look ‘fair’).

However, as I was not set on creating an overtly flattering image, but rather using the picture as a loci for study and technical development, then the actual appearance of the figure was second to comers regarding how best to utilise the soft yellow-blue lighting that would otherwise silhouette the figure, and create a reasonable level of entail in the lower half of the image without producing too much of a tonal contrast between the two halves. In addition to the layering of the background scenery to create a sense of depth, with the foreground darkest and most saturated, distance being inferred by the increasing brightness and saturation of blue to suggest the atmospheric conditions, and having the sun, obscured by hazy clods, appearing to glow despite not being directly illustrated.

The image this was based on was fairly low resolution, so many of the finer detailed were expanded on in this painting and informed by first-hand knowledge of the appearance of the individual, though some factors, like the light coming through the windswept hairline were essentially lesser points in the image that were emphasised for compositional effect. I believe this was a fairly effective study, and being able to draw the sólstafir, the beams of sunlight, coming across the mountainscape was reasonably satisfying, though I still have the habit of cartooning the figures when drawing from photographs, loosing the liveliness of observation and imagined line.


Vlad

Vlad

This was a fairly quick study of of Vladimira based on a profile picture, done with a narrow selection of brushes without any particularly complex layering, though there were colour plates and saturation modulation layered onto the image to give it a more unified aesthetic. As the face of the figure is fully silhouetted in profile, I could focus on creating an accurate form based on the image, before applying the various blue purples and greens over the dark areas to represent the hair. The seemingly black areas were actually a combination of dark pules, for the figure and her shirt, and dark orange-browns for the background shapes (similar to the use of French ultramarine and burnt umber to make warm and cold shadows with oil paints). However, after the colour adjustments across the whole image, the tones were crushed, producing a more evenly matte black surface.

One of the major advantages of digital painting is that not only does the artist not have to wait for the paint to dry, but transparency is not set dictated by the mineral density and adhesive binder used in the paint, but can be controlled as an independent factor. Therefore, painting turquoise over black is totally unproblematic. Whereas with oils, one would have to use opaque paints, or at least a mix involving one opaque tone, to create a solid finish over the dark area, or one would have to paint a layer of lighter colour or solid (zinc) white on to which to paint transparent colours. This means that making adjustments through the progress of the painting less complicated, and errors more easily amended, but also  proposes new challenges and possibilities, was of combing colours not possible outside of the digital realm.


 

Koonbsury Flashmob Dancer

Koonbsury Flashmob Dancer

Digital painting of one of the Gaga Flashmob Dancers as part of the Museums at Night & Koonsbury Festival event at the Norwich Castle.

This was primarily a study of the reflective surface of the trouser material and a portraiture study, however, rather than isolating the figure against a plain background, I wanted to include some elements of the original museum environment. Nevertheless, as I did not wish to paint the various silver and gold items in the cases, I simply painted the cabinets void of their content. This meant that the figure became a form of surrogate for the various precious objects, their reflective leggings substituting the polished metal objects removed from the cabinets.

Therefore, the figure may not only be objectified by the male gaze, but could be seen to be commodified and becoming a subject of dehumanised spectacle comparable to the items usual in place within the cabinets; the bejewelled face inferring a similar level of transformation tom human to ornament. The dehumanisation echo in the unnatural plastic-blue wig, and contorted mannequin-like pose. The profile, shoulder, and foreground thigh were probably the most successful areas of the painting, through the protruding ribs in beige and burgundy also elected an authentic, flesh-like quality.

Nevertheless, most of the details and time went into the figure, so the background was left in a more unfinished, painterly state. the particularly ruddy-purple hue was as a result of basing the initial on the RAW, unedited photograph, rather than the colour corrected version, where the magenta tones were offset by the increased saturation of greens, and a reduction in the contras between the light and dark areas, meaning that the muddied tonality of the original photo played more of a role in the final outcome of this study than a modified version.

However, as with RAW files and JPEGs alike, there is no definitive version of an image, no fixed documentation. Though this could also be seen as true for film photograph, as there is one negative, but not necessarily a definitive print, even if the original negative is destroyed, one can still be made from the positive, or it can otherwise be scanned, photocopied, and reproduced.

 


 

Wee Viking

Wee Viking [WIP]

A quick digital painting of a bearded Viking-like figure, possibly with a hint of dwarf (Svartálfar) in him. This was essentially a fairly rudimentary fantasy illustration, however the helmet and axe design are based on Saxon items found in my village, and the figure was inspired by an exquisite corpse, passing simple line drawings around, then painting something more realistic based on the concept.

The title ‘Wee Viking’ stems from the characterisation of dwarfs as Scottish in various fantasy depictions, including The Hobbit film adaptations, Terry Pratchett audiobooks, and various video games, and ‘Wee’ being a colloquial term for small effectively describes the stocky figure. Like most of the fantasy illusrations, this is intended as a light-hearted exercise, but nevertheless, still a useful practice

After drawing up the figuring and painting it in full using Photoshop, I then added a graded blur to the image, to give the impression of focal depth. Though this was accomplished in a fairly simplistic, cartoonish manner, it till could be seen to adhere to Manovich’s observation, “originally an artifact of lens-based recording, depth of field was simulated in software in the 1980s when the main goal of computer graphics field was to create maximum ‘photorealism’ […] synthetic scenes no distinguishable from live action cinematography” [Manovich, 2013: 325]. So what is being imitated in a painting that aspires to ‘photorealism’ is the reality through the lens of a camera, not through the eye; there is no fixed depth-of-field for the eye as it shifts focus with the shift in attention, the two mechanisms are interconnected (unless one has a somewhat lazy eye as I do and a sudden shift in focal depth requires a momentary adjustment, resulting in optical lag, to use computer terminology to a apply to organic matter, in a highly Dawkinsian manner). Combing the stylised cartoonish aesthetic with the photorealistic may lead to an explicit remediation resulting in a new sense of uncanny created through a cross pollination of media effects, or the two may become seamlessly linked.


 

Pratchett & Death [WIP] (AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE WALK TOGETHER)

This is an incomplete rendition of Terry Pratchett standing back to back with Death, the anthropomorphic personification that became a popular character within the author’s Discworld novels. The subtitle, ‘AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE WALK TOGETHER’ come from the message posted on Pratchett’s Twitter feed as part of the announcement of his death, capitalised in the same manner to which the character of Death communicates in the books, always in small capitals, as the words are not spoken by his boney mouth, but simple appear on the inside of the minds of those of whom are intended to hear it.

At this point, the painting is not complete, however I will look to resolve it after finishing off more pressing work than this memento mori. Death may wait for no man, but this picture can. I do not intend to make too many drastic difference, however much of the detail on Pratchett’s body needs resolving, the blue glow needs to be added to the empty eye sockets of Death elongated skull (to follow the description from the book) and the whips of darkness emanating from the cloak that entangle Pratchett need to be better resolved; some greater colour and tonal variation may also be included. Alternatively, I may redraft the image completely, tidying up the compositional and scale issues.

 


 

Brother brown

Brother brown
This was a simple and quick digital painting, loosely based on my brother, painted without a reference image in monochrome, with cyan tones filtered in through colour adjustment after completing the mainstay of the image. The initial layers of the image were anted using a mouse, rather than a graphics tablet, before having a oil painting effect applied to it, then having another layer of marks added with the aid of a drawing pad.

This goes along side a series of paintings and 3D sculptures of bearded male figures with short, slicked back hair, that primarily serve as technical exercises, taking on the aesthetic properties of family members crossed with Hellenic Gods; the image of Zeus is a recurrent theme in particular (its iconography was adopted by the Romans, and subsequently the Christians in their depictions of Jehovah, much as Pan’s appearance as a goat-legged, horned faun was woven in with the brief descriptions of Lucifer in the Bible, creating the winged cultural chimera known to most of the West).


 

Neon Self-Portrait

Neon Self-Portrait

This was painted from one of the photos taken from the EchoReFlex performance, where the colour arrangement across the face was particularly intriguing, as there were no traditional flesh tones, only a combinations of blues, purples and greens. The particular blue in the centre of the image, and the green of the jacket were sampled directly from the picture, as the work space colour selection derived from the CMYK hue, whereas those two colours were from the RGB spectrum.

This differentiation is only relevant to particularly colour sensitive digital work and analogue printing processes such as screen printing, were specific tones can only be accomplished though specific combinations of light-refracted tones. However, the problem of colour combinations producing undesirable outcomes occurs oin all colour mixing, the ability to sample tones directly from an image can make painting from a reference image more easily accomplished.

The overall forms of the image were not too successful, and the left eye was repositioned late in the process, so there were some perspectival considerations that were subsequently overlooked. Nevertheless, as an exercise in non-linear light and colour management (where neither of the primary and secondary light sources are white) this was still useful, particularly following the RAW adjustments and post production of the documentation images from the rest of the EchoReFlex imagery. This was not included with those works as it was not overtly relevant to the progression of the project, but I felt it was worth including the image with the rest of the digital paintings (even though it fails to resemble the subject, looking like a person, but not the person in question).


 

Finntroll

This was a quick colour sketch of a troll, a creature common in northern European folklore, that is particularly associated with the Scandinavian nations, the name ‘Finntroll’ being adopted by a Finnish Folk-Metal band. However here, the use of ‘Fin’ was a play on words referring to the prefix also being an abbreviation for ‘Finished’, as in complete, as the image was simply referred to as ‘Troll’ whilst in progress, becoming ‘FIN troll’ then ‘Finntroll’ once it was resolved.

Nevertheless, this was primarily a speed painting testing out brush work patterns and colour palette management. As the image was completed with only a few layers, before having colour altering filters (Hue/Saturation and Colour Balance) applied to the picture. This meant that I could amplify the contrast between the green and purple highlights and the ruddy shadows.

Though this was not a particularly serious piece, having given escapism a fair amount of consideration during this project (see the notes for EchoReFlex: Narcotic, Banal, Escape) it still seemed a subject not too far out of the main spectrum of work, and any development of technical skills in Photoshop is always useful.


Reference:

Manovich, Lev. (2013) Software Takes Command. INT Edition. Bloomsbury Academic. London, UK.

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