Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The World is Waiting to be Explored (Happy belated bday, Toothlesslove!)

This is an art piece I made for Toothlesslove's birthday. Unfortunately... I got confused and thought her birthday was on the 26th. It's the 23rd. GAH. I'm usually not late for stuff... at least I try to be very punctual. But, anyway, I do hope she will enjoy it, and I hope she had a great birthday.

This is one of my more complex paintings, so I went through a lot of different ideas on how to pull it off. If you want to read a detailed description of how I made this piece, click the read more. There will also be versions of the artwork without text if you want to download a copy for yourself :)

Above is a version without the birthday greeting. My primary inspiration for this artwork was the concept of exploration. Glory mentioned that Toothlesslove was reading lots of diverse books about the world around us and considering (maybe) going into research after graduating. I felt that the concept of exploring the our vast and amazing world tied in really well with HTTYD2. I've always wanted to do a painting of the Itchy Armpit Island. It was such a beautiful scene, so I set my sights on capturing it. Though my attempt PALES compared to the concept art I was looking at for reference, I still really enjoyed working on it.

Here is the text free version. It sorta fits as a phone background, so if you would like to give that a try, be my guest. After deciding that I would do a vast landscape, and that I would model it off of Itchy Armpit from HTTYD2, my major problem was finding the best place to put Toothless. If you go back and look at the last few digital paintings I have done, especially my gifts for Glory and Toothlesslove, you'll notice many of them have Toothless and Hiccup silhouetted against a huge background. This does work. It looks pretty, and it gives a dramatic sense of scale when you see this ting black dragon rushing through the background. However, one reason I often put Toothless and Hiccup far away or in obscure lighting is because it is much easier to paint them at that distance or in dark lighting conditions! I didn't want to pull any punches on this piece, so I knew I wanted Toothless to be "close to the camera". After shuffling through some HTTYD media, I finally found what I was looking for. I noted a spot in GotNF where Toothless is looking under his wing back at Hiccup, and I decided that I'd put Toothless on the edge of a cliff, looking back at the viewer. The reference from GotNF certainly gave me help on perspective. I wasn't exactly used to drawing Toothless from this angle!

I painted almost the entire background before really deciding exactly where Toothless would sit, or how big he would be. Ha, that means some groves of trees are pretty much lost behind him, but that's alright. Doing the trees was a lot of fun. I started by drawing the thin trunks with really high opacity. If they were towards the light, I drew them very light brown, but if they were near the center of the grove, I tried to make the trunks almost black. Then I turned the opacity of my brush tool down very low and drew a dark brown cloud over the trunks to be the base of my leaves. Then I basically just covered that in a haze of orange, red, and yellow dots. It was a lot of fun to do, but when I first started, I was sure it wasn't working. It looked BAD up close, but when I zoomed out, it really did capture the feel I was going for. I then made cliffs and waterfalls. I added fog as a final touch. I wasn't sure about it, but it looked really good in the film... it adds this wistful, airy quality to the landscape. Plus it leaves you wondering how far down that waterfall falls. 

I'm usually a big fan of using a detailed line art, but I knew that this picture needed to feel sort of like a watercoloring, so I steered clear of using hard lines or crisp details. I do hope you guys like the painting, and I especially hope Toothlesslove likes it. 

I hope you had an excellent birthday Toothlesslove, and I hope that this year will be a really wonderful chapter of your life.

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