Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Art Contest!

Okay, so I'm not an artist. I've always WANTED to draw, I've TRIED to draw, but my talent is--in a word--lacking. But I saw this Erol Otus fantasy illustration contest (more on E.O later) and I thought I'd give it a shot. The illustrations will be used in a sort of homegrown fantasy role playing game magazine called Fight On! and so they should reflect adventuring party situations that could happen during play. Entrants are given three themes by which to create their artwork:
  • The Adventure Takes a Surprising Twist
  • One Charge Left
  • Overland
I chose "One Charge Left" because the phrase instantly gave me an idea...

Yeah, it's just AWFUL isn't it? That's because my drawing skills suck. As a matter of fact, one reason I began this blog was to document my shamefully poor skills--and hopefully--improve on them. See I have until May 2, 2009 to submit my illustration. So I figure I'll practice, work on ideas, and use the blog to track my progress. And you, poor reader, can suffer right along with me.

I created the concept sketch as soon as I saw the posting for the contest today (surfing at work, no less!). So let the record stand--today I had a terrible idea and put it down on paper--terribly!

Okay, so let me explain what's going on in the sketch. Those are two victims about to get squished by a giant's foot in some sort of adventure. That's a wizard in the foreground. No, that's not a baguette he's holding. It's a wand with...are you ready? One. LAST. Charge. Clever, huh?

No. It isn't. But I have some ideas on making it work. Anyway, I forgot to mention my disclaimer:

Let me just make it absolutely clear right now that I am not (obviously!) a professional or trained artist. I have zero ability. I'm as amateur as it gets. In fact, amateurs will hide their eyes in embarrassment (as you likely did) when viewing my "work."

I doodle a lot. but really, who doesn't? Nothing anyone could look at. And I break into a sweat anytime anyone looks at something I draw. Seriously, it's just mortifying!

When I got home this evening, I did a few additional sketches. This one is an attempt to flesh out some of the details in the concept:

Yes, equally full of suck as the first one. Let's pray things improve, shall we? Hopefully you can see what I'm trying to do here--both in way of skill and in the actual composition. I selected the wizard as a character exercise. See, in the original concept the wizard is really torn between spending the last 'charge' contained in his wand on saving his friends, or in using it to get out of the dungeon with treasure he has in hand. His buddies are pretty much doomed in his eyes, but they are his buddies

Anyway, I think there are several elements key to the success of the wizard in this piece"
  1. Wizard's dilemma simplified so one can see a wand in one hand, treasure in the other
  2. How should the wizard's body be posed? Facing friends/gory mess? Or should he already be turning his back on them and facing the viewer?
  3. Wizard's wand needs to show visually the idea of 'one charge left'
  4. Should wizard have a look of consternation/indecision on his face? Or should it be one of quiet resignation? How the @#$% do I draw quiet resignation??!
On point 3, I thought it would be neat to show this 'last charge left' as a series of magic gems embedded in the wand. Two of the three gems are dark or 'used up'. One is still 'lit,' meaning it's his last chance to do something. Get the drift?

In any case, that hand holding the wand is wretched. I need to work on that.

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