Saturday, July 08, 2006

Illustration Friday - Skyline

For some reason when I thought about "skyline," the Russian fairy tale of Baba Yaga popped into my head and I was struck to do a skyline of buildings on chicken legs. Well, mostly chicken legs - I felt that the fountain really needed duck legs.

This project became an exercise in technique, imaging and frustration. The background is a vibrant (yes, difficult to tell in this photo) acrylic on canvas board that I made up for a book cover. It seemed perfect for the "sky" so I grabbed it. I threw some paper on the bottom that matched wonderfully to form the horizon, and then laid a transparency over the top to play with the layout. The black ink drawings came out fluid and wonderful. If I could have scanned or photographed that sketch I would have, but I knew the shiny surface of the transparency wouldn't allow proper imaging. I tried adding her fence of skulls and spines along the horizon, but quickly found out that it obscured the "feet" so I knew not to add that to the final piece. Instead I threw a half-fence directly around the house.

I picked through my pens to find one that would not smudge on the acrylic surface and went to work. The acrylic paint surface grabbed the pen and the drawings were not as fluid and fun as the layout drawing. The lines were also not as black (because they weren't shiny as they were on the transparency). I wasn't thrilled with the result compared to my layout sketch, but didn't have time to start from scratch. Trying to get a good picture of it was a nightmare because of the slightly shiny surface of the acrylic paint. Scanning didn't work - my scanner is on its last "leg" (sorry) and the background came out stripped and looked awful. I tried photographing it in natural light (still too much reflection). The result was the best I could do (camera on tripod, no flash, diffuse artificial lighting) and it looks totally "dead."

Advice is greatly welcomed!

I'd appreciate any hints on photographing this type of medium. Also, any pens that work smoothly on textured acrylic paint (if there is such a pen). I've got so much to learn! Thanks!

11 comments:

claudine hellmuth said...

fun sketch!
I like to draw with PITT pens on acrylic, they work very well :)

Rrramone said...

Wonderful drawing, reminds me of Dr. Seuss a little. :-)

chippamunkey said...

I am a big fan of (ohhh I can't remember the brand specifically)those brush tip markers. They give you the freedom of a marker, but the ability to create wonderful variations in the stroke of your line... I believe they work quite well on acrylic...


I like your drawing, and I agree with rrramone, it reminds me of dr. seuss.... although I know nothing about this fairy tale....

good job, and good luck on your marker/pen search

Jana Bouc said...

I love the idea of buildings on chicken legs and the whimsical drawing. Thanks for describing your process--it was interesting to read.

murphy girl said...

it's brilliant! really creative, beautiful colors, great fun to explore!

Ginger*:)* said...

The chicken-leg houses are wonderful. The background is stunning and the line work is very effective. I don't know if you have ever seen or tried them, but TOMBOW brush pens are a unique blend of a watercolor marker tip that acts like a brush with another pointed end that acts like a pen. Sets are sold in 24 to 72 pieces. You might like experimenting with them.

fenris said...

lovely colours!

tiffinix said...

Very cool whimsical drawing! I love that you illustrated the fairy tale.

carla said...

I loved that fairy tale! Your drawing against the bright background turned out well despite the ordeal you described! I have found that pigma brush pens work well on acrylic.

melanienyc said...

i love this especially the background color. i am not familar with the russian fairy tale...i think i'm missing out! :(

pangolin said...

Now I think this actually looks vibrant and full of life. Love the coulours - but I know what u mean about photographing ... its a tricky one & I'm still experimenting. Perhaps ask a photographer friend for advice....