Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Gaze - Work in Progress

"The Gaze" - 4 x 9" colored pencil on paper (exactly the right size to fit in a business envelope - coincidence?)
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
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Let me know if you guys get tired of these work in progress posts. This is another colored pencil piece I did today - probably only two hours on this one - and I took some more work in progress photos of it. They're not completely terrible photos this time so I'll try to explain briefly what I was thinking at each stage.

Step 1-4: I rarely do a preliminary drawing on my actual drawing paper. If I'm confused about the shapes or the values or I need to make sizable changes, I'll do a value sketch in my sketch book, but otherwise, for one of these quickies, I just dive right in.

So I start with the eye, always. I put as much dark value in as I can because I'll want to bring the rest of the values up to that level to match. When I need to "explain" a shape to myself as I work, I tone the paper with a light layer of a midtone to form the edge, rather than drawing it with an unnatural line -- you can see that on the edge of the leopard's face, right?

Step 5-8: I need to start establishing some more shapes here. I use the eye as a flat measurement and measure distances relative to that: i.e., the nose is two eye lengths away from the corner of the eye, the ear is two and half. Again, if I don't "understand" a shape quite yet, I tone the paper lightly where I think it ought to go. I can always adjust a little if I don't like how it turned out. I'm using a lot of greens and yellow-browns at this point.

Step 9-12: This is where it's getting fun. I start pushing the saturation. If I'm using a burnt ochre, I grab magenta or process red to push the colors a bit more. If the area's cool, I lay in blues. I want his face to come forward and his neck to move back, so I use lots of colors on his face and greys and blues on his neck. I never forget that Value is King, so everything has to look right in black and white -- the colors will work themselves out.


Katydid said...

Wow! Maggie, this is just beautiful, I love it.

No, I for one never tire of your WIPs. You should really do one of a snow leopard.

Becca said...

I absolutly love the step-by-step posts you are doing! I've been studing them and going over them with a fine tooth comb ^_^()

Jo Castillo said...

This is a great cat and you are amazing! Guess no one has said that before. :)


Maggie Stiefvater said...

Kate - I always thought snow leopards looked funny, like their faces had been smushed. ;)

Becca - thanks! I'll try and keep doing them.

Jo - my dog thinks I'm amazing. Jury's still out on everybody else. :D

Katherine said...

That's a neat way of demonstrating the WIP Maggie. Have you thought about making the images into a mini-video?

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I'd like to, but on dial up anything remotely image or video intensive becomes akin to pulling teeth.

Jennifer Rose said...

Great step by step. :)Love all the spots and colours.

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

Great demonstration, Maggie! I really like the dimensions on this piece ... the dramatic cropping.

You work so fast without losing quality ... Jo’s right: amazing!

Anonymous said...

I also love your wip. Thanks for posting them. Beth

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous and beautifully done! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing the work in progress. I produce and teach colored pencil at our local community college and your WIPs are a MUST for my students. Especially for eyes - you have the Maggic touch!! Helen Scott in North Carolina

jill said...

love to see the works-in-progress. helps me learn and understand more about the art and how to do it better myself. it's just amazing to watch a piece of work come to life through the stages.

vivien said...

beautiful - and the WIP is interesting - you go about it in much the same way as I do, even down to using the eye as a measure to check everything else by :)