In the first post of this series I walked you through my first failed attempts to create The Six Swans illustration, and ended with my first failed painting attempt. Now I’ll tell you how I went from there to my finished illustration.
As I said in that post I put this project aside after I finished the first painting to work on my Siren’s Song illustration. I knew the image wasn’t working yet, and I needed time to think on it. It worked. One day I realized one of the biggest problems with the composition was that the girl was looking down. The reason that’s a problem is that the point in the story was the happy part. Down= sad. Up= happy. I wanted the image to feel like victory. Not like we were still fighting a battle.
Determined to get things right I started thumbnailing again. Here they are.
After getting close with my pen I scanned that last thumbnail and messed with it in photoshop until I knew I had something that was working.
From there I went on to my new sketches.
This first sketch I did on paper using a large print out of the thumbnail for a guide.
At this point I got it critiqued again, and I made some small changes to the characters, and worked out the anatomy a little better. Here is the next drawing. I drew it on the computer over a scan of the first drawing.
And then I did it again. Just fixing a few things here and there.
Finally! A sketch we are going to keep.
Painting Round 2
From here I did my value and color studies again and came up with these.
They Look pretty good so I went onto the next painting.
I had a hard time at this point. I was trying to keep my watercolors nice and free and get the light right. In the story this scene is happening at sunrise, and I really wanted it to show in the lighting.
Overall it’s not bad but there are a few things that just weren’t working, like how saturated the background buildings are, and how I painted the wall behind the guards. (It looks too close.) And most important it just didn’t have the lighting effect that I wanted.
One More Time!
Why not try one more time? There was no deadline, and I had already come this far, so I value and color studied again.
And then I painted it again. That painting is the keeper.
I made this video showing my painting process for all three paintings. I tried to photograph each step. Sometimes I forgot to take the images before moving on, but I think it pretty well shows my watercolor process.
Here is the that final painting. I added just a few touches of colored pencil for some detail.
Of course nothing is perfect but I’m pleased with the final results. I think the lighting isn’t bad and I was able to let the watercolors do their neat-o thing. If you like the image you can buy a print of it in my shop.