Tag: Sketch Diary – Lady of March

Sketch Diary: Lady of March Part 3

Last time, I talked about designing the narrative elements.  Now, I’m excited to start pulling everything together into a cohesive piece!  Working in Photoshop CC and using a Cintiq 21UX, I use a composite created from my reference photos as a basis for a rough line drawing.  Sometimes, it’s impossible to find the perfect pose and that’s where Photoshop can be really handy.

I’ve used the body from the photos I took, the head from another photo whose facial angle I really liked, and other reference photos (not pictured) to help me change the look and features of the model.  One of my intents for this series is that it should encompass all forms of beauty, including diverse women from different ethnicities.  I don’t want every Lady to look like me, since I’m primarily the model (a fact I hope to change once I can afford more models).

lady-of-march---composite-lowres

I also wanted to share this screenshot of the reference I used to draw the skeletal reflection from Proko’s Skelly app for Apple and Android.  It’s fairly easy to use and arrange with poses you can save.  I’ll definitely be using it more for study!

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With my line art figured out, I can finally move on to testing out a basic color palette for Lady of March.  I know I want a theme indicative of Easter, so I’m mainly drawn to gold, yellow, and blue.  The first thing I do with any of the paintings in this series is to make sure the birthstone is represented also through the color palette as well. Luckily, the greenish blue hue of Aquamarine suits my concept for this piece rather well!  This color takes up the majority of the background and influences the rest as well.  The only other element I’m sure about at this point is that I want the eggs to be the bright blue of robin’s eggs, which always make me think of Spring.

I use the Hue/Saturation slider in Photoshop on each element to see what color choices might surprise me.  I explore different options, including a dark dress or a light veil.  The 1st image is perhaps too monochromatic in the clothing so that the corset stands out too much.  The contrast between the dress and veil in 2 works well while the bodice also brings out the beige of the trees from the background so there’s more color circulation throughout the piece.  The 3rd and 4th images both have a nice clear silhouette that’s intriguing, but starts to get away from my liking of stronger blues and yellows in this piece.  I should also note that I try to keep the yellows subdued throughout this piece, except for the flowers, which are the strongest focal elements.

lady-of-march---color-test-lowres
Finally, I arrived at a color palette I consider to be the best of all worlds!  The dark veil allows a strong silhouette for the figure while the pale corset and pale blue dress work well together, leaving the eggs and flowers as the most saturated symbolic elements in the piece.
lady-of-march---color-final-lowres
This has been your final sneak peek before I unveil the final painting! You can see the unveiled piece here.

Watch a time lapse of the painting:


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Part 1 – Conceptualization
Part 2 – Narrative Elements
Part 3 – Preliminary Drawing

Sketch Diary: Lady of March Part 2

I had a general idea of the symbolism while I was sketching thumbnails in the last Sketch Diary.  Now, I get to tie it all together into something more tangible than scribbles!  My fear with this piece is that I wanted to cram too in with the nest, eggs, branches, veiled woman, reflection in the water, etc.  The key and main focus of this composition, however, needed to be first the Lady.  I was onto something with the poses I previously compiled, but they weren’t where I wanted them to be yet for this image, so I took the time out to do a photo shoot to capture the subtle pose that I wanted.

Specifically, I didn’t like the flatness of the hands in my mockup.  They weren’t as expressive as they could be in the original pose (and you’ll probably see me say this a lot while searching for the right pose for a Nouveau piece).  The hands needed to be more gestural and graceful, which meant much of the photo shoot was spent trying out different hand motions and head tilts.  The body is the most important narrative element in Art Nouveau pieces, since a stiff figure can make an image feel posed and disconnected rather than flowing and lively.

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Plus an outtake for fun taken during hand gesture practice.
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In the end, my final decision was a mix of the head tilt of the original pose plus the open hands of one of the poses I took.  The head tilt evokes a sense of meditation and harkens back to portraits of saints in contemplation, which very much suits this Lady and her spiritual themes of rejuvenation, resurrection, and baptism.  The upturned hands also speak of a deep breath, meditation, and more of a connection with the water and energy around her.

I also worked on the window design at this point, since I had a general idea of how much of it would be covered.  A lot of the window was going to be revealed this time, which meant I could work on a design that covered more of the area of the window rather than focusing on accents in the outer boundaries that would need to peek out from behind the figure.  I used a template of a circle I made for the previous Ladies and divided it up into sections to help make plotting out symmetrical elements easier.  Once I had a small section of the design done, I copy and flip it to create the rest.

Notice my designs start out with really rough shapes first to give me an idea of how the space is used rather than jumping right into the detail of the flowers.  Since I’m going with an Easter-inspired theme for Lady of March, I was inspired by faberge and decorative eggs for the window designs.

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Next, I whipped out my trusty fashion croquis sketchbook and doodled a couple of quick designs to see how I wanted to handle March’s corset, which is the other key area for symbolism and decoration in this series.

As ever, Pinterest is always my first step when brainstorming for fashion (or anything else)!

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Lady-of-March-Fashion-Plates-lowres Colored and inked with my warm and cool grey markers set.
I like to use greys so I can establish the values without being tied down to any particular color scheme just yet.I ended up favoring the design on the right for the visual interest a more complex design brought to the stomach, which is located in an open and central area in the overall composition.


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Part 1 – Conceptualization
Part 2 – Narrative Elements
Part 3 – Preliminary Drawing

Sketch Diary: Lady of March Part 1

My journey continues this month with Lady of March!  I was very pleased with the outcome for Lady of February, which always makes the pressure high for the next piece in any series.

Brainstorming:

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As ever, my journey with Lady March begins with research and writing!  Wikipedia has excellently sourced articles for mythology of the months of the year that have been my go-to for this project thus far.  March is a time of resurrection, renewal, and the bursting forth of new life.  It is the time of the Spring Equinox.  March also presented a unique challenge because this year’s March happens to include one of the most influential holidays of the Spring season – Easter.

Did you know that in some traditions, Easter eggs represent the empty tomb of Jesus and were painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ?  Or that Easter was actually named for a lesser known goddess of Dawn, Ēostre?  One of the aspects of creating this series that I’ve really enjoyed has been learning so many things about cultural traditions that I never knew before!  For me, Easter has always been about chocolate bunnies and egg hunts from a childhood that didn’t focus much on the religious aspects.  My fondest memories are decorating a forsythia ‘easter tree’ with little eggs with my mother.

Easter also provides an interesting challenge because it is a ‘movable feast’, which means that it happens based on a time of year that can change (the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March).  I decided that with so much imagery to play with,  I would extend the Easter symbolism across both Lady of March and April, which both have the potential to host the Easter celebration.

Reference Gathering:
A mood board helps organize my muse’s random visions into something I can translate into my painting.


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A peek at a small section of Lady of March’s secret board on Pinterest.

 

Thumbnailing:
Moving on to thumbnailing, I used a light table to trace a printed grid onto my toned paper, which saved me a bit of time (only took me 3 Ladies in to figure this out ha).  As I sketched, I referred to poses I had previously found plus poses from my imagination.  I also made the decision of which symbols from Easter that I wanted Lady of March to have, mainly easter eggs and the theme of resurrection and baptism/renewal, which the water evokes.  However, I didn’t want my eggs to be too stereotypically easter, so I’ve kept them subdued as decorative elements that are naturally placed in the nests.  In the final image, I already know I want the eggs to be the striking blue of robin eggs (though I may find a place to add blood red eggs, depending, we’ll see!).
Out of these poses, I was drawn to 4, 5, and 7 because she seems to be more engaged with the water, which is meant to be a symbolic source of renewal and resurrection in this piece.  Pose 3, for example, seems more sensual and posed rather than emotive.  The other poses also lack dynamism.  This can be a highly intuitive process since I’m making decisions about what symbols to include at the same time.  Lady of March, however, went far easier than Lady of February did at this phase!
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Thumbnails created in pen, grey markers, and white color pencil on toned paper.

Composition Mockups:
Next, I drop some of my favorite poses using stock art as stand ins on a frame template I had previously made in Photoshop.  At this point, I play around with different layouts and arrangements to test how the Lady will look in a more finalized form.  In the end, poses 1 and 3 are my favorites because they have clear and interesting silhouettes and she feels more connected to the water.

lady-of-march-comp-mockups-lowresStock Credits:Lockstock, Kuoma-stock (for poses 2 and 4), and Senju-HiMe-Stock.

After all that, pose 3 is still my winner!  Now, with my final pose chosen, I know how much of the window is showing and can finally start on the design for it!


Want to see these Sketch Diaries before everyone else?  Consider pledging at my Patreon!
You’ll get early sneak peeks plus other exclusive Rewards!

Part 1 – Conceptualization
Part 2 – Narrative Elements
Part 3 – Preliminary Drawing