My digital painting class progresses, and our latest project is to paint a fantasy personal transport vehicle. We had to brainstorm ten ideas, then pick one to develop. Since then we’ve been working on developing the ideas into sketches, then creating value sketches to test out lighting, and are now working on the final painting.
Since I missed posting all this to you earlier, here are some of the early concept sketches. (Yes, they are crude. Still working on those drawing skills!) Click for the larger version.
Sketch #1 is a “green” car. It’s a Volkswagen minibus with a “radiator” on the back full of green algae. The algae process the carbon dioxide in the exhaust, transforming it to oxygen and rendering the car carbon-neutral. The remaining CO2 emissions are piped into the top of the car, where they “feed” a small greenhouse of herbs and flowers.
Sketch #2 is a flying carpet, but since everyone knows flying carpets are unrealistic, here’s one with a rigid frame, jet packs, and a glass windshield. Alakazam!
And here’s the concept I finally decided to use, the flying bathtub. I came up with this idea from the phrase “It flies like a bathtub,” used to describe a clumsy plane. And really, what could be more pleasant than soaking peacefully in a nice warm bubble bath, 500 feet off the ground?
After reviewing those and my other seven concept sketches, I decided to go with the flying bathtub. Partly because I liked it better, partly because it would be much easier to paint than my other favorite, the “green” car.
So the next step was to do some more sketches to work out the details. I messed around and eventually came up with three types of flying bathtubs:
I decided that the multiple balloons (as in the movie “Up”) looked far more interesting than the others, so decided to develop it further. The next step was to do a slightly more detailed sketch, including the background. It was supposed to be black and white, but I couldn’t resist throwing in some color:
After that we were supposed to do value sketches, to test out different lighting ideas. I had no idea what a value study was or how to do one, so I asked the instructor. She suggested using black and white brushes to give an idea of light and shadow in the piece, and trying out different times of day – noon, sunset, late afternoon. While still super-clumsy about it, I did manage to come up with a few sketches. I liked this one, taken at sunset, the best:
Here the lighting is coming mostly from below, for a much more dramatic effect than the much more diffuse light of my original sketch.
The next and final step will be the actual painting. I haven’t gotten very far with that yet, mostly because I’ve been focused on the book, but I did manage to paint some balloons earlier this week:
I still need to rotate, resize, rearrange, and warp the balloons, and correct the lighting (they’re far too bright for sunset lighting), but it’s a good start. The painting isn’t due until Thursday, so I’m not panicking…at least, not yet. I’m planning to work on it next week – this weekend is reserved for the book.
Ah yes, the book. We’re now exactly four weeks away from the final publisher deadline, and how is our heroine doing? Very well, thank you. Thanks to the Independence Day holiday and an exceptionally generous employer, I had a four-day weekend and I made the most of it. I’ve now added all the photos and artist bios to the manuscript, ballooning it from 122 pages to 187. I’ve redone all the illustrations in the Visual Design chapter, written the Preface and the Acknowledgements sections, and drafted a few more artist bios.
Tomorrow I’ll sit down and start working on photo captions – tedious work, since it requires looking up the release form for every photo to make sure it is credited properly in the caption, and emailing artists for any missing information. Thoroughly boring administrative work. They didn’t tell me about this when I signed up for the dashing, romantic life of a writer! But, as with most things, romance requires a fair amount of drudgery to make the magic happen, so it’s time to buckle down and do it.
And the loom? I haven’t gotten confirmation yet, but I’m pretty sure it shipped on Friday! It should be here in mid to late August. Woo hoo!!
And I may have a new name for the loom. I’ve been saying for years I’d name her Ada, after Lady Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who is generally recognized as having written the very first computer program. However, a few days ago it occurred to me…this is a Scandinavian loom setting sail over the seven seas to land on my doorstep. Doesn’t that make it a Viking loom? So I’m seriously considering naming it “Valkyrie”. You know, divine battle maidens swooping down on the battlefield to bring fallen heroes to Valhalla, Wagnerian opera, heroic deeds, Norse battle epics. And Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is a tradition at Caltech, my alma mater – played at 7am every day during finals week in each of the dorms, at super high volume, to wake everyone up. So it’s also a bold tradition. I rather like it. Still meditating on it, but I’m leaning towards “Valkyrie”.
And, finally, the long-promised video: Tigress under the influence of her very first catnip. (Wait for the “Ow!”)