4 hour illustration exercise
3mo
Jesper Axelsson
Hi, I'm doing an exercise where I try to finish an illustration in 4 hours. Last year I started working on a drawing ( https://www.proko.com/s/H4dr ), that I never finished... hence the time limit. Any feedback appreciated :) I expect to be modifying the exercise as I go. At the moment my goal is to do a Tarzan drawing in a realistic style. Tarzan 1: 5 hours Graphite pencil (2h,hb,2b) on A4 paper Narrative: Tarzan chasing the gorilla who has kidnapped Jane. When I showed it to my family, they had trouble reading it. So in my next drawing my focus was to have a clear narrative. I realized graphite pencil was a slow medium for filling in tone (I hadn't covered the piece in tone by 4 hours, despite doing it in a rush), so I also switched to conté for the next piece. Tarzan 2: 4 hours Conté (B and 2B) on A2 printer paper Narrative: Tarzan preparing his spear before returning to the fight with the leopard. To summarize these 2 weeks: I feel confident in my skills, but struggle with bringing a finished drawing together. I'm happy about where the drawings were headed, but not really the final product. This might be about giving myself more time, the creation is very rushed, but I want to play around a bit more with the 4 hours to see what I can do. Up next: - Simplify more to reach a more controlled result and to have time to focus on value composition. - Mimic the style of another artist --> clear goal + learning from a pro - Use materials more efficiently Cheers!
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Camellito
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first, the tarzan preparing the spear is really cool. The anatomy is well desinged, and it has good story teling. Second, i can relate to your problem. I feel i confident i can draw the image in my head, but as im finishing it im startig to dislike the final product. What has helped me wth that is to have images of some of my favourite artist (Alex Ross, Frank Frazetta, Criss Samie etc.) as inspration. Sometimes it helps with composition, lighting, anatomy, color etc. hope my comment helps you. you have helped me relly well before, so thank you for that. btw. sorry for my bad writing, im still learning my english.
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Jesper Axelsson
Thank you @Camellito :)
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Jesper Axelsson
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Hi, here is my fourth Tarzan drawing. It took 5 h and 15 min. Conté (b & 2b) on A2 printer paper. My main focus was to have an interesting shape and value composition. I wanted the shapes to interlock more, like a puzzle and I wanted the shapes to feel less clumsy. I'm very happy with it :) Feedback appreciated! The composition I had in mind when I started was a triangular shape splitting the canvas in two, with cool active shape design and a lot of energy. I think my brain was bringing up a Frazetta drawing. But the drawing didn't end up that way, because I had trouble coming up with something in that composition where the story was clear. The drawing I did illustrates Tarzan, proclaiming his victory over the lioness he's just defeated. He's yelling and pounding his chest. He has his right foot on the killed lioness. It's a full moon and the jungle lies dark. I think the fight took place out on a clearing in the jungle. The dark shape in the background is supposed to be the tree-top skyline. What do you think of the composition? The shape design? The value design? Do you think the story reads? Thanks in advance :)
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Richard Barkman
Hey Jesper, composition is one of those things I mean to get to one day, so have no clear technical advice for you. However, my eye is drawn to the black shape in the bottom right, instead of to Tarzan. I suggest moving the black shape to envelope at least part of Tarzan, (like his head and Torso, not the lower leg) to draw attention there.
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Sarah (Cera) Delgado
First, hi Jesper! It is amazing that you posted all your progress from the ideation drafts. Since its many (not all of course) times asked by employers to know how you get the illustration done. Second and critique! (opinion): You accomplished very well the sense of organic puzzle blocks with the lights, shadow and mid-tones. Good job! (Love the shapes. :) ) YET, The elbow should be obscuring more the bicep, from the angle shown in the illustration. I post along a picture so that its easier to understand what I meant with words. Hope this helped! :)
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Christopher Beaven
I like the composition but I wonder if I hadn't read what you wrote of the story if I would have known what was going on. When I look at the composition I'm not sure anyone could tell what is happening or has happened. You may want to show it to people that have not seen it before and ask them what the narrative is to test. I love your exercise and the compositions but the materials do not lend themselves well to a finished concept. Smoother paper would help a bunch I think. But I know you're challenging yourself to complete it faster which is great. Consistency beats good all the time. Keep it up!
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Jesper Axelsson
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Hi, I just finished my third Tarzan drawing. It took 4h and 35 min and was done with conté (B) on A2 printer paper. I'm really happy with it! I aimed at working as simple as possible; large shapes and thinking of the figures as simple mannequins. It really helped! I spent more time in the thumbnailing stage, so that I had a clear 3 value plan before starting on the real drawing. Things that I would like to change are: - The position of the hand, I think it's unanatomical at the moment. - Clarify Tarzan's pose; I think I lost track of the back's centerline and I also suspect that the pose is a bit broken. - Redesign the leaf pattern on his arm. - Even out tones and bring clarity around certain edges. But as far as the big picture goes I don't think I would change much. What do you think? How do you think the read is? Can you tell what's going on? What do you think of the tonal composition? Before diving in to this piece I tried to define more precisely what the exercise is about, and I ended up with this: The exercise is to take a drawing from idea to final product in 4 hours, using the skills I have. The drawings should have a full value range and preferably edge variation. Using reference is encouraged. Cheers!
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Sita Rabeling
Interesting process to a scene full of action. Cannot tell whether Tarzan defends himself or will help the tiger in a fight. I like to think he's on the side of the jungle and the light beam comes from an intruder somehow.
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Steve Lenze
I like the way you have Tarzan's silhouette in front of the light area of the composition, and how the light rays point at the area of eventual impact. I agree with @Christopher Beaven , this composition is active and exciting.
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Christopher Beaven
I think the composition is very exciting and active. The rays of light passing behind Tarzan and directly at the point of interest is great. The biggest room for improvement I see all anatomical. The anatomy needs some work but at such a rushed drawing for you that is understandable. When you say you want to redesign the leaf pattern on his arm I think you may be setting yourself up for failure there unless you increase the size of the drawing or use something with finer detail. Overall I think this composition is a huge improvement from your last! Have you ever tried the Creative Composition course on svslearn.com? I've taken it and it's the most comprehensive course on composition I've ever seen. Keep going with this. The more you do this and keep your constant feedback look the faster you will improve. Great job!
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Steve Lenze
Hey Jesper, I really like what your doing, it's a good exercise to determine if your images are clear. I agree, trying to render all this with a pencil can take forever, I think the Conte is a good idea. My favorite, and most clear and has the best storytelling element to it is the second one. It's nicely rendered also. The first one is not as clear. I think one of the reasons is because of story telling. To me, there is no relationship between Tarzan and Jane, he isn't even looking at her. Instead he is looking off screen...and so are we. Plus, he's Tarzan, king of the jungle, I would exploit that fact by having him in a pose that is outrageous for us, but not him. I did a quick thumbnail sketch to show you an option that could maybe give you some ideas about what I'm talking about. I hope it helps :)
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Jesper Axelsson
Hi @Steve Lenze, thanks a lot for the feedback and for doing a thumbnail! In the image I had in mind I wanted a chiaroscuro like effect; Tarzan was supposed to be the first read, and at first glance maybe the only thing in the image. With Tarzan's determined facial expression and clear swinging direction I was hoping for a question to be raised subconsciously "why does he look so serious and what is he swinging towards?" Then as the viewer moved down the page they would see Jane's terrified face and wonder what was happening to her, then notice the gorilla, then move back to Tarzan: "aha, he's chasing after them, trying to save Jane from the gorilla. But he is focused further ahead. He has a plan. He's one step ahead of the gorilla. He'll ambush it" I wanted to use understatement, because I've heard Marshall mentioning it so many times in the podcast, and I was also hoping to save time and not have to do much work on Jane and the gorilla XD, since all you needed was a hint of them. I did a paintover to show what I had in mind. I don't know if it was a good idea, but that was what I aimed for. I'm actually happy it didn't end up that way, I think my final drawing had a much nicer abstract design, a better balance of lights and darks. Lots of happy mistakes when doing these :) Thanks again! I really appreciate the feedback :)
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Liandro
Awesome exercise, @Jesper Axelsson! It's great how you set up this “self-assignment” based on something you observed and wanted to improve on in your workflow. I think 4 hours is really a very short amount of time to finish an entire illustration, especially in this level of complexity - a realistic figure, an environment, lighting, value composition, visual action and storytelling... a lot of stuff to figure out in a "half-day work", and certainly too little time for any kind of rendering and polishing. Within these constraints, I think you've done a pretty nice job! In terms of adjustment suggestions, here's my two cents, hope it helps: . Tarzan 1 - I'd say it could perhaps use some more darker values in the overall composition to let you enhance depth, atmosphere and global contrasts. And I believe I'd also take some more time to figure out how the hand should be grabbing the vine. Things that need to be worked outside the 4-hour time frame. :) But, as it is, given the context, I think it's a quite successful drawing! Personally, I view it as a thumbnail sketch or preliminary study that could potentially become a fully rendered piece in the future if worked for a (much) longer time. I’m also wondering what is it exactly that your family had trouble reading in it. . Tarzan 2 - I love the pose and the anatomical stylizations. But unless you want it be a “Frank-Miller-y” high contrast visual style illustration, I’d say it could use some more halftone variations to describe the muscle volumes and give you more room to play around with different levels of contrasts and types of edges. Additionally, I feel that my eye is being brought straight to the center of the image (abs and pelvis) because of the stronger details and more contrasting shapes there, but I guess your narrative kind of asks the focal point to be either the spear or, alternatively, Tarzan’s face. Hope this helps. Overall, great work!!
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Liandro
You're welcome, @Jesper Axelsson! Yeah, absolutely! I have colleagues who say to have spent over 40 (yes, forty) hours or even more in just one illustration. Of course this varies from person to person, but, usually, it’s the rendering/polishing and refinements that take up most of the time. From what I’ve observed in my own process, about half the hours often go into this stage - that is, when I say to myself “yay, the sketch is fully resolved, I’m now just gonna make it final”, it means I’m probably about halfway there in terms of working time. Well, I must confess I hadn’t noticed the gorilla on the bottom of Tarzan 1… 😅 I imagined your family had had trouble reading it because the gorilla was not in the composition, thus it was hard to understand the story and what Tarzan was after. Even by looking at the bottom right corner of the drawing now, I’m still having trouble visualizing the gorilla’s anatomy (and a bit of Jane’s too), so yeah, I can relate to how that part has become hard to read. Sorry about that! But I'd say putting some more work on defining the characters' value ranges and contrasts against the background's should definitely help with solving the clarity there. Ah, and I’d totally reinforce considering @Steve Lenze's great suggestion on Tarzan’s pose. And yeah, so in Tarzan 2, you might consider keeping the highest value contrasts and details/textures on those areas of higher priority according to this visual hierarchy you've planned, and then play everything else down some more. Hope this helps! Keep up the good work!
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Jesper Axelsson
Thank you @Liandro! Really appreciate the feedback :) It's encouraging to hear that 4 hours is short time for an illustration. My family had trouble reading the bottom right corner, particularly the gorilla. For Tarzan 2 I wanted a 1, 2, 3 read. 1: His whole figure, but mainly the head I think. 2: His spear. 3: His left hand and what was supposed to be a wound on his shoulder. Thanks again :)
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squeen
Nice use of shadows!
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Jesper Axelsson
Thanks!
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Christopher Beaven
I love this exercise! Giving yourself a time limit really gets you out of our comfort zone a little and will really help expand your skills. I like the concept of the finished drawing. You have a lot of good contrast as well. The forms are a little hard to discern because of the paper texture and contrast that is just too dark. I'll point out some specifics. The way his right leg and right arm lines up makes the form confusing and I'm wondering if someone can actually get there leg in that position. The separation of the muscles in the right forearm with high contrast is also separating the lower arm from the upper arm. The forms of the fingers his left hand are confusing, same with his right on the ground. I also think the shading of the tibia of his right leg is too dark as well make it look as though the leg is split in half. The form of the head is great though. I feel the roundness there and the shadow help. Overall its a great drawing for the four hours, or less because you started a different one first. I feel the best place you can improve is to continue drawing figures so you get a better understanding of the forms of the body. The most important though is that you keep going! Share your next 4 hour drawing as well!
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Jesper Axelsson
Thanks a lot for the feedback and encouraging words! I really appreciate it :)
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