Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Grand House

The Grand House by Kelsey Hamersley. Drawn with pen & ink and painting in watercolor and acrylic. Another installment in the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon; this time, the part where the lassie and the white bear journey to visit her family.

The tale up to this point is pretty similar to Beauty and the Beast; the Beast also allows a homesick Beauty to leave to see her family before returning to his castle. But the tales diverge quite a bit after this, and that's where the parts I love about East of the Sun and West of the Moon come in to play. Bring on the trolls and the winds!

This was my second project in my Illustration Techniques class. The scene actually occurs earlier in the story than my first project, but I was eager to illustrate the North Wind first (the winds are a lot of fun to paint), and nervous about taking on a polar bear and a house. I guess I had a reason to be nervous; I had a terrible time painting that house! I ended up obliterating it with acrylic paint and reinking it a few times before it finally started to look tolerable. I don't know why, but I could not get the edges of the house to look straight! I didn't have nearly as many problems with the initial concept of the house.

A sketch, trying to work out the style of the house.
I was originally opting for the style of Nordic architecture (see for example: x, x, x, and x), with an overall raw umber tone for the house. 

My first inking kept that intent. However, the pen & ink version was a bit of a wreck from the very start. The structure was already more wambly and it didn't push back in space quite right. The inking was too busy for me, as well, and it looked worn down, which was not at all the effect that I wanted.

The color's off in this photo, but you can see how anticlimactic the house is. It blends in with the background, when it should stand out as the main focal point. I wanted this to be a sort of aaaaahhh moment, complete with light shining down from the heavens to place the house in the spotlight--a moment of anticipation for the heroine. (You could pile on symbolism, I suppose, considering how depressed she was, missing her family, and now she's stepping out of the darkness and into the light to meet them. Heh.) 

The house's lack of impact was part of the reason I ended up changing the style and color scheme of the house in the final. I'm still mourning the loss of the Nordic architecture, though. I like sticking little nuggets like that in as a nod to the fairy tale's origins.

You can't really see much of Lassie's dress in this composition because of the back view, but I modeled it after the style of bunads (more Norwegian influence). I found this dress to be particularly inspiring; it's so pretty! Plus I liked the pink color, which fit better with the soft color scheme of this composition. The bunads I've looked at have usually featured strong reds. Here's a sketch I made for the design:

On a side note, hopefully this post will help show that Pinterest isn't a complete waste of time. I like to think I'm investing in future projects by gathering inspiration now. :) Anyway, my East of the Sun and West of the Moon board has helped me come to terms with the style I'm aiming for, and it's so fun being able to share a glimpse of what's going on in my head without spending hours drawing it. Though that is the end goal.

While I'm at it with the behind-the scenes information, here's a picture of my work station where I did some of the inking and painting. I decided to tape the first project up on the wall so I could keep the color schemes working together. Along with that I painted a little color study on a scrap piece of Bristol paper. I loved painting the color studies because I felt free to experiment and didn't worry about messing up. Starting the color on a carefully inked final project was a lot more nervewracking.

Also on the wall are some possible-composition sketches, including the scene towards the end with the trolls! I wound up choosing the house composition over that one. The troll scene is going to be a challenge because of the crowd, but now that I've figured out the direction I want to go with the trolls, I'm excited. I haven't really designed creatures before, but these were fun! Now that they don't look like Babar. It's been a long journey.

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