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Old November 25 2013, 11:14 PM   #1
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Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Non-Trek - A Present for Mom

No, this has nothing to do with Trek and may be of no interest whatsoever to some of you, but I get asked a lot about the process I use to create a digital art piece and this seemed like a good opportunity to demonstrate it.

A couple of years ago I did a painting for my Dad as a Christmas gift, one that he had been asking me to do for years called "The Fourth Wise Man." This year I decided to do something similar for my Mom. She loves anything and everything to do with angels: paintings, figurines, sun catchers, tree ornaments, you name it. I had an idea for a Guardian Angel done in a classical style but with more of a "mama grizzly" vibe. In other words, I wanted her to look suitably angelic and ethereal, but also like she means business and is willing to fight any force in the universe to protect her charge. There are other layers of meaning here as well, mostly related to the fact that I am painting this for my mother, but I'll explain more about that as I go along.

Here, then, are a series of WIP images leading up to the current version, which has just about reached the end of the "sketch and development" stage. As you can see, I've gone through quite a lot of trial and error on everything from physical proportions and limb positions to hair styles and armor details. After showing the early versions to a few close friends, I was quite surprised when most of them failed to realize the angel was female, so a lot of the adjustments were focused on clarifying that.

One of the earliest iterations beyond the preliminary stick figure stage:

A little further along with some rough shading added:

Proportional adjustments like a longer torso and smaller shoulder pauldrons, plus a splash of color:

Color and shading removed, totally new and much improved leg positions, and more armor details:

First stab at an alternate hairstyle, what I like to call the "Would you like to buy some girl scout cookies?" version. This also introduced some changes to the armor, mainly the deletion of the high collar and a softening of the shoulder pauldrons:

Second alternate hairstyle, my personal favorite so far, though it's still evolving to fit my original vision:

Third alternate hairstyle, what I call the "L'Oreal, because you're worth it" version:

And finally, the current version with the armor almost fully designed and detailed, the hairstyle slightly modified, and her legs lengthened just a bit:

This is a pretty refined sketch but a sketch nonetheless. My next step is to redo the shading and start figuring out the color palette, as well as what I expect will be a background of sunlit clouds against a dark sky. Once that's done, I'll start rendering the final details over top of the line art so the end result winds up very painterly in the style of the old masters, or so I hope.

Feel free to offer suggestions or criticisms, but be aware that I've already gone through a lot of refinement getting to this point and I am unlikely to make any more major changes.

And by the way, this is a surprise gift so don't tell anybody.
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