Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Whiteboard - Nessie

In this post I'd like to share with you my second full whiteboard. The Rosie board went so well that I think I'm addicted now! But they are a time-consuming art form - so in the process of doing Nessie I also worked on a couple of black and white scratchboards.

Nessie is one of our cats - a little tiny lilac point siamese with a very big mouth. She is all demure and dainty until she gets her panties in a knot at 2am and decides to announce her opinions to the household. Sleeping is her favorite pastime (though that could be said of most cats, I guess), and I am convinced that this feline would be very happy if her little paws never tread upon anything that wasn't a human body (seriously, you can't sit more than 5 minutes in one place without this cat clambering onto your person).

I chose this reference photo because of the peaceful expression (she really is rather lovely when she's not talking) and the dramatic light. I have a thing for the effect of a backlit cat ear - you get to see just how thin that skin is, and the delicate outline of light reflecting off the tiny, fine hairs of the ear margin.

This image is a bit washed out -I purposely decreased the contrast and increased the light so I could see the direction of hairs and small details in the darker areas (my reference shots always undergo some photoshopping before they are appropriate to use for scratchboard).

This piece will be done on a 6x6" Whiteboard with Ampersand inks. The preliminary sketch is transferred onto the whiteboard with graphite (basically I use a graphite stick to cover the entire backside of the sketch in my sketchbook, then retrace the lines with the page laying over the whiteboard). The first inking I do is the background - you can see my graphite guidelines from the preliminary sketch. It takes several layers of ink to get a nice, deep background color - this one is using alternating layers of black and sepia ink:

And continuing with the base painting (The scanner made this image warmer than it truly appears, but it gives you an idea). I've exaggerated the light in her left ear, it will get toned down as this continues and I want to preserve that look of translucency and backlighting:

And now the scratching! The repeated layers of scratching and re-inking is what gives us more depth. In the next series of images you can see how I start by scratching in the darkest areas, re-inking them (though hard to see on a small scan this leaves beautiful, subtle texture in the shadowed parts), and then scratching the medium-value areas, and so on.

Some detail shots (larger than life):

And here is the final portrait:

"Nessie" 6x6" Ampersand whiteboard, scratchart and ink (c) Pam Boutilier, 2009

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This is what you get for listening to Kenny Rogers

It's coming up on my mother's birthday soon, she would have been 72 in a couple of weeks. I'm using that as an excuse for the fact that I spent a couple of hours last weekend hunting down old Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard and Charley Pride songs on YouTube. I guess it's no wonder that the next morning I woke up with an image in my head - an image I couldn't shake. I kept hearing the lyrics to 'The Gambler' and seeing this cowgirl studying her cards. So I decided to not let it slip by.

While the image was fresh in my mind I dug out my old cowboy hat (a souvenir from the Calgary Stampede) and found some playing cards. It was in my head that poker involved 5 cards - and sadly neither my husband or I were sure, but aesthetically 5 cards worked so that's what I went with. After a half hour of my incredibly patient hubby helping me shoot reference shots from different angles, and another hour of cutting, pasting and manipulating the images in Photoshop, I finally finished a good reference shot to work from.

Now my intent was not to copy this exactly - it's not going to be a portrait, and I don't look like a cowgirl. So I reshaped it a bit in photoshop and I reshaped it more when working on the scratchboard. She started having a hardened sort of look, which I really liked so I developed that further - at this stage it was a bit more of a grimace than I wanted...

The next steps were to soften her mouth a bit, and lay out more of the scratching (hat, hair, hand) and continued reworking of her face. I have not done much human skin before - it is a very different creature on scratchboard than fur!!

After this I relaid shadows with ink - in this way I get fading textures into the darkness instead of a sharp demarcation between light and shadow.

Lastly... numerous little touch ups and of course my favorite bit - the cards! And here is the finished picture....

"Know when to hold 'em" 9x12" Ampersand scratchboard

Some detail shots:

I hope you've enjoyed this board, I sure enjoyed doing it! I plan to offer prints of this one, as soon as I get my business side up and running fully. Watch for posts!

Oh, and does anyone know if 5 cards in your hand makes sense for poker?? (I really need to learn to play poker some day!)

~ Pam