The next installment in my short series focusing on the planning of a painting is about the process of taking the rough compositional idea created during the thumbnail stage and fleshing it out into a detailed sketch – kind of like finding objects in the clouds.
The process I followed and thoughts on how I would choose to do it better next time include:
What do the masses and shapes in the thumbnail represent?
As I mentioned in the thumbnailing post, I should have probably been more abstract in that initial stage. As a result, I already had formed opinions on what each of these masses were representing and this made it a little more difficult to let my imagination run wild. Next time I’ll be much looser in the beginning so creatively I have more to work with – looking for those shapes in the clouds.
What references can I use as a basis for the details of each element
I felt that given the time I have to work on this piece was during the late evenings, taking relevant reference photos myself was going to be a bit problematic. I instead resorted to frankensteining together various images I was able to find on the web. I used a number of images as a starting point for each element, tweaking them here and there to suit the composition. I roughly sketched each of the elements in isolation to begin with so I could scan and toy with the arrangement using the computer. This way I could try out a number of different versions and placements until I found something that looked and felt coherent. I did find that there was some compromise happening however which would have been alleviated if I had taken posed photos of exactly what I was looking for.
Do all the elements exhibit consistent perspective to a common vanishing point
Sketching objects in perspective is something I do regularly as part of my job as a product designer, so I was surprised when this proved to be more work than I anticipated. I had worked up a semi arranged composition before realising a number of elements were off. After some tweaking, various aspects no longer worked as well or fitted into the frame so were dropped altogether (I originally had a car and an additional figure walking on the footpath).
What is the point of interest and how will I draw the viewers eye to this point
I wanted the orangutan to be the focal point of this image and considered a few ways to achieve this including using contrast to draw the eye. This can be done with contrasting hue (complementary colours), value (dark vs light), chroma (pure colour vs pale or washed out looking colour) and overall level of detail (fine detail vs abstract shapes). The question is should I be thinking about using one of these methods, some, or all?
Few things to think about for the next stage…