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Back to the fan world - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Back to the fan world
First, thanks to everyone who responded to my last post; it's great to have support, and I'm going to respond to the comments (I just want to think on them a bit).

Now, back to my usual fannish self.

I live for illustrations. Just live for them. I fangirl folks like leelastarsky, minoukatze, marta, Durayan, Julie the Tall Terror and Sean Cooke (and bunches of others, including friede). I will go through fan art galleries for ages. Regular art galleries, too, come to think of it. I have a membership at the Museum of Fine Arts, and I use it.

I crave illustrations, and actually opened an Illustrator's Gallery at my website in the hope of attracting them. (Not that I've done any updating recently... sheesh, I really need to spend a week or so just working on the Mask.) But I don't just love pictures for my own stories. I love illustration as a concept. I love illustrated books and stories, no matter who the author is. And I love seeing totally different illustrators attack the same subject.

Another thing I love about illustrations is that they can raise curiosity about a story. If I'm at a bookstore flipping through a book and it has an illustration of, say, a cowboy having a gunfight with a robot, that will make me stop and say, "Huh. Wonder what that's about." That's one of the reasons I wanted to make sure there were "covers" on fics at TFNs. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but the cover can certainly offer an intriguing image, to make a reader think s/he might like to look underneath it.

As a girl, I had editions of Little Women and Little Men with beautiful color illustrations, and I still remember the pretty green-toned illustrations in the first book I read, The Wizard of Oz (especially that opening "D" for Dorothy Gale), even though I haven't seen my copy in years... I read the poor thing to death. I love that Stephen King's Dark Tower books are illustrated, though so far, the only illos I've been nuts about have been Ned Dameron's from The Waste Land. But I like the contrast--how are different people seeing these scenes? What do these faces look to people who, well, aren't me? Just seeing something captured off the page and made into a solid form...

I'm sorry, but it's cool. Just plain old-fashioned, cool.

What also plays into this is the fact that I can't draw a straight line. I managed to pull a C in figure drawing in college, but I can't really remember much about it. I struggle on my sketchpads and end up throwing quite a bit out.

Oh, I shouldn't say I'm totally inept. I get the theory. But this is about the best I can do freehand. I've seen and done worse, but I'm a perfectionist, so I'm always disappointed that I just can't quite grasp drawing, when it's something I love both seeing and doing. And as to colors? Aaaack. They frighten me. So I bought a bunch of acrylic paints not long ago to face my fear, but that's going to take a long, long time to learn.

However, the computer is a wonderful thing. Photomanip programs--I use PaintShop--have helped me learn something about composition and proportion, and layers allow me to practice and scrap things without losing paper and supplies. Gauzy filters, of course, also help. So now that I've used it to learn some composition, now I'm trying to use it to learn about colors and shading and texture and so on. I don't think I'll ever be a professional graphic designer, but I gave it a try. So, without further ado, from the fic linked below, my first serious attempt at electronic painting from scratch:

Okay. Picasso, I'm not. But I had fun. And the folds on the robe actually came out better than I was expecting them to.

Since I have my own attempt at drawing young Minerva behind the cut, I thought I'd put the kind of "drawing" of her that I'm more at home with here:

Today's story is the second chapter of "Of A Sort." It's 1933, and Minerva McGonagall is sure that she'll be placed in Ravenclaw--it's the place for bookworms, after all--and to her disgust, they haven't won a Quidditch match for years. But when the Hogwarts Express is attacked in the highlands, she proves that there's a lot more to her than quills and parchment.

September 1, 1933: Minerva McGonagall
6 comments or Leave a comment
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: March 9th, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you know Marta has a LiveJournal? She's seviet. She posts her drawings there, too, which is always pleasant.

Illustrations. Yes, I agree with you. Art is cool. I just know nothing of it. All I can appreciate is, "Ooh, pretty picture," which disgusts my artist sister. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 9th, 2004 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, yes. I've seen it, but I couldn't remember which her name was. I'll edit it in later. :) Thanks.
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: March 9th, 2004 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was never a whiz at hand-drawn, either (my Vader sketch on Moons of Iego is as ambitious as I ever got) - I never could fill even one sketchbook in a semester of AP Studio Art. I envy people like my sister who can just sit down and sketch for about five minutes and do something absolutely beautiful. Far as computer art, I haven't dared anything past photomanipulation. That Minerva pic came out very nice, especially if that's a first attempt - the arm looks a little weird, but the shading and texture on the robes did come out very well. Overall, it looks good.

Illustrations do rock. Whenever I'm in the bookstore I always look at this beautiful illustrated hardcover of LotR, and I want it *so* much because the illustrations are gorgeous, but never can get it because it's hideously expensive. But I always look at it whenever I'm at B & N. Illustrations are a big thing I love about the HP books, too - you see the image at the opening of the chapter and it just sets your imagination/curiosity going, "I wonder what that is?"
bimo From: bimo Date: March 10th, 2004 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Hail, Fellow Artist :-)

What also plays into this is the fact that I can't draw a straight line.

Well, it is not so much the lines which matter, but the general impression an artwork makes on the observer *g*

Your Minerva may not be photorealistic, but the observant, intelligent and mildy sceptic expression of her eyes is spot on and tells much more about her character than many more sophisticated looking paintings I have seen.

So now that I've used it to learn some composition, now I'm trying to use it to learn about colors and shading and texture and so on. I don't think I'll ever be a professional graphic designer, but I gave it a try.

Have you ever tried learning how to do shades or colours by using an guide book? Step-by-step instruction books like Portrait Drawing by Wendon Blake and John Lawn, for example, usually provide very good explantions of how to achieve a certain effect or how to draw a certain parts of the human body so that they look "perspectively correct".

I'm no genius, either (see below for proof *g*) but rather an eternal B candidate who worked her way into A- regions via a strong interest for art history and theory, and have always found guide books quite helpful whenever I despaired over drawing somebody's nose, mouth, ears or hands.

Angel, Prince of Hell (inspired by the episodes "Fool for Love"/"Darla"):

John Chrichton, tormented hero of the TV show Farscape:
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: March 10th, 2004 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I guess it goes without saying how much I adore illustration. ;~P But, ironically, I’ve really only sat up and taken serious notice of it since becoming professionally involved so to speak. I always knew what I liked illustration wise, and what I hated, but if there’s one thing I learnt from the illustration course I’ve just finished, it was to appreciate other artists work.

The UK editions of the HP books don’t have chapter headers. I was astounded to see the beautiful books produced for the US market. And it’s not just the Mary GrandPre art (which doesn’t do that much for me personally), it’s the presentation of the text as well. (I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that they mucked with the language for the US editions.)

I love illustrated covers over photo or text covers. Photo or text covers always strike me as cheap and nasty, whereas a painted illustration suggests to me that the publisher thought highly enough of their product to employ an illustrator.

As for the joys of drawing electronically, well, what can I say? I love it, myself. The layers enable a freedom that no artist has ever had before – to be able to go backwards and forwards through a painting. BLISS. :~) Plus it gives you the ability to try things and take risks that would otherwise destroy a painting but which can be corrected at the touch of a key when working digitally.
Drawing with a mouse though is like drawing with a brick. If you can afford a graphics tablet I can’t recommend them highly enough. I have a wacom myself.

Now, for your Prof. McGonagall pic – I think it’s one of your best! She has some issues with the way her arms are positioned, but her face is very good! Reference material is one of the things our illustration teacher kept drumming into us and I have found has become a bit of a personal mantra. You just can’t have too much reference material. I’m forever going through magazines ripping out pages with photos of people in poses I think I could use. It’s amazing how much easier figure drawing (or even landscape/architecture) is when you have a reference to work from and extrapolate from.

I love your ‘Of a Sort’ series. Totally brilliant. :~)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2004 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Wow, art compliment from leelastarsky! (Sorry, that makes me very happy. Like I said, fangirl.)

From all the photomanips I've done, I have a lot of reference pics sitting on my computer. I used a picture of Maggie Smith for the eye color and shape on Minerva. I also made myself an electronic version of one of those little wooden posable models to help me with proportions, though it could only represent a full front or full back view. But I need to do it more assiduously. Even doing the photomanip covers, I kept finding myself saying, "No! I need someone facing mostly away, but not entirely!" For the last one I did, I finally got frustrated and started messing around with the position of the photo itself, straightening someone's back and changing her arms while I was busy making her into an entirely different person.
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