Mittwoch, 6. August 2014

MARF Productions - Monthly Challenge (July)

So... there have been some changes at MARF  Productions. Jana wrote a few words about everything new on our facebook-page.

"Okay, prepare for some text … (and some English. Because of reasons (Which is a legit argument. I learned that in school. Politics, I think.))
Right. Maren and me had a talk about our monthly challenges and came to the conclusion, that it would be much more fun, if we could motivate other people (that's you, glorious reader) to join the jolly mess.

So some things that will change:

We'll introduce our challenges at the beginning of the month (This will also include tutorials or artists we've been inspired by) and conclude the challenge not only by our artworks, but with a small blog about the challenge, what we learned about it and a work in progress, so that interested folks might benefit, too. It's all about fun and learning, isn't it? (That's a lie of course. It's only for our personal amusement and egos. So there.)
In case you get inspired and work that paint and paper, you might just as well share it with the world (us, that is)...

Plus: We'd love to hear from you! Got inspired by something? Found a super cool new technique you want to try?
Just want to be mean and see how we manage a mural made of butterfly wings? Bring it on!

(Or do you have questions for us? Ideas? Hate mail? (We never got hate mail before. Have the honour and be the first …))

So far, so good …

A great week end to all of you magnificent people that stayed with me to the end of this little piece of writing (and to everybody else too, but I really don't care that much if their sunshine will be blocked out by heavy grey clouds.) May you not be eaten by the monsters (Unless you really want to. I hope it's fun, then.).

Go draw a pretty flower.
Or a banana.
or something."

Alright, lets get to the challenge-topic! Or should I say topics, because the topics of the next three months will all concern the italian artist Marco Mazzoni. His work is very inspiring and thematically circle around fantastic creatures and surreal portraits. His most frequently used tools of trade are coloured pencils (sometimes combined with ink) and the ballpoint pen.
Therefore this months topic will be: a coloured pencil drawing inspired by Marco Mazzoni

his websites:

articles about him:

a pen, a moleskin
Arte=Vita Martininterview - Marco Mazzoni (only italian)
Marco Mazzoni

Here you can find a brief description of his working process:
Renderin Light: Compositions With Colored Pencil

Step 1.

Brainstorming, first sketches, finding ideas.
What are you interested in at the moment? What fits the medium? I did not have a clue, what I wanted to draw for a long time. When we have artist-based topics I always try not to copy the artist too much, so it still turns out to be something from me that I can identify with. 

Step 2.

Search for reference-pictures. In this case I made one myself. It is a really crappy phone-picture taken with bad illumination. But it is enough to get an impression of the proportions and the perspective. When I have a reference, I pick the things that I like and decide, what I want to enhance or even exaggerate while I will ignore the things I do not like, and so on. A reference helps in the process but you should not try to copy it completely. Later I took another picture to decide where to set the shades and started to outline.

Step 3.

When you have decided on the composition and have layed down the sketch, you are ready to work on the details. Start to build up the picture, as if it was meant to be a detailed black and white drawing. Elaborate the shading and set contrasts. At this point I made some mistakes, because I was not really sure where the picture was heading. A better planning would have saved me a lot of time. On the other hand, during the process I come up with new ideas. While the picture is changing, the vision of it in my head is adapting in parallel.

Step 4.

Start colouring the black shading. At the beginning I worked with Faber Castell's. I already had them before the challenge. I really like to work with them, because you can use them with water colours as well. While working with them on the black drawing, I discovered that they are not suitable for this technique. They were not smooth enough and there did no stay enough colour on the page to cover up the black underlying colour. Later, when I was almost done with the picture, I bought a set of polychromos. Till then I had not really considered buying them, because they are high-priced and I usually do not work with coloured pencils that much (also they are waterproof and therefore not suitable to work with water colours). But you do indeed see the difference while working with them. They are very smooth and the colours pop.

You can follow my changes of mind about the composition in the various steps postet here. I wanted to have a black background with a character with creepy black eyes that shimmer in the light. But when I started to add colours later, I realised that the huge black area was killing the rest of the picture, because it was so uniform and not organic at all. So I erased as much as possible, with black stains remaining and coloured the background in a light blue that transformed into a dark blue and light black. Also I worked on the eyes and finally decided to go with very simpel blue eyes, so they would contrast to the detailed feathers.

Step 5.

Scan it.

Step 6.

The last step: Let the Photoshop-magic happen. It is very rare that I scan something and it looks the way it does in real. So I always use Photoshop, if only to set my logo on the piece.
At this point I also pimped the colours a bit and tried to cover the white gap between the two pages by using the stamp-tool.

In total I spent about 10 full work days time on this picture, which is rather a lot. If I worked more often this way, I am sure that I would learn to speed up the process. Nevertheless, I am very impressed of Mazzonis continous production of beautiful coloured pencils pictures in a very short amount of time.
Furthermore, I think this technique is not that easy to master. You should consider spending some of your money on polychromos, they just work better than cheaper pencils and bring the colours out. First start with little pieces, maybe size A6. Marco Mazzoni sometimes does work in this little size, too. It will limit the frustration that comes with a never-ending detailed work, which is even more essential to beginners. I had to learn to finish pieces, too, so do not burden yourself with too much at the start.