Monday, 27 February 2012


Excuse the pun, but there has been something of a period costume thread running through this month. While my main computer was busy rendering 3D images I started another painting to practice ArtRage Pro's square oil brush. It does suit an 'alla prima' inspired technique so I'm going with that for a while, see where the pictures take me. This scene is a light hearted take on the nature of fashion through the ages and perhaps the most spectacular examples came from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries.
Dress by Anna Scatola
Some details of the pannier dress were very loosely based (er, minus the elegance!) on an exam piece Anna designed and made which incidentally earned her a perfect 100% mark. Although I have merely hinted at detail in the painting, it is quite staggering to see the amount of work gone into this dress and although impractical in the modern era there is something very sad in the thought that our modern mass manufacturing monsters have all but killed off such breathtaking artistry. Here I've chosen to base the silly wig on some of the topiary, although wikipedia says that contrary to popular belief 18th century women did not wear wigs but coiffures supplemented by artificial hair powdered grey or blue grey. No matter, I had a thing in mind and a large part of me has always enjoyed ignoring the rules. :)
The thread continued with ImagineFX's March 2012 magazine cover featuring a beautifully painted pirate image by the brilliant Ally Fell. The costume theme also popped up again with the completion and launch of a friend's website. Ali Mitchell is a talented costume designer whose long list of projects include the recently released Red Tails by Lucas Film. Ali liked the simplicity and directness of Anna's website so we put one together based on the same principles.
Click on images to enlarge.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Beware the Twigmen!

This was originally one of two early concept backgrounds for a client, but we realised the brief was resolvable using the first image only. It sat forgotten for a long time until I went to inspect the storm damage at Edinburgh Botanic Garden and snapped the roots of a fallen tree which on viewing, reminded me of a stick-like creature. Actually the more I look at this photo the more creatures I see - the current count stands at five! Once I'd decided to sketch a couple of them the discarded concept seemed an ideal backdrop.
Twigmen was originally started in Photoshop, but I fancied some practice with ArtRage's Oil brush so the original was loaded as a tracing image set to automatically choose colours from that tracing image. I really liked the freedom of this stage and kept some of the original results on the background trees because it reminded me of my favourite christmas present as a child - painting by numbers kits! Ah the memory of unstopping those tiny plastic pots and  catching the potent wiff of linseed oil has stayed with me all these years. Meanwhile back in ArtRage, once the canvas was covered with a layer of active oils normal painting resumed. Click on images to enlarge.