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Vol. 2, Issue 4
December 2, 1999
Painting on Polygons:

Conceptual Art
Part 2

by Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher

irst off, I’d like to thank those of you who sent in artwork and questions for the new Critique and Q&A section that I’m going to be starting in Painting On Polygons. And to everyone else, keep sending in those questions!

In part 1 of this article I showed a few examples of conceptual art and explained the major uses of concept art in the design of a video game. In this part of the article I’d like to just into some good basic rules and techniques to follow for drawing your pictures. You may prefer a different style in your drawing, but the things I’m going to be explaining are useful to just about anyone because they train your eye. I really wanted to show a concept drawing from the absolute start to finish but because of time restraints this time around, I’m going to have to save that for a future article.

Using Line Quality

For starters, let’s take a look at the dragon again that we saw in the previous article.

Notice the lines in the dragon that make up his basic shape. Art instructors will often refer to this a “line quality.” It is basically the variances in pressure that you put on the pencil as you draw to make a line lighter or darker at appropriate parts of the drawing. In the next picture I’ve labeled some sections of the drawing in red for you to take a look at to exemplify this further.

Looking clockwise around the picture, follow the numbers:

1. Notice how much the darkness/thickness of the line changes from one area to the next.

2. Again, see how the line is lighter at the beak and then darkens around toward the top of the snout.

3. In this area, the same type of rule applies but not just to the outside line. Look at the scaly area on the surface of the dragon’s neck. The little specks inside are also lightened and darkened to give a better sense of texture.

By using big changes in lights to darks from pitch black to white, you can really make the mood and feel of the drawing come out rather than having the entire drawing stay within a certain set of gray tones. To some of you this sort of thing may seem obvious, but more often than not, beginning artists make the mistake not learning it at all. Again, I need to stress that there are times when stylistically your drawing doesn’t use line quality, but a vast majority of traditional sketching does.

The purpose of this section is for two reasons. First, artists can get exposure of their work, and second they can get some non-bias feedback from me. Today I’m going to do a critique on some pieces sent in by Gamaiel Zavala ([email protected]).

Gamaiel sent in some very nice work. Keep in mind that Gamaiel has substantial quality in his drawing and you don’t need to have professional quality artwork to submit to this column. This critique section is designed for every one of all levels.

The first piece that we will take a look at is a portrait he did.

Notice how nicely he used his lights and darks in the shading of this drawing. This is a perfect example of using line quality successfully. Much of the right side of the face is pure white which shows off a nice use of realistic-looking lighting. This is a great example of how every little bit of the face doesn’t need to be colored in to show texture. Some can be just white. Conversely, some can be just black (if there are heavy shadows or darkness in the particular picture you are working on).

He has nice proportions of the face set up. The eyes, nose, and mouth look like they are just where they are suppose to be. The facial expression is very natural looking (which can be very difficult to pull off). Many times when drawing the human face, the expression will look weird because the features aren’t placed properly. In Gamaiel’s drawing here, he did it nicely.

This is just one of his drawings, and you can see more of Gamaiel’s work at: www.geocities.com/siliconvalley/way/8354/

That wraps up this addition of Painting On Polygons. Keep sending in your questions and graphics for the Critique and Q&A section, and keep drawing too!

- Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher works on Gameboy Color games for Vicarious Visions.


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