Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Study in Backgrounds

One of the areas in need of work that I failed to list on my things "to do" is to practice background work. Whether my images are doodles or preconceived, it's easy for me to become completely preoccuped with the subject itself and treat the setting as an afterthought. The temptation is to complete the subject and move on to something new. But, needless to say, ignoring the background isn't going to help me in the illustration world.

The image shown here was started as a doodle but with the intent to place whatever evolved into a setting of some sort. The inspiration for the doodle came from a metal spiral handle on a condiment caddy at Carl's Jr. (the spiral line on the ear of the dog). Once I knew what the subject was going to be, I placed the fence behind it. I almost stopped there, but since this was an exercise in backgrounds, I opted to push it further. I then added the structures behind the fence, the overhanging foliage, and defined the foreground detail.


I was pleased with the background overall - the scale and value of the buildings really sets them off in the distance. However, if I was to redo this as a final work, I would give the dog more of a dynamic pose. This is one of those situations where, since it started as a doodle, certain aspects of the drawing were committed before I really realized what it was going to become. In this case, the stiff pose was unchangeable.

Now, one more thing I've come to realize about backgrounds is that some images are better off WITHOUT them. I mention in the intro to this blog that I would include my "failures" as well as successes throughout my journey. So, begrudgingly I post the original doodle drawing that became the plant-like clownish characters of a couple posts ago. Wanting to practice backgrounds, I created one for these characters. The detailed folds really competed for attention and the vine-like linework of the drawing were lost in it.

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