WIP for February Love?

  • SVS OG

    For the story prompt series that I am doing for my niece, I look up interesting animal facts and try to get ideas from that. I read that sea otter’s often hold hands while drifting and even form large intertwined groups while sleeping called rafts. To start then, I sculpted a rough mother and baby otter out of clay, did a bunch of thumbnails, and came up with this preliminary composition. It occurred to me that it might also work for the monthly contest but I’ll see how it develops.

    Anyway, here it is so far. Obviously, it’s still quite rough but I’ll probably have questions down the road so I thought I’d share it as I go.

  • The flow looks great so far! I'm sure that this one will turn out great.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @demotlj might be cool to get them all to form a shape of a heart.

  • SVS OG

    This is so sweet! I love the colors. My one suggestion is that perhaps you can scatter the beavers in the distance. They are all clustered to close to each other. I hope this is helpful.

  • So cute! Look forward to seeing where you take this!

  • SVS OG

    @nyrrylcadiz They are clustered because that’s the way otters actually sleep. They hold hands and even wrap kelp around themselves to stay in close proximity when they are sleeping. Pictures of it are pretty cool.

  • SVS OG

    @demotlj wow! That’s really interesting. I did not know that 😅😉

  • SVS OG

    After losing two weeks on this due to work, I came back to it and discovered I didn’t like the original composition. The perspective felt wrong because if the camera angle allowed the horizon to be where I had it, the otters wouldn’t have been spread out but piled up which would make it impossible to read. And @nyrrylcadiz said, there were too many otters.

    Here are two redesigns. In the first, I reduced the number of otters so I could get their perspective better. In the second I ditched all the background otters to focus on the Mom and baby. I hate getting rid of all of the other otters because it’s cute that they hold hands and drift together but it may make a better composition without them.

    I know the colors etc. are very rough but I’ll fix everything once I decide on design. Do you have a preference?


  • Moderator

    @demotlj This is adorable! I really liked the layout and flow of your original composition, it’s a shame you changed it. I think the issue you were having was more related to the perspective being off than anything else.

  • SVS OG

    @inkandspatter. I haven't deleted the first one so could go back to it and play with it a little more.

  • I love the one of just the mother and baby otter 🙂 the composition works so well to me with the moon behind them and then the birds, it makes the eyes move around the whole illustration and I like that the baby otter's face is the main focus, it draws you in 🙂

  • Hello!
    Somehow i liked more the first sketch that you uploaded, but reading your worries about composition and how to deal whit perspective make me think that maybe you should give another aproach to give deepness to the picture. What you did rigth in the sketch was giving focus making contrast in size, so i think it's better to you to focus on diferents planes more than an strict perspertive. Like in first plane is the two (mother and child), in second the rest of them and in third the moon and the sky (giving them them hierarchy respectively)...also think of the sentence as an element too, so you could complement the comp whit it.

  • SVS OG

    I went back to the original sketch and tweaked it some as I inked it. I haven’t started painting yet — the color is a watercolor wash that I did traditionally and laid over the top as a multiply layer for texture but I’ll need to put in values, color, moonlight etc. Right now, I’m just wondering what you think of the drawing before I go on.34C50F30-CC94-4295-A358-7E5D29414E9C.jpeg

    (I may also still do the mother and baby in front of the moon as a different painting to compare. All of it is good practice!)

  • I love it! It's so adorable and it has OTTERS 😍 😍 😍 😍

    I really like otters. Can you tell?

    I think the birds are distracting and I'm not convinced they're necessary. That's the only issue I see with your current composition.

    Once again, 😍 😍

  • This is so beautiful! I like the latest one you posted the best. While the one with just the two of them is beautiful too, I feel like I cannot see the vastness of the ocean, so it does not communicate the mood of your text as well as this latest one. Can't wait to see where you take this!

  • SVS OG

    @lisanganart You expressed what I was feeling. I too, like the mother and baby alone against the moon but it doesn't fit the caption as well as the other one. Now my debate is traditional watercolor or digital. I'll be trying both to see where they go. (Good thing I'm an amateur and have no deadlines!)

  • SVS OG

    @TwiggyT Otters are adorable. I've only seen river otters myself and I didn't know very much about sea otters until I researched this. They are incredibly sweet.

  • @demotlj Beautiful. I think when you bring back in the values and focus/light on the mother/child faces it's going to really convey the theme.

  • SVS OG

    I’ve been working on this when I’ve had time (which hasn’t been much.) I still have a long way to go but I did some more tweaks: I painted a watercolor sky to try to match the texture of the watercolor ocean (both are laid over the whole thing in a multiply layer) and I ended up taking out the birds as @TwiggyT suggested because you couldn’t see them against the darker sky anyway. Instead I added more distant otters.

    Next I’m going to try to add the ripples and reflections in the ocean. I might not make it by the contest deadline but it’s really for my niece anyway. (I did try doing the whole thing in watercolor but let’s just say it was a learning experience and nothing anyone would want to see! Someday, I’ll get the hang of watercolor.)

    I’m also wondering if I should get rid of the line altogether. It will take longer to get the definitions but is it an unnecessary crutch? I haven’t really figure out the best relationship between line and paint.


  • SVS OG

    @demotlj I think this is turning out so lovely! The idea the composition and even the watercolor elements. I totally understand that doing it entirely out of watercolor would be so hard! You know that’s what I do, but I have a horrible time with oceans and lakes. So so so hard! Maybe try it a few more times as repaints to try and master it. But like, months in between. It is such a lovely piece I think it would be worth it. It’s one that is totally a frame. How many repaints of the Mona Lisa, etc... that being said. This one is very lovely. I still get the freshness of the watercolor texture even though it’s mixed media.

    Talk about someone who uses lines as a crutch. I totally do that. But I also like the result of lines. Pushing yourself to not “have” to use it every time is a worthy goal. I try that too. In this piece, I love the lines. It has such a storybook feel to it with the lines.

    I love this piece and want to know the story of the little otters. Great job!

Log in to reply