January contest WIP maybe?

  • SVS OG

    I wasn't going to enter this month's contest but found myself playing with the topic in my mind and after trying a bunch of thumbnails, I came up with the following sketch. My questions are:

    1. Is it weird that the mother bird is gigantic and of a species that clearly doesn't exist on earth? Does that matter?

    2. Is the story even interesting enough? Everyone here is so creative and I feel like mine are often mundane in comparison.

    I'm just trying to decide whether it's worth my putting the time into it to work this up as a finished painting.


  • @demotlj this is a great concept. Little baby bird tracks lead to a hidden giant bird? Amazing.

  • SVS OG

    @demotlj I like it, because it’s clear, and the surprise is there and it’s pithy. I’d jump in!

    I understand your concern, though. Sometimes you look at everyone else’s concept and are afraid to jump in. The contests are sharpening us all, and that’s the point!

  • @demotlj cool idea 🙂 i wonder whether you could make the mother less visible, so she is not the first thing you see when you look at the picture? Just to add a bit more mistery to the story. What do you think?

  • Just to put a little thought in here, It DOES not matter that the bird is gigantic and of species that doesn't exist.
    When you paint an illustration, you create your own rules, your own worlds, stories and creatures. To put it in a poetic way, you're an allmighty being capable of creating anything, so dont worry that your bird doesn't look like a bird that exists in our world.

    When it comes to your art though, I can't tell what was meant to be the focal point. Do you want us to notice the character first, or the bird? They both seem equal when it comes to importance and I feel like making one back away could make this image more focused. Maybe blend the bird into the background a bit more and put some white snow right behind the kids face to increse the contrast in there? That would be one way to do it!
    Besides this unclear focal point issue, the idea is fun. True, it kinda falls into a cliche, but it is nicely executed, so don't bother yourself with that.

    What I would recommend it QUIT comparing your ideas and images to other artists. Compare your art only...to your art. If you constatnly compare your ideas and illustrations to those of the pros, you can get discouraged veeeryyy quickly.

  • SVS OG

    @LauraA One reason I decided to try drawing something was the thread you posted saying that though the prompt didn't grab you, it was a good challenge to try to produce something anyway. I thought that was a really good point. I think practice being imaginative is as important as practicing the techniques of art.

  • SVS OG

    @aska I had some thumbnails in which the mother was more hidden but that also meant the babies were less visible which made the whole thing harder to read. I'll have to play with it some more.

  • SVS OG

    @IgorWoznicki You are right about not comparing myself to others. I worry less about it in normal situations but I'm always aware that in a public contest, people are spending time looking at the entries and having to judge them etc., and I hate to waste people's time with something not up to snuff. I guess if it's not that great, I'm only wasting a few seconds of their time so in the grand scheme of things, they'll survive the loss 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @demotlj Ha! You are so right that the imaginative aspect is as important as the rest. For me, it's like doing sit ups, which means I really need it! That's another reason I always post my thumbnails. I'm really working on this part of the process right now, including how detailed the thumbnails or roughs have to be.

    BTW, I think the bird (specifically its expression) is the focal point of this piece. Yes, you need Will looking and being clueless, but the fact that the bird is staring right at him is the punchline.

    P.S. I've just noticed that he's reading Peterson! I love that you included this, because birders all have their Petersons.

  • @demotlj I really like it. You can imagine the surprise when they investigate these tiny tracks all the way to the giant mother bird.

  • SVS OG

    I think some of the focal point issue @IgorWoznicki pointed out may have been that the bird and the boy divided the canvas too evenly so I tried making the canvas a little taller, the boy a wee bit smaller, and enlarged the bird slightly. At first I made the boy even smaller but the baby birds looked too big in comparison so I just reduced him a little. It’s not a huge difference but I think it improves it.


  • @demotlj I like the new size of all the characters

  • SVS OG

    I decided to push things even further. Here is the line art that I’m now working with. Though it may be hard to tell without the values, what do you think of the tree branches in front of the bird’s crest? I wanted to push the bird into the background a little but am not sure if the branches overlapping the crest makes it too cluttered up there.


  • SVS OG

    A quick value study. I also made the rocks behind the boy a little higher so he wouldn’t seem quite as oblivious to the bird right behind him.


  • SVS OG

    Color test in Procreate. This may never make it into the contest because I’m going to try to paint it traditionally in watercolor and I never know how that’s going to go but then, “never give up, never surrender!’ We’ll see.


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