Help on a sketch please!

  • Hey all,

    I have a really hard time creating environments, so I usually just do close up scenes, which of course limits my work and makes it look beginner-ish. I'm trying to break out of that cycle and this is my first attempt. This is the tonal thumbnail sketch (no details, just silhouettes) of the sketch I'm thinking of doing for one of the weekly illustration groups I'm a member of. This week's theme is "Soar" - my drawing will be of a barn owl with a mouse dressed as a 1920s aviator on his back. Can you please tell me what I should change on this basic composition to make it look better? Are the trees too sparse? I've never done a view from this angle before. Thank you in advance for any advice!

    tonal sketch.jpg

  • I actually like this composition. Maybe mountains in the background with a lot more trees, instead of sky? I like the inclusion of a structure of some kind, as it gives the owl-pilot a destination. There is currently a lot of negative space to the top left. Will a caption go there?

  • @pixby Thank you for the feedback! No, no caption on this one...Maybe I should make the mountains higher to fill up that space some more?

  • I would put several layers of mountains in the background. The mountains closer would have a thicker outline and more vibrant color, whereas the mountains behind and in the distance would have thinner line art, and lighter color (see reference image I have included). Maybe have the only visible sky just above the owl and pilot. Soooo many ways to do this. You could use clouds to take up some of that negative space too. Especially if they were in the foreground with the owl. I do like the different groupings of trees as you have them. Too many trees could seem too busy. Anyway, these are just suggestions. I am not a stellar artist or anything 😛Lake-in-the-mountains.jpg

  • @Pixby Awesome & very helpful - thank you!! I hadn't even thought to do clouds...How could I not have thought to do that? lol. I'll post the actual sketch here when it's done before I do the drawing...

  • @amberwingart in your original sketch, you have the building on the ground that I can only assume is where the owl is headed to? Is that a barn? IF we list your piece in order of importance it would be Owl/Mouse, then Barn, then Trees, and everything else is last, clouds, grass, mountains.

    If you follow Will's law of 3 sizes, Big, Medium and Small. Your Barn would have to be smaller than the Owl, and bigger than the trees. Some of the trees are almost as tall as the barn, if you space them wider, you can make them smaller, and keep the largest ones just for either side of them, but the closest ones, as they get farther away from the barn, they should be smaller. Unless you want a tree top directly at the bottom to show foreground spacing.

    I would clarify the barn silhouette more, as I'm not sure what it is other than a building and not a tree. If it IS to be the second most important thing, consider this... the perspective on it does not have to match the Owl's because the owl is defying gravity and therefore can have it's own trajectory or perspective, since it is floating quite literally.

    That leaves the perspective of the barn how we view everything else. You have a slightly facing ground level view right now, since we are not seeing the tops of anything, just the points of the tree tops. If you were above the trees more, they would begin to take on a more square or circular fill of dimension, and be less triangular. Because the tops would widen out at the bottom, in case of say an evergreen. Or balloon at the top in the case of a dying tree whose branches are spreading out but have no leaves. You would see less of their trunks in either case.

    Your barn/building is a rectangle of some kind that can be twisted and redrawn. Get yourself a box, roughly 4 x 6. Right now the box is facing you on one side in your current sketch. Now turn the box so you see two sides and the top of course, now you have the space your barn/building would occupy on the ground. Same goes for your trees in connection with the size of the barn/building. Group them as an amoeba for now, several conjoined circles, and imagine the entire shape showing 2 sides and the top.

    This will give you a more 3 dimensional approach to drawing your important set pieces. The mountains curve in the background, same premise, showing 2 sides and a top. The shape is just more like a blob, but imagine the blob having flat areas that end in curves. Your clouds float over below and above the owl. This is all very much like making a diorama model, but filming it from above instead of straight on.

    Hope that helps.

    Edit, this is rough, but this is kind of what I meant...


  • You're getting great advice already I agree with Bobby and Pixby! For your own process always think in the rule of thirds and things will come a little more naturally. Can't wait to see how this unfolds, keep posting!

  • SVS OG

    I agree, great advice already so won't add to it, but wanted to say I love the concept here, with the owl and the 1920s style for the mouse, and will be great to see how it progresses!

  • @Bobby-Aquitania Wow, that's so helpful - thank you!! Like I said above, I have such a hard time with environments and I've never done an angle like this before, so all of that info and the graphic are awesome and greatly appreciated. I'll post the actual sketch here for review before I move on to the drawing!

  • I have been hearing a lot about trying to group values together. The clumps of trees on the right look like a polka dot pattern if you squint your eyes.

  • @Bobby-Aquitania Ooooh. I really like the particular angle you suggested for this. Good suggestion.

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