The eyes have been really difficult. I changed the colors, the shape, added veins, a highlight, and ridges on the bottom lids. What makes them so hard is largely the ornate bat nose which bisects one eye. I want partially obscured eye’s pupil to show, but getting it to line up with the other eye plausibly, without making the creature cross-eyed or have the wrong expression, has been a bit of a technical nightmare.
Here’s a detail, and you can see all the layers I have going just for the eyes. They don’t even fit on the screen.
For those of you who don’t know my work, or haven’t heard me say this already, this is NOT my style. This is a standard illustrational approach for digital painting, and one I learned by doing a full online course (one of a few I’ve completed). I’m a fine artist, and I like to do things my own way, so forcing myself to learn from others in order to level up my game can be a bit grueling at times.
Some people have commented about my patience in doing this kind of work. I tend to like to be more spontaneous, too, and it can be a slog doing tutorials and applying what I learn, but the end goal is to improve my workflow from conception to final execution, hone my skills, and ultimately make more spectacular imagery.
That said, I used my own grab bag of techniques to correct the eyes, which are still not perfect, but they are good enough.
Usually, artists tend to settle on a style they are comfortable with (quite probably a good idea), and I had a style at half my age, significantly, before I went to art college. My years through my MFA forced me to get outside of my comfort zone, and do anything and everything else, including installations, conceptual art, and performance art. I don’t know if I ever can squeeze back into one signature style within visual art, but I’m narrowing my range of focus.
My main focus has become digital painting, representational, and heavily relying on the imagination. Unlike the vast majority of digital painters, I’m ultimately doing it for fine art purposes, as opposed to illustration. But to achieve the images I want, I need to have a firm grasp of realism: perspective, anatomy, texture, lighting and shading… Many fine artists can safely sidestep all that — think Jackson Pollock — but for me the most challenging thing is to make realistic imagery from the imagination (others may feel very differently). And I want to be able to compete with some of my favorite paintings from art history, as well as some of my favorite album covers and sci-fi illustrations.
Doing studies and tutorials is associated with being an amateur, and one might think more professional or mature artists don’t need to do it. I rather think continuing to challenge oneself and evolve is merely the mark of an artist who is also an explorer. Expanding my skill-set rejuvenates the landscape of what I can visually discover and manifest for myself and my audience.