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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Hobbit: Wolf Rider Watercolor Step #3

The final image.
This goblin looks a little too happy to be doing whatever it is he is doing.  I imagine he has either spotted our heroes or that he smells barbecue on the wind.  
Now that I'm finished with it (and it's 3 am here on the East coast) I notice that the wolf seems more dispirited than threatening.  Like he'd just as soon sit this next one out.  I think I will have to get more threatening wolf reference for the next scene. None of your half-hearted, would-be-cocker-spaniel wolves for the Battle of Five Armies.  I need canines of real caliber.  Dogs named "Cerberus" and "Chimera" and "Death-Metal-Jaw-Foot" and the like.  Not "Cupcake" or "Patch"  or "Useless, Whey-Faced Mule" like our sulking friend here.
Anyway, so this is a more polished watercolor to compare against the oil painting from last week and the earlier Hobbit pieces. The only digital aspects are pulling up the colors and levels in Photoshop. (Ok and some details in the face. I couldn't help myself.) I had to use my machine at the office for this since my home pc is still in Permanent Sleep Mode.     

Overall I am pleased with the results in this piece even though I am not really sure how I got here. I would really value your feedback. Is there any noticeable improvement on the previous Hobbit pieces?  How does it compare with the Reluctant Dragon oil painting? Should I hang it up altogether and do the Battle of Five Armies as interpretive dance? Let me know what you think.


  1. I think it's incredible. I'm gonna say it though- I loved the first version. It had a sense of looseness and attack in the brushwork that got filtered out a bit as you progressed. Watercolour is a killer for that, and I can't achieve nearly your standard! In comparison to the reluctant dragon, you can really feel the richness of the oils versus the looser quality of watercolour, and it's a more mannered subject which fits the technique... However for this moody and more abrasive looking little feller I think you chose exactly the right medium...it's a touch more edgy and I love that. Amazing work.

  2. Each stage has a life of its own but this final step has the most effective lighting by far. I agree there is much more you can do with the warg. A slavering, slobbering, giggling hyena like warg might be better than a truly evil, red-eyed snarling warg imo but something more animated than our faithful hound is definitely in order.

    And as much as I would love to see your interpretative dance of the Battle of the Five Armies I think you are on the right track. I am so looking forward to seeing how your digital grading looks on this more finished stage of watercolour.

  3. I love it. True, both the goblin and the wolf look quite happy...probably they have happy times too, and you got this shot just at that time :)

    I love the richness of this watercolor and the flow of movement that you've captured with it. The oil painting is great too, but it has more of a static feel than this watercolor.

    I also like the fact that in this watercolor painting you've retained some brightness throughout the whole scene.

    Brilliant work, whatever medium you choose to work in, it's fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I imagine the goblin crying, "I love the smell of viscera in the morning!"

  5. WOW, love your take on the Goblin....very cool! To me the watercolor on the background and the Warg looks a bit overworked or "fussed with. It has lost some of the energy and freshness you can so often get with the medium. I agree with your thoughts on the Warg, he could look much more vicious. The thing that probably bothered me the most on this image is the back end of the Warg.....to me it seems to really flatten out losing all it's form. I guess I am wanting a much stronger silhouette that would feel like it could support a rider.

    Hope the comments help, overall though another great take on the Hobbit. Your series has been a lot of fun, being both educational and inspirational. Your paintings are aMaZing!!.... worthy enough to stand next to any previous illustrated version of the text proudly.

  6. Generally, I like oil better than watercolor because I'm a details guy. Watercolor just looks muddy to me. However, this image works well as a watercolor given that it's a night scene and you don't typically see as many details in the dark...unless you're an owl or hawk. I am neither of those, so...yeah. It works. I still like the oil better. I like the control. So I guess it depends on what you want to portray...the detail and control of the characters/background, or the looseness and time of the scene.

  7. I don't have the vocabulary to speak specifically about this, but I really enjoy looking at it, more than I would interpretive dance. =>

  8. It's hard to compare this piece to the previous Hobbit scenes as they all centered upon a source of light with details swirling out into deep shadow (which was done perfectly). In Wolf Rider, you're given a sense of a bright moon above to the left, but you don't see it and it is not the central focus. This is illustrated perfectly on the goblin, but gets confusing on the Warg. Why is his head so dark, when ostensibly it is in the same plane as the goblin? Are you trying to suggest that the goblin is twisting left and grinning at what he sees? I think grinning with a malignant gleefulness fits well within the goblin persona.

    The restive Warg posture and passive face are indicative of the goblin as the master of the situation; for the time being, the Warg is submissive to the goblin (indicated by posture and mount role) for their mutual benefit, and is currently awaiting commands. The Warg's haunches are the only aspect of the piece that give me pause. The body seems to be too short and the shadows behind the haunches not deep enough. Compared to the previous Hobbit pieces, I would expect a more dramatic and sweeping darkness behind the goblin and Warg, as though their approach brings a figurative death in the form of the encroaching dark. Again though, this piece has a light source unlike the previous pieces.

    It feels as though you captured the mood of the moment (gloomy dusk, an approaching and anticipated fight) perfectly with the watercolors. There is a certain vibrancy in the bright foreground verses the muted background in Reluctant Dragon that I could see being employed in Wolf Rider to good affect. However, the watercolors carry the piece well, *especially* in the goblin. I will admit I liked the contrasts from Step #1 better than the last two, but the vivid nighttime sky in #3 is pretty breathtaking as well.

    Eh, probably not that helpful. Keep up the excellent work, I look forward to seeing your future pieces.

  9. My question is, what is your usual process that you used for your other Hobbit painting? What were the main differences that you struggled with most?

  10. Justin

    Fabulous Job !
    I'm a real sucker for watercolour so naturally I would like to see you do everything this way - but of course that's just me. Your watercolours and recent oil painting are/is so lively and fresh, I'm almost left wondering why you would want to take them further digitally. I think a piece can be too finished.

    Larry - of the old school :)

  11. I'm really laughing at the "barbecue on the wind" and "sit this next one out" comments. Few things are more humorous than a talented artist deprecating himself.

    That being said, you are right that our wolf friend doesn't appear menacing. I wouldn't say he lacks motivation though, just that he's been doing this a while.

    As for the 5 armies approach, I say just go for it, man. You know what needs to be done. Trust your skills and your ability to deliver the climactic crane kick, Daniel-san...

  12. While I love them both, I found your oil paintings tend to be warmer and a bit richer in detail. Of course that could just be subject matter and day vs night details, but I REALLY love the Reluctent Dragon. Of couse one of the things I love about it is the whimsical nature and I guess you're not going to do a whimsical Five Armies :)

  13. I don't think the warg looks sullen, I think he looks confident and dangerous. But I do agree with whoever said his hindquarters look curiously flat. Even though they're in shadow, they just don't look right: maybe they're too blue? There's also some distortion in the sky around the warg's head, like an aura, that I suspect came from you trying to change its expression. All that having been said, I can't compare differences in techniques, all your work looks wonderful to me, I only found a few things because you asked us to look.

  14. Each stage has a life of its own but this final step has the most effective lighting by far. I agree there is much more you can do with the warg. A slavering, slobbering, giggling hyena like warg might be better than a truly evil, red-eyed snarling warg imo but something more animated than our faithful hound is definitely in order.