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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Silmarillion: Glaurung Final


For a long while I have been wanting to go back to several pieces from the Silmarillion and monkey with them digitally. This image of the battle against the dragon Glaurung in particular was one that really kept coming back to mind.



Most of the time I am really against this sort of thing.  When it's done it's done, and should probably just be left alone.  But other times, I just don't feel like I ever truly caught what I was originally shooting for and it bothers me.

For this one, I had always wanted to hit something a little closer to the digital color comp.



Digital Color Comp



Photoshop over Watercolor on Bristol

I still really like the original watercolor for it's old manuscript feel.  But here again I can't help but tinker with the colors and values digitally to push them into a higher range. I'm not sure which version I like more, but the digital one is always the one that is closest to what was in my head when I originally set out to create the image.  

26 comments:

  1. Noooo! This is so f*** Awesome Justin! I like both Versions. But Yes i believe you that the Digital Version is closer to the Picture in your Head.
    Great! This is so dammed good...

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  2. Wow, I would never have thought there was any digital work done on the final piece. That's the mark of a true expert.

    I really love how you gave the elves and dwarves greco-roman armor, and the dwarves' face-masks! You really paid attention to Tolkien's details. Kudos!

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  3. I have to agree that the watercolor captures that arcane book quality. But the digital color makes the dragon terrifying in a way that the water color does not.

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  4. Sorry, I don't know much about watercolors...could the values not have been made to match your vision when you originally painted it? Did you get the painting to a point where you were satisfied with it in a different way than what you originally thought? Is this something watercolor can't achieve?

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    1. The part that I lose when I take the values all the way in watercolor is the line work. So in pieces where I really want to preserve the line work I find that ramping up the values digitally works better. I am still practicing though. I may yet find a way to take my work to this level without the aid of the digital tools.

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  5. That digital Glaurung is simply awesome. I would take it to my job place EVERYDAY .

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  6. Justin, I would not beat yourself up for utilizing digital techniques. For two reasons:

    1. Your watercolor work is really superb. In my own limited experience, it is really hard to achieve very saturated colors with watercolor, without the whole piece beginning to feel muddy. I think you achieved a good balance of value & color without it being overworked or anything. You're not neglecting your traditional skills, so you shouldn't feel bad.

    2. The digital work here is so painterly, and the color, light and shadows are so well executed that I don't really think of it being digital. And the fact that it works so well as an image is mainly because you had such a great start with the watercolor.

    I love both the versions, but I feel like they are inseparable. The digital wouldn't be successful w/o the watercolor, and the watercolor is enhanced by the digital. Those are my feeble opinions that probably don't make sense.

    Also, please bring a print of this to SFAL because I must have one! And, if you ever get it into your head to do a video demo of your DIGITAL process let me know, because I would steal a silmaril from Morgoth's crown just to pay for it.

    Thanks, and keep up the digital trickery.
    Will

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    1. Thanks for the feedback Will! I will definitely be bringing prints of this one (and a few others from the Silmarillion) to Spectrum!

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  7. Thanks for the feedback guys! You are awesome.

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  8. Great piece Justin. I love your interpretation of the masks of the dwarves.

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  9. Absolutely breathtaking. I loved the original watercolor, but the vibrance the digital adds just really ramps up the intensity of the piece. Superb work.

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  10. cool and very exciting to enjoy .......

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  11. Quick question, if you would be so kind to share.

    Do you digitally photograph or scan your final paintings? I ask this because your images lack the burnt appearance that a scanner seems to leave, but that could be the lack of good scanners in my arsenal.

    Thanks!

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    1. I scan them in using an old EPSON GT-15000. It is a really solid scanner. But you don't need something that large. An average scanner should be able to get okay scans.
      I turn off all the auto-adjustment features when I scan. This is probably what is giving you the burnt look with yours. Just scan it in with no adjustments and then do all your adjustments manually in photoshop afterwards and you should be on the good road.

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  12. I'll second the "don't beat yourself up for using digital" comment. I know the original is a tangible piece you can sell, but for most of the people in the world, the digital version is as good as any photo-print from a traditional piece. And in this digital format, it is far superior and more likely to be something you'd be remembered for.

    My favorite bit: the terrified dwarf in the corner. He adds something a normal person can empathize with amidst all the epic drama (much like the funny moment in the midst of the action of a film---the rest would feel overbearing without it).

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  13. This is completely and utterly ridiculous...ly sweet. I say digital ahoy! If you feel the itch to make something ever more awesome than before I'll always have your back.

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  14. WOW... every one of your pictures just baffle me, your amount of detail is totally phenomenal! honstly i don't know how you do it. I LOVE THE DIGITAL!!!

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  15. Hard to believe you're still getting better :)...

    This piece is a feast!...er um..sorry for the rhyme :)

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  16. Hi Justin,

    did you ever publish a tutorial on how to re-adjust the watercolours in Photoshop like you do? I am really interested in your digital technique. Great art!

    Cheers,
    Marco

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    1. I haven't yet. A good idea for a future post!

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  17. This is my favorite scene from the silmarillion. I love your work. I NEED a print of the digital version!! Maybe someday.

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  18. Also, I can't wait for your class at the Lamp Post guild!!!

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