Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Depression, One Step At A Time

I'm not sure why people get depressed around the holidays, but I suspect it has something to do with feeling guilty about not getting me enough presents. So cheer yourself up this year and buy me something cool. And while you're planning your Christmas shopping, I'll take you through my process for this very sad image of a very sad girl.

This is my progression of roughs. I wanted an image of a sad girl, so I tried a few different scenarios: sad girl in her car, sad girl in an elevator, sad girl at her desk, sad girl in a coffee shop. I basically just followed this melancholy woman through her miserable day, trying to pinpoint just the right moment of sorrow. Nothing really worked until I doodled the sad girl on her couch, hugging her teddy bear after an unbearably dismal day at work. Great. I love it. Now on to the painting.

1) The first step is tightening up the rough doodle into a workable sketch.

2) I wanted a soft, feminine feel for this piece, so I filled the background with a gentle pink. It's a bit cliche, but sometimes the old conventions work the best.

3) In Photoshop, with a rough brush, I start adding in both texture and lighting to the background to add visual interest and to focus attention on the girl.

4) Again, sticking to soft, pastel colors, I block in a cool, minty green for the couch to contrast with the warm pinkish/purple of the background.

5) Still using the sketch as my map, I add in some flat colors for the girl, bear, tissues and ice cream carton.

6) After the base colors are painted, I model the figures and objects with highlights and shadow. After staring at the piece for this long, I begin to empathize with the girl and start feeling really depressed. So I dial up some smooth jazz on iTunes and make it much worse.

7) I paint in the cloud and raindrops using the sketch as a reference. Just some darker blues and desaturated reds to make it look kind of ominous.

8) I lose the pencil sketch and play around with different cropping options. I also decide the cloud is hanging too high above her head and bring it down. Last thing I do before cropping it is throw in some noise and, basically, I'm done. She looks miserable and I couldn't be happier. -v

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