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Hi everyone !
As I can't really draw much these days, I propose you a series of journals detailing my process when painting "Into the Woods" :)

[Morgan le Fay] Into the Woods by Aliciane


I - Composition
II - Preparation
III - Execution

I - Composition

To give you a bit of context, this image is a single-page illustration for a children's book I'm working on about the Arthurian Legends, entitled "Morgan le Fay". Morgan is actually the little girl featured on this painting, as this takes place at the very beginning of the story, when she was still living in Tintagel with both of her parents ^^

So, as a children's book illustration, there's going to be text added on the image, hence the empty part at the bottom on the final image.

1. First draft - September 2016

Into the Woods - First composition (09-2016) by Aliciane

Huh, where do I start... Well overall this is very messy and unreadable. At the time, I was relying way too much on my references and I slavishly copy-painted elements from various photos I had taken without a lot of thoughts about the composition. As a result, Morgan blends way too much with the background, the values are all over the place (there are tiny bits of light everywhere), the tree on the right is way too detailed and grabs too much attention, and the background awkwardly blends into nothingness near the top where I intended to put the text at the time.

It is cluttered and claustrophobic and I consider this an example of bad composition =p it is also way too detailed for an initial thumbnail. But I didn't know better at the time, and since I had a lot of other paintings ongoing, it simply waited in a folder for a while.

2. Second draft - April 2017

Into the Woods - Second composition (04-2017) by Aliciane

When I went back to this drawing, I decided to kinda scrap out most of my first draft and work more from my imagination. I just kept the pose (but simplified her hair). Overall this is way more readable, with clear blocks of light and dark, and much more representative of how I approach thumbnails and composition nowadays :)

Since I was satisfied enough with it at the time, I took it a couple of steps further in June 2017 by properly sketching Morgan and making a color key. And then it sat there for a while, again, because I was insecure with jumping right into it ^^'

Into the Woods - Sketch (04-2017) by Aliciane Into the Woods - Color Key (06-2017) by Aliciane

3. Third draft - November 2017

Honestly, I still consider my second draft quite good and it could have worked and made an interesting painting. However, for the specific needs of the book, I felt like it didn't really fit the bill. First, I intended to put the text at the bottom this time, yet didn't really planned my composition around it. I simply darkened the bottom of the picture, thinking it would be enough. But when I looked at it with the text on, it felt really squeezed and cluttered, it wasn't breathing enough (does it make sense ? :XD:).

I also wasn't a fan of the giant waterfall I put behind her. This was a remnant of my first draft where there was a tiny waterfall behind the character. Since I wanted the silhouette of Morgan to be really detached from the background this time, I simply made a bigger waterfall :D But this kind of huge waterfalls don't really exist in the forests where the story takes place... It was a bit too much for what was supposed to be a rather ordinary forest location, and it felt like a cheap solution.

I also thought there were problems with the perspective and scale, and that one single tree appearing from the left didn't really sell the forest theme enough. Overall it looked more like a mountainous location than a forest to me. So I went back to the drawing board and made a very, very rough value sketch of what I would change :

Into the Woods - Third composition (11-2017) by Aliciane

This time I used a placeholder for the estimate length of the text =p so, yes it looks kinda sketchy, messy and unfinished, but I had realized at this point that a rough thumbnail did not have to look pretty. I was more thinking of it as notes about the size and placement of the various elements of the painting, hence the flat silhouette for the character for instance. The rest can, and should, wait until you work on more advanced stages. Right now I wanted to freely move, resize, and distort my shapes, think more about their relative sizes, spacing, negative spaces and so on :)

And then... Well it sat there for a while until I had gathered enough courage and motivation to tell myself "Please call this composition good enough and just paint it now !" which will be the subject of the next journals :XD:

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Submitted on
April 13


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