Decoding Daily Deviations: Artificial Guardian

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Decoding Daily Deviations is the series that aims to unlock the secrets of what it took to create these magnificent artworks and motivate others to work towards similar recognition. Each week we will present an interview with one artist who has recently received a DD and have them share the details on that specific piece, relating to their creative process, techniques, and narrative inspirations. If you've ever wanted to know more about a beloved artwork and the talented skills applied to it, this is the series to keep track of!"

FEATURED ART: Artificial Guardian by Vablo
DD DATE: 2016-10-12

Artificial Guardian by Vablo

Share with readers the details of how this piece came into being. Did you have a clear story idea/inspiration from the beginning?  

This piece happened quite spontaneously. A lot of the time I do thumbnails and sketches to get my brain going if I don’t already have an idea for an image, and this one started that way.  That is one of the great qualities of doing personal works, you can set the restrictions of tools, subject, composition, image resolution and so on yourself and you are free to explore and find things that interest you in that moment.  Quite often when I work like that, the idea develops during the painting process instead of being planned before starting, I start to ask myself questions about the image when sketching and by trying to find answers to those questions the image gets a direction."

“Artificial Guardian” combines the macabre and mystical for an imaginative and striking character design. Please, outline the evolution of the painting from sketch to completion.

I started with a grayscale thumbnail, keeping it small and simple to avoid distracting my eyes in details, just focusing on the composition and shapes. Why I didn’t use any colors is also related to the same thing, I find it easier to focus on one thing and colors would have acted as another distraction. I didn’t have a solid idea when starting, but sketching brought some ideas about the character, materials and environment to my mind.

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 1 by lovelessdevotions

The character could be some sort of ancient construct guardian in the ruins of a forgotten civilization, maybe the crystals have an energy stored to them that binds and animates the bones and the armor, even long after the civilization has ceased to exist. Maybe the skull is a sculpture that acts as a warning for anyone who might end up in that place (if a four-armed armoured skeleton isn’t enough to drive the point home), or the skull is painted black or turned to stone and the former owner’s soul has been bound to the construct. Whatever the case, somehow I liked the general idea and the sketch enough plus I thought it could look nice if I managed to pull it off, so I decided to continue and eventually turn it into a finished piece.

After I got the idea somewhat down, I made a loose lineart on top of the black and white thumbnail. The purpose of the lineart is to give me more information about the details and the forms inside the value masses, so when I start to refine the painting I have a better idea where to go with it. I might still change and leave some things out if I feel like it, but it works as a good guide and starting point.

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 2 by lovelessdevotions

Next step was adding a color base. At that point I had a pretty clear vision about the colors, and I tried other options too, but somehow the initial idea felt the best to me. For coloring, I added a layer with Color blending mode on top of the grayscale image and painted the colors in.

The reason why I add colors at this point in comparison to taking the grayscale image further and adding colors later, is that I get to control both values and colors at the same time when painting as I already know where I want to go. It’s a matter of personal preference too what comes to the final outcome, I like paintings in which you can see the individual, colored brushstrokes more than if you would have a color wash over a grayscale image.

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 3 by lovelessdevotions

When I had the image colored I begun to paint over with the aid of the lineart, turning it on and off, first focusing on the big masses and forms and slowly adding more details overall. I also used a couple of photo textures in the background to have some noise and shapes there.

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 4 by lovelessdevotions

I lightened the image because it looked too dark to me, fixed the perspective of the background and refined it more. I spent more time detailing the focal areas: the character’s head, torso and its hands. The background further away from the character and the edges of the image wouldn’t be as important, so I left them a bit looser to have a balance of detail and bigger shapes.

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 5 by lovelessdevotions

I continued to add small details, made some adjustments to bump the highlights and give or reduce contrast, added dust to the foreground and tweaking here and there until I was satisfied with the painting."

Artificial Guardian VeliNystrom 6 by lovelessdevotions

Did you encounter any creative challenges when working on the piece? If so, how did you tackle them? Is there anything you would do differently now if you could?

Overall, it was definitely a challenging piece to do. One thing that comes to mind is probably the materials, the crystals as probably the biggest one. I used some reference for that, tried to understand how it works and how to imitate similar qualities in a painting. It surely is not perfect, but it conveys the idea and I learned more about the material.

Things that I would do differently... Composition wise, I would try to spend more time with the background and make a lineart for that too. Something I think I need to practice more also is design, so maybe making some sketches of the character beforehand, trying out different variations and then jumping to the painting when I have the best possible design. In other words, more time spent on planning when I’ve got the idea."

What’s one piece of advice that you would share with other artists hoping to reach this standard of work in the future? 

I guess the most important thing with anything that requires as much hard work is to just keep going and not giving up.

There have been times when I’ve thought of quitting the whole thing when stressed about not improving enough, not getting work, feeling stuck with everything or feeling guilty about not practicing as much as I think I should. Those feelings can drive you forward, but they can also lead to not enjoying doing art or burning out eventually. I can’t say for sure, but I think a lot of artists go through those moments, and it can differ from one person to another.

When it comes to studying and the need for improving, I know that some artists have been studying like crazy in a way that I have never been able to do which is really great to witness, but I feel everyone needs to find the right balance for themselves with that. It’s definitely good to push yourself and it surely helps with improving faster, just as long as you observe yourself at the same time.

I find that a lot of times when hitting a rough patch it’s good to try something different. It can be for example changing the medium you’re working with, going out of your comfort zone with subject matter or just taking a break and trying to find the motivation again from travelling, spending time in the nature, hanging out with friends, watching movies, reading books, playing games or whatever it is that allows you to relax and experience interesting and inspiring things."

What does this DD feature represent or mean to you at this stage of your artistic development? What can your watchers look forward to next? 

It is always great to get recognition and realize that people enjoy seeing my works, it gives hope and confidence in the process and the way I am doing things. DeviantArt plays a big part in my personal art journey, starting here years ago and seeing a lot of the amazing works then has led me to the direction that I am in today. It’s an honor to get a Daily Deviation, and by getting that visibility I hope my works can inspire others that are now starting out or already on their way.

What to look forward to next, I have no clue actually. I’ve been playing a bit with doing 360 paintings lately which is very cool, so maybe more of those, maybe fantasy stuff, maybe something else. I have been doing some studies too and I’m enjoying that, so that’s another thing. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens."

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