If you know me, then it's no secret that I LOVE loose concept art....probably because I have such a hard time painting that way! I figured I'd take a look at the work of a master of that style, Richard Anderson, aka "Flaptraps." This painting is from his days working on Guildwars.
So loose! So much energy! It conveys so much with so little! It's a low key painting, and pretty much monochromatic in the warm-yellow-cool orange range. Clearly no attempt was made to make it not feel digital, which I really appreciate. The focal area is the mail coif of the guy in silver, with the golden warrior being a close secondary read.
Although it is super dynamic from a design-sense, the 2 value read on this painting doesn't convey a lot of information. Lots of lost edges around the silver warrior, but he still stands out.
By 3 values though, the composition is pretty much set. All the lines of action are here, and the subject is clear. I love how even at this stage, the arrows give a strong diagonal push that amps up the tension.
By 4 values, this is a story. We have subject, secondary read, lines of action and breakup of the major shapes.
When we get this close, we can see just how abstract everything is. Even at this low res (my apologies). Everything is SUPER graphic. The shapes are there, but anatomy? Meh. Form? Only as much as is needed to tell the story. I think the chainmail is a texture that has been painted over, and the rim light on his clothing is literally just a blob. I LOVE the cutout on his right shoulder, it gives such a nice breakup of the form, and makes it feel more sharp and in movement.
This guy is again very graphic, with a silhouette that has been mostly filled with seemingly random texture. Same chainmail texture, and again, the back arm silhouette cut out with some weird loops that give it energy and break the form. The shield highlight looks like a 'color dodge' layer laid in with the lasso tool. Check out the orange triangle of colour on the top of the shield. What is it? Doesn't matter, it totally adds visual interest to the image.
Just wanted to point out the other area where the photo texturing seems more readable. He's still not worried about anatomy, but the feeling of tension, motion and texture. I love this treatment.
There's basically no landscape in this painting, just smoke, fire and arrows....so many diagonals to add drama and tension. Also notice that most of the arrows are completely undefined. He's painted a few that have tighter silhouettes, and he's letting your eye do the work for the rest of them.
- Even in the midst of textural chaos, he's keeping things simple. He's conveying a huge battlefield with 2 figures, some smoke, some poles and some arrows. You don't need to show everything to give people a sense of things.
- Monochromatic works.
- Use saturation changes instead of chroma changes.
- It doesn't really matter what your texture is sometimes, as long as their is data for your eye to read.
- Don't texture everything. The smoke gives large areas for your eye to rest, which the painting needs.
Thanks for reading and checking out Rich's painting with me. You can find more of his work here.