Letters from Somnolescent November 13, 2022

behind the scenes

by devon

I actually meant to post this around… two months ago? Unfortunately some other factors caused a massive delay, but it’s time to finish this finally. Some pieces from Art Fight I wanted to talk about because I feel they are worth talking about.

Art Fight ended almost three months ago and since then i wanted to write a proper post about my process for a few pieces in particular, because they truly pushed my boundaries.

2022 was my first proper year compared to last one, when i joined i was highly confused and i couldn’t even find characters I liked to draw. I decided to prepare better for this year and since January or February I started to bookmark massive amount of characters that I might feel to draw. It was downsized many times, I wanted to make like 50 attacks this year but it wasn’t really possible with my current traditional process. Digital is faster, you don’t need to scan stuff, print it out again, trace, be careful about mistakes because they are hard to correct.

I ended up doing 21 attacks, but few of them are probably some of my favorite pieces I did so far.

First attack here is a piece I did for Caby by end of July actually, but I planned it since middle of June. It went through many revisions though general concept has been the same – very late 70s living room as backdrop for characters. It came from a lad I picked to draw, Jacqui (I love her) who’s a really 70s character and it was just obvious that a surrounding like this would be perfect.

I initially wanted to only draw her, kinda inspired by this piece made by Caby, listening to music alone. It started to feel empty and I really couldn’t place her correctly in very first sketches so I thought if adding her kids would fix it? It definitely would. My goal was a really warm, comfortable piece and it changed mood of it completely. Initially I drew them standing up and it also was hard to position everyone and make it look good, vertical orientation made it even harder.

What if they sat down and she read a book to her kids?

Bingo! More warm, more homely and very fuzzy scene. It also went through two iteration. At first I drew them sitting on the floor but it also was hard to place them in a way it makes sense. I remembered about these midcentury sofas, like usually with a wooden frame and cushions on top of it and it would be a good ground for characters and well, it would make more sense.

Thumbnail compilation. Most of them barely makes sense and was just thinking with a pencil.

I started to sketch out poses of all of them first together, later on other piece of paper I drew them separately, but more defined. After that I scanned initial sketch with pose, enlarged it and printed it out. Roughly drew surroundings with a pen, it wasn’t perfect but it got my vision down. I cleaned it up again and refined sketch on new printou and after that, back of it was covered by graphite to transfer it in some less damaging way to proper paper I’ve been working on (it was really, really full of graphite smears instead).

I really wanted to try out hot press watercolor paper, but this was a mistake. It migth be actually great for gouache which is opaque and covers paper, texture is barely visible but not for watercolor. It took all of paint I laid on it instantly, instead of spreading out as it usually does it dried almost instantly. Getting a smooth washes of color was almost impossible and everything looked very streaky at first and I hated it. In some parts I actually was a benefit – just look at this carpet which is just me trying to get a even wash, but I got a nice texture by an accident.

Colors were kept mainly natural, very green since I feel like greens like this are very late 70s early 80s things, combined with other little bits I added here (snake plant-like plants, marcame, lots of wood). At first I wanted to go with more dramatic lightning and draw a window on left side. Which would let lot of warm light, but I didn’t wanted to risk – some things are better suited for digital in my case for now.

I believe it’s a very first piece I actually planned and worked for a longer time than usual. From thumnailing, small studies and drawing everything before for few times to very polished end product.

Another piece, well actually three of them are just more of art I did for my friends. It’s most comfortable I can get, yet I still can challenge myself.

The initial idea was drawing my friends’ sonas with old computers. I’ve been thinking what they would use, it’s obvious with Cammy or dcb but I wondered what Caby’s second sona, Bunny, would use. It definitely would be an iMac G3, most likely a flower power one. It’s pretty, cute and soft and it would definitely suit her.

I started to doodle some chibi lads, as idea was just to draw a simple chibi interacting with old computer. Issues started early on – I couldn’t place them in some appealing way, everything felt wonky and very off (mostly proportions) and even trying to ground them in some way failed. I started to doodle lads sitting behind a desk instead to add some big prop that would ground them in better way than a lad floating completely in space. I made them into half-bodies instead and it definitely was better, but still it felt very empty.

So I added a room full of things they like in background.

Everyone has things they like, their own unique interests I wanted to capture in all of them. With Bunny I added a shelf that actually resembles one that Caby has in her own room, ovbiously lot of Garfs is necessary. For Cammy (Setter) it would be stacks of CDs, PS2 with Guitar Hero controller, chunky mac poster and also a lil Pooky plushie he owns. Photos in Lince’s room are actual photos dcb did, I included his lad Craig too.

All of them were done in my usual process of refining sketches, printing them out over and over and correcting until I’m satisfied with end result. I clean them up, colorize into non-photo blue and print on actual paper I’m gonna work on. For most of AF I used watercolors and very delicate colored outlines, but in this case it was safer to go with inks and removing sketch digitally to prepare it for coloring.

Inks with non-photo blue printout underneath

My way of removing blue sketch often results with crunchy lineart and I wanted to avoid it, but this proven to be a massive mistake. I’ve started to color on multiply which resulted in many spills and everything looking really sloppy. I was close to scraping all three of them, until I ended up cleaning lineart anyway and making it really crunchy. (Made few other attacks in meantime, though.) It fits early 00s vibe I was going on, everything wasn’t so smooth back then, right?

Coloring was way smoother, I could color details in better way and actually put photos and make them look good. Overall, it turned out to take almost two weeks from start to finish but it could take less. It was worth to push through and finish them, I feel like they shown that I can draw a good scene and it’s lot of fun.

I skipped few other pieces I wanted to write about, probably I’ll write a bit about them in special gallery collecting all of my 2022 attacks that I want to make, most likely on devon.somnol (and I should get back to working on my sites). I feel ones I picked are the most important and ones I’m most satisfied enough, they all actually helped me to move forward and unblock myself.

I’m hyped for next year a lot. I hope to draw more (and actually use up my ideas, this time) until it’s start since some ideas I left over were pretty hard to execute with my current skill level. I also hope to attack more people and find more good characters. There’s nothing that can push my boundaries, productivity and creativity at once than drawing stuff for other people I guess.

Tags: art, art fight,

About devon

An exotic housecat, local fanatic of TDRā„¢ and anything from so-called turn of the millennium. I love to draw boxes and graphic design is my passion.

One comment on "behind the scenes"

  • fiveducks says:

    It’s super cool peeking into your process! I’m so into seeing different iterations/thumbnails and watching how the final piece has come together.

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