The Storyteller


This entry was really postponed for a while. I had meant to sit down and take the time to put it all together about a week after finishing my latest artwork, "The Storyteller." However, I think it burned me out because I spent months on this painting (on and off) - which is not something I'm particularly proud of admitting! I would go through days of loving it, taking a few days off, and coming back and redoing everything. I was never satisfied with the direction it was going.

I struggled a lot with it.

The main issues I had were 1) Perspective, 2) Lots of characters, and 3) Texture. Lighting was also a very important factor that I wanted to get right, but I didn't seem to have as hard of a time with it as the other three. Working on this taught me a lot of the things that I need to personally work on. Looking at it now from a critical standpoint, I wish I had chosen a more dynamic perspective with maybe the Storyteller looming above the horizon line and the audience scattered around. 

I'm still very happy with how it turned out! 

I've never challenged myself to this extent before, and I knew that I wasn't going to give up on it without a long and frustrating battle. It was too important because I wanted it to be the introductory illustration to a personal story that I'm writing. 

All that being said, I would very much love to share the process it took to get to the finished piece.

 My original sketch. I knew I wanted a circular fountain, some sort of town square or courtyard, a bunch of onlookers (mainly children), and the lute.

 I started putting in some values to understand my composition a bit better.
 I wanted it to feel cheerful and inviting.

 My first attempt with color. You'll notice that I changed the steeple in the background to something resembling a castle. I also tried to control the composition a bit by adding the building on the right, hoping that the angle would draw your eye inwards. Yeah, I need to improve at storytelling with composition. (cringe)

 Still trying to figure out the background and the colors.

 After several unsatisfied attempts at the background, I finally settled on these colors and this layout. I felt that it looked bright and soft, which is the look I was aiming for.

 While trying to render the buildings in the background, I became increasingly frustrated with the perspective. Something was just not right. Sighing to myself, I opened a free 3D program and used the little modeling knowledge I had to craft together a proper fountain and a background town. I would use this as the base for my illustration.

 Starting to paint over the models and figuring out the look and expression of the characters. I tried to diversify them a bit - keeping them in the realm of fantasy.

 There were many hours spent rendering and listening to music at this point.

 Playing with lighting!

This was the last step before the final. Everything was pretty much how I wanted it. The only thing missing from this were some more tweaks to the lighting and adding in subtle texture.

Phew. Thanks for sticking with this! 
Lastly, I've included a couple of closeups of the key characters.