Green Knight of the Forrest Adding colour to Tailtu, Firbolg Paladin
Following on from where we left off, finally with a brush I enjoyed and a reinvigorated looseness with my painting style, I have to start by blocking out the main colours for the painting. I wanted to maintain the Green Knight concept, but as the character of Tailtu would be depicted at the start of her adventuring career I didn’t want her to already have too much green on her. I felt that most of this could be conveyed through the green kilt and the background.
In order to keep realistic colours I directly colour picked from the background reference image I was using, a photo taken by my dad David Gamm who works under the title Focal Form. We had visited Wistmans Wood earlier in the year and I felt it was a perfect place for Tailtu to stand. I had also some vertical stones I had photographed in Cornwall but added the moss seen on the other boulders.
Part way through the process of painting I flipped the image as many artists do. It give you a new perspective on the drawing, you can see flaw in the composition, positioning and the lighting. This let me notice a few different things. The first that I needed a lot more branches up at the top of the image, without a decent canopy Tailtu would be lit by full sunlight which would ruin a lot of the work I had done detailing her. Also after showing some more people the WIP for the painting that scale was still an issue. It seems not everyone realises quite how big a red deer is. Unfortunately I had little space to add more to the image at this stage. As a last resort I added a old helmet of some foolish adventure who had dared to trespass into her woods. Though it is scaled to be the right size for a human, and therefor smaller that could be worn by Tailtu with her eight feet of hight, it still doesn’t get across the right feeling.
Another problem that often come sup for me when I’m not working traditional is thinking the image together and getting some more texture. Again I think this is due to my current lack of expertise with photoshop brushes. Instead what I do is make use of a variety of traditional textures I have collected over the years. Any paint left over after class, be me student or teacher, results in paint scraped onto my sketchbook which I can scan latter. These add some much needed texture and colour variance. It changed the mail to a more blue tone, but that same blue is present in the overhead branches and her skin. There are a colourless of other textures included in there, the effects of which are slightly more subtle.
After this I had to take a break again for a little while in order to work on other projects inlacing my Sign Langue, not to mention giving my mind a break so I could look for new flaws when I came back.
Returning to the painting I realised I needed to dramatically up the lighting on the trees as the lacked detail and realism. I tried to make a more concerted effort to study my reference photos in order to improve the detail.
Another issue that had been bothering me was the shield. Part of this was solved by looking at the lighting and realising that it would be in shadow. Darkening it helped a lot as well as it leaving some shadow on the boulders beneath it.
As mentioned above I had originally planned to leave the stronger ‘green knight’ references to when that character was a high level in terms of D&D progression. But the shield was still an issue despite its darker lighting. Not only that but despite the use of the same greens on her kilt as the moss and the textures (which at by this point I had toned down) used across the image, she still looked like someone in the forrest, rather than of the forrest. My sister in fact came up with the great idea that the shield itself was covered in moss and plant growths, as if it had been left out for years before being picked up again when needed.
That moss was an awful challenge to paint but in the end I was satisfied. Enough in fact to say it was done and consider printing it off. I was very pleased with the painting and for once I quite liked the idea of having a digital painting of mine as a physical copy. Fortunately it was some time before I could get access to my dads A3 printer and once again I was able to come back to the painting with fresh eyes.
With these newfound yes I realised something important. Having painting in most of Tailtu’s lighting before going into detail on the background I had lit her incorrectly. I had far too much lighting on the front of her body and not enough striking her back to match the trees around her.
I really wasn’t happy with the moss on her shield as well. It just didn’t have the right texture and after realising the lighting problem I noted that it applied here as well. Small clumps off moss it seems are very hard to paint and the contrast of them next to the beaten copper of the moss made it quite the challenge. Im still not 100% happy with that part of of the painting but none the less this is the most detailed creation I’ve done in a very long time.
It is wonderful being able to play my online D&D games with a character portrait for all to see. My plan is that as she progresses I can add additional armour to her form, a helmet, plate armour etc. That and I would write like to draw her in another pose, perhaps in full armour (which by the time of writing this she has acquired) and riding her ‘summoned elk.’
Thank you for taking the time to read this those few of you who get this far.