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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fixing water

I won't actually be able to work on the scroll today very much, because I'll be preparing to speak at the local Montessori school as part of their medieval unit, and I'll need to bring some of my supplies with me. But a couple days ago, I made enough progress that I could have blogged twice and didn't, so now I get to catch you up with where I actually am.

I had a problem with the water in my battle scene. The paint didn't go on very solidly and gave a really patchy look, which I was willing to ignore except it was pointed out to me that it didn't actually look very period. It just looked messy.

So the first thing I needed to do was add another coat of the blue, and try to make it more opaque. 

It turns out that a lot of period manuscripts didn't even bother with "blue" water, making it more blue-gray, or even gray-green or brown. As Mark Calderwood put it in our conversation, "Should be a slate/miserable cold english waterway i'm not getting in that are you mad colour."  So after I got the blue down, I needed to add a thinner wash of grayish-blue to try and fix it.

A note about me: I tend to do art very cautiously. It's one reason all these fussy details come out so well for me, but it also means that when it comes to, say, mixing colors, I'll be convinced I've gone way too dark when in fact I'm only halfway there. So these pictures aren't actually gray enough, but they're still better than they were to start with.

Finally, the "waves" were added to make it look recognizably like water. Bear in mind that the effect here wasn't to be lifelike so much as symbolic and, again, recognizable. A five-year-old could look at this blue wavy stuff and go, "That's water!" and that was the effect I was going for.

If I want, I could probably go back in and add even more gray to the blue bits that are still showing, to try and dull the water even more. We don't want it to detract from the main focus of the scene, which is all these bloodthirsty people trying to kill each other, so if it's too bright, I may still go back and do that.

Once the water was taken care of, it was time to add detail to the right side panel, same as I'd done on the left yesterday. Time for highlights and shading!

So now here we are with the finished figures; I'm pretty sure I used the wrong color to shade the standing figure, but he doesn't look too horrible so I'm not going to fret about it. There wouldn't really be a good way to fix him anyway, and I've come too far to turn back now, so he's stuck the way he is.

One final step, which I have not yet repeated on the left. It's subtle, so I don't know if this picture will show it or not, but when you get ready to add detail to the diapering in the background, the first thing you do is outline every square with dark paint or ink. Every square. This is almost as tedious as it sounds.

Looking at it from a distance, it's hard to see that I've done anything, and yet if you study the two panels side by side right now, the one on the right has just a slightly more crisp look to it, in my opinion.

Tomorrow, I'll be ready for outlining the diapering on the left-side panel as well, and then it will be on to white-work detailing, whether I like it or not. It's another of those stages that is essential, but slow and fussy all the same, so you kind of wish you didn't have to do it even as you're marveling at how cool it looks when it's done.

Cheers, everyone, and thanks for following along.

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