Recently, I mentioned how growing up I sorta taught myself the ropes by copying other art I liked. I still highly commend this practice, particularly in the absence of formal instruction, which I lacked completely until college. I copied tons of stuff, but most of it is in storage in CA. A few years ago, back when I started this blog, I did photograph one piece before sticking it into storage before moving. I guess I intended to blog about it years ago now. Oops. Well, here is a copy of a Larry Elmore illustration I did my senior year of high school, when I was 16. 16, ok? So be nice.
Ahh, the carefree days of 1991
There are couple of things worth noting here. The painting was done I think maybe 16x20" on canvas board. I used oils, which were still pretty new to me at the time. I recall using nothing but odorless thinner the whole time, and a set of maybe 8 or 10 Grumbacher paints. Also, as mentioned in that recent article, I worked flat on my desk at the time. At that size, working flat produces some problems of perspective that I wasn't really aware of at the time yet. Basically if you look at the picture, you'll notice that the rider is gigantor, and the horse must've been hurting. Particularly, the guy's head is mammoth. There are other cues, like the lady adventurer's head is skewed and elongated. Some of this can certainly be chalked up to inept drawing on my part. But, by way of example, let us suppose we are drawing a wicked-cool picture of a warrior fantasy dude, on a largish piece of paper, flat on a table, unaware of the issues. We would begin to compensate for the angle at which the paper is at, and draw it so it looks good from our particular angle. However, when you tilted it up, you would notice that towards the top of the page, you drew things unnaturally large by accident, because that part of the paper was further from you, and appeared smaller when you drew it at the original angle.
L: What it looked like as you drew it. R: What it actually looked like, viewed straight-on.
So, this tall, buffed warrior you thought you drew was actually a bobble-headed squat guy. This was done by drawing the image in Photoshop and then pulling the rectangle back to more or less straight.
So, let's revisit this Elmore copy.
Yep, as suspected, by tweaking it to approximate the angle the image was viewed at while working on it, you see that the head shrinks considerably, and the whole thing generally looks a little better. You can see that the dragon at the bottom looks longer and larger in comparison. It can actually fit the rider's head in his mouth now. That doesn't help out the poor drawing in general, but makes the point that when at all possible, you should draw or paint so the image plane is perpendicular to your line of sight.
Update 1/28: After posting the initial blogpost, I shot an email off to Larry Elmore with a link, explaining what he was about to see. I've had the pleasure of meeting Elmore a couple of times and chatting face-to-face and over email. He responded back appreciative, and commenting that he'd completely forgotten about the painting this was based on until he saw it here. I guess that'll happen after some 25 years or so! In any case, a couple weeks later I saw that the image had been reprinted on an Italian magazine, and asked Larry's permission to post it here, which he was happy to grant. So here's the actual image, though cropped on bottom and right from the full image, and less colorful than I recall the other print I had being:
The real deal.