March 27, 2011

Illustrating the Hobbit: decision time

Los elfos habían traído faroles brillantes a la orilla y cantaron 
the elves had brought bright lanterns to the shore, and they sang

That's the sentence I had underlined during the reading and - having been in love for some years with japanese and chinese lanterns of all kinds - the image that immediately came to mind was a quiet shore full of lanterns floating on the water, lighting a bit the dark evening forest. That's one of the 3 reasons why I chose to take this scene to the next level instead of others that happen sooner in the story, but not the only one, other reasons to choose it have been that there're no characters that need to be recognizable and it's up high among the top six images that hit me hard when reading the book.

After deciding to take on this one I returned to the book and reread the whole page to be sure of all the details, somehow the image that my mind created was not true to the scene described by Tolkien, reading the description before that sentence it states that the river "was flowing fast and noisily, as mountain streams do of a summer evenings when sun has been all day on the snow far up above" also "there was only a narrow bridge of stone without a parapet" and only after that "the elves had brought bright lanterns to the shore, and they sang a merry song" which means that my first vision of the image won't work, I've tried to revamp it without harming my main idea too much which was making the lanterns the main character:

- Off with the zoomed in lanterns quietly floating near the shore, since the river is running "fast and noisily" I've tried 2 approaches: a huuuuuge river wide enough to portrait running water that seems quite quiet, or a stream with jumps and more obvious flowing water. Both options makes me zoom out.
- Zooming out means that I'll have to add the bridge.
- Zooming out also means the close up on the lanterns is not an option, making them the main star will have to be done by the light effect on the river and shore rather than by the detail on them, also off with the idea of having them floating on the water unless I want them all over the place instead of close to the shore and/or bridge, the stream would carry them away, right? I've decided not to compromise on making the lanterns the main character so I'll have them floating over the water, why? why not.

I though the huge river would be better at first but now I think the running waters with falls will have more interest and also will let me have the bridge and lanterns a bit closer to the viewer.

And between the running streams I'm going to go for this one because I want to move the angle of the bridge and I like how it has more interest and depth, even if I like the water itself better on another one, but the scene will be in the late evening and the river and woods are going to be supporting characters.

These are some of the roughs that didn't make the cut:

I'm going to try to turn the cons of this illo into pros, so far:
-I'm into close ups, opening the scope feels weird, but the scene being at the end of the day gives me the chance to still tone everything down except for the area with the lanterns.
-Landscapes, big fat nemesis of mine, I hear my brains going eeeeeek! But on second thoughts it's mainly a river instead of foliage and land, I can do water, it's going to be fine...

What do you think, does my approach make sense? Will that work? I do hope so.


Pat said...

It makes sense to me! And if anyone can make it work - you can! Every confidence in you :) xx

Teresa Palomar Lois said...

Pat thanks so much for the support! feels like I can't fail, but then I still have to draw it heeheehee ^_^

RH Carpenter said...

I love reading about your thoughts on this one and I think you have it! The waterfall can be small and coming farther past the bridge so it's pushing everything down and into a more quiet area of the river where your lanterns could be "caught" by a little whirlpool? Looking forward to seeing what you do with this!!!

Andy Smith said...

It's interesting that you should interpret that description to mean the lanterns were placed on the water. I love that idea so much I would forgive you ignoring the part about the water being fast-paced if it meant we could see some close-ups of lit lanterns on the reflective water surface.

Or perhaps the lanterns were fixed to fishing-rod-like poles so that they float just above the water's surface?

I like RH Carpenter's suggestion too. A nice way to combine all the details.

Zoom-in or zoom-out I would love to see the bridge, or at least part of it.

Good on you, Tere, for sharing your thought processes. This is just what I hoped we would get out of this little project! Good luck!

ironhenry said...

Oh Tere, that sketch is great! It feels very Vess. Open & wild-hearted interpretation equals creativity. Who wants to be a slave to text. Spin them off and make them more amazing. Accentuate them with what is inside of you. Make it mean something special to us all. Make it yours Tere! You're doing great.

Sadami said...

Dear Teresa,
Have a cuppa, first, and do relax. I'll comment on the roughs from a different angle, an "editor." The post and roughs are great, I feel, U're right on a track. But in our industry, often an editor has a key decision and advice, as a publisher has an image of a text. Practical approach, what does your editor say? Of course, we, illustrators want to do original work, but always we consult editors, don't we?
Take care. OK, after coffee, get on! Go, Teresa, go!
Kind regards, Sadami

Teresa Palomar Lois said...

Rhon you know how much I can rumble, now if I only stop and get to finish drawing that stupid river... ^_^

Andy it's weird how different minds can envision the very same moment, ain't it? I want a close up, maybe later, as a side work, but not for these, I want to stick to the goals I set up when I started, at least as long as I can *fingers crossed* AND that bridge is giving me a lot of pains already, why what I want to do ain't the best for the painting this time? grrrrr....

Oh Ben, "open interpretation" that's me hahaha! I'm not planning on being a slave to the text at all, I promise you that! won't compromise my vision but I'm trying to bend it enough to still be a image that actually illustrates the scene, wanna push myself out of the ohsosweet comfort zone of mine.

Sadami, I learn from you every time, I'm indeed trying to drive this project as an exercise on actual publishing, that's the only reason why I've forved myself to reorganize my firsst vision of the image, trying to think what an art director would tell me to change and why and how to give them what they would want without completely loose my very own interpertation of the scene, does it sound stupid? It's beeing a hard exercise but the more challenging the more growth, right? Thanks for the feedback, you're always so helpful

Crystal Cook said...

I think it makes perfect sense! I LOVE the idea of the lanterns as the main character and floating over the water. Like you said, why not?? I can't wait to see what you come up with. I hope you get it published one day. :) I'd love to have an illustrated copy of the Hobbit by you!

Teresa Palomar Lois said...

Thaks for the support Crystal, your enthusiasm is contagious!