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Thread: Painted into a corner (vikings)

  1. #1
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Painted into a corner (vikings)

    I am screwed.

    I have to illustrate a book about vikings. I don't even know how to start to make them look historically accurate. This whole brilliant idea is my mother's because she wrote a book about them and she asked me to do the illustrations, and I stupidly said yes. I can barely come up with one drawing, let alone 11, which is what she wants. She has no idea how much time is invested in just one of these drawings.

    Not only do I not know wtf a viking looks like (any more than anyone else), but I have no clue which format is the best to put the drawings on. What do I use to draw them with. And I guess I have to learn to use illustration programs. The whole reason I never became a cartoonist (my vocation if I ever had one) is because I don't get along with this type of technology. I like the pencil and paper. I don't like digital shit. It's going to be hard to change that.

    Also, she's sick and this is an important project to her, so I can't fuck around being a P on it. Which I've already done but this has to get done sooner rather than later.

    Does anyone know about illustrating books? Or where there's reliable visual stuff on vikings?
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Let's start with the obvious: Vikings didn't have those horned helmets. They did have longboats.

    If you want source material for what they might have looked like, Iceland, Sweden, and Northern Scotland should get the gist. Though Scotland would probably be the more divergent set to work with.

    On Workflow:

    You don't have to use an illustration program. If you do, you'd be best off using a digitizing pad of some sort--drawing with a mouse is clunky as hell. If you do invest in one, put it on your lap and spend some time looking at the screen while drawing with it. You'll be much happier with the results than if you try to draw on it like a tablet of paper--doing that just screws with your mind and leaves you feeling about as clumsy as trying to draw with a mouse.

    If you have a scanner, you can easily forgo the digitizing tablet. Just draw as you normally would and scan it in, then use the drawing program to clean up the artwork and make it stronger if need be. Having a digitizing tablet can still make this process easier, but it's much more doable to trace line-work with a mouse than generate linework with a mouse.

    If you go with scanning in pencil drawings, I recommend tracing the linework like you were inking--but do it on a separate layer. Once you've traced the lines you want, get rid of the source drawing--either delete the layer or make it invisible.

    Make new layers for each colour you want to add. It's simpler, trust me. You want to put your colour layers underneath your linework layer. Then, you use the lasso tool to capture the section you want coloured, and use the paint bucket tool to fill it.

    Lather, rinse and repeat for each colour. Don't worry about any shading until the end. You want to put in your base colours first--in comics it's called 'flatting', because the lack of shading leaves everything with a very flat appearance.

    Once the flatting is done, you can start adding shading layers. But for a children's book, flatting might be enough.

    I don't want to get into shading right now because you're brain may already be exploding from the above.

    If the above is completely opaque, but you have a scanner, scan in a sketch of a figure drawing, and I'll show you what I mean as a series of images: Source-> Inking -> Flatting -> Shading.

    I think digital art is a great medium because most of the time, if you screw up, you just hit ctl-Z and your mistake goes away. Takes a lot of the pressure off when inking--screw up inking with paper linework and you've got an embarrassed phone call to make.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  3. #3
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Thanks, Heph. That gives me a few ideas about where to start. One thing though - I do have a scanner, but is it more common to to draw on a large format and then have it reduced at a graphic design place? I knew one illustrator that worked for a publishing house and she once showed me the beginnings of a drawing she was producing. It was huge, but I didn't ask questions about the process (because I'm an idiot, I mean, who wouldn't ask those questions if they had the chance?). Now I've had a falling out with her and I can't just go and ask her. That sucks, big time. I can't tell you how much that sucks. She was the best contact I had in this field.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    You can't draw Vikings without the horned helmets. Fuck historical accuracy, they should look like pro wrestlers with big beards and horned helmets and huge bulging biceps. Like this:

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    It's true, the horns make the Vikings. They have to have horns. For ideas on how to illustrate Vikings, maybe check out "how to train your let dragon" (I think that's it) for inspiration.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    I must have a serious pop culture problem because I didn't even know vikings were falsely portrayed with horned helmets.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    Yeah, make a guy with a sword or axe and a horned helmet, and you have a Viking. Cartoon Viking example: http://www.world-wide-art.com/art/sh...ng/limage.html

  8. #8
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    One thing though - I do have a scanner, but is it more common to to draw on a large format and then have it reduced at a graphic design place?
    I can't honestly speak to industry standard, but from what I've seen, yes, that is the common method. If you've ever seen a board for a standard 4-panel cartoon like you'd see in a newspaper, they are bloody huge compared to the size of the consumed output. Same for posters (from what I've seen).

    However, I don't think that is strictly necessary in the modern age. But it does still make a certain amount of sense.

    Here's why:

    If you start much much larger than your finished product, then unless you over-compress when reducing, your finished product will still look good. It might even look better--but whenever you make an image larger than it's source material, fidelity suffers. It becomes increasingly grainy the larger you make it.

    Exception: Vector art, but that has to do with the nature of vectors. The whole purpose of them is to allow perfect scaling when changing image size--but they are a royal pain in the ass to work with IME. Handy for designing typography, but a pain for illustration. If you are scanning in art--you won't be working with vectors anyway. Unless you use vectors to do the inking...but I digress. You won't be doing this with vectors.

    This said, you don't need to make your initial drawing to be scanned in very large. It doesn't matter that much if it becomes grainy when made very large on the computer, because you're only using it for reference anyway. What you do want to do is make sure you work with a suitably large digital canvas, and set it up for at least 300dpi. You probably want 600dpi or 1200dpi.

    This is for similar reasons to why physical to print is done as enormous to practical. Commercial printing is usually done at one of the above dpi. That's why you don't generally notice the dots of colour in magazine photos. But if you do your artwork at the monitor standard of 72dpi, then print it at 300 dpi or higher, you aren't going to like the result. It will either be much much smaller than expected, or it's going to look grainy and indistinct.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  9. #9
    Tawaci ki a Gnaska ki Osito Polar's Avatar
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    Madrigal for a visual guide to Vikings do a google image search for the term Skyrim. It's historically accurate. Don't listen to Hephaestus.
    "I don't have psychological problems." --Madrigal

    "When you write about shooting Polemarch in the head, that's more like a first-person view, like you're there looking down the sight of the gun." --Utisz

    David Wong, regarding Chicago
    Six centuries ago, the pre-Colombian natives who settled here named this region with a word which in their language means "the Mouth of Shadow". Later, the Iroquois who showed up and inexplicably slaughtered every man, woman and child renamed it "Seriously, Fuck that Place". When French explorer Jacques Marquette passed through the area he marked his map with a drawing of a brownish blob emerging from between the Devil's buttocks.

  10. #10
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Ugh. A better looking source than... fucking SKYRIM?

    But don't be surprised if your mom expects horned helmets.

    Seriously, do you guys realize how utterly impractical a horned helmet is?
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

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