4 years has been too long, my latest drawing has sprung to life
So this might be a bit of a long post as there is a lot of pent up creativity over the past 4 years. I’ve been day dreaming about this piece of art ever since I was about halfway through with my prior drawing, Liquid Daze. In regards to this drawing, all I had written on my board at the time back in 2017 was:
Astronaut falling: Green, Pink, Blue
Four years in the making, and this drawing I think has brewed itself into one of the most complex pieces I have done. There are so many layers to it, I hope I can break down the meaning in this post. Let’s see it in all it’s glory first:
Here’s my stated goal for this piece titled “Disintegration.” I want to convey an astronaut tumbling and free falling through space. This “space” is actually occupied by individual threads that make up this person’s reality. Each thread weaves itself into the individual like a story from their life. The threads that then make up the individual are actually tearing and ripping the person apart, because they represent the fabric of their reality. When that person’s reality is shattered, they disintegrate into nothing.
That’s the best explanation I can give as to what I am trying to convey here, so lets dive into how this was made.
Here are some early prototypes of the drawing I did in photoshop. I’m not sure if you can tell, but I think in these pictures the white “chain link fence” style of the individual threads shines through the best here. The subject was always going to be black, but colors were going to be used everywhere else. Where the subject overlapped the colors, a portion of that thread’s pattern would be black.
Next up is the sketch of the astronaut, a very basic outline is all that is needed here. Everywhere the astronaut lies will be partially black in the final drawing.
Here we now have the dotted grid of the chain link fence pattern. These are just dots if you look closely, but will be the foundation of the grid pattern coming next.
I’ve finally managed to draw the grid pattern without screwing up. I got lost a bit trying to make sure they wove together correctly, but in the end I had the chain link fence pattern, and voids where there was no pattern (marked with an X). Did you know I actually went down a deep rabbit hole for knitting and crochet sewing patterns before I finally landed on this one? Many times the knitting patterns were a bit too complex for me to follow, so this approach of an interwoven chain link fence was chosen.
Now, I needed to develop the patterns for each of the threads. For that, I took to my sketch book and detailed not only the patterns, but how they were colored too.
In the upper left are all the brainstorming pattern ideas I had for each thread. 26 total patterns were needed, one for each thread as it moves horizontally across the screen. On the right hand side I took those patterns and colored them, the two center columns are for colors, and the outer columns are when the thread is on top of the astronaut. Remember, when on the astronaut the goal was for part of the pattern to be black. The colors of each pattern were chosen based off of the 6 different marker colors I have of greenish, pinkish, and blueish. Pairing them up lead to 18 color combinations, and left me 6 to do overlapping, blue blue, green green, and pink pink combos. The final 2 colors were chosen at the last minute after seeing how everything stacked up on the drawing, those live on the very edge of the top and bottom of the piece.
Finally, on the bottom left side I put everything into action, and also came up with what I was going to do to fill the small square voids that were left over from the pattern. I decided to make them look like holes, since the outermost layer would be touching the black and colored parts of the threads already, it made a smooth transition.
Next up is actually filling the threads in, one thread at a time.
Here hopefully you can see how each thread weaves within the other threads. They all follow the same jagged and dotted pattern, but each thread itself is filled with a different set of colors. If you look close, I immediately started coloring the astronaut portions black.
Phase two of the thread coloring produced this, but I still had a ways to go. Each individual thread takes about an hour to color, and was especially tedious since I didn’t want to screw up! All of these patterns are free handed, and any penciling I did prior was a mostly a guideline to not forget. Anything in marker as shown above is done purely without any kind of guideline or thin pencil lines, it’s all erased prior.
The final phase of coloring produced the above, and if you look hard you can see the black astronaut figure falling down. All that is left is to color in the voids!
The black voids are done, I think you can probably now see the falling astronaut come to life. Each void consists of 6 different fading shades of color, starting with black and ending in a medium grey.
The background grey voids are complete. These voids started in a darker grey but ended up with a very light grey in the center (6 shades total). Once I completed the corners that held the work in place, everything was finished and ready for photoshop.
I admit I spent a lot of time in photoshop this time, but some new tools that I had never seen before helped me out immensely.
* Auto Align – Allows you to take multiple pictures of portions of your artwork, and stitches them together seamlessly
* Auto Blend – Takes the aligned images and smooths the color transitions across them to produce one seamless looking piece of art
Before my archaic version of photoshop didn’t have these features, and I had to do this myself in a time consuming, labor intensive process. Once I figured out the above tricks, it dropped it down to 30 minutes max.
After that, I tried to adjust the colors slightly to give them a bit more pop for laptops/monitors/phones because the colors are never the same as they are in person and when reprinted. With that, Disintegration is finally complete.
Overall, this work took me about 50 hours working late nights after everyone went to bed from May through October of this year. While I have some concepts in my head for what can come next, I hope it does not take another 4 years to brew up another drawing.