Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Story of the Abandoned Mine

One of the things that my children and I do is make up stories. We do it in a number of ways. One variation consists of me coming up with a starting point, and we pass it from person to person, with each adding the next event. We find that this allows the story to go in a number of directions.

Another variation actually started during our music studies last year. We homeschool our children, and one of the subjects I teach is music. I felt it was important before they learned to play an instrument that they have an understanding and love for music. Our music class talks about genres of music, instruments, and a visual aspect of music. The visual aspect is them communicating what they see when they close their eyes and listen to this music. I found that they were quite good at making up stories. I started finding classical soundtrack music from movies, and that style of music inspired wonderful tales from my children.

So, I started asking for the kids to come up with a story, and I would paint a picture with them in it. I will publish some of those stories as we do it, and the artwork that has come out of it.

Today’s story is a tale of Devin’s adventure searching for treasure in the abandoned mine. He imagined that he found a map to a gold mine that had been abandoned and forgotten about for years. He bravely took his flashlight and entered the mine. After several turns, he happened upon a horrible scene, two skeletons of adventurers like him who had died in the mine. He was on his guard, which was a good thing as up ahead the wooden support gave way and nearly toppled on top of him. But still he managed to get by.

This painting was a lot of fun to do. It was interesting doing a concept of a long tunnel. I started with the infinite tunnel idea, but it didn’t look right for a mine. I wanted the mine to feel small and claustrophobic, and showing a turn ahead in the mine was a good way to do that. I liked the touch of the two skeletons, but struggled with the texture to show them. A standard bone color blended in too much with the dirt and overall color scheme of the mine. I ended up adding almost a blue tinge to the bones to make them standout.

I always struggle when I have to add a photo of a real model to my paintings. To my eyes, it never seems perfect. For this one, I took a picture of Devin with my iPhone just to use a test subject in the renderings. The photo was good, but grainy compared to our more expensive high-resolution digital camera. But the look was great, I found that I had to do very little with the picture of Devin other than cut out the background. He really looks like he fits perfectly with the scene.
I added the flashlight at the end in Photoshop by creating a very bright Adjustment Layer with Curves. Then only showed the beam path of the flashlight. About the only other things I did in Photoshop was add a photofilter that gave the scene a golden look, and added a soft focus look.

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