Monday, September 1, 2008

Serving as a bad example

When Sarah took over editing The Boat for the Realistic Equine Sculpture Society, she asked if I would be interested in writing a regular column on horse color. I thought it would be a neat venue. I've written countless articles on horse color over the years, both for publications in the model horse community and for real world breed journals, but for the most part the focus was pretty general. In the case of the The Boat, I'd be speaking directly to other equine artists. Sarah also gave me the green light to assume the audience had a basic grasp of horse color, and delve into the more arcane aspects of the topic. So I could cover some new ground!

What I had in mind was something of a Question and Answer format, thinking that it would reinforce the idea that understanding how colors and patterns work had a direct impact on realism in equine art. My quandary was that often the best questions come in the form of a sample model and the simple questions, "Is this correct?" and "Does this color/pattern really do this?"

To do that, I would need to make examples of someone's incorrect artwork. I'd have no problem if the work was mine, but fortunately for me - and unfortunately for my current project - my worst period of horse color ignorance happened to coincide with my worst period for productivity. (Thankfully at least the color ignorance improved with time. Some might argue my productivity levels haven't changed much over the years.) But using someone else's work to illustrate problems wasn't somewhere I wanted to go, not even if I had willing volunteers. I needed to be my own bad example.

My solution was to go back to the "beady-eyed pony" illustrations I used back when I did horse color seminars at BreyerFest.

I wanted to find the slide with the "lethal white" pony, but it seems to have vanished. Though perhaps I am better off not broadcasting my odd sense of humor!

When I did those presentations, I used drawings because it was so difficult to find good pictures of the rarer colors. The added benefit was that I could create an image that emphasized exactly what I needed people to see. The more I thought about how I wanted to present information for my column, the more I thought this same idea might work well. This way even if someone came to me with questions about a specific model, I could simply transfer the issue in question to a drawing. (Some silhouettes have been changed to protect the innocent!)

The big difference this time around was that I have much better tools! The drawings for those original slides were done with magic markers. (That was why there were no champagnes - I couldn't find good taupe colors.) For this project, I've been developing templates for digital images. This will allow me to fill in the colors and patterns that I need, without having to redraw and recolor each one. And I can get cool effects, too.

Two overlaid patterns, showing that the interaction between patterns is more complex than just adding one on top of the other. That's the subject for the upcoming column!

So that's my excuse why there are still so many unfinished horses sitting on my desk right now. I'm busy coloring in horses all wrong!


mel said...

But that must be so much fun! How often do we get to make "bad" ponies?!! I am so psyched to see this article!

Carol H. said...
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Carol H. said...

Wow, I can't wait to read the article! The illustrations so far look great!