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  1. #1

    Post August Entry: Compass Rose

    OK, I'm up for this but it's a big ask, because the last time I did any figure drawing was about 15 years ago, long before all this computer wizardry was available and I used a pencil and watercolours. But Pyrandon's Holy Isle thread has inspired me to give it a go.

    So here is the challenge I'll set myself for this competition:

    To do a compass rose in a Finlay Cowan style and not rely on 'happy accidents' to get to the end result. I've got his book on Fantasy art, and I'm going to use it!

    I have in mind a large shield (or orb) with the compass rose set upon it, with two figures on either side, probably one standing with a spear and floating pennant and the other near death, (very Victorian).

    So there's the theory. Subject to work demands, I think I'll have time to spend on this, but the result will probably be very amateur, but then it's the trying that counts..and it's a good reason to get a sketch book and to start drawing again!


  2. #2

    Default Search for References

    My first step will be to find references to use. I googled various search terms...knights, shields, cartouches, compass roses etc, but didn't really find what I was looking for.

    I then remembered that I had Heck's Pictorial Archive of Military Science, Geography and History

    Click on the link to go to Amazon. This is quite simply a brilliant reference work for the sort of mapping we do. I've scanned three pages of the 200 or so, for the references I was after which I attach below. I'll continue to collect references for the work but I may not post them all as this is intended as a diary of how I am approaching the process.

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  3. #3
    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Michigan, USA


    First off, thanks for saying that my "Holy Isle" concept sketch inspired you! Secondly, thanks for the referral to "Heck's"; it's now on my short list of to buy!

    I look forward to your compass rose!
    My gallery is here
    __________________________________________________ _______
    "Keep your mind in hell, but despair not." --Saint Silouan [1866-1938]

  4. #4

    Post Composition

    For the figures in the piece, I decided it would be quickest and easiest just to get my wife to take some reference photos of me. A bathrobe with a hood served as a cloak and a walking stick as a sword. (First Picture)

    I then brought these into PSP, cropped them to shape and inserted some basic shapes (Second Picture) and then made them into black silhouettes (Third picture). I then played with some compositional choices. The challenge here is to make the composition interesting enough to lead the eye through the piece but to keep the shield (or banner as in image 1) the centre of attention as this will hold the compass rose. Image 4, I felt was too static. Image 2 is good but the shield is abnormally large compared to the figures. Image 3 has a smaller shield but this would make the centre of attention, the compass rose on the shield, too small. I decide on image 1, I can make the banner bigger to fit the compass rose and it seems to be the most interesting shape of the 4 images and the shapes are nicely integrated.

    The horizon on the reference photos differ, with the sitting figure the camera was placed on the floor and the standing figure was taken at waist height, but I can rectify that in the drawing stage.

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  5. #5


    Wow! I love it when you guys show your work on the boards. I never would've thought of doing it that way. Keep up the good work!

  6. #6

    Post Figures

    Thanks Koor. This is the standing figure. Jeez, took me 6 hours to do, but I was learning lots of software stuff, so hopefully the next one will be better / faster.

    I'm not going to describe this long and painful process, but basically it involved tracing around the reference picture using Serif and colouring it. It looks pretty awful, I know, but hopefully the next one will be a bit better. It'll be scaled down a lot in the full picture which will hopefully hide a multitude of sins!

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