Monday, August 1, 2011

A Scene in progress

So - I want to create a novel.  I have many ideas, and all of them seem awesome, but putting pen to paper and finishing the task has eluded me thus far.  To that end, one of the books I'm reading to help me establish characters, setting and plot advised me to create the scene visually and let that guide me in writing.

A two for one deal for me - practicing writing and sketching at the same time!  So here's my attempt:

Bread.   The smell of fresh baked bread wafted in through the open window from the bakery next door.  It squatted on the corner of my lane, and being only a single floor high, it allowed the eastern sky to blaze into my second floor bedroom.  From the garden across the street, the smell of jasmine and honey mixed into the morning's perfume.  The streets themselves began waking up, with carts and cars traveling slowly along the beaten track.  Their new engines, a marvel of modern ingenuity, chugged softly bringing the merchants some of their wares to sell.  Along the Via Tusca, heading north, farmers brought the butchers and dairymen the food for the morning meals.  Slowly, Rome woke up to a new day.

Here it is, a little preview of what I'm working up.  My thoughts are running in a fantasy - where a culture exists that is a mix between Roman and Steampunk.  For the sketch, I see a few issues - the shading is non-existent or incorrectly made.  The buildings are blocks that have no characters.  I have problems with the perspectives - trying to maintain a common view point.  Proportionally, I think i messed up - and it still looks too flat.  But, it is a start.

As always - comments are greatly appreciated.  Until the next time...

1 comment:

  1. An excellent start, Tony.

    Yes, you do need to study perspective & shading—good assessment on that (though perhaps a little too harsh).

    With perspective, especially two-point as in this sketch, the closer-together the vanishing points are, the more unrealistic the resulting image looks. Which, of course, makes it hard to draw unless you have a paper several feet wide. With practice, you'll be able to do perspective like that freehand [a great resource for that is especially "Perspective Tip" towards the bottom]

    As for shading, the first step should always be determining where your light source is. Especially for something as complicated as this scene, I'll usually put in a little circle with an arrow attached to it, showing the light's source and direction (a little mini sun, if you will).

    There are a few other things I think you'll need to investigate as you grow...

    1) Roman architecture and culture. Yes, you're doing a wonderful mix of Roman and steampunk, but having a basis in reality and history will make the fantasy all the more striking. For example: the houses of wealthy Romans (like your character) were often turned-in, focused on an interior courtyard with no windows looking outside (for security). Of course, insulae (apartment blocks) had windows wherever they could fit, but I doubt your character lives in one of those. Also, houses would often have shops on the ground floor (like the bakery) to bring in additional revenue.

    Look at the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema for a good idea of what life in Ancient Rome may have looked like (with some artistic license). Pay attention to how he depicts the architecture, the little details, and the way light spills through his paintings:

    2) Time: it's just after dawn, and as you said, the city is beginning to wake up. There should be people about...maybe buying fresh bread from the bakery, or hunched against a wall, sleeping off a night of debauchery, or carting in fresh produce from the suburbs. Light will also help with this: it's morning, so the light should be low, streaming in, throwing long shadows across the streets and buildings, and should be warm and golden.


    I know that's a lot to look at/for, a lot to work on, but that's the point of this exercise: to get you some specific goals and areas of study.

    Best of luck, my friend!