Aug 1, 2016

California State Bird and Flower Color Version - Finished!

In my last post about my CA state bird and flower artwork I had said I was pretty much done except for one important thing I needed to do. Well, here it is, the final finished artwork with that "important thing" completed. What is that important thing? The outline. Yes, it had an outline already. But the simple black outline was a too stark and I wanted to soften it a bit for the final images.

One of the advantages I have working digitally that you can't really do when coloring in line art with a pen (or pencils, pastels, etc) on paper is that I can color over the outline. I colored the outlines to match the objects' base colors so they still have an obvious outline but one that is a little more subtle than the harsh black.

Here's a closeup of part of the image. You can see I used dark brown to outline lighter brown wing feathers, dark blue-gray to outline the blue-gray tail feathers, darker orange to outline the poppy flowers, and dark green to outline the leaves and stems.

This is a technique often used in traditional 2D animation, most notably in Disney's classic animation films, to give the characters a softer, more elegant and sophisticated look. Here are some snips of images from Disney's classic, Sleeping Beauty. As you can see in this first image, the birds all have outline colors that match their respective body colors.

Typically the outline color is a few shades darker than the main body color when that main base color is a light to medium shade. When the base color is dark to black, an outline a few shades lighter is usually used, as you can see in this picture of Maleficent and her raven.

An exception to these rules is sometimes used to make something stand out. In the image below they did the opposite of the usual by outlining Sleeping Beauty's light blonde hair with an even lighter color. This gives the impression of sunlit highlights in her hair and gives her a more angelic look to accent her beauty.

Why did I use this technique for my CA bird and flower? Because I wanted to give it a more sophisticated look than a typical kid's colored-in line drawing and I think this style really makes a difference there.

I have always loved the beautiful artwork of Disney's classic 2D animation films. It's a shame they don't do this much anymore. While technology has enabled them to do some incredible things with 3D computer animation, I think traditional 2D animation is an art form in its own right, not to be replaced by 3D computer art, but to have its place along side it. What do you think about 3D vs traditional animation art?

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