Art Talk: Drawing backgrounds - Practice (Part 1)

Chlodwigplatz Cologne
The gate at the Chlodwigplatz in cologne (I took this photo in Winter 2012)

It’s weekend – a Sunday to be precise. And as it’s often the case on Sundays I just don’t know what to do with my time. If it comes to how I feel, it’s as though the weekend is already over and my thoughts are already drifting to Monday, to school and work, so even the slightest attempt to draw fails before I even start. The fact that it’s way too warm (I never liked summer to begin with, I favor rain and autumn weather over this heat) only makes it harder to concentrate, too. On days like this I’d rather stay in bed all day.

But what  do I do, if I don’t want to waste my Sunday?

It’s too uncomfortable to draw properly – to write my novel isn’t an option either, it’s too noisy here at home to focus. So I spent my time laying on my bed, listening to music (a mixture of anime, movie and game soundtracks, plus some songs of Loreena Mckennit & Secret Garden) – and gradually I began to daydream of medieval times. It was then that I remembered the DVD of the newest volume of my favorite magazine Imagine FX – wasn’t there  an interesting tutorial to practice drawing backgrounds?Yes! There was! A wonderful video of CGMA  about the “Fundamentals of Architecture”. Although the video focuses on Asian architecture (especially pagodas) it’s easy to transfer the lesson to other kinds of architecture.

I decided to make an attempt of my own and started with step one: online research. To draw something, it’s important to know the matter well and since I am a fantasy artist, it cannot harm to collect some more reference material, right?

The first keyword I searched for was “medieval castle” – simple as that. Of course I found loads of beautiful pictures immediately. Photographs, old drawings, screencaps – all kind of images really, so I sound also found new keywords to search for: medieval bridge, medieval tower, medieval gate house and many more. Well, mission accomplished, huh? Because the purpose of this task was to take one keyword and find more going from there.

It’s amusing though that once I searched for “medieval gate”, I ended up seeing familiar sights: the Hahnentor, Eigelsteintor and the Ulrepforte. These are all medieval remnants in cologne, the city I live in. My next step was rather obvious: I searched for “medieval cologne” and this was where I thought “hey, why not adding my own photos?” – pictures I took in cologne, but also on trips as for example when I traveled to nearby Bonn to visit the Drachenfels.

Interested in these pictures? I prepared a small gallery of my own photos right here! :)

Soon I’ll be going to show the results of the second step of this task: to make rough sketches based on my research.


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