Sunday, May 28, 2017

Master Study: The Silver Warrior by Frank Frazetta

The colors in this picture stay within the blue, purple and light green spectrum with only a slight deviation from this at our focal point on the sword with an orange/red color. We get a clear example here of reflected light and the color within those shadows. The light is hitting him and the bears directly from above which is creating the dramatic shadows over the man. On the bears we see that any plane not facing the light source has a tone of blue that is the same as the sky however on the bottom parts of the bears where the shadowed plane faces the ground we get reflected light from the snow which is toned purple giving the shadow a lot of depth and differentiating the planes. He wants to make sure the shadows he is using are cool colored and not warm colored since this is the way the piece should feel: cold.

If I had to put down what I think the rhythm in this picture is I would say that one element of this is the eyes, noses and mouths of the bears which are all black and ascend the picture in a rhythmic fashion up the page starting on the bottom half and going right then left then right again before stopping dead center of the page. Naturally our eye would look to complete the rhythm so the next black shapes we see is in the silhouette of the man, particularly his face.

He wants our eye to fall and focus directly on the warrior's face and his sword he has in his hand
and he does this in numerous ways:

First there is the color difference with this being the only touch of orange/red color in the illustration which contrasts directly with color of the rest of the picture. The 3 rays of light that bounce off the sword are also an indication of that. We also get the contrasted black shape of his hair, face and sword
against the while mountain backdrop.

He gives us just enough information on the face while leaving the rest up to our imagination which draws us in more than if he was to make a fully rendered and detailed face. These are the only parts in the picture outside of the sleds themselves where black is used. Its not completely black since it still has some yellow and blue in the shadow itself but its enough of a difference to contrast with the color of the shadows under the polar bears beneath him and creates a interesting and provocative shape for our eyes to rest on.

This dynamic image of him on his sled  is framed by the two skis on either side and his sword keeping your eye going in a triangular fashion around him once your eyes have rested on his face. This is how he communicates the second read elements of the picture such as the ornamentation on the sled.

Pattern, Variety
The rule of 3 is applicable all throughout this piece:
-3 charms on his waist
-3 rays of light hitting the sword
-3 medals along his waistline
-3 protrusions from his helmet
- the 3 long dark shapes of the two skis and swords
-3 handles on the sled

Repeated shapes in the picture include small circles for the eyes, decoration on the sled, as well as the circular shapes of the backs of the bears and the decoration on the Silver Warrior himself. as he has several. There is also the repetition of 4 in the picture with four polar bears and their features which he uses to create rhythm and movement along with some of the decoration on his sled.

He sits nicely in contrast with the backdrop of the mountain which makes the silhouette of his head pop forward since it is shaped by the shadow which has next to no reflected light within it ( but is not entirely black since most illustrators will not use just a solid black for shadow, it would look out of place). Imagine if this landscape was behind waistline or was centered along the picture how would this take away from the contrast of the face? It would also create a lot of empty space on the top which would make it unbalanced.

This piece has a asymmetrical design and creates an interesting shape dynamic with one side leaning more towards the left and the polar bears more to the right. Asymmetrical designs are used to make a picture look more lively which is exactly what we see here it

He uses the positioning of the heads of the bears to provide movement.and a sense of liveliness that it would not have had they faced all the same direction or patterned like left, right left, right. Instead we get one looking to the right, one to the left and another one staring right at us which breaks the pattern and then another looking to the right. This along with the triangular shape of the man and his skis pushes our eye up to the top point of that triangle where he wants our eyes to land then we naturally look at the skis because they are another black shape and going from one ski to the next moves our eyes across to appreciate the ornamentation of the sled before going back up the the face.

In this piece he varies his edges pretty significantly where the bottom and top half of the piece contrast one another in this regard. For example the silhouette of the Silver Warrior is sharp and well defined in its edges. Again our eye naturally will go to these sharp edges and in comparison the soft edges of the bottom half of the mountain in the back drop and the soft edges around the arms and legs of the polar bears contrast with it nicely allowing his silhouette to dominate the picture so that our eye will not rest here. If he had made all of the edges sharp then the picture would not feel as lively I think. The soft edges are only meant to be there for the hard sharp edges to sit on.

He also uses a mixture of soft and sharp edges to define the edges on the polar bears. The two polar bears in the back are separated from one another by a lost edge that is more of a transition of color then like the other three which have sharp edges on them when they overlap and soft edges when they overlap with the snow on the mountain top.


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