Thursday, August 13, 2015

Personal work: Imagination Reimagined

This drawing I did in 2011, titled "Imagination," is my most popular drawing.

This has kind of bugged me, because this drawing is so old and I never even thought it was that good! But people seem to connect with the concept, especially writers - which I didn't expect because it's a portrait of myself drawing. People tend to see themselves or their friends in it, and will leave comments like "This looks exactly like my friend Marissa and she's a writer!" Deviantart even used it in an official blog post about creativity.

Note to self: people connect with the concept behind a drawing more than the technique.

This week I was preparing some of my most popular illustrations for a new batch of prints. I wanted to print this one, but it had non-standard dimensions and a low resolution, because this was one of my first digital paintings and at the time I didn't consider stuff like future print runs. So I decided I would take a few minutes to just add a little to the sides to make it a standard paper size.

While I was at it, I could just touch it up a little. Just a little.

Then I just got carried away.

Several hours later:

Here's a side-by-side comparison: (click the image to enlarge)

There were three major things I wanted to improve in this scene:
  1. Flat lighting and color. In the original drawing, there's no way to tell where the light is coming from or what temperature it is. It's just completely uniform across the room. I fixed this by deciding that there was a window on the other side of the desk, and having cool daylight coming in from it. I increased the shadows under the desk and behind the character, which increased the sense of depth. Putting the white chair in shadow also helped keep it from standing out so strongly.
  2. Too many harsh, unbroken lines. In the first version, there are a lot of harsh shapes: the picture frames, the desk, the dresser. These bothered me at the time but I didn't know how to fix it. Now that I've had more practice, I knew that I could break up these shapes by layering in softer objects: the windblown curtains, the backpack, the table plant and scarf.
  3. Sloppy rendering. Like I said, this was one of my first digital paintings, so the amount of detail is pretty sloppy when seen up close. There was a lot of polishing to do.

Now I finally order my prints!


  1. oooh wonderful!! The changes look really great :)

  2. This is absolutely amazing. It's some sort of weird phenomenon because I did find this art years ago and thought then and still think, that it looks exactly like myself. I'm both an artist AND a writer! Very strange lol I'd love to compare photos of us in real life to see if you're really my doppelganger.


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