Reflecting on the assignment and my previous blog about sculptors’ use of photomontage I decided I really had to give it a go. I’m in Elbigenalp in Austria with the sun shining, so that has to be a good start for the landscape part.
Let’s speculate that there was a potential commission for a sculpture to be sited near Elbigenalp bridge by the river. Let’s use ‘Figures in a landscape’ as the brief. What could be proposed and could a photomontage be useful?
There are some quite abstract wooden sculptures nearby, and the area is quite popular for walking and cycling. As the site is in the alps there is a (fairly) local source of good quality marble nearby. Thus , a stylised pair of figures in grey marble would be fitting. Although marble will take detail, the stylised form seems to fit the area and the other sculpture nearby. I’ve also been practicing more realistic figure drawings and so prefered to draw something more stylised this time.
I went to the location I intended to use and took two photos from along the path next to the bridge. I made sure that these included plenty of landscape to make the surroundings of the sculptures clear.
First I started with some rough sketches. Here is a sample page:
I liked the idea of the lower couple best, and so decided to develop that one. I’d started by taking 3 photos at roughly 90 degrees to each other, and with the sun across the path, so went with that to created some graphite drawings, and used a camera to digitise them:
I actually took photos of the sketch in different lighting, but only the ones in the sunlight outside really gave a good focus and colour balance. Although I can rebalance the colours, I prefer not to if possible. Also, the photo above shows 3 images, whereas I originally only drew the front and rear to match the path photos. The third will be mentioned later.
Using Krita I split the drawing into parts and rubbed out the backgrounds. I’m using a “fill” backgrounds in different colours to help the rubbing out process. From my previous work I learnt that just having a green background doesn’t always work effectively. In fact with these graphite drawings on a white background the green was quite effective.
Putting it together
I put the drawings into the photos the first time, and realised a few things:
- Having no reference in size and position made it hard to place the sculptures consistently in the landscape;
- The sketched shadows weren’t useful in the photomontage, as the effect didn’t look good;
- The photos were covering too much landscape leaving the figures much too small;
- It should be possible to see the grass under shadow; and
- Only having 2 positions wasn’t effective, as the view from the bridge was important.
From this learning I drew the extra viewpoint, and went back to retake the photos. This time I inserted a stick in the ground where I wanted the statue to be. When I had the photos I could then use this as a position and size reference – since I knew how bight the stick was. Covering it with the drawing was easy.
This time I also took out the shadow from the drawing images. To put the shadow in I added a paint layer above the landscape but below the statue. I used a brush to paint this in a dark colour – using different densities to get a more varied image. I reduce the opacity of this layer to get a better shadow. I still have a fair amount of landscape for the figure size in two of the images, but I feel this gives a better idea of scale.
What did I learn?
In essence the results show that the idea is feasible, and could be used in this way. I have also learnt a reasonable amount about this sort of drawing for sculpture, and how to set these up for a photomontage. If I were going to make the sculpture I would probably want to do more angles, as even adding the third angle made me do some rework of the idea. Lastly, I quite like the final set of images. An interesting and, to my mind, worthwhile exercise.