Saturday, September 17, 2011

Portfolio Review: Scott Elyard

Scott Elyard is a freelance graphic artist, illustrator and animator. You can see more of his work at his website and his tumblr.


Hi Scott! Great work! I like the more graphic, design based approach that you take with your work. On the whole, in the pieces you sent and some of the pieces I saw on your blog, my main critique is that the colors seem too isolated from one another. The colors are just a little too high-contrast and loud and aren't jiving with each other as much as they could. I have two main recommendations for this:

1) You can keep the areas of color completely separate as you have, but tone them down and make them more harmonious. Keep your saturated colors at a minimum, and use them as an accent against more muted tones. Putting a small bit of saturated color on a muted color will make the saturated color shine all the more without being garish. I am all for using loads of bright color, but you have to keep it balanced.

2) Work the area color into each other. In the dinosaur skull example below, work warmer yellow tones into the skull, and purple tones into the background; don't keep them completely isolated. Tie the different areas together by distributing color throughout the piece rather than keeping it restricted to one area. Make them look like the background and foreground exist in the same space.

This is a great study of the form of the skull (you did a fantastic job capturing the complicated planes and shapes of the form), but as I mentioned above, the two areas of color are starting to feel isolated and discordant. I realize it's a more graphic approach, but it might be pushing it a little too far (for my personal preference, anyway). I realize that adjusting color in watercolors is easier said than done, but if you wanted to add more highlights or make color adjustments, try coloring on top of the dried watercolor with colored pencils. I've done this a few times in the past and it's great for layering color on top of watercolor or marker washes.

I love the texture of the brushstrokes in the background, but they're really dominating the piece. Either the color needs to be knocked down a tad, or the high-contrast brushstrokes need to be subtler, or a combination of both.

Here's an overpaint, toning down the brushstrokes in the background and adding some warmer yellow tones into the purple. (A lot of this is just my personal preference, so take it with a grain of salt).


This skull works much better, in my opinion. You have a nice relatively understated contrasting color scheme, with some of the cool greens of the background included in the skull to tie the two together; the colors all feel like they are working harmoniously together. The brushwork in the background provides visual interest without dominating or pulling too much attention away from the focal area. Great work! This is a very nice study. I have no overpaint for this one, everything looks great.

This is a great monochromatic study that shows a lot of care and attention to detail. I love the pose, too; clearly the guy is dedicated to getting just the right shot. :) It's a relatively simple setup, but you can really take the opportunity to showcase brushstrokes and hard vs soft edges. On the pants and face especially, the brushstrokes are getting streaky. Instead of scribbling in the shading to get your tone, think about the planes of the form, and brush along those planes. In my paintover below, I took a palette knife brush in Photoshop (which I uploaded here. It's one of my most used brushes. It's great because you get a hard crisp edge on one side, and soft edge on the other. Soooo nice.) and went over the main planes of the head with a few quick strokes. Texture and brushstrokes are great, but not when they start streaking and interfering with the sense of form and volume. Sometimes a simpler, tighter rendering is a more effective solution than too many sketchy marks. Also, a few soft edges and lost edges contrasting with all the hard edges can add more visual interest.

There's quite a lot going on here! It's a fun concept, and I like the robotic parts and detailing in the body. This is another case where the colors are just too saturated and too seperated out from each other, though. The blues are fully saturated, the purples are fully saturated, and the orange/yellow is fully saturated, and all in all it's a bit much. I recommend desaturing the head, making the background blue a little lighter and warmer (a little more towards purple), and have the colors bleed into each other a little more. You are doing this to an extent with the purple shadows/rimlighting on the mask, but even in an abstracted piece the light source needs to make sense. If his face is that strongly and evenly lit by a warm yellow light, the undercut areas aren't going to be that dark purple. Try a more desaturated, grayer warmer purple instead.

The purple rimlighting under the nose, cheeks and jawline wouldn't be that strong in such strong lighting. If you wanted to keep that strong purple light source, I would recommend putting the lower half of his face more in shadow so that the secondary light source of purple would show up more.

I feel the body could use a little more modeling so it isn't quite so flat, but that's just my preference and not necessarily the best or only solution.

Here's an overpaint, adjusting the colors, adding a little more shading and modeling on the body, and working on a more consistent light source (though it's still a little wonky here). In the process I accidently destroyed the neat palm textures you had in the background; sorry about that! :o

I love the idea of making a resume that stands out. :) Spiral shapes/nautilius shells are fantastic design motifs. Very nice. In this case, I think the design is starting to interfere with the function, though. I think you can keep the unique approach, but the important information needs to be more readily available for potential clients. Don't make them hunt for what they need, because you run the risk that they just won't bother.

Normally I'd be all for gradients, but it's not quite working for me here. I think you might be better off with solid colors. I don't know that the tentacle balls are entirely necessary, either.

I highly recommend 3 main changes:

1) Make the contact info text block be normal with no slant. Make it a little bigger and move it closer to the nautilus. The slant doesn't add anything to the overall design, and as this is the most important information, it might be best to just have it straightforward. I really like the gray-blue-orange color scheme of the text, though! :)

2) Consider reworking the shading to flat colors instead of gradients. It's just a little too much going on.

3) Consider taking the small text in the outer blue spiral and placing it somewhere else so it's easier to read. It requires a little too much head turning to read your skills, and that's not good ;)

I was going to leave it be, but I got to playing around with it in photoshop, and I think just using a simplified version of the spiraling nautilus shell motif by itself can add a lot of great visual interest.

Bear in mind this is strictly just one person's opinion. I am not by any means a graphic artist, so take this with a grain of salt. Also please pardon my crappy fonts and choppy lines. This was done quickly and I am not good at recognizing fonts so I just picked ones that were thin and blocky respectively. ;) I think this might be one way to keep a fun layout while still making the needed information more readily accessible.

Overall, I love your careful attention to detail and your obvious love of your subject matter. I think pieces like this and this are stronger on a whole. On these two pieces, your skills really shine. Simple monochromatic color schemes, nice linework, and a great graphic approach that's illustrative but not over-rendered. I'd recommend doing more along those lines. Your ink work in particular is very lovely; it'd be great to see more animal/skeleton/etc studies done in detailed ink renderings with subtle watercolor washes, because I think those are some of your real strongpoints.

Really nice work. :) I like seeing people interested in studying actual natural history rather than making *everything* up from imagination. Working from actual animals and skulls and skeletons lends a sense of solidity and authenticity that's hard to come by otherwise. Keep up the great work! :)

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