The WIP: Preening Ponies

Welcome to another segment of, The Work In Progress. After searching through my cluttered archives I managed to find one of my first commissioned based drawings, “Preening Ponies” from the popular TV show, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

Preening Ponies (sketch)

Gaining information from the subject matter is important. I had to know who these characters were, what their personalities were like, and what they looked like. The pony on the left is athletic, a tomboy, and a bit silly at times. The one on the right is intelligent, the princess of friendship, and only recently received her new wings through magic.

Designing the piece became exhilarating to me because I knew then and there that I would have the chance to add contrasts. Throughout my recent works I add contrasts as one of the main elements to my style. It’s nice to see that I still had that characteristic years ago. Both ponies would have to be preening their wings as requested, but I had the chance to give it my flare. Knowing that the ponies would stand out by themselves, I wanted to incorporate a lot of movement without the excitement of backgrounds. The wings were the main highlight, so I used them to create movement. Keeping the eye flowing is important so that I always have the audiences’ attention.

The left pony (Rainbow Dash) would have strength to her lick with a firm stance. The eyes would be closed shut with a long, dragging tongue across her wing. Her stance is pulled back with all hooves planted on the ground to show tension and grip. She’s been doing this for a while so her casual, ruffled nature of preening is humorous; hence, I added a smirk to her mouth to also compliment her personality.

The right pony (Twilight Sparkle) is graceful. I imagine that she read tons of books on how to preen her wings, yet she still ends up being adorkable when the time came. I made her whole mouth cover the top of her wing for multiple reasons: to add to the show’s upbeat theme, to appeal to the audience (anyone who loves to see something cute), and to contrast against Rainbow Dash. If I had her preening properly then it would give a neutral emotional response. By adding the extensive licking from Rainbow Dash and the cute “nomming” from Twilight Sparkle we get a high and a high, rather than a high and a low. Learning from the Baroque period really helped me understand this. Tenebrism gives dramatic and powerful contrasts in shadings. I believe that art mainly focuses around the emotional response, so I create drama through the subject matter itself.

Preening Ponies (ink)

The inking process is one of my favorite stages. It leaves a clean mark to show the overall design in a crisp and clear manor. I personally inked this by hand because I have more control, but nowadays I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to digitally ink it. It gives me the chance to edit over the lines, which traditionally would be a bit more tedious. Nonetheless, there is still a different artisan vibe when inked by hand which cannot naturally be done digitally.

Preening Ponies

The colors are vivid in the show. I wanted to let those colors speak for themselves. Against the white background along with the crisp line work, it pops out like two individual gems. I am a fan of watercolor, so that’s what I used, and I’m glad I did. The textures, shadows, and highlights really heightens the piece with contrasts from sharp edges to smooth lines. The light green shading became an addition to the space and movement of the piece. Subconsciously, Rainbow Dash has the “trapezoid shadow” to emphasize strength through it’s rigid corners, while Twilight Sparkle has a loose “triangle shadow” to show her calm and stable behavior while having discipline.

Three years later I look back on this piece and see the elements which I never expected myself to comprehend or have. Of course I am never perfect. Even now I wish I had made changes to every single piece of artwork I created. I will never create the perfect art piece. Our minds change along with their presence, and I enjoy that. There’s always something new around the corner. It’s just always essential to have fun when creating your perfect art piece.

Please leave a comment below if you have any critiques or comments, or simply just LIKE and SHARE!

For more, visit Tristan’s Website

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