Kakashi Custom Playmat

Once again it comes back to spirals it seems. I wasn’t even aiming to use them in this image, it just formed as I sketched and re-sketched the first version.
Which as it happened was more than just a few times. I knew the pose I was aiming for but just couldn’t get the angle of the face quite right, kakashi’s mask hindering matters further as it obliterates most of the usual lower facial structure.   I ended up having to bring a large mirror into my workspace and work from live reference, which is probably why his hand is about life-size (although the rest of him is quite heavily foreshortened after that – you have to assume he’s an arms length away from you).
I mention spirals a fair bit in these posts so I figured it was about time I talked a little more about them. There are a number of ways you can lay out an image, for example in photography and film especially the rule of thirds is quite useful to know in order to keep your subjects within the frame. Similarly and what I tend to gravitate towards is the use of the golden ratio, a spiral structure that tends to crop up quite a bit in nature, and which humans tend to find ascetically pleasing.
You will however probably have noticed the image above doesn’t quite match the golden ratio exactly but then I did mention that I wasn’t really aiming for that layout in particular so its not a bad approximation, especially since the thumb pretty much rests at the center point. The other nice thing about using this method is you can stack many spirals inside one another all at different angles (mainly 90 degree variations) and all different sizes to build up a composition.
Another obvious thing I should probably mention is that the hands have changed between the sketch and the finished mat. The one in the foreground bothered me because the pose was going to be a right pain to make look right. The shading would have been all over the place, drawing the palm and the backs of the fingers in the same image can end up looking weird. The background hand wasn’t at quite the right angle anyway, I knew that from messing about with the image digitally, so when it came time to work on the mat I just decided the ball of lightning would look cooler if the whole hand had just been engulfed. Theres still a bit of a hint of it being there, between that an an implied arm I let the viewers brain do the rest.
As for the lettering, the straight lines weren’t much of a problem and I found a different type of tape which seems much better than what I had been using, the S on the other hand…
See, the colour I use for the black backgrounds likes having hard edges to work against or else it wont create hard lines and has a tendency to bleed. On the other hand I’m not going to get a curve with the tape I’m using. In the end i had to cut out a template, in two sections because of the size, and tape them down in the center while holding the edges in place, you cant really use any sort of tack on a mat since it would leave residue or interfere with the colours.
Inside the lettering as the background got progressively darker I worried it might have gone too dark. One of the things about the blues I use however is that they have a tendency to overwrite each other, even the lighter ones have enough pigment to draw over black, so if I wasn’t happy with something i could always lighten it again. The finishing touch was adding a variety of other colours into the mix a bit like how space is dark but full of colour, you know, to add interest.
Well thats Naruto mat 3, I could probably spend several more paragraphs talking about how I spent a fair bit of time looking at all the different ways his hair gets rendered media, or all the little things I noticed about his jacket but I think thats enough for now. I do quite like using words as the framework of the layout though so I’m sure we will see this style again.
Next time I finally ‘assemble’ a post about a mat I haven’t been able to talk about for two months.
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