Drawing in a Modern Style - Diary of an Aspiring Board Game Artist - Part 2

For Part 1, Click Here.

I don't think my current paintings look as though they are done in a modern style.

For one, I paint traditionally with acrylic paints. This is distinctly not modern.

And two... well, I don't know, my paintings just don't look modern and I'm not sure why. So I decided to investigate.

I spent time looking at a wide range of modern art. By that, I don't mean a huge white room containing a solitary pair of mustard and brown coloured Y-fronts. I mean art that looks modern.

I went for fairly simple illustrations that bordered on cartoony style art. I like to see this light breezy style in board games, think of Quadropolis as an example. It makes playing them a fun and pleasant experience. So I created a list of thirty elements from the images that stood out to me.

I won't include the images that I looked at here on my website due to copyright reasons but you can find them all on my Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/denton291/modern-art-style/

So to save you the bother of all of this investigation malarkey, here's the list of elements in no particular order. After this pretty huge list, I'll apply some of these elements in a sample drawing to show you some examples. I'll colour code the elements I focused on in red.

  • Angular

  • Flat colours

  • Simple gradients on flat colours

  • Limited colour palette

  • Caricatures

  • Scribbly ink with colour washes

  • Simple 3D shapes

  • Angular cut-outs from simple 3D shapes

  • Curves made up of almost straight lines

  • Flat shapes cut up by areas of colour

  • Flat shapes with brush textures

  • Colourful washes/gradients

  • Shiny!

  • Black outlines

  • Low contrast

  • Shaky lines

  • Rim lights

  • Brown outlines painted over in a Degas style

  • Z-axis effects, for example, a ribbon that twirls around a character

  • Dust spots on the "lens"

  • Flat shapes with simple textures

  • Different colour outlines

  • Edges merge into a texture, for example, abstract brush strokes or paint splats

  • Light effects

  • Lost edges

  • Stylised

  • Huge eyes, lips

  • Texture in shadows

  • Freckles

  • Fractured shapes overlaid at the edge of characters


I'm sure there are things that I've missed too, but you get the idea. Let's try and apply some of these ideas now. I'll create a Dad character hopefully in a modern style. You can be the judge!

This was the first stage of the process although this could potentially be a finished piece of work. I used angular shapes that went together to create a simple 3D form. Cutting out areas of this larger shape with colours to create the mouth, eyebrows and skin was fun to do and I liked the look of that clean right edge of the face. Another fun element was cutting out the triangular shapes from the top of the hair and the bottom of the beard. All of the colours were flat colours but I gave them a bit of interest by spattering on some texture. I was happy with this as a first attempt but I thought I could push it further and produce something a little more polished.

Stage 2 and I could suddenly see the potential of this style. I used what I've learnt from doing form studies to shade the face as if it was a simple 3D object. Here's a sample form study that I worked on to show you how this abstract practice can dramatically impact your artwork.

I also added some little touches like making the cut-outs at the edge of the hair and beard more three-dimensional, a solid-looking neck, and some lighter spatter on the beard. I was very pleased with this... and yet, I still thought that I could push it further.

This is the final version which I'm rather proud of considering it's the first thing I've attempted in a modern style. I added some coloured lines to the hair that I painted so that they faded into the area just above the eyebrow. I did the same with the beard except that I used wiggly lines of different thickness, but again I painted in a gradient. As a final little touch, I added in the Viking tattoo on his neck as a subtle detail. Leaving the side of the face free of any texture apart that little bit of spatter created a nice contrast between the textures on the face and neck.

After what I thought was a successful first foray into this murky world of modernity, I decided to check that it wasn't a fluke and create a little rabbit character.

Ah. Not quite as successful. I only went to the first stage of this because I wasn't happy with the shapes. I seemed to recall watching a video about shape design a while ago and thought this was a topic that I should investigate. Quickly. To create art in a modern style, I need to create modern shapes. This is my goal for next week, to understand the basics of shape design.

It goes to show that things are not always as simple as you think. Have you struggled to paint in a modern style or are you a master of beautifully designed shapes? Is there an element for the list that you would like to try to incorporate in your art? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to know.

In next week's post, I'll fill you in on what I discovered about shape design. That will allow us to add another brick of knowledge into the wall of modern art. See you next time!

#boardgameartist #aspiringboardgameartist #modernstyle #modernartstyle #modernillustrationstyle #modernillustration

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