We had to do a digital painting of Genghis Khan for my class. I was actually annoyed by this—I already knew he’d killed an insane number of people, but when I looked into it, it was even worse than I’d realized. He killed like 40 million people, or 11% of the world’s population. Like, what? One man, in some megalomaniacal quest, killed over 1/10th of the humans who existed then. I am so sick of the way we put historical figures up on pedestals and ignore the horrible things they did and just talk about the “good” things. People are like, Oh, he was just a man of his times. I don’t care. Killing people just for personal gain is evil. So I knew I had to do something that would really highlight the monster he was.
Thumbnails and Line Drawing
We had to thumbnail, like we always do. I already had this image in my head of him standing on a pile of skulls, and I didn’t manage to get all 20 thumbnails done before needing to proceed on the line drawing and color studies because the deadline was looming. I did end up going back and adding some other thumbnails for partial credit later. The ones here in the lighter blue are the ones I did first. Here they are:
I then worked up a drawing. Although the idea was Khan on the skull pile, I felt I needed more going on. And then because I seem to always make my life difficult, I got completely carried away and drew 29 horses and 25 people. Here’s the line drawing:
There is a lot going on in that.
I had to do some color studies, so I did those, as shown here:
My instructor recommend I take the analogous color scheme I was working with and add a complementary color, so I liked that idea and tried it for the final piece. I liked the red study the best, as it seems most appropriate for the subject.
This one took a lot of time, because there’s so much going on. I decided to go for an ink and watercolor look, so I needed to to a solid line drawing before coloring. The plan was for the smallest people/horses in the background to not have the line drawing, just the color, to make them more subtle. But I still had to do the line drawing to guide the coloring, but I hid that later. So this piece had a ton of layers, too. I divided the horses into sections, one for each row on the left and and on the right (separately). Here’s what I eventually came up with:
I actually didn’t get a good grade on this. It was considered average. Apparently the skulls were too cartoonish and my linework on the horses wasn’t confident. I don’t know. It seems better than that, especially considering how ambitious the piece was and how I was trying something totally new. I guess they prefer you to stick with simple and what you already do well, rather than pushing yourself and learning new things, which seems totally opposite of what you should be doing in art school. Can you tell I’m kind of annoyed? Yeah.