Even and his Unicorn

-By Jesper Ejsing

I started chatting with Even Mehl Amundsen about a year ago over Facebook. I was ripping off the color theme from one of his paintings and wrote him and asked for an insight to how he painted. Finding out he was from Norway we both realized we could do it in our native language. We started talking about artworks and just a couple of months ago it turned out we were both in Praque at the same time. We met up and started what I hope will become a long lasting Friendship.

He visited Copenhagen just a month ago and I asked him to do a quick tutorial for MuddyColors since I think you all should see his elegant and easy style of painting. Even is, to me, a wonderkid of art and I am just waiting to see some more from his hand in the  future

Here is Even's Tutorial:

Here is a piece I did as a tribute for the 'Trojan Horse was a Unicorn' Workshop, and in particular to they guy behind all that magic, Andre Lourenco.

It came about while I was sitting around chatting with Mike Azevedo, and we came upon the idea of doing different takes on unicorns. The initial idea was that it didn'tneed to be based on a horse, but for example something out of the deer family, so I drew up the line sketch, and in the process Mike mentioned "Why not give it wings? A unicorn could always use wings", a tip which started a bit of a trend in my process for this piece

All in all, this is mostly going to be a an account of how important it is getting help from your friends, but I will try my best to throw some workable knowledge into the mix as well.

When it came to the painting process, I wanted to allow myself more room for playing and experimenting than I usually do, as my process tends to center around breaking down and separating my problems as much as I can, to make things easier for myself. However, in this piece I wanted to try and be a little more direct, less planned out. So, for the color sketching, I tried to be very deliberate in my mark making.

While doing this I was visiting Esben Rasmussen, who gave me some input on what to do with the composition, resulting in something far less messy than what was the original idea. Never to early to have someone critique your work I suppose.

So using this feedback as a basis, I got to work. (I should have taken more screen caps of the process between these two stages, but mostly it was very chaotic, just series of work sessions of going back and forth, applying things, removing, re-applying, back and forth).

I cut down a little of the head silhouette of the unicorn, removing the goat-ish beard that, in line sketch had read pretty nicely, but that did not work very well when painted out. I did a lot of painting on the wings trying to find a good  way of depicting the light filtering through the layers of feathers, which prompted a lot of playing around with layer modes, and combining them. That was another lesson I took away from this piece, that trying stuff out, just to try and surprise yourself is a lovely way to revitalize your painting process.

Having gotten to a point where I was flagging a little, not really knowing in what direction I wanted to take the piece, I pressganged some more friends into helping me out, who pointed out some serious shortcomings on the lighting, and gave me some wonderful suggestions on how to make the whole image read a lot better, the first beling Efflam Mercier, the second; Jake Panian, both surpassingly brilliant in the use of light and atmosphere which are realms that I still have yet to roam very freely in.

So, after having taken the above-mentioned asskicking, and applied it as well as I could, I was starting to feel pretty good about the piece, so having worked the piece a little further after the previous batch of feedback I went for one last round, and as I have to good fortune of working with her, I went and asked Laurel Austin to give it a glance and see what she might correct. And again, it proved illuminating . Her feedback centered around the anatomy of the creature, and the possible references that might come in handy for different aspects of this somewhat composite structured beast. Her understanding of these matters is immensley impressive and is reflected in the sheer glee she takes from discussing them.

After processing and applying this last batch of feedback, including adjustments to the wings and torso of the unicorn, as well as some other parts of the piece, I was ready to call it done.

To finish things off I went in with the smudge tool, set to a scatter brush, and gently went and lost some edgesto reinforce the read, and added a bit of a noise filter to even things out.

And thus I have ended up with this final piece. In truth there were more people who gave feedback that I have neglected to mention here, but these were the pointers that really turned some things around for me. I would like to thank everyone who took some time and put in their two cents, It's a very great pleasure to be allowed to intrude upon you all!

I am pretty sure I owe Jesper another (proper) tutorial, so maybe I'll be allowed to give it another go sometime. I hope you will all forgive me for leaving this one a little on the chaotic side.

Thanks for taking the time to read