I'm still playing around with style & technique. I found a still from the Ten Commandments and decided to try and break it down and do a study of it. I like it because it has strong but simple lighting and color and a nice sense of depth with a very loosely defined background:
I wanted to see how it broke down in terms of tone and how I might interpret it in black & white, so I desaturated it and pushed the contrast until I had something I could study:
Using pens and a black colored pencil I made this drawing, trying to further simplify the values and avoid any line work that would make it look to overworked or overdrawn (like feathering or cross hatching.) I like the way the colored pencil comes through in the scan - it holds it tone and gives the drawing some organic texture:
Once I had that scanned in, I colored it using as few colors as possible. The colors I chose had to be a little bit darker and less saturated that the colors from the photo since I was working within a narrower range of values. I learned a lot about using saturation as well as value to define lights and darks. There are only about 4 basic colors, but lots of variation in saturation and tone to create variety:
What did I learn? I learned a lot about drawing less and keeping in mind the overall image - what I would define with line and what I would define with color. The next step is to try something from scratch without reference and see how much I can carry over from this study.
Am I wasting my time? Maybe. I'm sure a lot of artists a lot smarter than I am can figure this stuff out without going through all of this effort, but I want to push my drawing style and make it simpler yet more sophisticated at the same time. I know it's a fool's errand to chase after someone as talented as Alex Toth, but my instincts tell me that that's the direction I need to go in.