Sketches from SAM and Frye

My classmates and I visited museums to study baroque and neoclassical paintings. For me, it’s more like having fun than serious study.

We sketched several thumbnails for those paintings. I have to say that only by sketching can you notice how they made decisions of assigning light and dark to a picture. There’re many paintings I haven’t seen before, and they give me inspirations to make new things. And the paintings look much better than those images on the internet. Study with physical materials always give me surprise.


“Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
c. 1665-75.Oil on Canvas.


My favorite part of “Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”


The Virgin Presenting the Rosary to Saint Dominic. Georges de la Tour.
Oil on canvas. 123.8 x 108.6 cm. Seattle Art Museum.


The Shepherdess, William Adolphe Bouguereau.
1873 165.1×87.6cm


Part of The Shepherdess.
This is a photo I took. Much better than the upper images! And the real painting is even more fabulous!

It’s very convenient to sketch in a museum. The only shortage is there’s no color.

My sketch book:





Romantic art starts in the middle 18th century. It’s more about expressing personal feelings such as pursuing of liberty, not the eternity which neoclassicism focuses on. Painters put their attention on people’s emotions, not the form of their bodies. The pictures are often imaginations of the painter, not life observations. Topics are usually about sex, death and violence, which is totally different from neoclassical aesthetic.


The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda), Francisco Goya.
1797–1800, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Maja ubrana

The Clothed Maja, Francisco Goya.
1798–1805, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Composition: There’s a woman lying in the picture diagonally.

Value:  Light is focused on her and the background is dark. There’s not much effort on the values of the body forms. Instead, the painter uses value to pop out the figure. For example, her hair is almost flat black and her face is so white. Her eyebrows and dark eyes are so black that pops out her flirting look.

Color: In the Nude Maja, the bluish green sofa makes her ivory body even more attractive. Pillows are light lilac and back walls are brown, they are both desaturaed. In the Clothed Maja, Colors are more saturated. She wears a yellow jacket, and she has a pink skin, these saturated colors drag our eyes to her face. And generally colors are warmer than in the Nude Maja. The sofa became grass green; the light is so warm that makes her white clothes a bit yellow.

Texture/ Patterns: There’s little effort on texture. We can tell some clothes are slick and some are a bit fury. Different from neoclassical paintings, we can hardly see the difference between the textures of her skin and hairs. Overall the painting is rough, no elaborate contours can be found. There’re also some rough patterns on her yellow clothes and the laces of pillows. They are not the interesting point of the painter.




Color thumbnails:

Francisco Goya-22228

A Village Bullfight, Francisco Goya.
1812-14. Oil on panel, 45 x 72 cm


Portrait of Victor Guye, Francisco Goya.
1810, Oil on canvas, 104,5 x 83,5 cm.


Neoclassical period starts at the early 18th century. After the solemn Baroque and frivolous Rococo, people calm down and come back to the modest classical style. Neoclassical artists are imitating the way of creating ancient Greek and Roman art, but they are more sophisticated in skill than ancient artists. There’re several obvious features of Neoclassical art: 1. Serious topics such as history or significant actual stories. Neoclassism is about rationality not sensitivity. 2. Balanced and integral compositions. 3. Clear edges and strict values. Characters look firm and sound in paintings. But they don’t care much about colors and hue. 4. Make the aesthetic more realistic, which is different from Greek or Roman art.

Madame Moitessier Seated, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 x 92cm.
Composition: A maam sits in the middle of the picture. There’s a space around her except the bottom. Her dress fills the bottom of the picture. This is a integral, calm and peaceful composition.
Value: There’re lots of subtle changes on the character, but the painter controlled very well. The hair is generally dark and the skin is light. There are sharp changes on the dress which shows the texture just right. Overall, the value is rigorous.
Lines: Everything has a clear contour.
Patterns and Textures: Patterns are elaborately painted on the dress, furniture, and accessories. So are the textures of skin, clothes, gems, metal… and everything.
Colors: Actually there’re lots of colors in the picture.  However, there’s no clear cold or warm between light and dark. In other words, they are solid and realistic without personal imagination.
Here’s my Neoclassical version of Alice in Wonderland:
neoclassical alice 1
neoclassical alice
There’re something that is NOT Neoclassical in this painting:
The composition is pretty modern, because I always hope this painting can be used as wallpaper. The background is very flat, which is not Neoclassical, either. The flowers have some light and shade, but they’re not totally finished yet.
portrait-of-madame-moitessier-standing (1)

Portrait of Madame Moitessier Standing, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1851. Oil on canvas, 146.7 x 100.3 cm.

Here’s my Neoclassical painting of Zahra:

The Coronation of Napoleon, Jacques-Louis David. December 21, 1805–November 1807. Oil on canvas. 6.21 m × 9.79 m.


The Virgin of the Host – Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1866

Hierarchy of Baroque Painters and Game Artists

There’s a clear hierarchy in Baroque paintings. The most skilled painters earn the most, and they have a great impact on other painters.

1. History painting talks about a certain story happened in a certain time. The story can be religious, mythological, or allegoric. These paintings are showed in public. And the painter will be admired by the whole painting world.


The Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio.
1599-1600, Oil on canvas, 10′ 7 1/2″ X 11′ 2″.
Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.

2. Portraiture is often ordered by the rich. Some really rich people also ask history painter to paint for them. Some painters are not able to paint large, complex history paintings, but they are still skilled in single character, then painting portraiture is a good choice.


Portrait of Innocent X, Velazquez. c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 141 x 119 cm.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.

3. Genre painting talks about the everyday life of commoners. Since the audiences are not the royal family or rich financiers, rough skills can be accepted.


The Fortune Teller, Caravaggio.
1596-97,Oil on canvas, 99 x 131 cm.
Musée du Louvre, Paris.

4. Animals are easier than human in painting. They are a choice for Baroque painters. But the attention they get is pretty limited, So is their income.


The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark,Jan Brueghel the Elder.
1613, Oil on panel, 21 1/2 x 33 in.

5. Landscape and still life is often an accessory in personal rooms. People always expect spending less money to make their living environment more beautiful. These paintings are in great need but the lowest price.


Flowers in a Glass Beaker, c. 1620. Peter Binoit.
Oil on copper 12-1/4 x 9 in.

My hierarchy is based on the influence they have on the player experience about a game.

My hierarchy is based on the influence they have on the player experience about a game.






Artist leaders communicate with other leaders in a company. They decide the basic art style, what the game should look like, which way is more efficient… etc. 





Concept artists are responsible for the ideas of each character and environment. They do a lot of research,  making lots of rough sketches and paintings to give a quick view of their imaginations about a game. And leaders will choose some drafts and have them made into products.





3D artists and 2D artists will make drafts from concept artists into real game components, such as models and posters. They are the largest amount in the industry, including modelers, animators, illustrators, graphic designers… and so on.




Interns usually assist other artists with basic works. Such as UV, coloring, adjusting small props.





Artist leaders will always keep an eye on these progresses to make sure everything is in the right style, and make them even more memorable.


Baroque art starts at 17th century in Italy. It’s totally deviant from Renaissance. Baroque art is about movement,  intensity and drama. To express these feelings, it often has an asymmetrical composition, a high contrast between light and dark, and a complex spaceship. The content of Baroque art is usually about religion, politics, sex, and violence.

The Fortune Teller
Oil on canvas, 99 x 131 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris


  • COMPOSITION -There’re 2 characters in the painting, but they are not symmetrically distributed. Compared to the complexity of the characters, the background is almost blank.
  • SHAPE/FORM -They’re pretty well painted human figures. Clearly the painter is proficient in anatomy and perspective. And the painter even got the exact expression of the sophisticated fortune teller and the innocent noble teenager.
  • COLOR -Colors are saturated. From the blush of the faces and the splendid costume we can tell that the painter is fervent about color.
  • TEXTURE/PATTERN -There’re lots of different textures. Young noble man has a delicate, moist skin. He wears a velvet jacket with patterns, which is ambiguous in telling the light direction. The cold metal sword is totally black except the very highlight. The fortune teller’s costume is much more inexpensive than the noble’s. Her shirts is folded with lots of lines(wrinkles), which we can tell that the shirt is worn for a long time.
  • VALUE -It’s completely full of contrast. The circumstance happens in a dark place, then a beam of light projects on the figures. The boy’s face can be clearly saw in the light, while the fortune teller’s face fades in the dark. And that makes the fortune teller even more mysterious and deceptive. The light in the background also shapes the contour of the figures.
  • LINE -There’s a clear line behind the characters- the light. It guides our view from the fortune teller towards the young man.

Baroque style Alice in Wonderland

alice 2


Alice in Wonderland_ Disney

Alice in Wonderland_ Disney

Armor of heavy cavalry, ca. 1610–20

Armor of heavy cavalry, ca. 1610–20
Italian (Milan or Brescia)
Steel, gold, leather, and textile; Wt. 86 lbs. 8 oz.
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2002 (2002.130a–p)

Italian Renaissance

Renaissance art in Italy is developed from Roman art. Artists focused on idealized human form, personification. The figures are made to be monumental. Unlike the northerners, Italian artists didn’t care about the specific shapes of the objects in the background. And what’s more, fresco is the way they developed painting. Since they have to finish the painting before the mural dyestuff dries, they can’t spend too much time on each details like the northerners do.




Early Italian Renaissance

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, tempera,  1485.



Three main focusing parts are distributed evenly in the picture, but it doesn’t look stuffy. Angels on the left are sending breeze and flowers to Venus; Venus is standing curved yet stable; Flora on the right is moving towards left to cover Venus, her hair and clothes are blew towards right which exaggerated her action. The picture is full of motivation. And Venus is covering her privates — she’s feeling shy and embarrassed like a human though she’s a goddess.  Botticelli didn’t use much perspective in the background which makes the picture solemn, instead he gave us a poetic beauty in his painting.


It’s pretty light on human body. Unlike the northern paintings, figures have really dark shadows to define the shape. The lightness gives us a relaxed dreamy aesthetic ( like ancient Greek style), not the usual grave feeling of Christian Art.


Overall it’s colorful. There are lots of contrast. Background is blue and green, flowers and the coat Flora’s holding is red, and Venus has a bright orange hair.


There are very  few obvious lines in the painting. Most lines are in the wrinkles being well controlled. On the left side of Venus’s legs there are slight lines to define the shape of her body, but they are light and well controlled, too.


Textures are basically the same. Hairs are not shiny; the shell doesn’t look slick; skins and fabrics look the same. However, patterns are delicately painted. Flora’s clothes have fashionable patterns; the sea has even rhombic waves.




High Italian Renaissance

The Andrians, Tiziano Vecellio,1518. Oil on canvas.



There are lots of people having carnival in the picture. This picture is telling a myth story yet having lifelike figure motions. And we can tell the detailed painted plants derived from naturalism.


Foreground is contrasty. The trees and ground are dark and the skins are bright. The nude seductive goddess pops out. Titian used the contrast to show his love for classical human body.  In the background, things become ambiguous, which makes us feel the atmosphere.


Human bodies are light yellow and orange, and the environment is mainly green and blue. The blue sky especially adds exciting flavor for the circumistance. The girl in the middle is wearing red which is eye-catching. Artist do that on purpose — to drag our eyes back from the nude goddess to the center.


There are much more texture than the early Italian paintings. There are metal, glasses, light fabric, soft skin, rough bark… and so on.




Italian Clergy Self-portrait

Italian portrait

The drawing style is from Da Vinci’s sketch.


Virgin and Child with the Infant John the Baptist and St. Anne. Da Vinci.

The clothing is from Pieta.


Pieta, Michelangelo, 1498

The scenery outside the window is from Mona Lisa.


Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, c.1504


Northern Renaissance

Northern artists value the truth. They paid attention to each object and each detail in their paintings. Some times certain objects have certain meanings, for example, candles are the symbol of fleeting time, and lilies are the symbol of purity. And Northerners are naturalistic, the grasses and trees they painted can be found in real world. Most of their paintings are oil paintings or temperas. Oils paintings are fantastic: they carry pigments with vivid colors; they are modifiable during months; they can be kept for centuries.

The Last Supper, central panel altarpiece of the holy sacrament St Peter Church, Belgium. By Dieric Bouts, in 1464.



It’s almost a square painting, the length is slightly longer than the width. Figures are in the lower part and on the upper part are the interior environment. Figures have different poses and clothes, but the whole picture is symmetrical. For example, there are 3 figures wearing red in the left, but there’re only 2 big block of red in the right, so the painter let 2 figures wear small red caps. What’s more, the left wall is quite dark. To balance that heavy block the painter made the column also dark in the right, and he added doors which show more components in the back wall than in the left.The balance of the composition shows the Jesus being calm.


Overall the background (the table, the back wall, the ground) is lighter and the figures’ clothes are darker. The central area is the most eye-catching, in which the white table cloth meets the black robes. And even in those black ropes there are subtle different changes, they are not the same black. The subtle changes also happen on the walls. The right wall is slightly lighter than the back wall which makes it vertical to the frame of the picture.


It’s a warm tone picture. Red plays the protagonist. There are lots of unsaturated yellows, and there are lots of oranges and warm browns. Cold colors are really restricted, they appear in floor tiles and the sky through windows.


The wrinkles in clothes show a good control of lines. And all the lines toward the center definitely show one-point-perspective.

Texture & Pattern

The largest pattern is the floor tiles. It kills the banality of the grey yellow which appears a lot in the walls. And there are Corinthian Column and Gothic arches, which were popular in that period. Every little thing in the picture is meticulously depicted, even the windows of the houses outside. The painter really stayed true to reality.




Self-portrait of Albrecht Dürer, 1500



This is a self-portrait. The whole picture is in a dark tone, only the face and the hand are bright. The face is right in the middle, solemn while moderate. The anatomy is precise, the wrinkles are believable, even every filament of the furs and hair is carefully painted. At the same time, the background is pretty simple, just a signature and descriptions on a dark black.


It’s dark. The face and the hands pop out of that dark picture. And the highlights on hairs and furs show the shiny texture.


There is not much contrast between cold and warm in this painting. At that time, painters use brown to show the shadows. Only after impressionism appeared did people distinguish light and shadow with cold and warm colors.


Dürer is a master of lines. The wrinkles in his sleeves are curly and soft, the terminators on his nose and hand are hard and precisely show the anatomy.


There are several different textures in the painting, and they are painted very well. It’s such a pleasure to watch the subtle changes in different textures. The hair is flexible and shiny, while the mustache is hard and dried. The leather coat is matte. while the fur collar is shiny.




 Northern craftsman self- portrait.

late north

All the props in this picture are modern stuff. Sorry about that.

The figure is wearing the same costume with  Dürer’s.


self-portrait, Dürer’s, 1498

Then I take Eva’s face as reference, trying to mimic her facial features and hairs.


part of Adam and Eva, Dürer, 1507

But I don’t have a double folded eyelid, so I took a look at this painting:


Portrait of a Young Woman, Petrus Christus, 1465-70

Then I took a look at Dürer’s watercolor painting of weeds. My weeds at the bottom-right can be found in the nature, but I’m not sure if they exist in the north Europe in Renaissance.


part of Great Piece of Turf, Dürer, 1503




Northern Environment


There’re lots of trees in the picture so I take the  Ghent Altarpiece from  Jan Van Eyck as main reference.


JAN VAN EYCK, Ghent Altarpiece (open), Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, completed 1432. Oil on wood

Unlike modern artists, the way Van Eyck’s painting doesn’t have any independent terminators. The way he paint object is to use shadows to let the light parts pop out. That means he doesn’t have reflections.

early northern environment

And I take the shapes of trees from Van Eyck.


For the bridge and the sere tree, I take the Return of the Hunters from Pieter Bruegel the Elder as reference.

the return of the hunters pieter bruegel the elder

the Return of the Hunters, Pieter Bruegel the elder. 1565.

early north environment 3 c early north environment 3 e