• Olly Jordan

Chapter 94 - The Lion King - The King Of The Pride Lands - 2020

Simba - 48 hours, 76x56cm 425gsm bockington Watercolour Paper

Simba was a painting that I battled with quite alot, I think this is one of the paintings that I have struggled with the most within my whole portfolio of work. The end result does look good, the mane has so many colours in it and strands of hair, the body is good and you can even see some veins in the arms, it was just the face I struggled with. Although yes it does look like a lion, I don't know whether it looks like Simba from the film, I worry that it just looks like a generic lion.

I started with the body so it would be easier to layer the hair of the mane over the top. I did also make Simba's hair slightly more golden in colour than in the film as I wanted him to appear to be the healthiest looking lion and look nicely groomed, lions with a bolder mane are seen as healthier and therefore more desirable, there's a fun fact for you, so that is why Scar has a short scruffy and dark mane - he has not had such a healthy lifestyle. Back to the painting of Simba though, I added details like veins along his arms as it helps to give that element of realism, but also the angle that the lighting was at, it was hard to avoid it as the contrast was so high.

Then I began work on the mane, this was going to be the main focus of the painting, trying to avoid the pun there. A lion's mane is always the first thing you look at so it was important to get the colours and style just right. The mane took around 3 or 4 days to paint, so working in sections and planning out where I was going with the mane was very important as I wanted the layers to look as natural and realistic as possible. The layering was a case where I had to look at the way the hair itself was layered on top of eachother in length but also the way that the light hit it stronger in certain areas as opposed to others, so that is why I worked in a sort of 'U' shape as you will see in the developmental photos at the bottom of this post. I am really happy with the way that the mane turned out, the hair isn't too clumpy and it does look realistic in the way that the strands are built up in waves.

Once the mane was finished, it was a case of painting the face, this was the main area where I faced difficulty. I don't know whether I suddenly realised that my photo references weren't as good as I thought they were, or maybe I can see in my mind where each photo was collaged together to make the copyright safe reference, or it could have been the angle that his face is at with that lighting, but I just couldn't seem to get the details quite right. The eye on the left got reworked so much that the paint actually lifts off the paper now because I just couldn't quite get the shape of a lion's eye and the direction that he was looking in quite right. I am happy with it now and am glad I returned to it alot to rework it.

As discussed at the top of this blog post though, I am happy with the painting and it very obviously looks like a lion, I am just not sure if it looks like Simba from The Lion King. Maybe I need to watch the film again or something to see if I got it right, or maybe I need more time away from the painting to see if I have done well, because at the moment I just see the struggle that I experienced while painting the face, (I am currently typing this up 2 months after finishing the painting to help give you a timeline.) Overall, I am happy with the painting and the level of detail in the different hair types is mad, I just need to get over my fear that it doesn't look like just a generic lion and is Simba from The Lion King!

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