Well, as the battle of the windows continues, my battle plan has changed a bit. Rather than working my windows to line them up to create a single surreal scene, I've opted to juxtapose things within each window instead, usually two subjects but one window might have three.
I've also settled on working with lazertran transfer papers, which work pretty well for my purposes... But that's the final step. Let me walk you through the process I've been using so far. It's been a learn-as-I-go ordeal, and there have certainly been mistakes and I've started over once already.
First off I pick which window I want to use for it, measure the size of the panes, and do a digital mock-up of the window's pane
frames... For this window I chose to use one that is 28" tall and 26.5" wide including the outside frame, with panes approximately 7.25" wide and 11.5" tall. The one to the left (it's upside down in the photo). It has a handle lever on top (the one you use to push half of a window up or pull it closed again).
Then I come up with a digital sketch plan. I spend a lot of time looking at photos of potential subjects by using the google images search, flickr, and deviantart, as well as reading up on things at wikipedia and specialty sites. My digital sketches are rough and messy and careless. Getting hung up on these is pointless, as they're only a jumping off point, so why bother?
Next is drawing the lineart for the traditional part of the drawing onto tracing paper. I cut the tracing paper to the size of the window panes and then use graphite transfer to rub my sketch layout's key lines onto the tracing paper for a guide. Then I use a .005 micron pen to draw over those guides and add details. This is my lineart.
To double-check that things are the way I want, I repeatedly place the drawn tracing paper against the window panes throughout this entire process, right through to the end!
After I've got my lineart done, I start on color. For the jelly (a Pacific sea nettle, by the way), I used nupastel (aka chalk/dry pastel), carbothello pastel pencils (also chalk/dry pastel), and prismacolor colored pencils. Also important to this process are blending stumps and a variety of erasers. Kneaded, artgum, and stick erasers were all invaluable. It is fortunately quite easy to erase chalk pastel and prismacolor off of tracing paper as long as it hasn't been blended into the paper too well. I work one "pane" at a time and then line them up to make sure they're looking alright. I also often switch from having white paper to having black paper behind the tracing paper in order to better see where my color is going.
It's also important to keep track of what colors I used for what parts, as I am partially colorblind. My form of colorblindness is called tritanomalous, because I cannot distinguish yellows very well at all (sometimes they are simply WHITE to me) and struggle somewhat with purples, oranges, and some blues, but can see green just fine for the most part. Anyway...this is why I keep my colors organized and labeled and sometimes write down notes on what colors I used where.
Once I've finished the traditional drawing part of the process, I first put the tracing paper in the panes again just to check that it's looking okay in terms of composition...
Now I can scan the tracing paper into Photoshop at about 300 dpi. I prefer to do this from a Mac computer, as color fidelity is better, but will settle for using my little Windows laptop when I must. When I've scanned things in, I position the "panes" into a digital mock-up of the window frame.
Then it's time for the digital drawing part! I first sketch rough ideas of where I want the wasps to be... In this case, they're supposed to be coming out of the jelly's bell and flying toward the upper right corner of the window.
In Photoshop, with a small pixel black brush, I drew out lineart for a few wasps and then would reposition, rotate, or slightly redraw them as needed as I placed them on the window mock-up. I do a mock-up of the colors I want to use on the yellow jackets/wasps because, like I said, my colorblindness means I need to keep track of my color use at all times. I am very familiar with the position of colors on the digital color palette so that I can estimate which colors are in which places and use this to help me pick colors as I go.
I use soft airbrushes with low opacity and flow to "paint" the yellow jackets on layers beneath their lineart. The first yellow jacket was the slowest; after that the process sped up... Once I finish all these, the next step in the process is painting in shadows to assist the wasps integration with the jelly and its tentacles and oral arms and bell/body.
Once all the drawing is done, the final step is transferring my images to the glass of the windows. Another post regarding this part of the process will come later!