vertical composition


Artist self rec tag!

I was tagged by @bloodwrit, @ladyinthebluebox and @lavellanlove, thank you!! 💕

ahhh some of these aged better than others haha, I was looking through my old art to find five for this and it brought me such a nice feeling I could see myself spiralling down my obsession again, all the style experiments and ideas, and I found I’m really proud of so many drawings, even the ones that look awful to me now because in all of them I tried something new and pushed a bit further and now I’m motivated! I encourage all artist to do this! actually if you are an artist and we are mutuals you are tagged!



Birth. Death. Growth. Decay. This never-ending cycle brings out wonders in both the natural world and the illustrations and designs of Scoutology.

Jared Peer

What if, at the moment of death, we could be certain that the earth was thankful for new spaces by which life could bloom? What if the predator was alway conscious of itself ultimately becoming prey? What if, upon incision of the corpse, flowers bloomed from the gaps reminding us of the aforementioned cycle?

Reminiscent of tattoo work with clean lines and dynamic compositions, many of Scout’s illustrations show their skill in observing nature and biology as they appear to be. Although stylized and employing minimal to non-existent gradients, the direct correlation to natural systems is reinforced by posted reference material. Deer skeletons, flowers, tattoos, birds, and landscapes make up a good portion of the non-artwork posts (alongside reblogged work by other artists).

An untitled piece, containing a vertical composition of a sphinx cat, alive and dead birds, and flowers that break out from a red diamond in the background, is a more recent work. A primarily black and white image, we find the cyclic theme of Scout’s work happening from both the top down and from the bottom up.

From the top there is a bird ripping at the skin of the cat and from it’s incisions spring forth blossoms and stems. The bird brings about a life and death at the same time for an animal that would otherwise be the predator of that bird. Following a more typical pattern in the lower portion of the image the cat has torn off the head of another bird revealing it’s rib cage as it’s head dangles just outside of the diamond. However, in their thematic style, the head hangs by what can be compared to as roots sprouting from the body.

Scout disrupts the typical chronology of life and death highlighting a co-existence of flora and fauna. The death of an animal will nurture the soil as it decomposes and allow for flowers to grow from it.

Another design titled Wolf Skull, depicts this decomposition in process. The skull is midway through the process of loosing it’s skin and fur as mushrooms and fungi spring forth making it a home for new life. Again we see a shape creating a silhouette, this removes the skull from being potentially grounded in an further scene and instead exults it as an item to respect. 

Lastly, two works titled Albino Crow and Albino Deer, give another layer to the work. In native cultures albinism in animals is seen as a connection to the spiritual world. This element of spirituality gives a second form of “life” and “rebirth” to the images. This appears most evidently in the Albino Deer where the deer is midway stitching up its own wounds that presumably brought about it’s death.

The final break in chronology, in death a new life, in life a necessary death, and strung somewhere in-between both is a spiritual existence.

Images courtesy of Scoutology

Making of ‘Macalania Twilight’

1: Basic sketch of the frame and composition; also acts as a ‘colour grid’ so that the base colours of the actual painting will not go too off-kilter.

2: Blocked in the shape of the composition with a basic copy+flip trick and pinpointed the hot/cold areas of the landscape with specific colours. Rough sketches of the trees and the foothills have been made to give the composition some verticality, as well as establish the water-line of the lake.

3: Using a separate layer the shapes of the foreground/background trees have been blocked in using a binary colour. The background trees play a critical part in this composition, as they separate the hot and cold “areas” of the landscape. Shadows have also been drawn in the water’s reflection (I did not use a copy+paste trick here, simply to make it look more ‘painterly’.)

4: By building up layers underneath the outlines and trees, while also futzing with the hues and saturation, I establish the foundation of the composition for further details and alterations. It is important that the base colour of the water matches the colour of the sky. I set the ‘background trees’ layer as a clipping group to check its values against the sky. It is also here that I decide to give the landscape a “diorama” effect by drawing a root in front of the hypothetical canvas.

5: By tinkering with hues and the saturation even more, I manage to make the colours give off a “plum autumn” vibe, which compliments the greener vibe of the sky and the more amber, intense colours of the sunset. It is here I start to make the composition resemble the Macalania Woods, by using references for the tree details and the crystals.

6a: What really makes a painting in this style come to life is the sheer volume of colours which all blend into each other to give off the illusion of depth, distance and realism. Simply “dabbing” with a brush can create ripples, leaves and concentrated light sources.

6b: Here is a close-up of the trees that are appearing brighter due to the sun; the technique that I used here is to make a separate layer on top of the base tree shape, create strokes, and then colour this layer and the base tree layer appropriately based on the theory of colour, using the ‘Preserve Opacity’ option, to create this ‘highlight/shadow’ effect. This is the technique that I rely on to make all of the little details that go into the composition.

7: Using a multitude of ‘base layers’ and ‘detail layers,’ I am able to build up this composition to a near-complete stage. The advantage to using the technique mentioned above is that you have almost complete control over what colours are used.  This is put to practice in the screenshot above; the middle of the composition is warmer, while the top and bottom are colder. This makes sense as the sun is located in the middle of the canvas.

8: I add the finishing FFX flourishes to finally mark this painting as complete!

i am honestly impressed with how much the opening part of yanxia looks EXACTLY like a song dynasty landscape painting (this being the golden age of chinese landscapes)

some examples: 

(guo xi, early spring)

(yan wengui, pavilions and streams)

(fan kuan, travelers among mountains and streams)

the basic elements there: grey stone mountains, flowing rivers and streams, twisting trees, mist, human creations like buildings and humans themselves being small and kind of “tucked in” feeling, an accent to the landscape instead of its emphasis. but even more than that, the intense verticality of the compositions is reproduced in the zone, and i think they’re even trying to go for the impressionistic sense the painters cultivated (insofar as one even can in a game like this). and finally, it is also evocative on a deeper level, considering that song painters’ (esp. northern song) creations were political, and about successful and correct ordering of a great society and as we enter yanxia, it is in the hopes of restoring a humane and correct order to doma

(no yanxia screenshots in this post rn because i don’t have good ones atm and i’m still in q and can’t get some for a while and made this post to pass the time. updates possible later).

01. Long Night Ahead
01. Long Night Ahead

I’ll have to do some explaining for this one: I’ve been messing around with vertically layered music composition, and wanted to do something with problem sleuth (that OTHER mspaint adventure). Feel free to skip my blathering below and just listen to the music though!

I always felt like PS was at least partially a callback to 90s point ‘n click adventure games along the lines of Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, Sam & Max, etc. so this song is intended to reflect that. If you imagine PS as a video game, this is the song that would play at the very start of the adventure while our heroes are messing around in their offices and getting caught up in all kinds of shenanigans.

Now, the nice thing about PS is that the three main characters (Problem Sleuth, Pickle Inspector and Ace Dick) all have some strong themes that make it easy to come up with appropriate musical motifs. In fact, the three musical instruments that appear fairly early in the comic ( A trumpet, a clarinet and a tuba) all are pretty obviously intended as metaphorical representations of the three heroes, which means that as a composer I have my work cut out for me.

The idea with vertical layering in this song is that depending on which of the protagonists is currently ‘on screen’, the theme uses different motifs and lead instruments: when more than one protagonist is on screen their motifs are played at the same time and combined. Normal playback methods don’t support this kind of interactive music (many game engines do, however), so this particular version is more of a proof of concept that just demonstrates the different layers and highlights how they interact.

The first section after the intro belongs to Problem Sleuth. He’s the leader of the bunch, and to reflect his mario-esque all-around average strength, his motif is played on a muted trumpet in the middle register with a combination of short and sustained notes. 

After that we come to Ace Dick. His motif consists of short notes played on a tuba and backed by trombones and timpani to throw some appropriate weight around. 

Pickle Inspector goes third with sustained notes played in the higher register of a clarinet. He’s a bit of a loopy character so there’s some glockenspiel and a lot of chroma… chromatics? chromaticity? to give it a bit of whimsy

The fourth loop combines the motifs of all three characters to demonstrate the interaction between layers when all three are present. The final loop is a variation on the Problem Sleuth motif with an added theremin and a delay effect on all the instruments to give it a ‘spacy’ sound: we’re entering the realm of imagination and the music becomes appropriately screwy.