Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Second gear

These drawings are from five minute poses. My approach on these is almost the same for the first two minutes, but I make my marks with a much lighter hand. I also try to take advantage of this stopping point and check and correct my proportions. At this stage the marks are so light that I can just ignore them if they are wrong. The last two to three minutes is all about draping and stabbing in my total values until I run out of time.

The need for speed

I think most of the learning happens in the first few minutes of a figure drawing. These drawings are all from two minute poses. I just observe and make mental notes for the first 10 seconds or so. Then I try to link an emotional description to the pose with a single word. Sometimes it can be as simple as angry, funny, or powerful, but sometimes it can be complex like patriotic, evasive, or inertia. This little exercise converts the act of drawing into storytelling, and this is at the base of everything I try to do.

After that, I attack it with reckless abandon. Sometimes I go more linear and just use the tip of the drawing tool, but other times I'll lay the tool down and try to get every mark the tool will surrender. I never correct myself on the two-minute drawings. This is not about getting it right, but more about discovering what I have a tendency to get wrong.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Angelus dismount

I quite enjoyed this process. It's refreshing to both explore new tools and dust off the old ones as well. Photoshop is capable of such perfect gradients that I often believe there is no longer a place for the airbrush, but that's not exactly true. There is a certain quality to the imperfection of airbrushing that brings life to a piece of art.

We live in an analog world, so I guess those analog tools will always have something over the digital dominion.

Coming in for a landing

At this stage I'm finished with all the airbrush work and I'm starting to push those last details. I did all my airbrush work with acrylic paint, so it's no problem to go back into things with light washes to polish out details. I'm approaching 90% of the highlights with white gesso. It's not very opaque and it has a translucent quality that heightens the color beneath it. Plus it has a great chalky yet buttery texture that is both easy to work with and gives great results.

I didn't put any color on the girls in the background until the sky was fully in place. I wanted to have a little atmosphere between those figures and the subject.

Catching some air

The first image shows how far I took things before I pulled out the airbrush. That's right, I said airbrush. And when I say "pulled out" I actually mean spending an hour or so looking for the damn thing, and another two hours cleaning it. It's been a few years.

I used the airbrush to blush in that soft red on the wings, and to soften the cloudy sky.

Here's a neat trick from my commercial illustration days. Instead of using frisket, I made xerox copies of the wings on 11 x 17 paper. I then cut the wings out of the xeroxes and placed the paper over the painting as a mask. This goes much faster than cutting frisket, and there's less chances of cutting too deep. It also gives a softer and less artificial edge than frisket.

Acrylics for watercolors

My approach here is identical to what I do with watercolors although I'm using fluid acrylics. Everything here is building from light to dark in thin transparent layers.

Golden girl

This is a mixed media piece and I plan to finish things off with opaque highlights, so I thought I'd give the main figure a base tone of bright amber. This is an easy way of unifying the colors, and it forces me to go a little richer in color and value. There's going to be a considerable amount of work on top of this veil, so I'm starting this base with Goldens fluid acrylics.

Color of Angels

This was fun. I scanned and cleaned up my drawing in Photoshop and used my trusty Epson inkjet printer to transfer it to the board. This is much better than I can do by hand and hope. After the transfer I used Faber Castell Pitt pens to set things up for color.

First in flight

Things seem to be going well, so I decided to paint this one. I did the drawing separately because the costumes of the characters were so intricate. This way I could beat things up with the eraser and not concern myself with the integrity of the paper.

I'm starting things here with Col-Erase 20044 blue pencil, and after developing a solid drawing I'm moving things along with the Copic Multiliner SP pen. I'm working on a pad of Strathmore drawing paper. It's just enough tooth for the pencil, but also enough smooth for the pen.

Angelus sketch

Rob from Top Cow asked me to do a one-shot of Angelus. It's part of this whole Broken Trinity thing they're doing. I have never worked with Top Cow before, but they seem to be cool guys, and my buddy Ron Marz was writing the script.

Rob visited the studio and hung out with us for an entire day. Totally cool guy, and he said his company emphasized artistic freedom. That's always music to the ears.

I turned in this sketch, and it was approved without a hitch.