Birthday Boy’s Painting

Logan on Tatooine

The above painting is a birthday present for a boy named Logan — named after a certain Marvel Comics’ character.  He requested a painting that depicted him with his favorite robot character.  A family member suggested I also incorporate two other franchises he loves.  The result is a combination of three completely different children’s properties!

For this blog post, I will show you step-by-step how I embark on a painting like this.  I always begin with an initial sketch.  Below, you will see the sketch.  It is based on several reference images.

Logan on Tattoine sketch

I print this image onto a transparency, and use an overhead projector to transfer the image to a black-painted canvas board.  I then paint in all the lighter areas with green….

logan painting projection 1logan painting projection 2logan painting projection 3logan painting closeuplogan painting green and black

Here is the green-and-black version beside the original sketch:logan painting with sketchThe next step is to begin adding the primary colors.  I apply blue where I want deep shadows to be, then yellow where I will paint the lightest areas.  I add red for a basic mid-tone.  After this, the entire value range is described by the primaries, with the underlying green acting as a bridge between the poles of blue and yellow.

logan painting adding bluelogan painting adding yellowlogan painting green yellow bluelogan painting primaries onlyFrom here, I begin layering transparent glazes of the “true colors” for each object.  For example, I mix up a few flesh tones and add them to Logan’s face.  The “underpainting” of green + primaries influences these layers, adding to the illusion of depth.

logan painting primaries plus flesh tonesLogan painting almost donelogan painting doneFor me, a painting is not complete until it is ready to be presented.  A canvas board is flat, so it almost begs for a matte and frame.  I picked out a frame and matte that complemented the painting:

logan painting framedThat’s how I do it!  Not a common method, but one that helps me make the leap to full color.  Because I normally think and work in black and white, the underpainting stage radically simplifies the colorization process.  The primaries efficiently fill in the value range, and then it’s just a matter of glazing over the underpainting.

I videotaped myself working on another painting recently.  I already posted this video, but here it is again for those of you who wish to see my method unfold in moving images:

Painting Video

Starscream © Hasbro
Star Wars © Disney
Angry Birds © Rovio Entertainment

2 thoughts on “Birthday Boy’s Painting

  1. Wow, awesome painting Dean, lucky Logan is all I can say. And thank you for showing your process in detail; I’ve never tried painting like this but the results you get are superb and I particularly love the depth and the depth of colour you get, it gives your work a unique quality.

    • Thank you for the great feedback, Phil! The technique is the only way I’ve found so far to produce variegated shadows and surfaces. The underpainting layers do most of the work for me.

      I actually envy savvy colorists who have an instinct for the color of light and shadow. They can lay down variegated hues without any underpainting. But hey — I figured out what works for me, and I’m going to stick with it!

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