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.
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….
Here is the green-and-black version beside the original sketch:The 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.
From 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.
For 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:
That’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:
Starscream © Hasbro
Star Wars © Disney
Angry Birds © Rovio Entertainment