A couple of weeks ago at Pac Con I was asked to speak on a panel about designing and illustrating monsters. It turned out to be a panel of one without a moderator. I don’t know how that happened but I jumped on the opportunity to assume total power over a group of diverse individuals. After all, these people had come to this panel to hear my words, to absorb my wisdom, to catch a spark of light from the vast inferno that is my encyclopedic knowledge of all things monstrous! I think some of them also had tired legs from walking around all day and just wanted to sit down. I would have to strike a fine balance to maintain my hold on them.
Back in high school I was given the chance to travel to some of the local elementary schools and teach some drawing to the kids. It got me out of school early and helped the district save some money from their dwindling art budget. I loved teaching the kids and this experience at the convention reminded me how much I enjoy encouraging others to explore their interests.
When I found out that I would be doing the panel I decided to sketch something up to illustrate some of my points, and I naturally delved into some Lovecraftian inspiration for a play off of the deep ones. I took the sketch along to the panel to show how messy and all over the place these sorts of things can be and I transferred most of what I liked about the sketch to a finished drawing so that I could demonstrate how to clean things up and arrive at something more polished. I had originally planned on painting him up with some background elements but I found I have too many more important things to work on right now so I ended up just scanning it in to Photoshop and dropping some texture over it with a little tonal work.
I had a great time on the panels and in particular the monster one. It scratched that teaching itch that has been nagging at me for a bit. I’ll have to see if there are other ways to get involved with class room settings. If nothing else the sense of power was very gratifying. As Jack Handy once said “I think in a past life I was a king because I like people to do what I say.”
This is the final version of this painting. After taking a break from it for a couple of days and working on other stuff I came back to it with a fresh perspective and decided to experiment a bit. Photoshop is a great medium for this as there is always Ctrl-z if things go off the rails.
I ended up editing the original pencil underpainting over the rest of the flattened image. The effect was similar to the quality of an inked comic image. It added a nice level of contrast and helped sharpen and define the details. After spending a couple of hours tinkering I felt like I had what I was looking for.
In the end the painting worked pretty well blown up 3’x4′ for a banner at the booth and the 11″x16″ was the best-selling of my prints at the con.
This concludes this series of process posts. We will now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcasts.
Here is what this looked like after several hours of pixel manipulation. Initially I just cleaned up some of the edges and made some slight color and contrast adjustments. After that the majority of the time was spent sharpening up the details. At this point I gave it a rest for a couple of days and worked on other stuff. Sometimes you need to come back and look at your work with fresh eyes. I almost always spot little things I want to change as a result.
Tomorrow I’ll put the final up and discuss the last phase of production. If you want to cheat of course you can already see the final on the Death, the Bear and Sheol page.
This is as far as I got traditionally with this piece. After the initial colored pencil underpainting I laid in a wash of warm yellow watercolor with a touch of purple splattered about to add some visual interest. I sealed it with a coat of workable fixative and then built up my shadow tones and the background with light washes of various greens in acrylics and then developed some local color into the foreground elements, again with acrylic. I then spent several hours refining my edges and adding texture with colored pencil.
This is the initial scan of the painting without any digital adjustment. While I was pretty satisfied with it overall, there were definitely some areas and effects that I wanted to push further but there are limits to my talents with the various media as I have really only been using them consistently for about a year at the point that I painted this. There is also only so much that the bristol will handle. The wax from the Prismacolors doesn’t always want to layer over the acrylics and the repeated washes start to pull the painting away from my work board no matter how thoroughly I tape it.
After scanning and stitching the image together in Photoshop I take the original and mount it permanently to some 1/8 inch paneling with gel medium.
Tomorrow I’ll post the initial work that I did from there on the computer.
I wanted to put up some work-in-progress shots that would show a bit of what my process looks like from start to finish. This first is the finished pencil work that I transfer to bristol board after several sketches that establish composition and detail. The piece itself was a pretty important one for me as I knew it was going to be blown up into a large banner for shows. I wanted to make sure that it gave a decent summation of my artistic interests as well so I incorporated several of the subjects that I go back to repeatedly in my art, namely trees, eyes, bones and teeth. The full size drawing measures 19″x24″. Tomorrow I’ll post the image finished with traditional media.