Thursday, December 17, 2009

Colored girls

It's always a good idea to preserve continuity with color comps. If you're going to paint in watercolors, you should always do your comps in watercolors. This makes it much easier to match your colors on the finished painting. It's even better to write down color formulas or combinations used to achieve specific colors. The reflective and translucent quality of different mediums can wreck havoc with colors and perception, and this goes double for the computer. You throw in the differences between reflected and projected colors and you're begging for a headache.

So, I did this comp on the computer with a sweet Japanese ink and paint program called SAI Paint Tool. It was fast and so convenient, and it's a great program for tablet PCs. The only real drawback was trying to match colors on the finished piece, and that was a real headache. I wonder why?

The colors needed to be bright but just south of psychedelic. I always thought the 60s made it okay to use bright colors, but when we got to the 80s it had spun out of control. The 70s got it just right, and that was the feeling I wanted. Laura "Colorista” Martin works across the hall from me here at the studio, so I called her in for a second opinion, and after a bit of tweaking you could actually hear the colors sing.

Choose your weapons

Illustrations often key on different aspects of picture making, and I think it's important to recognize those keys as early as possible. It's like setting up a plot line or genre before starting the serious work of writing. In a sense, it's what the painting technique is about.
Your dominant keys are technique, design, color, and storytelling. I want every painting to have some bits of all these elements, but I want to dominate the piece with one or two then downplay the others. If I do a painting about storytelling then I may want to de-emphasize the colors or rendering. This way the storytelling takes center stage and the painting doesn't feel heavy or exhausting to the viewer.

My design here is simple, and there isn't much storytelling beyond the character’s bad ass attitudes, so this is all about color and technique. With a special accent on color.

Here's my color range for this piece. I'm not cheating in extra colors here but I'm more splitting my tertiary colors. So I'm using… septiary colors? Not sure if I'm not making that up, but don't try it at home. All my yellows will lean slightly towards green (lemon yellow) and my oranges will push slightly red.
This color range is my Bible for this painting and I will religiously adhere to it.

Editors note: I consider myself an agnostic leaning towards atheism, so I reserve the right to bail at a moments notice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You know what really puts me into the holiday spirit? Yeah that’s right, Daughters of the Dragon.

This image has been knocking around in my head for a while now. I always like to keep several commissions going at once. This is because of the random way ideas form. It’s another thing that separates commercial work from commissions. Commercial work will have exacting requirements for size, theme, and especially time. I always do battle with that last one. Ideas have to be created, edited, and produced on tap. Sometimes this can be like squeezing water from a stone, but it can often lead to spontaneous shotgun creativity. Commercial work is the active pursuit of images, but commissions are passive. I allow the paintings to come to me. Every so often it’s all in a rush or dream, but often it’s like following a trail of breadcrumbs. This was defiantly breadcrumbs. One day I would get the attitude of a pose, and then a week later I’d get a sense of colors, and a month later Misty’s face would pop into my head clear as day.

This sketch was the last piece of the puzzle, and with it I was off to the races.