Saturday, April 10, 2010

Warm and cool... reds

I talked a little before about turning forms with value versus turning form with temperature.  Well, you need a little of both to successfully work with red.  I added a little bit of violet to the reds on the right side of Misty’s core shadow and a little bit of orange to be reds on the left.  I ended up going back and cooling the reds on the right side down even more as the painting progressed.

Get Misty love

If you're working with a character dressed in red, the first thing you must sacrifice is subtlety.  Red is an unforgiving color.  Its value range starts with a medium dark, and only goes darker from there.  You can create beautiful value shifts within that range on your original, but less than a quarter of them will reproduce in print.  Luckily I'm not working here for reproduction, but I still want to take a dynamic approach.  I want to go very dark in my shadows to compensate for the value vampire at is red.

Old-school is the new cool

I have a love-hate relationship with hand lettering.  The first art job I got when I moved to Atlanta for school was assisting a sign painter, and he taught me most of what I know about type and lettering.  This guy was like a redneck Mr. Miyagi, and he taught that hand lettering was the true path to enlightenment.  If that's true then Adobe illustrator must be the express lane.  But, I have to say I agree with him on original paintings.  There's something nice about the slight imperfections of hand-painted lettering on a hand-painted image.  I always thought it's was cool to see hand-painted lettering on thoes old Rockwell illustrations, and it seems to me that there is a little something lost since most comic book original art no longer has word balloons.  And it's always felt like you got a piece of the story as well as the art when the lettering is there.

Movie album

The look I’m going for here is somewhere between a movie teaser poster and a jazz album cover from the late 60s and 70s.  I decided to go with an opaque paint to get that rich silk screened look.  Holbein makes a product called acrya gouache that's perfect for this application.  It's very opaque and the colors dry to a nice matte finish, and it has a pretty impressive color range.  It's a bit like animation cell paint, but it's a little easier to get your hands on.  I thinned the colors down to a milky consistency to give it a slight bit of texture.  Going to flat and opaque here would make things look a little too artificial and cut out, but that texture will tie the background and foreground together.

So where was I?

This is the line art setup stage. Lately I've been handling this stage with pigmented brush markers. They are permanent, easy to control, and come in a good variety of colors. At this phase I look for hard edges created by cast shadows or form against negative space. I also use this period to set up some target darks. This keeps me from going to light and dreamy with my technique. It's also quite a comfort to have a solid drawing you can rely on.

I tried to go too light with lines that identify structures within the form. Like flesh toned lines within the face and the reds on Misty’s costume. These lines generally get blown out with the first or second wash of color, but they help identify landmarks.