Monday, February 11, 2008
After finishing Mythos: X-men in late 2005, I began Mythos: Hulk, the next in the series. I painted the cover and the first page in oil, but I came to the decision that something had to change. The process just took way too long. I tried digital painting for a bit, but I didn't care for the results. Then I tried a hybrid: grayscale paintings that were colored in Photoshop. It seemed to work well enough and was quite a bit faster. What follows here is every stage of the process from finished art to layout sketch.
This is the stage just prior to digital coloring. It's painted in black and white Acryla Gouache that I mixed into a grayscale of 10 steps. This is page 18, so I had gotten pretty used to the process, but for subsequent pages I began to use Holbein's set of 4 premixed grays in addition to black and white. Also of note was the difference in scale. I had painted X-Men on 16" x 24" masonite panels, whereas Hulk was done on 8" x 12" Strathmore Series 500 bristol board, 3-ply. Not only did this mean less area to cover, but it also meant I could light box my layouts and pencil directly on the paper as opposed to projecting the finished pencils onto the board.
But before I got to that stage, I would paint fairly detailed value studies on 4" x 6" printouts of the finished pencils. This was a great help, but it's something I no longer do because of time constraints. However, these are usually my favorite pieces since they are done with less caution.
My "finished" pencils tend to be pretty loose. This allows for more freedom while painting but also keeps my mind engaged throughout the entire process, as opposed to simply coloring in between the lines. In this case, I actually forgot to draw in the Hulk's hand before I scanned it, but I had general idea of where I wanted it to be. You can see that I tighten up on certain objects like faces and vehicles that are the focus of the composition.
The digital color study is where I really begin to pull things together into a complete composition. I paint over my original layout on a separate layer that is set to "Multiply."
And finally, the 4" x 6" layout is generally where I begin every illustration. This is where I hammer out all the storytelling and composition. It's nothing fancy, but you've gotta start somewhere. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a 4" x 6" layout.