Friday, June 21, 2013

Wolverine Step by Step

Here is another one of my step by step process features of one of my paintings.  This time around I chose to show another Wolverine painting that I recently finished.  My process is a mis- mash of styles I've learned over the years that I have become comfortable with and quite a bit of experimentation with varying results.  By no means is this the end all be all of watercolor painting and I'm sure some purists out there would find some things wrong with how I do it but thats fine by me.  When painting I'm more interested in where each experience takes me with the piece in general not on making someone else happy.  Some times it's a great experience and I love the outcome... other times not so much.   This one I was quite happy with.  This is almost a complete step by step.  Some of the photos when I was working quickly on details or wet into wet areas didn't turn out because I was more focused on making sure that the paint was doing what I wanted it to do.  Sorry about the picture quality.  Sub par lighting and quick shots with iphone is as good as I could do this time around.

So here. We. Go-

So a lot of my drawings start out as doodle on a notepad while I'm at work.  If I like what is forming I'll bring out the sketch pad and start to flesh it out and maybe even complete it.  S that is the story behind this drawing of Wolverine.  I actually finished up the original sketch right before Phoenix Comicon so you may of already seen it.  The second Wolvie movie is coming out soon so thats why I had the idea of capturing the moment right after he realizes he just went beserker rage on some ninjas.

This 1st image has the original sketch paper drawing and then the light boxed copy on to a sheet of Arches 10 in x 14 in 140 lb hot press water color paper.  This is a smooth water color paper and I like to use it because the water effects that can happen by the lack of texture in comparison to normal water color paper.  More on that later.   Light box is a term I use whenever I copy an original drawing on to a different drawing surface (or maybe a nice way of saying I occasionally trace my own stuff).  I use this in several different techniques and for multiple types of art mediums because I find it a more efficient way to transfer an image than trying to completely re draw the original idea.  
Transfered image taped on my painting board

Original on the left, transferred version on the right

 So the next step I take with hot press paper is to prepare it.  The paper is only a 140 lb weight so it is still fairly light weight in terms of water color paper.  To cut down on the paper warping I give the paper a quick submersion bath in some water.  I use this old cookie sheet because it fits the paper sizes I normally use perfectly.  I also keep some paper towel right next to it absorb the access water after the bath.

Use whatever you fit your paper into and just add enough water  to dip the paper in and out.

Submerged Wolverine.  I kept him under for about 15 seconds.
Use this technique to help properly prepare your paper for all the water you are going to use for the painting itself.  Since I've started doing this I very rarely have to deal with a warped final product any more.  Just be careful not to submerge the paper too long because it will start to break down the fibers and ruin your paper and picture in the process.
So after the bath dry all the extra water off of the paper.  I keep the back a little damp to help the paper stick to the painting surface.  I highly recommend to then tape the paper to your board or desk like the 1st image above to help it stick even more and stop any initial warping of the paper.  I always know the paper is going to warp, it's natural.  But this process will help out in the end, you'll see the proof in these photos.

I then prepare my paints.  I build my palette up with all the initial colors that I intend use and then build from there as the painting progresses.  This is my basic set up as well-  A big drawing(painting) board, Darth Vader cup for brushes and tools, Spray bottle with water, two water containers- one for dirty brush and one for clean water, paper towel for any quick color bleed fixes and my palettes.  I used to have a super awesome nice one but I must have lost it over all my moves over the years and I have not found a suitable replacement yet.  I use the kitchen table and the board over a traditional drafting table because I like the freedom of working flat or at an angle at a seconds notice.

tools of the trade

So next I start with the my sky.  This painting is all about trying to capture an intense emotional experience in a cold, emotionless setting.  I wanted to create a cool mountain haze effect with the atmosphere. So drenched the paper with water from the spray bottle and then started to mop brush color in lightly.  I don't use any masking fluids because I've never had good luck with them in the past.  They can definitely keep your pure paper whites and protect areas you don't want color bleed but when I've tried them in the past I ruined a few of paintings because they tore some of the paper fibers on removal. I've found if I work fast enough I don't need them.

This is about 2 layers of color .  I always work light to dark because you really cant go back in water color once dark or really saturated paint is applied.  
You may see the paper has warped because of all the water added.  I just work through it because I know it will be fine.  I tend to work my background in completely before moving on to my figures.  I use the bluish/green/ grey for some atmospheric prospective and then slowly add the warmer tones in to bring your eyes to foreground.

I start to add my warm colors for the areas that are closer to the foreground.  
All the basics are completed, now add the details
You may notice the effects of the wet on wet technique on this smooth paper.  You can see the paint drips that slowly went down the paper, you can seen interesting pigment textures forming in the mountains.  You can do all of this on cold press paper as well but many time the effects look different because of all texture in that paper in comparison to a lack there of in the smooth paper.  It also tends to make you work quicker because you have less control over what the paint is going to do, which makes it an interesting experience to say the least.

Next I block in the basic colors for Wolverine and the ninjas.  I then start to flesh out the details as well.   Wolverine in one of his costumes and the ninjas are fleshed out in a black made by mixing purple and green together.  I intentionally went full blown cad yellow on wolverine to contrast the coolness of the background atmosphere by bringing him to the fore front of the picture.  I wanted to bring attention to him and his facial expression which is mixture of anger, fear and regret
(at least, thats what I was going for).  You'll also notice that in the time elapsed that the paper has now flattened out completely
I tend to work top down so I finish the backgrounds and start fleshing out the details for the characters.
As I work in the details I added some darker areas in the mountains for some added depth and detail of the scenery.  I then work quickly to add all the details into Wolverine and the ninjas.  Sorry, I tend to get into the moment and work quickly on details so that is why there is a lack of pictures.  I purposefully did not make this image gory, which is a direction I definitely could of gone but I wasn't interested in portraying that at all in this image.  As with most of my big paintings, I want to capture the atmosphere and the emotion more than anything and I think this one was fairly successful in doing so.
Finished version

A small detail of Wolverine
So until next time, Bye!

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