Friday, April 19, 2013

Painting Mal

Hey Gang,

Keeping in line with my recent Brown Coat Propaganda Poster image, I thought that I'd post up a
"How I Painted Mal" process article.

Malcolm Reynolds AKA Nathan Fillion is a pain in the butt to paint. The reason being is his features are very unique yet subtle. His nose and chin/jaw are very prominent yet difficult to get right. Needless to say, I've wasted many pages in my sketch book just trying to get it right and so far, this painting, I think, is my best attempt to date. You be the judge.

The process that I am outlining below is not neccesarily typical for me but in this instance I think it worked out. The intent was to give the image a poster feeling and how could a guy NOT be influenced by the great Drew Struzan? So ,I decided to emulate his technique some what and here is how I did it.

First off, I started with an under drawing. Some guys just launch straight into paint but I'm just not built that way. I like to think of the drawing stage as building the skeleton of the finished work. The more accurate that I can get this stage, the less guess work that I have to do later.
 Next, I completed a monochromatic under painting over top of the drawing. This helps me to work out the basic values and forms as well as establishing a uniform tone to the whole piece. The Browncoats are always depicted as dirty and sandy so I chose to use a tan color for this stage.
 On top of the under painting, I now go in with my digital airbrush and block in my colors. This is what I borrow from Mr Struzan as he is a master at this part of the process. He is a lot more subtle with the airbrush and chooses to rely more heavily on his drawing skills to refine the forms in his work. For me, I just wanted to quickly establish the overall color scheme.
 Now we get into the fun and laborious part that some people call rendering. For this stage, I pretty much kept to my chalk brush and blocked in the forms being conscious of establishing the planes and over all tonal management.  I'm particularly inspired by the Premier Coup method as championed by the great portraitist John Howard Sanden and I can't help but gravitate to using his methods at this stage. I confess that I initially intended to go " Full Struzan" on this piece and get down and dirty with pencil like mark making but this just felt more natural to me and more importantly, more consistent with the period poster look that I was going for.
 This is the final stage. To achieve this, I spent a lot of time noodling around pushing pixels and further refining the image until I was satisfied with the final rendering. After that, I played around with some adjustment layers in photo shop and voila!
I hope that you found this article somewhat useful and please let me know if you have any comments or questions as I'm always happy to hear from you.


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