Monday, August 5, 2013

War Drums Process

I saved some process images of my painting 'War Drums' when I was working on it back in December, with the intention of doing a step-by-step for anyone interested. Here it is! The whole piece took around two days. It was done for the Cataclysm expansion for Warhammer: Invasion.

The description for this one was very simple: "An orc warboss oversees a group of orc drummers. He is yelling to encourage them to drum harder." I sent the above sketches to my AD at Fantasy Flight Games at the time, Mike Linnemann. If you really want your client to pick a comp, make it in color. Mike has a good eye though, and is immune to tricks- I tried that one on my very first job with him and it didn't work- so I just told him. He picked the first one, with a note saying the Warboss was too big and the drummers too small. 

Normally an FFG job requires revisions, so I'd do them digitally. This was the very first piece I did after coming back from IlluxCon V though, and I was supercharged to do something in oil, especially after watching Justin Sweet fearlessly turn a pile of mud into a gorgeous Drow elf. So, I made an exception here. I did some small sketches to figure out the poses of the drummers, and then spent a few hours doing a tight pencil drawing straight on the board (18X24" gessoboard, which I would do everything on if it wasn't so expensive). I don't normally do this detailed a drawing first because I am stupid- when I take the time for it, it makes the rest go much faster. 

After sealing the drawing with some spray-fix (don't breathe that stuff), I used some loaded bristle brushes and started getting some transparent color on there. I used a palette of who the hell cares, every time I think I've landed on the perfect palette it changes by the time the next piece is underway. Just use what you like. Unless it's Georgian brand, in which case you might as well be painting with toothpaste. If you want to paint like me, use Liquin.

Here it is with all the background and shadow color scrubbed on transparently. At this stage I'm not being too fussy about edges, since the paint is too thin anyway and I want some room to play around with them later. It's impossible for me to tell what the piece is going to need as it develops, but I try to block it in with the intention of not having to go over the shadows again too much later.

At this point I'm still painting transparently, but I've come in with some mongoose-hair brushes and am painting in the darker shadow notes, and using paper towels and a kneaded eraser to rub out some of the lights. Once again, the better it reads at this stage, the less time I'll have to spend messing around later.


The whole painting with the dark notes blocked in. For all intents and purposes this is the underpainting, although there's still some color in there.

Here I've finally started to hit the light areas with some opaque paint. Doesn't look very different, does it? Aside from strengthening color, the focus at this stage is to get the more subtle modeling in the middletones done, especially on the two main orcs. It's also very important to not get too bright in the lights, since I want to maintain the overall dark mass of the charging orcs.

The figures painted, I start hitting the grass and the background again. Since it's close to the end here, this is where I start working on getting some texture and overall color variation in. I also finally clean up some of those rough edges around the silhouettes of the figures, by painting the sky notes around them with a soft brush.

And the final, with the shadows and color notes more accurately photographed. Hope someone got something out of that! 

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