Monday, November 26, 2007

Commission: BATMAN

So here was the first cab off the block.

I have an older Supergirl which I will go through later. But I wanted to show you guys Batman as I kept a pretty detailed process diary of how it all came together.

SKETCHES: Ok, so Lee Ann (Ororo on the comments) asked me to do a head and shoulders of Batman for her nephew. Normally, I would have shot her a bunch of sketches to approve. Generally my sketches are quick visual ideas exploring poses and lighting. But Lee Ann found a convention sketch that I did of Batman that she liked. She wanted a full version of this.

PRE-PRODUCTION: I had the pose and I also had a very distinct lighting in mind. So I found a cape and a lycra top, set up my lighting and made myself Batman-stern. Ten shots later I found the one I wanted. No, you don't get to see it. =)

I did so some shots with the head down, like the sketch, but they just didn't work. The head up had a sense of majesty and nobility. The head down made him look really mean and also the lighting wasn't as nice.

LINEART: Heh. The stage I spent the most time on looks like I spent the least on. You'd think Batman woud be easy, right? But for me, every character involves investigation as to what they look like for me. Sure, I could draw someone else's Batman, but that's not MY Batman. I decided I wanted his cowl to always be scowling like the early Neal Adams and recent Alex Ross versions. I initially drew all these lines around the cheeks too, but they just didn't work. I also liked the more "techy" feel of Simone Bianche's and the Batman Begins versions. So I started drawing all these lines on that made it look like a helmet. But that sucked. So I erased them all and went for something really simple. When I look at the lineart (even though I tweaked the lips a lot) it still looks like me. Heh. Let's see if I can fix that at the next stage.

GREY TONE: I then paste into the lineart a watercolour texture that I painted myself. I then use the dodge and burn tool to create my shadows using my photo as reference. In my photo it had a very strong dramatic top light and I really wanted to emphasize that. It threw the eyes into shadows and had these huge, dark obscuring shadows that created a great sense of mystery. Unfortunately it just looked really dark and menacing to me. Given it was for a kid, I needed to tone this down. So I threw in what is known as a "fill light" from his right hand side (over his right shoulder). This enabled me to break up those shadows and show his eyes as well as the right side of his body (that was all originally just black).

BACKGROUND1: Lee Anne just wanted a blank or textured background. For me this usually means finding a nice photo or texture that I can paste in behind the figure with minimal adjustment. I also let my backgrounds define my colour scheme. I liked the idea of a sunset or sunrise; Batman about to head off into the night to work, or just about to finish up.

BACKGROUND 2: I then found this other background of buildings and pasted it in over the sky. I added a layer effect (multiply) then played with both layers for a bit to make them merge stylishly. Surprisingly, I didn't do any colour balancing work. I liked the palette just the way it was.

COLOUR1: So as I mentioned, I let my backgrounds dictate my colour scheme. I'm a big fan of ambient light. I then painted in his face, eyes (blue - I think Alex Ross made them brown, but I needed blue for this painting) and symbol.

COLOUR 2: This is where I merge the background and the foreground. On the right side of him I started to colour in that fill light that I had painted in at the greyscale stage. I sampled colours from the background and painted them over him to give him depth and make him feel like he is actually THERE.

AIRBRUSH: The last thing I do is go in with a low opacity air brush and make my lighting as dramatic as possible. In this case it was indicating all the areas that I first planned for. The top of his head, nose, left cheek, upper lip, chin and shouders were all strongly illuminated on my photo reference and with the airbrush tool I make them pop dramatically. My goal at this stage is to add an extra sense of drama and create a lighting effect that would take thousands of dollars to set up normally.

So that's my Batman for Lee Ann and her nephew. Enjoy guys!

Coming up next is Lilithia (an original character) for Stef.


Still taking them. Even if you're just curious, shoot me an email for the pricing document that should answer all your questions. I recommend Aussie based people to get in early as I'm heading overseas sooner than I thought. More on that next post...


Ok, here's some photos of what I'm talking about. This is the cover of the booklet:

This is each of the interior pages and the back cover.

As I said, it's 12 pages, full colour on beautiful cardstock, A5 (fold an A4 page in half). They're $12 + $2 postage in Australia or $5 for anywhere else.

Happy to sign em up and send em off. They're the only way you're going to get any of my HEROES prints as I'm not selling them individually.


Ororo_Munroe said...

Thank you Jason he is gorgeous! I can't wait for the real thing to come in.

I don't mind that he still looks like you. It actually makes it even cooler. Just don't do that with Storm. You may be a good looking guy, but I don't imagine you're a good looking woman.

Ron said...

Majestic and awe inspiring..thanks for showing us your process.
..I'm looking forward to receiving the sketchbook
:) Sheindie

Dreadman said...

Wow! Jas that is amazing! Ororo, i'm truely jealous, that's great!

And dammit Jas, I totally want a copy of that scrapbook, but i'd have to check with my parents first :(

Oh well, here's to hoping I can get one over here :D

CurlyMarie said...

That is one beautiful Batman. And one lucky little boy.

Great work, and thanks so much for sharing the process with us.


Kelly J. Compeau said...

Beautiful work, Jas. I'm saving that one to my hard drive, so you can sign it later.

KJC (who also saved your Captain America)

Anonymous said...

That's pretty awesome work, Jason! The sunset background feels very apocalyptic, not sure if that was intentional on your part but still, it feels very appropriate for Gotham!

Also, how long did that piece take? For some artists, say like Dan Dos Santos, he would spend 2 days laying out the line-work on a gesso board.

Oh, btw, could you explain further (or show us some pictures of your light setup) on how you take photo references, like how you set up your lights to take a picture? I'm curious to know how that works.

Thanks for sharing this stuff with us, very insightful.


Flawedprefect said...

Dude... wow does not even begin to scratch the surface. That is an awesome artwork. Well done.

Lilithia/Stef said...

Batman looks awesome there. :)

jasonb said...

ororo: thank YOU! And I'm told I make a great looking woman. Wait... did I say that out loud?

Ron: thanks man! It's in the mail.

Dreadman: sketchbook incoming!

Curly: Heya! great to hear from you again! Thank you!

KJC: You are welcome to save whatever you want. That's why I post it all.

Clifford: Great call. I had a look at Dan's work and it's spectacular.

Ok, to answer your questions, I usually expect a piece like this to take me around 4-5 hours. I'm embarrassed to say this one took me 2.5 hours. It just fell out just the way I wanted it.

As for my lighting? Um. For this it's me standing in costume under a 60W globe in my living room. Took about 10 shots to get what I wanted (ie figuring out what pose worked and where to stand). Sometimes I use a set of 500W work lights that I bought from a hardware store. I'm pretty low-tech here. I shoot reference not finished photography. =)

Paul: Thanks man! Great hearing from you. Hope you enjoyed Melbourne!

Stef: Thanks! Hey, you're up!

leper messiah said...

Ok.... look, I know I questioned your geekiness with the whole Mara Jade thing... but here's the thing.

I only just worked out I could comment on your site.

Yeah I know... shocking. And I'm here all the bloody time.

Lovely piece mate. Think you really captured the essence of Mr Wayne perfectly. I just hope my piece looks half as good!

See ya saturday!

Anonymous said...

2.5 hours???!!! That blows me away! In fact, it puts me to shame! I would probably spend more than a day on a piece like that! Man, I really need to lift up my game...

Hey, we'll catch up on email sometime, sorry I couldn't make it to your autograph sessions.


Kelly J. Compeau said...

Uh, were wearing a Batman costume?

I have, I guess you could call it a "fetish", when it comes to that particular costume -- and the character in general. Must be the Goth chick in me.

It's a good thing I wasn't there when you had that costume on, or something might've happened between us...something very dark, very dangerous... ;-)


jasonb said...

Brett: Hey man! I've got a big Wolverine/Havok piece coming up for you... Can't wait to show everyone.

Clifford: As I said, I would normally expect about 5 hours for a piece like this, but it just all fell into place so quickly. A lucky fluke!

KJC: Something very dark and dangerous? Do you mean running around the house with scissors with the lights out?

Ororo_Munroe said...

Batman came in the other day and the only thing that prevented me from a geekgasm here was that my internet connection has been ill.

If you think the image online looks good you should see the actual printed image! The image online really can't compare to the real thing.

The size is A2, I believe that is the largest size JB offers, and it is out of this world! If you are even mildly interested I can tell you this is worth the cost and more. The quality is awesome the artwork is amazing.! I am doing this again, for myself, in January.

I wonder if this is as addicting as they say tattoos are? Once you have one you need another and another, and another. I can see myself becoming an addict. Well, it's better than pomegranate juice or crack.

JB - You've been told you make a great looking woman? I guess with the proper make up... Some men are more beautiful women than women. I just don't see that with you because you are more handsome than beautiful. ;)