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.