Friday, January 25, 2008

COMMISSION: STORM

I'm skipping ahead in the queue here (bypassing Wolvie, Emma Peel, Deathblow & Grifter and Aragon & Arwen - boy, I've been busy!) cos I wanted to show I can draw a woman with large, but reasonable breasts. Although Emma Peel does have normal breasts too. But this is recent, so it's present on my mind and I can talk about it the best.

AN INTRODUCTION

This piece is for Lee Ann (aka Ororo_Monroe who does incredible and tireless work for the Sarmy and the Give Life Foundation). I did a tshirt design for them, and soon as my hard drive comes back, I will donate 2 or 3 more designs. Anyway, Lee Ann previously asked me to do the first Batman piece for her nephew (left).

She was so happy with how Batman turned out, she planned to get a head and shoulders of Storm done also. Well the time came.


THE BRIEF AND THE REFERENCE

She wanted Storm looking up, grinning joyously into the rain. She didn't mind profile or front on.

But she sent me this Greg Land picture as costume reference:

Greg and his colourist had done a stunning profile shot. So I figured, if this piece was out there, what's the point of me doing the same thing?

I decided that a front on piece would be the way to go.






THE LINE ART


There was no sketchwork. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, and Lee Ann trusted me to do the right thing. She said she wanted to see a "Jason Badower Storm". So, the gloves were off!

My driving goal was to have this huge long mane of flowing hair. I opted for a landscape orientation (horizontal) to truly capture this movement. I wasn't drawing a comic book cover here, I could do as I pleased!

What's of note at this stage is her lack of jaw. I leave things like this empty for later. It's taken a while to realise that certain things work better at certain stages. It takes an incredible amount of concentration to visualise the jawline when it's not there.

Also of note, is the crazy amount of detail on her hair. I felt that Lee Ann deserved something a little special. I could have easily phoned it in and knew that most of it would be obscurred later, but *I* know if it's there or not. Little things like this create a proportionate amount of pride for me in the work. It also makes for a nice design element at the black and white stage almost creating a shade of grey encircling the minimalist white figure.

Her eyes almost sent me to the top of a bell-tower with a long range sniper rifle. I must have redrawn them about six times. This is extremely rare for an artist who generally hits things the first time he has a smack at them.

TONING STAGE 1: SKIN & COSTUME


Man, if someone was to go through my browser's history right now, they'd believe I had some sorta serious fetish for black chicks (that's not an invitation for you hackers!). I've got folders full of images of Tyra Banks, Beyonce and an assortment of other black chicks. I hadn't drawn a black woman in a while, and I wanted to really capture the unique and beautiful way their skin captures the light.

If you look at my previous pieces, I like extreme highlights and shadows. I like white whites, and very black blacks. I opted for a more mid-range less contrasting tonal range here. It was a huge challenge to hold myself back. I remember rendering the face and actually having to throw it out and start again. Again, a very rare occurance.

I'm really enjoying how I communicate different textures. The gold band, leather costume and skin all look like totally different textures to me, and I'm very proud of that.

TONING STAGE 2: HAIR


Did I mention how much of a pain in the ass it was to draw this hair? Well, my computer decided it wanted to have a little bit of a lie down while I rendered her hair. I have a tendency to render things at a speed corresponding to the energy contained in my subject. At this stage, all the energy for this piece was coming from her hair. It needed to be rendered with quick flowing strokes to communicate that energy. My poor new uber-laptop (curse you Vista!) chugged along whereas my far less powerful tower running XP would have powered through this. Not enjoying my Vista experience so far.

BACKGROUND IMAGE


Those of you who have followed me through previous processes know that I like to let my backgrounds dictate my colour scheme for my foreground. I ascribe to the theory that the light around us affects the palette that I use. Lee Ann didn't mind what I used as background texture. So I found this lovely lightning storm with such a unique palette. Blue and purple? Game on!

COLOUR STAGE 1: Flats

This stage is very straight forward. Generally I sample the colours from another picture of Storm for her costume and skin. I then play with them to get them to look just right. These are just basic colour flats with a COLOUR layer effect over my tonal work. In case you think it's cheating, you try and do that tonal rendering (where I spend most of my time).

COLOUR STAGE 2: LIFE, FILL & MAKE UP

The problem with just using flats is that they're very well.. flat to the eye. The first thing I do is try and bring life to the skin. I blend in a combination of pinks, purples and other similar skin tones to create some energy and the subtle variation for the eye that real skin tones have.

I then went back to all my reference. Yes, that's what us artists call the huge banks of images of beautiful women we have. I scanned it for women with the same skin tone and started looking for makeup schemes. I notice that most colourists draw women with blood red lipstick. The only women who wear that sort of lipstick these days are rockabilies, some old schol goths and well, shall we say... ladies of the night.

Modern makeup is a lot more subtle. I created a unique colour for her lips, and I was pleasantly happy with how glossy it looked. I then moved onto her eyes and as a girl once told me, "Blend, blend and then blend some more." So that's what I did. Blues, greys, purples and all sorts of stuff in there with a subtle skin tone over the top to even it out.

Finally I painted in the blueish purple fill light on her left side (her left, our right) which added a great deal of depth. I went for a very subtle fill light here, just enough to break up those dark shadows

COLOUR STAGE 3: SCREEN & OVERLAY
Once I'm happy with my base, I create two layers. One 50% Screen, and one 50% Overlay. I find these two effects bring more depth and life to the flat Colour layer effect. I then go in and touch areas up that need definition and highlighting.

AIRBRUSH

I added some subtle highlights to her hair, the odd bright skin area and the shine on her gold and leather. This is normally where I'd stop if I was doing this for myself (in fact, I sent this on to Lee Ann as an alternative version for her). But Lee Ann wanted her looking up into the rain. Rain, huh? I gotta tell you, I was pretty scared at this point that I wouldn't come up with the goods and that I'd ruin a perfectly good piece.

RAIN STAGE 1

I had done rain once before on my Batman piece for Beau and Lucy. But there were two factors that made this a very different piece: Storm wasn't set at night, and it was a close up.

So again, Google images was my friend. I began studying photos of the rain, people in the rain, and even people (mainly women) in the shower (god, it just sucks to have to do some of these stages, you know?). I created a really nice texture cobbled from several photos using images of rain far away and close up. I think I pasted it over the top of Storm with a Lighten layer effect. I was quite happy with this, but it looked like a light drizzle not a STORM. It lacked drama.

RAIN 2: THE STORM!

Remember I said I was looking at photos of people in the shower? Well, it's pretty hard to find the impact of the sort of rain I needed. I wanted the sort of torrential downpour that sends people running, sweeps away houses and drowns your pet elephant. But showers... Now showers have the level of water impact I needed. I cobbled together a couple selections of water impacts and began painting and pasting them over Storm. At one stage there was over 15 layers of rain impacts on her. I flattened them all, blended them in, and Bob's your uncle, one serious mutha of a storm.

This communicated the level of drama I was looking for! I loved the contrast between her expression and the power of the elements behind her. She's revelling in it because she controls it. That was exactly the look I was hoping to achieve!

FINAL COLOUR OVERLAY

To blend background element and foreground elements, I took a sample of the background and overlayed a very slight Colour layer over the entire piece. This subtly shifts all the palettes in the same direction unifying the image by creating one lighting scheme. I also felt it added another level of drama as the light from the lightning seems to be closer, adding a level of proximity and danger.

Overall I had so much fun with this piece. What should have been a quick straight forward piece got more and more complicated. I was so pleased with the way it turned out. The organic nature of the rain on her adds such a sense of life, hyper-realism and drama.

Thanks for asking me to do this, Lee Ann!

COMMISSIONS: If anyone else wants a commission, email me at grael23@yahoo.com for my commission document, decide what you want and let's make the magic happen. You better get in quick though. As soon as my hdd is recovered, I'm throwing myself into Zero G and stopping all commissions for a while.

SKETCHBOOK: My lovely dad just mailed me five more. This is the last five I have to send off until you hunt me down at a convention in the US later this year. You better hope I still have these. Again, these have the only hardcopy prints of all my Heroes posters. $10 + $5 mailing.

LONDON: Didn't make it to the musueum. This is what I did instead. The museum will be another day.

7 comments:

Kelly J. Compeau said...

I began studying photos of the rain, people in the rain, and even people (mainly women) in the shower (god, it just sucks to have to do some of these stages, you know?).


Such suffering for your art, such comittment and devotion to getting things just right. ;-)

KJC (who wishes her hooters looked even half that good)

Ororo_Munroe said...

It was absolutely the best decision to give you a basic description of what I wanted and let you work your magic. Jason's Storm.

I'm sorry you had such a horrible time with her hair and eyes, but it was worth the final piece. Don't you think? I imagine the most trying part of this job was having to look at all of those pictures of women in the shower. I don't know how you can stand your job. ;)

Storm has never looked so good. Between this gorgeous goddess and your Cromag/Neanderthal half breed Wolverine I wouldn't be surprised if Marvel came knocking on your door... or knocking it down.

She is breath taking! Thank you Jason.

Leshia Doucet said...

I really, really, really like this one.

leper messiah said...

Hmmm.... I'm also looking to do a picture of Storm in the rain. Could you point me in the right direction for the best research material?

Great pic mate :)

?

Ron said...

I think your Storm really does look like ororo munroe for whom you did this ... breathtaking and beautiful ..you've outdone yourself, mate!
ron

Nicola said...

That pure primal joy of being in the midst of nature's power... and being able to control it. Nice one.

Though the geek in me has to mock you for suffering under Vista. You should upgrade back to XP and avoid another trip to the belltower with sniper rifle.

Begemot Geroi said...

Wow, that is a really awesome storm! I just love how you captured all of the emotion of her power and everything into one small stance. Wonderful work.