Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Inevitable Batman Illustration: Practicing Strokes and Color Constraint

This has been sitting in my drafts for awhile and finally was inspired to write for it and post it thanks to my partner in crime Amanda Dittami (talented game designer with a new site! adittami.com). She surprised me with an early birthday gift of a Batman statue which I first drooled over at C2E2. It just so happens this was the very same statue that was one of my inspirations for an illustration I did just a couple weeks ago.

There were two goals with this challenge. One was an attempt to capture the mood of the character with a simple color pallet and design. Similar to the Tim Sale designs from the animated series (which had a huge influence on my work). I did not want to copy or recreate the style from the series, so I wanted to push the detail a bit more and build more complex forms out of the simple shapes that built up the form. Also I wanted to a little something different with Batman's design so he felt a little more ghostly.

The second goal was to create a more painterly illustration with a bit of the chaotic feel you get from short and sporadic brush strokes. I also wanted to work in a limited color pallet to challenge my ability to work up a form without starting with a black and white pallet. I did this by first putting down a more colorful and textured background.

(The initial background looked like this. I spent time purposefully and strategically showing some of the brush stroke to bring the canvas to life. Along with the color choice, it helps create a blazing and active background. Didn't nail the look I was going for but was close)

I then put down a rough sketch with my brush set to a setting similar to pencil or charcoal. Outside of the dark grey, I added no other color other than what was in the background and what the background blended with the sketch created. I used this rule to pull the illustration out from the background.

(From this point on every color and value was defined by using the eye drop tool. As I built the image up I shifted the values of the background a bit. Although I am satisfied with the final piece, I feel like a little bit of the energy from this sketch was lost. Most importantly though, it was great practice and  challenges like this sharpen my abilities in a few areas.)

Below is a render of the painting at different states. Seeing the progress laid out illustrates the process of not adding color and also reveals the simplicity of the illustration.

That does it for this post. Hope this was interesting enough to have read through it all. As for students checking out the blog I hope this was helpful and may give you some ideas on how challenge yourself.

If not sorry I wasted your time.

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