Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly- Demo

I have always liked movie westerns so when thinking of what might be a fun subject for a class demo, I figured I would do a gritty cowboy. What movie cowboy was grittier and tougher than Clint Eastwood's man with no name? Eastwood made this character famous in  the Sergio Leone" classic A Fistful of Dollars and sequels A Few Dollars More and the iconic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?  The first step was to pull a few reference photos and create a drawing.

The final drawing

I didn't want to simply copy a photo, but rather capture a bit of the character's persona and add in a little bit of stylization to the drawing. I used elements from several photos to come up with my drawing which I then projected onto my cold press illustration board. I refined the drawing and added some value using Prismacolor pencils. I like Prismacolors because they don't get scrubbed off when applying wet washes of acrylic paint.

The next step in this mixed media demo, a variation of the technique used by friend and fellow illustrator C.F. Payne, was to apply initial washes of color starting with a nice warm yellow under wash. This process . I followed that with washes of brown for the hat and a flesh tone on the face and then the chosen colors for the shirt and neck bandana. I keep these washes smooth and even by tilting the surface and "drawing the bead" or letting the paint fall along the wet edge to avoid any streaks.

With oil wash lifted out

Next comes the "ugly" step where things can get scary. I apply a purplish wash of very thinned down oil paint in one pass with a wide varnish brush. The oil is very thin and settles down int he valleys of the board texture but since the binders are mostly obliterated by the thinner, it does not fully adhere to the surface. I then lift out the highlight areas using a kneaded eraser and sometimes a pink pearl eraser.

After Prismacolor application

When I have lifted all the areas I want to remove, I spray the surface with a photo retouch varnish to seal off the oil and give the surface a little tooth in preparation for some Prismacolor. This step can be overdone, so I use the pencil fairy sparingly and apply it with a light touch.

Stopping place- still a lot of work to do to finish

After I am satisfied with some of the colored pencil application, I come back with more acrylic and keep working the surface, pushing the lights and the darks, alternating back and forth with a little more pencil if needed until I am finished. I stopped this demo after two and a half hours, but there is still quite a bit of work left yet to finish this one up right. I'll post the final version sometime later and link to this post.

Addendum: The Finished Painting

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Mixed Media, 10" x 12'
Here is what the finished demo turned out like. I worked on it for maybe another3 to 4 hours in two sessions after I stopped the above demo. Total working time including sketch was about 8 hours. As you can see from the above photo, I spent a fair amount of time adding detail in areas such as the hatband and the beard. I also cleaned up and strengthened contrasts in the background while still keeping it ambiguous and non distracting. I added a stronger rim lighting on the edges to give the feel of bright sunlight.I'm pretty happy with how it finished up.


Brian said...

Excellent demo. Thanks for sharing this technique. Look forward to seeing the end result.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

I'm loving this process and really think you have captured the essence of his persona. Question: I thought one could not apply acrylic over oil. Is it because the layer you applied was so thin that you can?

Greg Newbold said...

Thanks guys. The oil wash is quite thin with most of the binders being killed by the thinner. What really is left is mostly the pigment. The fixative layer in between also primes the surface to take more acrylic too. Is it archival? Who knows for sure, but Chris Payne has been using this process for over 20 years and he claims to see no deterioration as of yet.