Thursday, January 5, 2012

Finding the Groove

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope each of you had a wonderful time with family friends during the holidays. We kept it very low key here. Our son came up for a week long visit while our daughter stayed in Pennsylvania with her boyfriend. Nate and I got to go to Gillette Stadium to see a Patriots game which was a real treat. What a beautiful stadium! We had a great time, especially since the Patriots won. Go PATS!

I took a much needed break last week but found myself in the studio anyway. I had this idea for a promo piece that I was itching to work on. After breaking out my sketchbook, I did a quick doodle of the idea. Once I worked up the sketch, I realized that it was not working conceptually, so I thought about it and came up with a much better idea. Again, I worked up the idea, made revisions and finally had a a drawing that I liked.
This was the final drawing that I scanned into Photoshop which became the base for the painting. For the color palette, I wanted to keep the colors toned down and warmer to emphasize the friendship between the two characters. Usually my colors are very vibrant, this was something different for me.

Just like working traditionally, I did a gray underpainting to establish my light direction. I was happy with my first attempt and decided that the values would work. Oh, I made it a "multiply" layer some that the pencil work would show through. 

I copied my gray underpainting and added a deep brown tint to the copy. Again, the "multiply" was turned on for that layer. This made the underpainting very dark which is what I wanted to build the colors upon.
The sky was painting first which keeps the traditional way of thinking of working from back to front. It was hard not to put a bright sky in but I wanted to stay try to the color palette that I wanted to use. I built each component in layers with the "normal" setting on since I wanted to paint over my base painting. This allows me to tweak or redo something as I progress.


Once the sky was completed, the grass was next to be added. The colors are flat except for the bright yellow and a few highlights. This was intentional to help draw the eye up towards the figure.

The next step was to paint the oafish, troll-like giant. Having again to fight the urge to use bright colors, the bulk of his vest is an olive green and his pants a maroon red. The skin tones where built up in many separate layers which were flattened once I got them to my liking. I feel that I still need some work in the color theory for skin tones but it is getting there. Practice, practice, practice!
His vest seemed to missing something so I laid in a burlap texture from an old scan I had. It worked really well. The layer is set on "multiply" and the opacity was set to around 35%. The tree branch and bird was also painted in at this time.

The next step was to paint the girl. With the muted colors being a backdrop for her, I focused on brightening up the colors for her. I wanted to her to airy and very lively looking. Lots of purples and pinks were used in her clothing and a base of orange for her hair helped me achieve the look I was after.

The final touches like highlights, some lines, and a few dollops of color were added to bring the final piece to life. I was very happy on how the final turned out. Seeing the textures of the brushes helped make this look less digital and more traditional. Your thoughts and opinions are greatly welcomed.


Until next time, I leave you with this quote:
"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." ~ Michelangelo

42 comments:

Paul Weiner said...

Russ, nice job. I like a couple of things with your
work. First, the overall design sense tied in with the border. Second, you are really adding some fine textures with your brushes in Photoshop. Third, the great time saver, establishing your gray underlaying and turning this gray layer into varying colors for your finish piece. Yup, looks good.

Loni Edwards said...

Hi Russ!
I really enjoyed your post. I love it when an artist walks through the painting process. Thank you so much. As a self taught digital artist, I value blogs that do that. I will add yours to my RSS feed.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Happy 2012!

Helena Juhasz said...

Wow! Amazing!! Thanks for the breakdown. I hope to have that kind of expertise some day. Thanks for checking out my blog too :)

Russ Cox said...

Thanks everyone for the positive comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading about the process.

Happy 2012!

Kristen Schwartz said...

I love the way it turned out and it was great to see your method. Thanks for sharing!

Marcie Colleen said...

As someone who is not an illustrator, I am loved walking through your process. Thank you.

Aadel said...

That is amazing! Great work!

Russ Cox said...

Thanks Kristen, Marcie, and Aadel! Glad you enjoyed seeing how I created this illustration.

Joy Weese Moll said...

What great characters! I love the way they are breaking out of the frame.

Jill Bergman said...

What a happy swinging scene!

scottspinks said...

Hey Russ! Saw your blog on the "Comment Challenge" page, so I thought I'd swing by. Hope all is well with you. Keep up the awesome illustration work!

anniecardi said...

Thanks so much for sharing the illustration process! I love seeing how each layer adds a little more life. Fantastic drawing!

Camille said...

I love the step by step process - especially to see how it is done digitally. Great illustration!

Vivian said...

Good morning, Russ.
I had to stop by and thank you for commenting on my blog. And, I'm so glad I did. I'm kind of crafty...not sneaky crafty...a lover of doing craft activities with kids, I mean. :) But "art" is something I don't know a lot about...and you made it so enjoyable to see the process. My husband does a lot of watercolors, so I do get to see his projects from beginning to end. It's amazing how each layer brings the illustration to life. I'll be back to see more. :)

Heather said...

I love this piece, it makes me smile every time I see it! The textures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing the process. I've never worked in a digital medium, but have been considering giving it a try. Nicely done!

Redheaded Stepchild said...

This is a great piece, Russ. Thanks for walking us through your process - I always learn something from these kind of posts. I know what you mean when by always wanting to use bright colors - I do the same thing!

Beth said...

This is a really cool piece, and as a non-artist it was fascinating to see you build it up from a drawing. It helped me noticed smaller details like the ogre's ear color and the texture of the ropes for the belt and the swing. It makes for a complete picture of friendship.

Russ Cox said...

I want to thank everyone for stopping by and viewing how I created my latest promo piece. Also, your kind words make me realize that I am heading in the right direction with this style. Thanks again!

Playing by the book said...

It's definitely fascinating to see a process and how (for me) the image comes to life as that process proceeds. Thanks for sharing.

Renee LaTulippe said...

Stunning art, great walk-through, and funniest "About Me" I've ever read.

Thanks for the chuckles, and for stopping by my blog today. Just added you to my blogroll and subscribed - I'm a new fan!

Tammy said...

Just stopping by to say hi on the Comment Challenge-then I was swept away by your post "Finding the Groove" Wow! What an amazing process and thanks for taking the time to take us through it step by step.

Brimful Curiosities said...

My daughter had the joy of swinging on a tree swing (at a friend's house) for the first time this past fall! Oh how she loved it! If only we had a giant in our backyard. Adore your illustration.

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

Great quote!

Thanks for sharing your whole process - art can seem like such a mystery for those of us who don't regularly create such things.

Juana Martinez-Neal said...

I agree. If we want the work to look effortless, we have to put lots of hours of work. Thanks for sharing the process and Happy 2012, Russ!

Julia said...

Great job, I love the expression on the little girls face.

Annie said...

I loved seeing the entire process of your illustration. It was very magical, seeing the personalities of your characters emerge!

Patty said...

Love the slightly weird unique illustrations!!!

Joanna said...

What a lot of fun here. I also, as a non artist, love hearing about process fro the ground up. There is so much humor captured in these characters, Russ, love it!

Katy Manck, MLS said...

Thanks so much for showing us "how it's done" in Photoshop. I know that one *can* do such things, but I certainly don't know how!

I love the giant's expression of contentment and the little girl's obvious delight in the joys of swinging so high... all communicated without a word.

(found you through MotherReader & Lee Wind's Comment Challenge)

Rena J. Traxel said...

Thanks for shareing! I love the picture. I will have to show this post to my husband so that perhaps he can use it to improve upon his own work.

Russ Cox said...

Wow! I am really blown away from the responses! Thanks to everyone for taking the time read my blog or just this post.

Nicholas Hong said...

Great post! Thank you for showing your painting process!

Hardygirl said...

Holy cow! This is absolutely wonderful. And thanks for taking us through step by step.

Such great characters that tell a great story. Well done!

sf

BarbaraB said...

Hi Russ,
Thanks for showing us how you build up your paintings. Masterfully done!

Sylvia Liu said...

This is really super. I love seeing the process of how you put this excellent illustration together. Interesting how Photoshop painting is similar to traditional painting. I like the muted color scheme too...I often find myself trying different color palettes to change up the style or mood.

JenFW said...

My all-time favorite posts are illustrator posts that describe the process. I'm a writer--and I love being a writer--but I admire and wonder at the work of illustrators. It is amazing to me to watch an illustration come to life, and I like knowing how much thought, effort, and skill goes into it.

You say this is a promo piece. For anything in particular? Is there a story that goes with it?

I love the relationship between the giant oaf and the birds and girl--and the attempt to be a tree. Very fun!

JenFW said...

P.S. Michelangelo is wrong.

Laurie Jess said...

Thanks Russ, Great job laying out this process. Very nice artwork too! I keep running into your name so I thought I'ld check out your blog & site. Glad I did & Happy 2012 to You.

Marty Qatani said...

Loved it Russ. Thanks for showing the process !!

crazylady said...

Oh...I am really loving this one! Nice step-through, too.. it's really interesting to see your process.

Cindy D. said...

Wow! I love this! Your characters are spectacular and the progression photos are outstanding. Your description of your thought process and technical process is terrific as well. I just love those tiny birds, and the big guy's giant goofy nose, and all the little details that make this such a wonderful illustration.

I saw "Gladys and Her Cat" (also brilliant - love how you added those drawings on the floor at their feet) at Pixel Shavings, which I found because of a post here: http://www.sylvialiuland.com/

Russ Cox said...

Thanks Cindy!

 
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