Friday, March 8, 2013

Nuthin' But Mech 2

I recently completed five new paintings for a book called Nuthin' But Mech 2, which will be published later this year. The book is a collaboration of 35 concept artists who love to paint robots, spacecraft, walkers, and other kinds of mech designs.

Here's one of my pictures called "Intruder." It is set in Dinotopia's dramatic ancient period known as the "Age of Heroes." The image shows a crab-like vehicle known as a sprog patrolling the marketplace of Prosperine, just behind a Triceratops.

Intruder photo gif.gif
The painting uses sepia watercolor and colored pencil to suggest the vérité look of an old photograph. This animated gif captures a few steps in the process. The first step shows a pencil drawing with a light wash over the surface. Then I painted sample area of the foreground and background to establish the range of values and the atmospheric perspective. Then it was a matter of carrying each area to finished effect with brush and colored pencil, fixing goofs where necessary with gouache.

For example, note the man facing us at extreme left. I sketched his head in too big at first, so I had to shrink his head a couple of times until he fit into the perspective. The warm color cast at the end is not a change in the painting but an adjustment in Photoshop.

Brain Children
• The illustration board I used is a Cottonwood Arts cold press watercolor booklet with 16 glue-bound heavyweight pages. It's a nice format for hand painted concept pieces or plein air studies. Cottonwood Arts is the brainchild of John Park, one of the other contributors to NBM2.
• The blog that started it all: Nuthin' but Mech, brainchild of Lorin Wood, another contributer to the book and a senior conceptual designer for Gearbox Software.
• The publisher is Design Studio Press, brainchild of Scott Robertson, yet another contributor to NBM2.


Steve said...

Thanks for giving us another gif of the steps in your painting. It's very helpful. Wonderful painting with great sense of distance. A quick trip to Cottonwood's site shows 9 x 12 to be the largest watercolor booklet. Was that the size of this piece? It's no surprise to learn among your other talents you can now list headshrinker.

James Gurney said...

Steve, Yes, I was using the 9x12 booklet. This painting has a white margin around it and is only 7x10 inches. I love to paint small, partly because I've been hugely inspired by William Trost Richards and Ernest Meissonier, who was often called the "King of Lilliput."

Tom Hart said...

I love this post and painting too. And the Cottonwood product is wonderful. I hope they succeed and prosper. It didn't appear (unless I missed it) that it was possible to order from their site. Is the product commercially available yet?

Kimberly M Zamlich said...

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Gurney, for really slowing this demo down...Kimberly

Felice Applauso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Felice Applauso said...

Felice Applauso
Thank you Mr.Gurney for this great behind the curtains peak. It's always a treat when you post these animated gif's. I couldn't avoid taking notes of the way you tackle small sections of your artwork while painting the canvas. The workflow in which these sections are painted seem to indicate that following one small painted area you move across the canvas to balance out the previous colored area. This jumping across from area to area is something that it's done following some kind of a formal rule or it's more likely dictated by the artistic spur of the moment?

James Gurney said...

Hi, Felice. Good observation. I'm not following any rule, really. Once I established the range of values, I picked a couple of areas I was excited/confident about and built out from there.

There is a useful general rule, though, for inventing forms in paint. With transparent media, you usually have to work foreground to background, and with opaque media, you're usually working background to foreground.