Saturday, May 24, 2014

Steps for "Strategy Session"

Here's a small spot illustration called "Strategy Session" that I did for the back cover of a science fiction paperback in the late 1980s, showing a group of interplanetary military types planning their next move.

Here's the first concept sketch from imagination, drawn with a pen and markers. I did four or five of these sketches, and the art director and I chose this one with a red dot.

The next step was to work out each of the creatures. I did this charcoal study of "Hammerhead" while wearing an old costume and looking in the mirror. Yeah, that's me posing. That's pretty much how I look when I try to pull an all-nighter.

Here's another study on tone paper. I put on the costume, took the pose, and used two mirrors so that I could see myself in side view. The little planar study helped me focus on the big simple forms of the head.

I like doing studies instead of taking photo reference not because I want to be low-tech and classical, but because this method is more practical. It's faster than taking a photo—or at least it was faster when you had to get photos processed overnight. But more importantly, it gets me thinking about artistic choices right away, and I'm not swayed by incidental details.

Once I had all the studies, I worked them into a line drawing, which I transferred down to the panel in preparation for the oil painting, which is about 6 x 12 inches.
The painting appeared on the back cover of The Fleet #4: Sworn Allies by David Drake


Matt said...

Hi James. Thanks for the step by step run down. In the last step, how do you go about transferring the line drawing to the panel?

Unknown said...

Would it surprise you that I guessed it was "you" on the left before I read through the post? :)
Also, I have my suspicions that there's several "James" characters scattered throughout Dinotopia (sometimes more than one per painting!)

CC said...

Thanks for the step out! You are a great source for learning! ♥

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Ever since I saw this piece in the Imaginative Realism book, I've had one question in mind. Is it just a coincidence that that creature happens to look like a a certain part of the female anatomy?