Hulk Process

Monday, February 11, 2008

After finishing Mythos: X-men in late 2005, I began Mythos: Hulk, the next in the series. I painted the cover and the first page in oil, but I came to the decision that something had to change. The process just took way too long. I tried digital painting for a bit, but I didn't care for the results. Then I tried a hybrid: grayscale paintings that were colored in Photoshop. It seemed to work well enough and was quite a bit faster. What follows here is every stage of the process from finished art to layout sketch.

This is the stage just prior to digital coloring. It's painted in black and white Acryla Gouache that I mixed into a grayscale of 10 steps. This is page 18, so I had gotten pretty used to the process, but for subsequent pages I began to use Holbein's set of 4 premixed grays in addition to black and white. Also of note was the difference in scale. I had painted X-Men on 16" x 24" masonite panels, whereas Hulk was done on 8" x 12" Strathmore Series 500 bristol board, 3-ply. Not only did this mean less area to cover, but it also meant I could light box my layouts and pencil directly on the paper as opposed to projecting the finished pencils onto the board.

But before I got to that stage, I would paint fairly detailed value studies on 4" x 6" printouts of the finished pencils. This was a great help, but it's something I no longer do because of time constraints. However, these are usually my favorite pieces since they are done with less caution.

My "finished" pencils tend to be pretty loose. This allows for more freedom while painting but also keeps my mind engaged throughout the entire process, as opposed to simply coloring in between the lines. In this case, I actually forgot to draw in the Hulk's hand before I scanned it, but I had general idea of where I wanted it to be. You can see that I tighten up on certain objects like faces and vehicles that are the focus of the composition.

The digital color study is where I really begin to pull things together into a complete composition. I paint over my original layout on a separate layer that is set to "Multiply."

And finally, the 4" x 6" layout is generally where I begin every illustration. This is where I hammer out all the storytelling and composition. It's nothing fancy, but you've gotta start somewhere. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a 4" x 6" layout.


  1. I enjoy very much with your Mythos! Yo have a very very amazing art; naturalist in the treatment of light and volume , but you don´t loose the classic drawing of comics very expresive,very cartoonist...How much time have you for every comic?
    I am a marvel artist too ( yeah , really!!take a look on my blog)and sorry for my english....

  2. Hey Dani, I'm a fan of your work too! I've been seeing your work around for some time now. Thanks for stopping by.

    In answer to your question, I take about 4 months to finish a comic, so I'm lucky if I manage 3 a year.

  3. 3 comics a year it´s not bad!you do a very hard work in each shot!In france you are lucky if you can do two albums a year( I did one album in two years)! We met in NY in 2006 hehe !just for a moment...I have your ghost rider and it is beautiful!I can´t wait to see the captain america´s mythos...Are you goning to do all the marvel universe in Mythos?

  4. We met? Darn. I must have a bad memory. I can't remember if I had seen your work by that time.

    As for Mythos, I'm afraid Cap may be the last one. Originally, we had planned to do at least 2 more, but I think Marvel may have other plans for me. Nothing's official yet, though. As soon as I know, I'll post it here.

  5. Wow it's great to see the process you went through in the Hulk project. I would have never known it was painted in grayscale unless you posted this. It seems like it would be a bit more helpful than waiting for the oils to dry.

  6. Wow, daniel acuna and paolo rivera just chatting...i love both ur stuffs,especially the painted ones. Awesome to see legends meeting


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