The Move Back to Color, part 2

Monday, March 10, 2008

This is the cover to Mythos: Ghost Rider that actually saw print. It's painted in Acryla Gouache on 16" x 24" masonite. The first one that I painted got solicited, but I just wasn't happy with it... so I painted a new one. What follows is all the steps I went through to paint the one that I eventually canned.

This was the original cover and is painted (like the rest of the book) on 8.5" x 12" bristol board. It was going to be my first finished piece in full-color Acryla Gouache. I donated the original artwork to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, which has displayed it on several occasions. While it's passable as a cover, I wasn't happy with the color of the piece or the gesture of the figure.

In order to get a better handle on my new medium, I did a small color study over a 4" x 6" print of the finished pencils. I continued to do this for a few more pages, but each became less finished until I stopped doing them altogether. While a great help in honing in on the the right color, the studies simply took too long and I began painting right on top of my digital color studies to match the color.

This is the finished pencil drawing. I think it's where I killed the gesture I had previously achieved in my layout sketch, pictured below. This is often a problem for me as I try to "correct" a loose sketch by tightening up perspective, proportion, and stray marks.

The aforementioned digital color study...

... and the layout sketch. In the second version of the painting, I tried to capture this gesture again with a small degree of success. By that time, I had finished the entire book and had enough experience to handle the paint in a confident manner. The differences between the covers are not great, but subtlety is not subtle at all when dealing with human perception. The smallest physical change can make a huge psychological impact. Of course, I probably spend too much time and brian power worrying about this kind of thing.

Before I go, here's a bonus image from a very long time ago... back when I was dreaming of the series as a whole and charting out the overall look. It was a very quick sketch done entirely in Photoshop.

This Wednesday: the first ever Wacky Reference Wednesday


  1. Pretty cool, i like your process, but like your finished product more. I agree with you about the second paint over, it's much better color wise, nicely done.

  2. I actually like the second one a bit more. It's less anatomically correct, but that dark head is more menacing. Thanks for posting your process, it's interesting to look at.

  3. It's interesting, i like the gesturing on the initial one more, and the colour study is allot more interesting on the final one, particularly on the skull.

    I guess when deadlines creep, you just have to go with one. Perhaps worrying about it too much is just making it worse. Creating more and more alternate variants only raising more doubts. Then you end up with impossible ask to reconcile what's good in a version with what's good in another.

    Perhaps it'd be worth the time to really end up with a preliminary that's really it and stick with it the whole way through.

    Can't wait for Wacky Wednesday, i got curious watching the reference next to the Cap America preview, it looked right off from a Village People clothing catalog.

  4. Yes, deadlines are actually a great thing for me... otherwise I would second guess myself indefinitely. In this case, I only had a day to finish the final cover. No regrets!


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