Sunday, April 12, 2009

As promised in last week's post, here are the rough sketches that culminated in the above composition. These are all part of one, multi-layered Photoshop document. Every time I planned on making a significant change (or wanted to explore a different direction) I would copy the layer and continue the process. This left me with a visual record of each major stage.

In general, I like to compose in grayscale so that I'm not distracted by too many options — color can easily be added later. The following images are all painted very quickly, concentrating on major shapes and ignoring details. I primarily used two preset brushes, "oil Pastel" and "chalk," both of which prevent much intricate fussing.

I started with what I like to call my "anchors," things that I knew I wanted to include. I had more freedom than usual with this cover, so I decided to draw a classic subject, Wolverine vs. Sentinels. The first thing that popped into my head was Wolverine in a tree, looking down on Sentinels that have just spotted him. While this would've been good enough, I also wanted to paint snow, which meant that I either had to change the point of view or the lighting. I wanted the spotlight effect, so I changed the perspective.

I immediately thought of a different situation in which our hero has won a small victory, but faces further challenges. Having a defeated Sentinel in the foreground would also provide a sense of scale for the approaching ones, which are over 20 feet tall.

But I had forgotten my trusty spotlight, which, from this angle, would imply that he is surrounded, thus injecting just a tad more drama to the situation. I also added some smoke to indicate the freshness of the kill.

And because smoke is always cool (unless it's from cigarettes, kids).

At this point, I was pretty set in the basic thrust of the composition, but I still had much to work out. I thought a giant hand might make for a more recognizable shape than a foot. I also started adding detail to Wolverine's face, not to mention some battle damage to his right arm.

I then realized that I could use the downed Sentinel as a nice framing device for Wolverine's illuminated face. I also thought it might be cool to have a battle-ravaged Cyclops being saved. However, I didn't want him to be a major focus, so I turned his gaze away from the viewer. If the yellow underwear wasn't enough of a clue as to his identity, I figured the red glow upon snow would fill in the gaps.

Finally, I just had to paint a Sentinel face, so the wreckage grew to take up most of the composition. Everything after this was just cleaning up details.


  1. I master rivera!a "tecnical" question: I'll be in nyc the next week and I want to ask you if you can tell me the best art supply store in the city,cause I came from italy and I'd like to buy some stuff hard to find in my home country(sorry for my poor english,btw).tks for your time and for your usefull blog!you rock!;) V

  2. Awesome as always. Having that sentinel take up most of the composition works in your favor, I think, since Wolverine pops out against it. And that's some crazy battle-damage! He's like an action figure!

  3. Very nice my man! Thanks for sharing the process.

  4. V, I go to several different stores, but you can't go wrong with New York Central Art Supply, on 3rd Ave near 11th St. It's not as big as some of the other stores, but it seems to have just as much. If you want the huge American art store experience, I would try Pearl Paint or Dick Blick.


Copyright © The Self-Absorbing Man
Design out of the FlyBird's Box.