Daredevil #506 Cover Process

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Daredevil #506 Cover. 2009. Acrylic, gouache,
watercolor, and Photoshop on bristol board, 11 x 17".
I'm heading into a busy week, so I probably won't get to part three of my contrast posts, but I should be able to finish up next month. I'm going up to Providence to give two talks, one as a guest critic and lecturer for my colleague, R. Kikuo Johnson, who is teaching a wintersession comics class at RISD. The other will be at New Urban Arts, a program that promotes creative discipline for high school students and emerging artists.

As promised, here is the step-by-step breakdown for the Daredevil #506 Cover. The painting portion went fairly quickly (as compared to my typical painted covers) but I spent a lot of time in the research and compositional phases.

Digital Color Study. Photoshop, 822 x 1247 px.
Like most of my covers, I began in Photoshop. I find it's the fastest way to record compositional ideas, despite its not being conducive to draftsmanship (which can always be honed in the next phase when I lightbox it onto bristol board). As you can see, I use a template that keeps the bleed, trim, and copysafe boundaries clearly defined. This was scanned from official Marvel board, which I keep as a separate file from which all my comps begin.

Preliminary Drawing. Pencil on bristol board, 11 x 17".
This is where I work out all the details, making sure that everything will run smoothly once I put paint to paper.

Process Photo. First Pass.
I began with a red watercolor/gouache blend. Since the hue I wanted required a touch of transparency, I knew it would be easier to paint over pristine white than over any other color. Some colors, reds in particular, have significant shifts between their mass tone and under tone. By saving the darkest and most opaque colors until the end, I avoided many complications.

Unedited Scan. 11 x 17 @ 400 ppi
Finally, this is the raw scan of the finished painting. I colored the border digitally in order to match the faux paper tone I used in the background. I also did some minor hue shifts—nothing too drastic—and moved the billy club design, which I had noticed was slightly off-center.


  1. love this stuff!(and very useful the mass tones and undertones link,thx!)

  2. Thanks, Andrea. I'd like to do a whole post on that subject, but I'll have to wait until I have more time.

  3. Paolo I love your work and I have been reading this blog since you got started. You have covered many topics pertaining your process and daily work.
    I would like to request that you talk about your transition from paint to ink. I believe there is much to discuss. It seems to me like based on your work and background you are at your core a painter. You talk and think like one. Currently you both pencil and ink your own work. You now think in terms of black and white and contrast. No value or color. Your inked work looks finished. By this I mean it works without color. This is so even considering you are lately coloring your work using
    the computer. If you wanted to save time since you do your own coloring you could spot black areas and if big just cover them in Photoshop color stage.
    This also leads to you discussing scanning inks versus painted pages. You still tweak blacks in photoshop for optimizing for print.
    Also since you seem to have permanently chosen to ink your Marvel work will you start using washes and therefore value ? I hope you get the idea and cover this new topics. Also since you have talked about painters you love. Let me suggest you research Alberto Breccia the master of the ink realm. In my humble opinion the best there is. He experimented with inks like no one else. If you want to find out what are the capabilities of the ink medium check him out. Check out Perramus and Mort Cinder available at Amazon.

  4. Your process posts have been very enlightening to me. I enjoy seeing this so much, and want to thank you for the time I know it takes to share this in your blog. I do hope you might offer prints of this DD cover in the future. Beautiful piece!

  5. Anonymous, thank you so much for your comment. It's funny you say that I think like a painter, because that thought process was something that I had to work very hard to develop. Of course, that was during my student years, so not many people have seen my earliest attempts. That being said, I definitely plan to do posts on the transition to inks, including the ways that my competing styles have actually helped each other (in my opinion).

    I have no plans to do washes at this time, but it's always in the back of my mind, esp. after seeing artists like Steve Epting use it to such great effect. If I ever do, I think it will have to be for a smaller project, just to test it out.

    Thank you for the artist suggestions too. The names are definitely familiar, though I need to refresh my memory.

  6. Darediva, glad you like the process posts. I keep meaning to set up a prints store, but I just haven't found the time yet. However, if there's anything that strikes your fancy, just e-mail me and we can work something out. Thanks!

  7. Man, this cover is just amazing!
    Is it an impression, or your style is reaching a new level?

  8. Just an impression, I assure you, Rafael. But thanks!


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