Last time I explained the stages of designing my mats from initial concepts to having the final design laid out on the mat itself. Since the next mat in the stack I have to talk about is also a comic book mat, featuring one of the same characters and a similar layout, today I will take us through the second part of the process, actually colouring it.
The design brief this time:
Bane, the comic version rather than the movie one, with Deathstroke and Solomon Grundy the later of witch is holding a coffin. If you have read the previous post you will probably remember me mentioning that two of the characters on that mat were rather broad shouldered and once again thats the case here. On top of that I’ve got to fit a coffin in somewhere and they rant exactly small either, so its going to be a tight squeeze again and again the legs are going to be the the casualties. on the other hand Bane and Grundy’s legs tend to be thin and smaller than the rest of their bodies would indicate in their comic versions (and especially Bane’s animated versions) anyway so its no real loss.
I’ll talk a bit about the sketch phase before we move on. You will notice in the top image that there are a series of lines in garish colours covering the image. They indicate how I went about laying out the various ways the design is meant to draw your eyes across the page not to mention make coming up with the initial design much simpler. Frequent readers will note I use spirals a considerable amount so seeing one here is no surprise. The triangles tend to form of their own volition due to the nature of the spirals but theres no coincidence that Bane fits almost exactly inside the blue one. Theres also a forth line that goes from top left to bottom right following the line of the coffin but that one is less obvious.
On to the actual colouring then and I started with the skin tones mainly because these tend to begin in pastel shades and take longer to work up to full shadows and hi-lights. That and in this instance they are the sections of the image that take up the majority of the surface area on the mat so they have to get done at some point early on.
In the second image I have started working up the darker areas of the skin and on the various clothing elements. The fact that the light source follows the green line down from the top left is also no coincidence, having a good idea of where your lights are early on is also very useful . The other thing I’m attempting on this mat is to get the cloth and skin to have some of the properties those surfaces would actually display not that it hasn’t been a factor in previous mats just that its something I was more conscious of for this one, probably because of Bane being so veiny on the left side. In any case this means that I’m after keeping flesh more translucent and the cloth less refractive.
By the third image I have started on the black areas, it is after all a comic inspired mat and along with keeping an eye on materials surfaces a more graphic style is going to be a major influence on the final colours. additionally it accounts for why I am more inclined to let the final piece end up darker than I usually do.
The close ups show certain sections of the mat are well on their way, even if others are barley started. That said it’s obvious that there is going to need to be several more passes to tighten up the detail.
The darkening continues along with Deatstroke getting a body, the coffin getting coloured, and a number of incidental details like how the venom tubes on the left mirror the way the vines are spreading from the coffin through Grundy on the right.
In terms of awkward sections to colour Dreathstroke’s chest took longer than i would have liked. While its my own fault for putting him in that pose the way his Arkham City costume has both curved and angular surfaces didn’t exactly make getting the perspective right easy.
The cutouts show that the level of detail is gradually creeping up as I work though various shades and add black but especially in the case of the skin theres still a ways to go.
The next few phases are mostly about working the dark areas up and around the curves of the various body parts and blending things in, more veins, making sure they go under cloth structures, more folds in cloth and trying to make Grundy look like he is decaying nicely. The background starts to go in I opt for a nod to the city in the background of the batman mat plus I haven’t used that much blue so far which will help to keep the contrast up, theres no point working all thins time on the design and then using a brown or pink and having everything get lost in a muddy haze. The buildings go though a number of variations but in the end I decide to tone them back not wanting them to draw to much attention since their vertical lines don’t mesh with the rest of the flow.
Cutouts once again indicate that the details are gradually getting there, Deathstroke can now see, the veins have highlights, and I’m starting to make the metal areas look, well, metallic. Its also worth remembering that if your trying to make things look more realistic those things don’t normally end up being one colour its worth blending in others. For example Grundy’s flesh is a mix of green and yellow / brown and pink shades.
I finish up by adding carbon fiber like effects to Deathstroks suit, adding more vein effects to hands and just generally tightening things up with smaller and smaller brushes. You should get to a point when you can’t really do much more to a piece without it fealling like your just messing about with it.
So at that point its best to let it dry and then apply a coat of spray protection.
Well thats the process from initial sketch to final piece across two comic book mats. next time…. hmm I’ll have to come up with something different to talk about, no doubt it will involve a Pokemon mat though