Monsters & Dames 2013:
The Emerald City Comic Con has a fantastic Art book they put on every year at their show called: Monsters & Dames. The book features art with...well...Monsters & Dames by the various guests of the convention and the money raised goes to a Seattle Children's Hospital. As I am returning to Emerald City this year, I contributed a piece for the 2013 book. In year's past I've done a Frankenstein's Monster & Bride piece and a Dame riding a dragon. This year I wanted to do something a bit more fairy-tale-ish. So I did my take on Beauty and the Beast.
I did a lot of looking at other versions of the pair, illustrations by Edmund Dulac and various other golden age illustrators, the animated Disney movie and stage play, and Jean Cocteau's La Belle La Bete 1946 film. The goal was to give something new, and Petersen-ish, but still familiar. I drew a Beauty and a Beast in separate pages in my sketchbook (so if I wanted to redraw or correct one or the other, I could do so without fearing erasing any part of the other) and then assembled them in photoshop. Beauty was inspired by a photo of Anne Hathaway and Beast is an amalgamation of my own illustration tendencies, Disney, and La Bete's wardrobe from the French film. The background is a zoomed in section of iron casting I felt made a nice design and set a mood of both beauty and danger.
The above digital composition was then printed out so I could tape it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a lightbox I can see through the bristol to the printed layout and use it as a guide while I ink. This also means that unless there is an area I want to tighten up or correct in pencil before I ink it, there is virtually no pencil on the finished piece to erase afterwards. I inked the linework all with a Copic Multiliner pen (mostly the 0.7 nib) and the ironwork with a brush. The embroidery on Beast's cloak and the lacework of his high collar & cuffs was inked in black though I wanted them to appear lighter in the final color version. At this stage I worried that committing Beauty's face to an almost binary black/white line had taken away the softness and tenderness I worked so hard to get in the rough.
The finished inked piece was then scanned so I could flat the colors in. Originally I had Beast's clothing in more of a black/navy configuration and Beauty's dress in more of a gold...but I realized that I was being too heavily influenced by the palette of the Disney movie and Cocteau's film (the colorized cover art to the DVD). I swapped out the blues for reds (a color of aggression and passion) and the gold for pale blue (a color of sweetness, calm, and innocence). Even when drawing this piece, I knew the background was going to be in the violet family, and luckily the clothing color alterations didn't force me to change my background color scheme.
After the color flats are established and I've set the basic palate I render the piece adding shadows, highlights and color transitions. Normally I do this exclusively with the dodge & burn tools in photoshop (using a textured brush) but this time I also used the paintbrush for some color transitions and a feathered lasso to isolate and enhance the color in selected areas. To get back the softness I felt I lost in the inks from the pencils, I focused on rendering the subtlety back into Beauty's face (with a little help of the Anne Hathaway photo for reference on the planes of her face & neck). I added color holds on Beast's embroidery and lace and to the background iron work too. I didn't want the iron to overtake the emotion of Beast's torn feelings to reach out for what he wants while fearing the outcome and internalizing his own self-loathing (at least that's what I saw going on there...)
The Monsters & Dames book will be available at the Emerald City Comic Con for purchase (as well as the original art being auctioned off there) and remaining books are usually offered for sale online through the Emerald City website after the con ends.
Watercolor Wednesday: For those who missed seeing the Watercolors from last week's Watercolor Wednesday, here's another look at them.
First up: 7 Horcruxes. I'm a big Harry Potter fan. I came across a 7 pointed star design while researching patterns for my Free Comic Book Day story. It occured to me that it would be a great template to make a Horcrux chart. I organized them in the order in which Voldemort made each (starting with the book and rotating clockwise)
Second up is one of my favorite paintings I've ever done for Watercolor Wednesday...and I'm not quite sure why. It's a heap of coins. I painted this at the same time as the Horcrux piece, so the palate is similar (those are the colors I had wet and going). I looked at some historic ancient coins for inspiration, but for the most part, I let the brush suggest details rather than plan them out.
Third painting from last week is a bell. I'd planned on this being more of a Christmas themed painting, but didn't get it done and posted in time. The music below the bell is 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".
Emerald City: March 1-3
Fabletown Con: March 22-24
C2E2: April 26-28
Spectrum Live: May 17-19
Heroes Con: June 7-9
Albuquerque Comic Expo June 21-23
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21
*more 2013 dates coming*
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