Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Hellboy & The Cockatrice Trio! Process

 I'm very pleased to have created a piece for the MIKE MIGNOLA: DRAWING MONSTERS Documentary Kickstarter. My piece will be offered as a print for the campaign and eventually the original inked artwork will be offered as part of the reward tiers. 

Mike & Hellboy mean a lot to me creatively. From understanding what the medium of comics could be do beyond superheroes, to listening to every interview with Mike I could find where he talked about his motivations & history to help me create an unusual path of my own for the type of career in comics I was after

To the left is the finished piece, and below I'll run through the process of creating the artwork.

I thought of several ideas for a Hellboy pinup: Hellboy drinking in a pub with skeletons (some playing cards, a cobwebbed dart board, drinks all around), Hellboy in artifact collector's trophy room, Hellboy fighting a big moster and breaking it's jaw like King Kong fighting a dinosaur...and somehow in all that flurry of writing down ideas, I came up with Hellboy stealing the egg of a cockatrice.

So, I sketched out this version (added the 'EGG' balloon just for fun) and gathered some reference including photos of roosters & the cockatrice bronze window on the transom of the Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Pretty much the only bit of this drawing that survived to the next version are the cockatrices 

I felt like a less action-packed scene was more my lane to be in. So on several sheets of copy paper, I worked out a new unbothered Hellboy holding a clutch of eggs, and worked out two more acceptable cockatrice drawings to go with the one from the last rough. I assembled these in Photoshop, while I blocked in the major forms with color. It helps me to see where the masses are, where color tangents could pop up, and to help me figure out when inking what areas need what textures. I added a weasel perched on Hellboy's right hand to the scene––Weasels are the natural enemy of the cockatrice. And instead of going back to copy paper to tighten up the bits that still needed work, I digitally roughed in some falling feathers, one of the beast's wings, and the pile-of-sticks nest at the bottom.

With the layout all blocked in, I was ready to start inking. With a printout taped to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 bristol, I inked the piece on a Huion lightpad.

I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 and 0.3 nibs) to ink everything.
Most of the ink-work was done live on my Twitch stream as fans watched and asked questions.

I tried to vary the density of the ink details, going much darker and more textural on the nest while making the scales of the cockatrices more suggestive and leaving their wing-skin very open.

When the inks were done I scanned the original back into Photoshop and started the coloring process. This part is all just about establishing flat colors. I'd done some of the color selection work when I did my layout, but those colors become affected by the colors around them and had to be adjusted after adding in the nest, background, and window colors.

I also decided to push back the window architecture further into the distance, so I added a color hold over the inks there (an area where I want the ink lines to be a color other than black)

The last step was to render everything with light, texture, and shadow. I do almost all of this work using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock texture brush. This one took a lot of fiddling to get just the right blend of tonal values, and a big thank-you to Gene Ha who I showed this to at a mid-stage who had some advice that saved me a lot of struggle,

So, go back the MIKE MIGNOLA: DRAWING MONSTERS Documentary Kickstarter! and get a print of my Hellboy piece on one of the reward tiers!

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