Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Heroes Con 2018 Auction Piece

Heroes Con is this weekend in Charlotte, NC. Each year they do a huge original art auction, which is definitely a highlight of the convention. Many of the pieces in the auction are created live at the convention during the day Friday and Saturday on the Live Art Stage...but in past years, I've found it to be too much time away from the table, too much pressure, and not up to my own standard if I attempt to do a piece there. So, I do my piece ahead of time, and bring it with me. To the left you can see the final results, and below the process to get there...and how they will be available...

Instead of doing one large piece (20" x 32") I decided to cut my surface and do two smaller 16" x 20" pieces. The reason for this is that unlike past years, I did not have someone close to me driving to Heroes to transport something so large as my past pieces...the two smaller pieces fit inside my luggage I'll be flying with to the convention. I started by laying out a digital composite of two sketches (one of Saxon and one of Kenzie...both traditionally drawn on paper and scanned) inside a frame border that I interpreted from a carved wooden frame I found doing some reference searching for medieval borders.

Once I had the digital composites the way I wanted them, I printed them out to scale. This meant each piece was made up of 4 sheets of printer paper, aligned (hence the grid on the above image) and taped together. On the back side of the taped together printouts, I rubbed graphite all over them...or at least wherever there were lines I needed transferred onto the mat board.

I taped the printouts, graphite side down, to the mat board, and then traced over all my linework with a ball point pen. Wherever I applied pressure with the pen, the graphite transferred onto the surface of the mat board. When both pieces were successfully transferred, it was time to get set up for painting. Some of my fans got to watch the following steps as I broadcast on Twitch (sorry, I didn't record them). For watercolors I used mostly Windsor Newtons and mostly colors that were already dried onto the plastic palate: Cadmium red, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna...I'm forgetting the other colors...I know I used a bit of Payne's Gray too...

Over one long night I built up layers of yellows and golds and then reds and crimsons to get the border done. Fans on Twitch asked me why I started with the border, and I didn't have a great answer. Some of the reason was to get the big area wash of yellow/golds down as a light color (in watercolor you tend to work light to dark) but I think some of it was also to get the fiddly bit done so that the end of the painting was looser and more organic. At the completion of the borders of both pieces, I set them aside and went to bed.

Two days later when I was able to get back to the paintings and broadcast, I dug into painting the middle areas. I worked mostly from light to dark, building up the larger areas and then focusing down to smaller elements (Kenzie's staff, Saxon's sword) as I got closer and closer to being finished.
The last step (seen below) was to 'ink' the piece with a dark brown color pencil. I find that my paintings need a bit of linework and that inking with black ink tends to be a bit too high-contrast and heavyy handed, and the color pencil gives some structure without overbearing the piece with line.

One of these pieces will be up for auction at the convention Saturday.
The other will be privately for sale at my table on Sunday.

I have also scanned them so that I can possibly reprint them in a sketchbook or art book at some point.

2018 Appearances:
Heroes Con: June 15-17
San Diego Comic Con: July 18-22
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 28-30
New York Comic Con: Oct. 4-7

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