Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Plotmasters: CLAW

The latest episode of The Plotmasters Project went up on the site today. It was an episode Jesse and I recorded LIVE on my Twitch stream for ONLINECON titled: Cats Trio Revisit: CLAW! 

To the left you can see my finished art for my Plotmasters update of the Cats Trio big-baddie. Below in this blogpost I'll show the steps of the process to create the artwork

If you haven't seen the episode, I've posted the video at the bottom of the blogpost, or you can link to it directly on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/ok2waaIu_jI

I wanted to play up the military side of the character. Give him tactical gear, and show him amidst a pile of destruction and billowing plumes of smoke. In this rough pencil sketch you can see a few abandoned poses on top––the one on the left owing a lot to Wolverine. 

But the sketch I liked best and worked up the most was one where he's almost casual about what he's done: 'All in a day's work' attitude, with perhaps a glare of 'I'm coming for you next'.

I found lots of online reference for various body armor,  packs & pouches, and weapons to get the look right.

As you can see relative to the paper the above sketch was pretty small, so I enlarged it and then on a lightpad redrew it tighter, working out more details as I went. 

I scanned those tighter larger pencils and did a digital paint-up to help me see the shapes and especially the light to dark value shifts of the plume of smoke.

On his kneepads and shoulder armor I added some insignias (the 02 later was changed to 03 to denote Claw's correct order in the the experiment subjects) And for the shoulder piece I made up my own emblem that he fights under.

I wanted the symbol to have some history, some nazi-like menace, something that makes seemingly regal symbols look sinister when added together in context. 

So I did a clipart search for some heraldry. The cross was meant to be similar to the nazi iron cross, but without being rooted in that specific brand of fascism, the grail cup has lots of connotations that go to myth and vessels for purity, and the shield chevron was a military badge shape I found. I added the three together into this patch. I like the design, and I like how it works for a villainous group.

The next step was to print out the above layout and tape it to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. On a Huion lightpad I'm able to see through the surface of the bristol to use the printout as a guide as I ink the artwork.

I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.3 & 0.7 nibs) to ink the linework.

The pencils were fairly tight for this piece, so most of the inks were just direct translations other than adding texture to the rubble and the plume of smoke.

I left a white gap between Claw and that smoke trail. It helps separate him from the background visually, but also makes a part of the coloring a bit easier when I establish the color hold for that area.

To start the colors, I scanned the inked artwork into Photoshop and added flat colors to Claw. This is a tedious stage of digital coloring called 'flatting' that is essentially a professional version of color-in-the-lines, establishing all the color areas. 

At this stage I also isolated all the linework I wanted to be a color hold (an are where I wanted my inked lines to be a color other than black. That gap I left between Claw and the smoke really helped me care out the lines that belonged to the background and leave the main figure's lines alone.

Most of the color choices had already been made in my quick digital paint up back in the layout stage.

And here again is the final version with a logo treatment from my original Cats Trio Plotmasters update

The rendering was all done using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop while using a stock brush.

This piece concludes the episodes for Season 1 of The Plotmasters Project. Jesse and I hope to do more as time permits.

Below you can watch The Plotmasters Project episode: Claw: https://youtu.be/ok2waaIu_jI.

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