It’s been a few days since my last Frankie post. I’ve been able to work on it a little since then, but other obligations and activities sometimes come along that delay my pet project. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Now it is time to prep the final painting. Often after I do a preliminary sketch as was posted in Part 1, I tend to redraw it for the final painting, adding in other details along the way. This time, the preliminary sketch layout was pretty tight, so I decided to transfer it directly onto the watercolor paper.
For my watercolor paintings, I have been using Strathmore’s Watercolor Block. It’s a pad of sturdy 140 lb watercolor paper sealed on all four sides so that you can work wet, and it automatically dries flat. Arches also makes a similar product. My only complaint is that the texture on the Strathmore is a little too uniform – too “manufactured”. But, I’m going to be covering a lot of it in dark tones, so the texture will do its duty.
To get my 8.5×11 sketch into a transferrable 18×24 final size, it’s a bit of a “Frankensteining” process. I scanned in the sketch, blew it up, and printed it in two halves onto Strathmore Layout Bond paper which were then taped together. Normally when I do a non-watercolor piece, I can just trace the drawing onto the final paper with my light table. Not so with a pad of thick paper. So I’ll have to trace it on top.
In high school, my art teacher (Walt Sturrock for those of you who know him) taught us how to make our own graphite paper which I still use to this day. You take a sturdy piece of tracing paper, get yourself one of those woodless pencils, and just go to town on one side of the paper. You can smooth out the graphite with rubber cement thinner on a paper towel, but I don’t bother with that step. When it’s done, you have a piece of homemade carbon paper made with pencil lead that will last for many illustrations.
So, I took my printouts with the graphite paper underneath, and traced down the drawing onto my final paper. Since it’s graphite, it’s easy to erase the inevitable smudges, and you can continue to finesse the drawing. For demo purposes here, I neglected to scan the drawing unpainted when this stage was done. Since in real life I have already begun to paint the piece and right now we are just talking about the drawing, I cut off the colored background so you can just see the drawing of the figure (with a little overpainting on his edges).
As you can see, this stage doesn’t have all the cross-hatching and shading the preliminary sketch had. More attention is paid to details, though. Subtle changes were made to the face. The ears were extended a little so they weren’t as smooshed (that’s the technical term – smooshed) against his head, and they were given a little more character – cauliflowering, bumpier, etc. The outline of the face is more uneven, etc. Like I said, subtle. When I finish this piece, I’ll be drawing in a lot of detail with colored pencil on top of the paint, so for now this is just a guide as to where to put the paint.
The other area of concentration for me were the hands. Mona’s hands are pretty prominent due to the coloring da Vinci employed – light colors surrounded by dark clothing. Frankie’s hands are definitely a feature. So, using that reference photo I showed you in Part 2, I spent more time making these the hands of an old withered, yet strong monster.
It was also during this stage that I finally figured out what to do about my castle that needed to be silhouetted in the background. I do have my initial sketch from my sketchbook of the castle that appears in the final painting. It will read very clearly as a castle amongst the mountains. Does it look at all familiar to you?
For you Frankenstein film buffs, it is the Frankenstein (“that’s Fronkensteen!”) castle pictured during the opening credits of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein movie. It was perfect!
Next in Part 4, the painting begins!