So, now that the background is somewhat done, the moment I’ve been waiting for is here, and ding dong – the whole thing has become pretty intimidating! It’s time to tackle the figure. So much has gone into the whole piece that I don’t wanna screw it up!
Once again, I don’t wish to start with the white of the paper. So, some base coats are laid down: warm light brown for the skin, purple for the coat, and a yellow ochre for the shirt. Now, none of these colors will be the final, but they will help us get there. This step doesn’t take too long. I just laid them in there fast and loose.
For the next step, I want to employ a technique I learned from looking at the paintings of the great Jack Davis. Jack was one of the founding artists of MAD Magazine many years ago, but also did many terrific illustrations for many other clients. His paintings for the movie posters of It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD World are among my favorites for their sheer hilarity and manic energy! He is even known for being the king of cartoony monsters himself. Ok, enough fawning – on to the technique! Jack will do a tonal underpainting for his figures, and then lay the colors over that. His underpainting is often just with the sepia color which gives his work a certain warmth. When he lays his final color on top, the shadows just look like a darker version of whatever color he painted over it. I’ll be doing this, too.
Now I’m kind of anxious to get moving on the skin, but at the same time a little cautious. Where could I try some ideas but not have them be in the spotlight? If I experimented on his face and messed it up a little, it could be noticeable. So, I chose to begin with that hand down in the shadows by laying in an underpainting color. First to go in was a darker brownish/ochre-ish tone which just looked too sickly and bland, so I threw in some purple. I tend to like purple tossed here and there in my paintings anyway.
The hand still looks a little sickly, but I know that I’m going to give him green skin as we all think of him anyway. And once highlights are added, he’ll come to life. For this I can’t wait, so the operation on this hand continued. I mixed up a nice green tone, and then two shades of yellow. The green is painted down flat, and then the yellows were used to bring back some highlights. Not quite done with the experiment, out came the colored pencils to assist with defining knuckles, light and shadow. It seemed to work. The hand is sufficiently creepy. However, I think for the rest of him, the underpainting will just be done with purple without the dark ochre shade.
Now that I know where I’m going with the monster, it’s time for an all out purple underpainting. I work it in all over his face, his other hand, and his shirt. The idea is to go a little dramatic with the tone because it has to show through the next layer of paint. It might not be quite dark enough, but if that’s the case, I’ll just accentuate areas with colored pencil on top of all the paint later on.
Normally when I do a piece like this, I’ll lay in all of one color at a time, but once the green went down on the other hand, it was just too exciting, so I painted in the yellows, too. The colored pencil WILL wait until all the painting is done. It’s beginning to really come together at this point!
So, for now, here’s the whole painting at this stage of the game. The purple tones are in for the shirt and face. There will be no tones painted for the coat as that will be kept pretty dark with highlights here and there just like good ol’ Mona’s frock.
Next, Part 6 should finish up explaining the paint job on our dear friend Frankie.