Well, we are nearing the end of the Frankenstein saga. This will mark the last of the autopsy-like dissection of the process leading to the creation of my monster. All the painting has been done, and now for the finishing step of using colored pencils.
My tools of choice happen to be pretty common in the world of professional art supplies. I use the Berol Prismacolor brand of colored pencils. They are a waxy pencil – kind of a sophisticated crayon if you will. I’ve always liked the look of colored pencil in artwork. There have been many modern day masters of their use whose work I admire – illustrators such as Bill Nelson, Drew Struzan, and Carter Goodrich who each use colored pencils in ways very different from one another.
When I first started out as an illustrator, my second book, My Bible (published by Barbour & Company back in 1993) contained 40 illustrations drawn completely with colored pencil. Since then, I have favored the idea of painting first, then working with pencil on top of the paint. This allows for the paint to do the hard work of filling in all the nooks and crannies of the textured paper eliminating the white of the paper BEFORE trying anything with pencil. For me, it lends itself to a much richer look overall.
Prior to adding any pencil, Frankie was looking pretty decent as just a painting. However, since I really like the look of a drawing with my paints, pencil will be added on top. There’s something kind of gritty and more tactile about it’s appearance. Well, enough pontificating about my artistic philosophy. Let’s add some nitty to that gritty and show how pencil was used on this piece.
I couldn’t help myself. Once the painting was done, I just wanted so badly to see Frankie’s face be finished. Why not? After all, it is the main focus of the painting, right? How the face turns out will dictate the approach to the rest of the piece.
Wanting to keep with the purple and green aspects of the painted skin tones, out came the Marine Green and Black Grape pencils. These two colors were primarily used in the hatching technique. (Hatching, for those of you not in the know, is the technique of drawing with lines. When the lines criss-cross, it’s called “cross hatching”.) Just for kicks, I threw in a little hatching here and there of Bright Purple (a magenta-ish color) to have a hint of another color in there. I outlined his face first with the Black Grape, but realized later that it really wasn’t dark enough in places. I’m not a big fan of reaching for the Black pencil either. There’s usually a more colorful way to go. So, to darken up some of the outlines, and the darker shadow hatching on his skin, the Indigo Blue pencil was employed.
Now, you might be noticing that under the nose, chin, and brow there’s kind of a light purple color. It’s Light Violet to be precise, with a smidge of white on it to lighten it even more. Having that light color in those spots really helped to round out his face, and keep the purple thing going in a subtle way.
This Frankie is not of the ol’ Blue Eyes variety. Black WAS used for his pupils, but I didn’t press too hard as I wanted them to be a bit soft around the edges. I chose not to hit the rest of the eyes or lids with pencil at all. So much is happening around them that the eyes read fine without extraneous noodling. I did hit them with a splash of pure white gouache paint for highlights, though. Do you see why it’s good to not have anything in your painting be actually white? His eyeballs were “white” before, but were really off-white, yellow and red. In comes an actual white and it adds a certain impact to the area.
The impact of true white was also utilized with the lightning reflecting off Frankie’s head. It certainly allows for that extra bit of drama.
Since I was working on Frankie’s skin, why not go down and finish those creepy hands of his. The same approach was taken with them as with the face.
After his hands, the only other really detailed part of him was his shirt. Beginning with the torso, I started out with laying in hatching with the Henna color. Added to it was Sienna Brown and Tuscan Red. Black Grape made it’s way in, as did Dark Purple, and even Indigo Blue for some of those darker areas. In the highlight areas, Cream and White were brought out to play. And like cupid spraying his little love arrows, Light Violet here and there.
As in the torso, there’s definitely a lot going on in the sleeve of Frankie’s shirt. Hatching is going every which way with various colors here and there. It’s the shirt of a monster – it’s not supposed to be cleaned and pressed.
After the figure was done, a limited amount of things were done to the background to punch them up a bit. They still must remain a bit vague to keep them from taking away from the attention of the figure. Since the castle was right under the lightning bolt, it needed to look as though it was under attack. Pretty basic, really – White was used as a highlight, and Dark Brown was used to help darken and define the castle. A little bit of white paint was added to show the one lit window as the castle in Young Frankenstein‘s opening credits had.
Nothing extra was done to the lightning after the painting explanation in Part 6B, but the clouds around it needed a little something. I just went in with the White pencil and gently sketched in some cloudy highlights. The origin of the lightning wasn’t quite convincing, so I hit it with some white paint from an airbrush. Stupid airbrush.
I have an Iwata airbrush that has never worked very smoothly. As I was ever so gently pulling back on the trigger, it surged and shot out a glob of white – MUCH more than I wanted. If working digitally, all I’d have to do is hit the “undo” button. If there was one thing to be invented for traditional painting methods, it should be a literal, real-life undo button. Sigh. Well, there’s usually a way to fix things. Grabbing a paper towel, I dipped a corner in some water, wrung it out so that it was damp – not sopping. Then I just lightly tamped up the excess white gouache from the surface of the painting. No real problem after all.
The last little bit I’ll show you today is one of the mountains. It didn’t require much. I just hit the top with Dark Brown to define the edge a bit, and lightly sketched in some darker areas on the mountainside with that color plus Black Grape. To create some lighter ridges, all that was necessary was a fine brush dipped in water. A quick rub on those areas and some of the paint there lifted making a lighter area. Easy peasy.
That’s it for the colored pencil phase of the project. Ok, ok, I know it was a bit of a tease, but the painting IS done. I’ll reveal it in the final Frankenstein post in Part 8 after I flip the switch and laugh maniacally!