Painting the Rocketeer: Step 4

Yesterday I finished explaining the painting stage of this Rocketeer/Indiana Jones mash-up illustration. Today begins the explanation of incorporating colored pencil into the piece. This is when the details begin to come forth. If you are just joining our discussion, perhaps you should start with the first post for context. CLICK HERE to start at the beginning!


With the painting portion all done, and the focus having been on the central characters for a while, let’s look at our supporting cast – the Nazis. Now, I’m not in favor of glamorizing Nazis, but I sure don’t have a problem with showing them about to get their hindquarters kicked by a couple of legendary heroes. All that red paint has hidden our villains of the piece, so it is time to bring them back so our heroes can see who they are about to beat down.

I use Prismacolor colored pencils in my work. They sure are expensive. I remember when they were about 50¢ per pencil, while these days it can be $1.50-2.00 each! I buy mine in bulk which helps get the price down, and am happy to utilize rebates that Prismacolor often offers, but they are still very pricey even with discounts.

To get the Nazis going, I chose a violet pencil. Ultimately this color didn’t stand out enough on the red background, so I went over the lines later with a darker violet blue pencil. Using a purple color on the soldiers helps to tie the piece together  with the central characters who, as you may recall from yesterday’s tutorial, were shaded with purple paint.


The original pencil lines under the red paint were just visible enough to be easily followed with the dark purple colored pencils used to outline the soldiers.


Once the soldiers were outlined, two pencils were used for the highlights. White? Nope, white wasn’t one of them, though your eye may think there is white in there. Working from back to front, I started with a nectar colored pencil, then lightly applied deco rose for some brighter spots. Both are shades of pink, and worked well against that red BG.


You can really appreciate the texture of the paper when in the colored pencil phase. It almost has a quality of oil pastels, but is less messy.


In keeping the soldiers primarily the red of the background, using these two highlight pencils makes it feel like you are sculpting the characters out of the scene. You are bringing them forth from the flatness of the paper by giving them a bit of dimensionality with well placed tones.


Here’s the piece with all the soldiers completed with their highlights.


And just like that you have a Nazi army poised to cause trouble. Our heroes aren’t quite ready to respond in kind to their imposing enemy. They are still locked in the realm of nebulous paint. They require some definition, too.

Originally I was going to outline Indy and the Rocketeer with a really dark purple pencil called black grape, but when I started using that, their outlines looked a little foggy. There wasn’t enough contrast between the outlines with the color of the BG. I hesitate to use black pencil for outlining in a painting, but it was the only color darker that would work with the color choices in the piece. The lines needed to really pop not only because of that intense red, but because I was thinking about Dave Stevens’ masterful inking in his comics and wished to channel a little of that sensibility.


The heroes now have their outlines, and are ready for their interior pencil work.


Come back tomorrow for the final step that finishes up our heroes, and to see a couple shots of opening night at the Rocketeer art show in the gallery at Creature Features!