Green Hornet Commission Process
My process always starts with the thumbnails. I wish I could just throw down lines and see what happens, but sadly I like to reduce as much headaches as I possibly can. So rather than spend unnecessary time erasing and essentially ruining the paper, I find a scrap of paper and just doodle ideas. I like to think of it as part of the thought process. In this instance I felt like I wasn’t hitting on all cylinders I knew I was unfocused.
Looking at the image from left to right/top to bottom We see my first effort had Green Hornet front and center with Kato behind. They both would be contained by a diagonal shape. Had I really pushed this idea it could have worked but it didn’t feel dynamic at all.
The second was a derivative of the first and i tried thinking looking up at Green Hornet full figure with Kato behind. But still not dynamic enough.
The third idea felt a little more dynamic but was too flat.
Lastly I was able to pull off something with more depth and some dynamic lines. It also put Kato in a lower sidekick level of importance but moving him to the front not only gave it depth but made him more of a physical threat.
The pencils stage is the construction stage. All I am worried about here is getting the lines and structure correct. If I feel I know where something needs to be black or how I want to render something I’ll indicate it here but in this case since I knew it was a commission I didn’t want to guess. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. So I didn’t render at this stage, I just set up the lines and gesture and structure. I concentrated on details of the costumes that I wanted and that was it. Some areas such as the guns and hands I left a little too gestural and would eventually tighten those up when inking. But generally I wanted to make this process be as quick and decisive as possible.
As I stated before, I wanted to make sure i didn’t do anything too surprising in the inks. This was a commission and I wanted the inks to be as clean as possible. So a trick I use is to take my construction pencils and scan them, then either print them out and use a sharpie marker to spot my blacks (a fancy phrase for indicating shadows) or in this case I scanned in the pencils and just added blacks in photoshop on my wacom tablet. This way I could simply try different things until I got the right combination of shadows. Since this was a commission and I was concentrating on just the two characters I used the blacks to create interesting shapes that worked with the poses of the figures. Both characters wear pretty dark costumes so this was both challenging and fun. Once this step is complete I print it out and use as reference for inking.
Inking is the most fun stage for me as this is where everything seems to come together. I usually ink 90% of everything with a Windsor Newton Series 7 brush size 1, and the other 10% with either a Pitt Artists Pen or Microns. This ended up being more like 30% with Microns and Pitts. FYI, I like the Microns and Pitt pens because they are waterproof, which comes in handy in the next stage. There are days when I can easily ink a whole with a brush and I typically enjoy the results better, but other days the brush just doesn’t feel good to me and I have to go with the pens. Faces generally get the pen treatments unless I’m feeling really good and confident. I also erase most of my pencils lines down to almost a light faint line so that when I ink i get more contrast and when I clean up with post erasing it doesn’t erase away my lines.
WATERCOLORS AND FINISHES
The almost final step is adding watercolors. As stated before I made sure to use waterproof inks. This is essential as I don’t want the watercolors to make the inks bleed. That would be a mess. Also Watercolors are essentially transparent so they sit on top of the inks pretty well. I have learned that since I use Higgins Black Magic for brush inking that the watercolors tend to sit on top of that more than I’d like so after I finish adding the watercolor treatment I have to go back over the larger areas of blacks with ink to bring the black back up. The watercolor treatment can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to add color as it dries fairly quickly.
Typically once I add watercolor I prep the piece for sending to the awesome commissioner. In most cases I’ll spray mount the piece on another sheet of bristol board giving it extra thickness. In this case the paper picked up some weird discoloration in places that I just couldn’t get rid of, so I actually painted gesso on on all the exposed paper parts. It evened out the color of the paper and even gave it a bit of extra stiffness. I don’t normally do this but I didn’t want the piece going to the client with any crazy stray marks. Once I did that the paper started to warp slightly which was fixed by the spray mounting onto the extra sheet of bristol. After that it was sandwiched between two pieces of extra thick cardboard and popped in a bubble wrap mailer and sent off to the commissioner. Another fun piece finished and completed.
My name is Matthew Childers. I am an artist, writer and illustrator of fantastical stories, comics and art. If you like what you see consider emailing me for a commission of your own or visiting my online shop and purchasing one of my prints or t-shirts.