Friday, March 9, 2012

Matthew Cody's The Dead Gentleman Illustration, Stage Three: Background

The Dead Gentleman illustration experiment continues. Stage One was sketching out the linework, Stage Two I added in some color. Now, in Stage Three, I wing some sort of background and see how that turns out.

A few of the scenes in Matthew Cody's The Dead Gentleman take place in creepy basements and other dark, subterranean spaces, so that's where my initial idea for the figure drawing started -- hence, the flashlight in Jezebel's hand. But I had only a vague sense of a background, no solid plan. Despite my lack of a plan, I sketch out some random flagstones and the idea of a lichen-covered wall behind the kids. For composition's sake, I decide maybe I'll set up the whole illustration as a mock-up of a book cover. Why not? It's good practice.

Now I start throwing down color. Just a rough underpainting establishing color and mood. I want something creepy, so eerie blues and greens seem appropriate. The light sources in the image are going to be Jezebel's flashlight, some of Tommy's gadgets, and an indeterminate diffuse light source from off-camera.

I keep building up the shadows around the kids -- letting the brush take care of the texture -- and then paint in some flagstones on the basement floor. The stones look ok, but I may end up scattering some color on them later to break up the monotony. Also, they need to be grounded instead of just floating the way they are now.

To achieve that, I start building up shadow and texture to pull the whole room together. The wall looks like it has substance now -- and that aura of creepiness I was hoping for -- and the stones look like they're more or less set into the floor. There's still a bit of work to be done (like more direct treatment of the light sources and shadows) but for now this is a good stopping point.

So what's next? Does anyone care? Tune in next time as I finish up the experiment (hopefully) and we all find out exactly where this thing is headed. -v

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