Friday, January 6, 2012

Step-by-step pulp painting

Let me first start off by saying that I have no art instruction and much of what I have learned is by trial and error or reading blogs. Keep this in mind as you read through as I'm sure there are plenty of things I did wrong, or in an painful, roundabout way.

I had the opportunity to create an original painting for the wall at Sapling Pictures. The client was great to work with and knew exactly what he wanted.

The painting was to reflect the pulp novel covers of the early and mid 20th century.

I was provided with some background for the story that involved a car chase, plane, thugs and an airport in a foreign country. I started out with some sketches:

I received some feedback and returned with another sketch that would be closer to the final layout:

From there is was on to collect reference shots (which often involves taking pictures of myself). A lot of the detail images were provided by the client:

Next was to compile a finished sketch. I usually draw each element separately and then combine them in Photoshop. This is when I add the greyscale colours.

This is submitted to the client and feedback is given. There were a few rounds of revisions on this as we went through hair, wardrobe and pose for the lead woman and wardrobe for the lead male. Plus the addition of text and its placement.

When all was approved, I sent it off to get printed on canvas. This saves me time and frustration, rather than transfering it to canvas myself. I got a sepia image printed so that I would still have all the values there:

This next step didn't go quite as planned. I wanted to do a wash of a warm colour that I thought would help in the shadows of the people. I did it a bit too strong and a bit too red:

The next few images are all progress shots I sent to the client:

And here is the final. I used a water based paint pen for the text and outline. The rest was done with acrylics.

(I regret not having the painting professionally scanned.)

That's it. Pleae don't think of this as a tutorial. As I mentioned before, I have no formal training so a lot of what I do would probably make a trained artist cringe!


  1. I love your work in general, and this detailed explanation of how you come from an idea to the final product is a fascinating read for sure.

  2. Great work! its cool to see your process. So, if I understand correctly, you sketch it out, lay grayscale and colors in photoshop, print it out then re-paint over that in acrylics?
    Helluva a workflow and successful product. I'd love to see more step-by-steps.