In late 2009, publisher Don Shay, commissioned me to paint a portrait of Visual Effects wizard Phil Tippett for the cover of CINEFEX - [link]
The March 2010 edition of the magazine carries an in-depth editorial on Tippett along with a feature on Tippett Studio's 25 Anniversary and even though this highly regarded magazine has never featured an illustration on its cover before, Don kindly granted me an enormous amount of freedom with the design.
CINEFEX is unique in the way that its published because it comes with two cover versions: a) a cover without the Barcode Strip and text banner for individuals who are subscribers to the magazine and b), a cover version including the Barcode and text banner for in-store distribution. This unusual configuration meant that I needed to design a piece that not only featured all the the characters and movies Don and I thought would be appropriate, but I also needed to come up with a finished painting that served three purposes: 1) A painting that could stand on its own, 2) Artwork that looked perfectly normal with only the "CINEFEX" title covering part of it and 3), an illustration that could also have a big barcode and the text bar included - without looking cramped or compromised.
After the usual process of working through a number of rough concepts, I put down the final layout on sheet of acid free paper, making sure to include the characters Don and I had agreed on. I scanned the final concept and marked each character so we could be sure I had not forgotten anything and then once that was done, I made a mockup of the complete cover so he could see how I intended to solve the issue of text and Barcode overlays.
My preferred painting surface is a sheet of MDF board because, not only is it a firm base, but I really like the board's warm, rich color. Using a piece roughly 24 x 21 inches in size I transferred the layout to the board using traditional pencil followed soon thereafter, by the application of a tonal wash (I use Acrylic paints by choice) which gave me a good idea of where the deeper tones and punctuation points were going to sit in the composition. With Tippett's face in the middle, I decided to play the left off against the right by making half of the illustration red and the other half blue so, once I had settled on the tonal values, I used a wash of Napthol Red Light behind Phil's head and an Ultramarine blue wash over the remainder of the board.
I then started blocking in the flesh tones all the while keeping in mind that I wanted to feature a rich yellow and red slab of light bouncing off his left temple. From there, keen to get some form into his face, I used a mix of red, yellow and light blue's - laid down in progressively thicker washes - that was to serve as the foundation over which I would apply my colored pencil (I use a combination of Prisma Color, Faber Castell and Derwent pencils for this purpose). Once his face had a reasonable amount of form, I started working clockwise around his head starting with the ATAT walker from Empire Strikes Back followed by the T-Rex animatic model used in Jurassic Park. Because of the predominantly blue pallet I used a mix of Ultramarine blue, Aqua and Colony Blue to build up the detail.
The creature from Starship Troopers afforded me the opportunity to start shifting the blue pallet towards the more vibrant reds and here, I opted for tans, greens and browns for my paint. I purposefully placed a 'bar' under the character so that it could act as a neutral backdrop for when the cover needed to feature the text banner and the little mouse - Templeton - was also positioned in such a way that his head would be able to peek over the text box. The vicious Goblin from Spiderwick Chronicles needed a cloud of explosive gas around his feet and legs and because I don't use an airbrush I built the cloud up using layers of paint and softening the edges by dabbing the paint with an absorbent paper towel. For added texture, I used paint splatter and pencil.
Draco from Dragonheart and ED-209 from Robocop finished the surround and as I did with the Goblin (I had to make space for the Barcode block), I dropped the head of ED-209 so that the robot looked out from under the CINEFEX title banner. I then went back over the entire composition lifting tonal areas and adding detail with paint, paint splatter and carefully applied pencil strokes.
The painting was contact scanned and I used the CINEFEX cover template to drop in the artwork for Don's consideration and once the official cover was finalized, Don sent me a reference copy with a light blue CINEFEX logo on the top left hand corner.
Paint colors used: Ultramarine Blue, Aqua, Colony Blue, Titanium White, Carbon Black, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Napels Yellow Medium, Napthol Crimson Light, Cadmium Scarlet
Pencil colors used: Ultramarine, Kingfisher Blue, Light Blue, Indigo Dark Flesh, Deco Peach, Venetian Red, Poppy Red, Terracotta, Golden Brown, Burnt Umber, Black, White
The final piece can be viewed here: [link]
Download for full 1115 x 2200 pixel file.