Thursday, January 31, 2013

Color Field Painting

by Donato

Finger Pointed Solward    White on White
Following up on Jespers wonderful post yesterday regarding color, I thought to add more fuel to the color theory fire and share a few color field paintings I have executed over the course of my career.

Just as Jesper methodically plans out his color arrangements, I too made very discrete judgement calls on what colors and approach I would take before entering into the application of paints into these works.  Rather than let intuition guide me, I stepped into the left side of the brain and made calculated, scientific choices based upon color wheel balances and intentional limiting conditions.  These restrictions ranged from saturation levels of the colors, to value ranges, to the number of colors, to overall complimentary color extremes/minimums.

As I mentioned before in other posts, I love to set these challenges before me - these curveballs - in order to see just how I could pull off a hit with the art as I render the image with these parameters in place.

This post is focused upon works of art created under a generally monochromatic color scheme.   Admittedly they are not even close to monochromatic, but what I love about the process is to see how to manipulate my color application so that the paintings appear at first glance as a unified color field painting.

I cannot tell you how much I have learned about color while tackling these images!

It is amazing how little you have to shift your greys to make them appear very cool while imbedded within the context of a largely red/orange painting.  Or how grey/brown you can make flesh and have it read as warm while in a very blue/green environment. It is one thing to see it on display here, yet another for you to try it within your own work!

Give it a go and have fun with a few muddycolor curveballs!

Widowmaker Unleashed         Yellow Color Field

Widowmaker Unleashed    Detail

The Nameless Day          Red/Orange Color Field

Senator Leia Organa      Cool Grey Low Value Key

Senator Leia Organa        Cool Grey Low Value Key         Detail

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Color Themes

-By Jesper Ejsing

I have always been told that my paintings are very colorful. I have even been told that they remind you of wrapping paper for candy bars. (That last part hurt a little, Mr. Lockwood) But when I thought about it I tried to turn it into a strength. I went all candy color.

I had 2 major influences in using color: The Hildebrandt Brothers is one. The other thing, is a little annoying sentence that Donato told me 15 years ago, when looking at one of my first attempt at acrylic.

“You should never use black, Jesper”.

Stunned, I asked, “What else should I use for shadows?” Thinking, is he serious? Black is THE shadow color.

“You should just use anything else”, he said.

Damn that Donato. His words dawned on me some years later. Since then I have tried to think of ways to add color to every shadow area of a painting replacing dark with color, to get the atmosphere of light into my painting.

But another factor is, that when I started out, doing book covers in Denmark, I was very young and very inexperienced. And I did not know anything about colors even less about colors having different temperatures. So I developed a system that couldn´t go wrong. If I only used 2 colors that mixed well, there wasn´t much to mess up with. . So I made some yellow/orange paintings. But after a couple of almost monochromatic paintings, that seemed kind of flat, I found out I needed a contrast color to make the 2 well-mixable colors seem alive. Preferably a contrast color. So I made a whole bunch of covers in yellow orange, with a dab of blue...Suddenly I had a system. I am still, to some length, using that system.

What I do is, I chose a family of colors that goes well with each other and that blends easily together (if there is a scientific explanation of which colors mix well, I do not know it ).

Take the dragon painting bottom right for instance. Purple, orange and red are in a familiar theme. Orange and purple tough, do not blend well into each other, but red acts as a transition color between the 2. And for a splash color I picked the turquoise blue that is the least reddish of the blues, so that it becomes the highest contrast. ( You can argue that I also used grey as a color, but grey is almost neutral, so lets keep that out of the discussion okay? ) What I learned from the Hildebrandts is that colors have temperatur. So If I have a painting that is mainly build up from a warm color family, I use a cold color as a splash color, and visa versa.

So if you have difficulty choosing color or figure out which colors to use, try minimizing your palette by using “Ejsings Bullet-proof Color System for Dummies”. In the corner of the paintings I have added the three main colors that builds up the most of the painting and the splash/contrast color.

Proko TV: Critique Session 1

Stan Prokopenko, the guy who made all those wonderful 'How to Draw the Head' videos, has  expanded his library of videos, and is now doing critique videos. I think paintovers are one of the best ways to learn, and they don't even have to be of your own work to benefit from them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Reward

What a cool film!!! It's less than 10 minutes long, and definitely worth watching. (Not entirely appropriate for children, btw) You can view it right here:

When you're done watching the film, and aptly impressed (which I am certain you will be), be sure to check out the official site for the film: There, you can see some behind the scenes stuff like promotional art, concept art, color keys and a whole lot more!

The film was Co-Directed by Mikkel Mainz Elkjær and Kenneth Ladekjær as their Senior thesis project for The Animation Workshop, in Viborg, Denmark. You can check out their personal websites here: Mikkel's website & Kenneth's website.

You can also watch a 6 minute featurette on the making of the film right here:

Monday, January 28, 2013


by Arnie Fenner

Art by Martin Ansin

You know about Mondo, right? No, not Mongo. That's Ming's domain in the classic Flash Gordon newspaper strip or the name of Alex Karas' character in Blazing Saddles. Mondo.

Mondo is a boutique gallery & studio in Austin, TX that creates limited edition silkscreen prints of alternative movie posters by a a host of artists, as well as vinyl movie soundtracks and apparel. Closely associated with the Alamo Drafthouse Theaters (for whom they often create posters for special events), their work is high-concept, stunningly designed, and ultimately...pretty damn nice. They have a particular fondness for classic movie monsters, but they've done equally noteworthy posters for Dune, The Warriors, and others. Currently Mondo is hosting a show going on through February 23rd entitled "In Progress: A Collection of Original Poster Art" featuring the sketches, layouts, and line art that led to the finished prints.

I'll include several samples here, but definitely check out their site and blog for all kinds of great pieces. (And, hint: Muddy Colors' own Paolo Rivera has an extremely nice Lord of the Rings print currently available.)

Art by Laurent Durieux

Art by Jay Shaw

Art by Laurent Durieux

Art by Laurent Durieux

Art by Jock

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jeff Miracola, Acrylic Painting Demo

Jeff Miracola is an illustrator, best known for his work on the trading card game, Magic: The Gathering.

Jeff works in a variety of different mediums, both digital and traditional, and has actually developed a wide range of styles over the years. When working traditionally, he brings a sense of spontaneity and fearlessness to his painting that is really refreshing to see.

Jeff has been nice enough to share some of his process in this video.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Background Painter: Scott Wills

Scott Wills is a background painter whose work includes some really iconic pieces for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and Ren and Stimpy, amongst many more.  As you'll see, so much of the style of those series is actually a result of the uniquely distinctive background art.

All the pieces below are painted traditionally using acrylic and gouache, often at a very small scale.

You can see more of Scott's amazing work on his blog at: Candy Cane Land

Friday, January 25, 2013

Masters of Contemporary Illustration: Ivica Stevanović

By Petar Meseldzija

Ivica Stevanović was born In 1977 in Niš, Serbia. He grew up on comic books and old horror movies. Ivica is an accomplished illustrator, comic artist and designer.
He is a versatile craftsman who utilizes different techniques: from pen and ink, through watercolor to digital painting and collage. His artwork is characterized by moderate expression and grotesque line. Ivica works for Serbian as well as US market.
Although he likes to illustrate picture books, like Andersen’s The Emperor's New Clothes and The Royal Treasure Measure by Trudy Harris, his specialty are graphic novels and art book projects. His best-known graphic novel Kindly Corpses appeared on Paul Gravett’s list of the best works in 2011: An International Perspective. Famous American writer of Steampunk genre Jeff Wandermeer invited Ivica to work on his book projects. So far, he has participated in two Wandermeer’s books – Steampunk Reloaded and Lambshead Cabinet.

Ivica lives in Veternik, Serbia with his wife Milica, who is also an artist, and their daughter Katarina. He currently lectures at the Academy of Art in Novi Sad.

You can see more of Ivica’s work on his blog and here

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sketching Resident Evil

-By Mike Butkus

This is a quick step by step on how I went about doing one of the concept sketches for the Resident Evil: Afterlife movie poster one sheet. This eventually became one of the final teasers. After I read the script or creative brief, I work with the Art Directors to come up with some concepts. Here I start off with what I hope is a dynamic composition.

Once the thumbnail is approved, I start the final sketch on a 12’’ x 14’’ sheet of Duralene using a black Prismacolor pencil and a black Verithin. One of the key factors to getting smooth and creamy lines is to keep ten to fifteen sheets of Duralene underneath. As for erasing, I use a simple number 2 pencil eraser since it doesn’t destroy the surface of the Duralene. In this stage I start to define the sketch, focusing on the energy and the action.

Sometimes the Art Directors want to see the drawing fairly flushed out (time permitting), so this is what I would show them. Here the drawing is fairly resolved. Now it’s just a matter of adding details and values. Remember this will be considered a rough sketch, not a finished drawing.

For this last stage, you can see how the line quality adds to the energy and motion which is sometimes really difficult to achieve through photography. The best thing about this piece is the immediate read. I stick to light, medium and dark values to keep the image graphic and also for the sake of production time.

For a project like this, I normally do anywhere from 20 to 40 sketches a week, depending on the complexity.

Welcome, Mike Butkus!

Over the next few weeks we will be adding several new contributors to the Muddy Colors roster. With great excitement, allow me to introduce you to the first of them... Illustrator, Mike Butkus.

Michael Butkus is an artist and author, who has worked on more than 2,500 films in the areas of advertising, movie poster art, set design, and character design.

Mike was trained at Otis Parsons in Los Angeles and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He has taught illustration and rendering techniques, along with character design and visual development, to art industry professionals and commercial art students. He is well versed in both traditional and digital techniques. He is also the author of several 'how to paint' books.

Given his knowledge in nearly every aspect of commercial illustration, and his experience as an instructor, Mike is sure to be a valuable addition to the Muddy Colors roster. So please join me in giving Mike a warm welcome!

You can see more of Mike's finished work, as well as some absolutely mind-blowing thumbnails, at his website and his Facebook page.