Sunday, March 28, 2010

ROBIN HOOD King of Sherwood

I am now free to cover the process of my painting of the Robin Hood book cover I recently finished for Airship 27 publishing. I had to hold off talking about doing this painting until the publisher had the book for sale, and you can order a copy if it here.

When Ron Fortier, the editor asked me about doing a cover for their new book on a young Robin Hood I said--heck yah! This was to be a updated version, a younger Robin, not the Errol Flynn version, which is a favorite of mine. I'm also a huge fan of NC Wyeth's paintings from his adaption of the hero and his work was a big inspiration for this.

The first thing I did was to do up a sketch and then get my friend Will to come over and model for me. I shot a lot of picks and then settles on a few and went to work on a tighter sketch which you can see below.

I used the photos in what I feel was the best way possible, to get the anatomical and lighting info, but I didn't want to be a slave to them either and have the drawing go lifeless. I just bought the new book on Normal Rockwell and his use of Photos, Rockwell Behind the Camera, and you can really see how much Rockwell altered the photos to his needs--so I was keeping this in my mind the whole time.

Here are a few photos of Will that took, Will even had a cool costume and props to use which really helped.

Next I bought some Cresent Illustration Board and gave it 4 coats of gesso on each side to prevent warping. Then I blew up my skecth on my copy machine and taped it together, flipped it over and using a 6B pencil coated the back. I wanted to do this piece fairly large, 20 x 30 approx. Using a harder pencil I taped the copt to the board and transfered the drawing onto the illustration board.

Then I set about painting away, refering to my pictures of Will and some pics i found on the web use as a guide toe Sherwood Forest. Even though I used the pictures I would say I mostly painted this from imagination, I changed many thinsg to get the "feel" I wanted. The tree and background are made up-- did have some pics, but i used them mostly to suggest details and textures--the main thing is I didn't want to loose the energy of my sketch.
This pic I snapped with my iphone right after I started, you can see the drawing that was traced down.
Here is the painting after one long evenings work, I was really moving fast and I have to say-having lots of fun. The only medium I was using was odorless terps, and just a little 50/50 liquid fine detail and linseed in a few spots in my second sitting, for the hands, etc. My thinking was to also pull the foreground forward and then soften everything as it went back, trying to keep the areas of biggest contrast and detail with the center of interest. All of the plein air painting I've been doing recently has really helped here I think in keeping the painting 'fresh".

Here a closer shot of the painting after the first day's work.
In the end the painting took one long evening and the next day, morning into the afternoon, so maybe 12 -14 hours tops. This is the first full illustration in oil I've done in a long time as I mostly just do pen and ink, but I hope to do a lot more of these as it was great fun and a challenge.


Nazario said...

Wow, Mike, it's beautiful! I thought the original sketch was awesome but the final painting blew me away.

By the way, thanks for the great post. Very informative. I feel like I just came out of class.

Prairie Mother said...

Very nice! I agree, it was like taking a class. It was also nice to see the step by step process and your explanations of it. I like the atmospheric effect, plein air inspired. Nice!

Unknown said...

Hi thank you so much for putting up the step by step photos of the process. I really appreciate it, it has helped me. Thank you

Mike Hawthorne said...

Wow, great Job sir!