My contribution to Hero Complex Gallery's 20th Anniversary Hellboy show Friday May 2nd in Los Angeles, California. It's an honor for me to be chosen to display for this show as Hellboy was my favorite comic growing up and a huge influence on my work.
Below are process shots divided into five steps I generally follow with every piece I do.
Step 1: I divide the page into subdivisions based loosely on Andrew Loomis’ “informal subdivisions” in which you divide the space unevenly allowing you to visualize compositions more creatively. This is purely a creative endeavor and not a mechanic one. The tweaks I made to the process drastically reduce the numbers of angles possible which is inherently limiting but I usually function best when there are less choices and it forces me to come up with more creative solutions.
Step 2: Look for the composition. This is where the divisions help. If you have an idea in mind an image starts to form. I had a general idea in mind here. I love two things specifically about the Hellboy series. One; its unbelievable cast of monsters and demons and the idea of its protagonist constantly struggling against hordes of them, larger than life. I knew I wanted to depict that somehow. Secondly, I love Mike Mignola’s compositions. A favorite trick of mine and one that works since the dawn of time; from classical paintings to comics is the vertical placement of a figure against a blank background and a secondary compositional element that runs diagonally behind the primary vertical element. Look at Mignola’s covers. You will usually find this formula and a variation of it in almost every single one. So the idea became Hellboy on the bottom of the frame “topped” by a cast of demons and monsters.
Step 3: Once I visualized and finished the sketch, I brought it into Adobe Illustrator where I began building the illustration. I say building because I don’t consider it drawing any longer. It’s more about moving and dragging shapes and broken up shapes around sticking as closely to the original grid as possible.
Step 4: I rarely ever have a color scheme in mind so when I transition from outlines to shapes, I usually work in grayscale that allows me to build the values I will follow with the colors. Since I only work with flat shapes, this is usually tricky as I need to be careful about creating contrast everywhere without much of the color feeling too flat or not coherent to the image I want to build.
Step 5: For this piece I wanted to stay relatively true to the Hellboy color schemes Mignola uses. A bright red to make Hellboy stand out from the rest of the characters on the same page. I rarely work with such a dark palette so this was fairly new to me. Essentially three weights of color here. The warm grays of the demons, the yellow accents and the red of Hellboy. Finally I usually bring the final piece into Photoshop if I need to add adjustment layers tweaking hues and contrast.
Final also shown with original grid.