I started this painting after watching "The Wolverine" at the cinema. It was one of those paintings that just meandered along, changing as it went. Initially I had intended to have one of the Chinese leads in the background, or perhaps Jean Grey but as I worked I just wasn't feeling it.
At first I wanted to do this painting landscape, giving plenty of room for Wolverines claws to be the center of attention. I sketched the idea out, added the rough values and an idea of the color scheme.
I really like working with two light sources of different colors, so I decided early on that I would use a blue "moon lit" light source and a orange flame light source.
As you can see from the first sketch, I kept to trend in that the proportions of most of it are very wrong. This wolverine is squat, his head is squished and I remember spending ages not knowing what to do with Wolverines legs.... no dirty jokes please!
Looking at this work in progress even I find it hard to believe that it is the same painting as the finished piece and I'm always struck, particularly when writing this blog, by how much of a transformation my paintings go through to get to the final stage. Often I think that I should spend more time developing my sketching so that my initial sketches reflect a far clearer image of the final painting. Many of my friends who work predominately in traditional media do this and create incredibly detailed work before ever putting pen, paint, or pastel to paper. But that just isn't how I work. When I think of the way I create a painting I'm often more reminded of sculptors or wood workers who are sometimes heard saying that they have an idea in their head but the wood or stone "tells" them the form it wants to take. It's the same with the way I work. I know roughly what I want to do and I will usually have a very clear image in my head or even as a sketch roughed out on paper, but in the end it doesn't matter what I planned to do, if the painting "wants" to so something different then I'm just along for the ride!
Right, enough introspection... On with the painting!!
In this second work in progress I've given up on the idea of a landscape painting and moved to portrait. I've also corrected many of the problems with proportion and spent more time that was possibly necessary painting Wolverines abs!
I still don't know what to do with Wolverines legs so I spent some time looking at reference photos (reading between the lines, I sat drooling over more shirtless photos of Hugh Jackman... but this time he had tight pants on too)
Now that I had the main figure pretty much up to scratch I needed to think about his placement, the lighting and background. I also needed to tackle one of my nemeses, Wolverines adamantium claws. While I'd been enjoying painting Wolverine I'd forgotten how much I hate painting metal!
This is the last work in progress and as you can see we're nearly there. A fluke of the blue light on Wolverines right side put me in mind of rain and as the orange light was going to be a fire light source I decided that Wolverine was going to be moving in from the cold rain to an roaring inferno. (Kind of fire and ice without the ice... I probably should not share the inner working of my brain) At this point I still haven't tackled those claws, and to be honest I was getting a little intimidated by them and so was putting it off. I was also worried about the colors feeling a little muddy.
I was almost there but lots of little tweaks would be needed before I was happy.
And here we are, back to the final painting. I finally got over my fear of Wolverine's claws and discovered that the worse part was not the large claws across the middle of the painting but the smaller claws on that are almost invisible on his other hand.
In addition to the obvious inclusion of the claws, I also spent some time tidying and refining, giving the edges and little more "edge", removing some of the mud from the colors and adding some sparks and a hint of fire for Wolverine to move towards... Oh and of course an X-Men belt buckle.... It wouldn't be complete without that.
You may have noticed that I've started to watermark my final images more noticeably. Sadly, a number of my artist friends have recently had work stolen or posted without credit. Artists put a heck of a lot of work into what they do, whether it's digital or traditional, and it's sad that there are people out there who feel it is OK to use others paintings without permission or in some awful cases use them commercially without paying for them or even claiming the work as their own. This is why I will now be adding watermarks to my images. Hopefully, some day soon the clever techy gods will come up with a way to prevent image theft without the need to scribble all over it.