Tuesday 28 May 2013

Green Goblin, Spidey & a Bridge - Part 2

The pumpkin bombs were probably the hardest thing to paint so far...I mixed the orange using Alizarin Crimson and Indian yellow with a touch of Gold Ochre and white. I didn't want to use a red that was too saturated as I still have Spidey's costume to paint...Still need to think about depth. The glider was done without reference, like the bombs...these things obviously aren't everyday objects. The explosion was done using pretty much the same palette, Alizarin Crimson, Paynes Grey, Indian yellow and Titanium White. I just started painting it without a plan and it came out pretty well. 

One great thing that happened to me at this stage of the painting is Mike Collins introducing me to the joys of Audible.com...I like to listen to something whilst I work (or have DVD's on in the background) and audiobooks, always unabridged, are just the thing. Previously I had one set of audiobooks that I converted from cassette onto CD, the Warlord trilogy by Bernard Cornwell, but it disappeared when my last laptop died suddenly...and I must have listened to it 20 times...so to sum up, Audible, great.

Now we get to the more exciting parts. I started painting the green, starting with the ear...I always start with the ear or left eye for some reason. I like to use Sap Green, a nice rich colour but one that has a lot of oil in it. As a result it's quite translucent, like Indian yellow (which I also used here) so I put some Gold Ochre in there to thicken it up. For the darker tones I added some Winsor Blue and Burnt Umber...and then the highlights were where I threw in the white also. I find if I use white in the mix too soon then it washes out the colour too much. 

The Goblin's hat and tunic is a difficult one. In the past I used to do it in more of a purple...but, and we're talking the proper version of the Goblin here...not the post clone one...there's actually a lot more Magenta/pink to it. So, I used Alizarin Crimson with some Old Holland's Oil Mangan Violet-Blauwachtig for the base colour. Darks were done with Winsor Blue and Burnt Umber, the highlights I added white. 

To get a smooth finish I use a fan brush. If you delicately brush the paint from one tone to another it smoothes out the gradation nicely. Also, when doing highlights if you add a lighter colour then use the fan brush and repeat over and over it makes a pretty convincing shiny lycra/spandex costume.

This is painted using Winsor Blue (red shade) and Burnt Umber with Titanium White. I actually add some of the brown into the midtone too as it makes a more realistic looking blue than just using the blue straight out of the tube. I like to mix every colour I use, very rarely using it straight out of a tube, but this means I have to paint everything I'm using that colour for in one day as it's hard to replicate the exact colour again.

Using a slight outline on the figures makes them pop out of the background and create depth in the painting. Often it's just a very thin line as it just looks unrealistic if it's too thick. It's a technique that Norman Rockwell used brilliantly. I had to go back at this stage and make parts of the glider darker too as it was too similar in tone to the sky. At this point the bridge has really receded into the background. All the detail is there, which makes the piece seem realistic, but it's incidental to the action in the foreground now...which is a good thing.

Monday 20 May 2013

Green Goblin, Spidey and a Bridge

Here's the first photos of a piece I'm working on at the moment. 

Decided to paint the clouds in oil so they look more realistic. If there's no sky I usually paint buildings (or in the is case a bridge) in acrylic, it's much easier as the drying time is minutes instead of days. As there's a lot of masking off to get the straight edges this makes sense. 

But here, as the sky is done in oil, I can't put acrylic over the top. It won't work...so the bridge will have to be in oil too. 

This took a long while (due to the aforementioned masking off and drying time). Once the figures are painted in then the depth will start to appear. After I painted the sky I pencilled in the figures fully and then put a layer of liquin over the top to seal it and stop the pencil smudging the oil colour. 

I've used a limited pallette so far, yellow ochre, Payne's grey, titanium white and Naples yellow. Pretty much the same colours I used for the sky except I put a little Winsor Blue in there too.

The smoke trail for the Goblin's glider is the same colour base but with a little Alizarin Crimson added. 

Saturday 11 May 2013

Bristol Comic Expo 2013

Sketching, signing and selling art at the Bristol Expo this weekend.

For pity's sake, come along and say hi!

Sunday 5 May 2013

A table too far...

This is the latest tonal commission I've done. The fourth in a series, each depicting The Legion of a different era. The basis for the layout came from an Alex Toth marker piece I saw. I like drawing heroes sat around but this series almost changed that...I enjoyed drawing each one less as the repetition increased. I originally intended to do the Coipel Legion and then the Kitson Legion to finish with but I think 4 is enough!

Everyone has a favourite version of the Legion, or rather each version of a particular character. I guess a lot of mine are from the Cockrum/Grell era.



Thursday 2 May 2013

John Watson Art Commissions

Commissions! Here's a breakdown of what I can do, if anyone is interested: I know, the prices are a mix of English and American...but it's how I get my head round it. I'm inept at the business side to be frank. A currency converter is all that's needed...I take Paypal, Cheque, Bank transfer. And at comic conventions I take cash too (see the recently added convention sketch section after Paintings and Cover recreations!)

I paint in oil on canvas board. I can work to specific size requirements but the usual size is approx 18" by 13". I used to paint on stretched canvas but various postal services seem to enjoy bending the art and trying their best to damage it. 

Below are a couple of examples. The Reverse Flash piece was on a bigger board but as a single figure with a basic background, something like this would be about £1000. The Spider-Man one is an oversized piece, about 70cm square and is a good example of a crazy amount of figures. It cost £2250 and the SubMariner is an example of one at the 18" by 13", something like that, with one figure and a simple background would be £750.


I enjoy doing these, especially by artists who's work I like. Straight price, $300 (about £180 or so) for the linework ones. That includes me drawing in the logo, price etc. Unless you don't want it on...The full tonal pieces are $400 (£250), they're obviously more time consuming, but they look pretty nice. Cover recreations are approximately regular comic art size 15" by 11"


Prices are £80 for an 11" by 17" (or A3 depending on where you live) and £40 for one half the size (A4)
Get in touch if you'd like a pre-con commission sketch doing before the convention itself so I have time to fit it into my schedule/put it on my list. They're basically copic marker, pencil and ink and are  finished/detailed convention sketches. I'd like to say they're similar to what Adam Hughes (did) or Copiel does for pre-con commission sketches...but they're clearly not as good as the sketches they do (And the price reflects that!) They do look quite nice though! 

Also, I'm adding sketches with colour, by that I mean a tonal copic one but with some watercolour added in. Not really bright, but pretty nice. I'll post examples and prices as soon as I've experimented a little and figured it all out. Just wanted to mention it!

Over the last year, well since the Film and Comic con in July, I've added in film and TV sketches too. Some examples of ones done for previous conventions...I'll post more soon, these are the only ones I scanned/managed to find on the internet so far!


I do a fair bit of this kind of work. £250/ $400 for something like the pieces below.

I occasionally get asked to do pencil pieces too, these would be on a price per job, but about £200 for a fully rendered one at traditional comic book art sizes 15" by 12"

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Bristol Comic Expo May 2013

I'll be sketching and signing all weekend at the Bristol Comic Expo on the weekend of the 11/12th May 2013

I'll be doing A4 tonal pieces, often using Copic markers, sometimes pencil and ink... I sketch for free at the con. As a result I get booked up pretty quickly so email me beforehand or swing by my table early on to get on the list.

I'll also have some sketches for sale, these are ones I've done beforehand and are, as a result, more finished and nicer! They're all done in Copic markers. There will be one of these sketches in the charity auction at the con too...here are a couple of examples...

Captain America - John Watson
I'll have a few paintings for sale too, Marvel covers, and I may bring some really cheap pages of interior linwork with me that I'm not happy about. It's not my best work and the price reflects that...

And finally, I'll have some pretty nifty prints for sale, A3sized, printed on a nice Fabriano watercolour paper, both colour and black/white...

Hawkman #20

Here's what I consider my best piece of published work, the cover to Hawkman #20.

I went through quite a laborious process to get the reference shots for this painting. I'd never painted rain and I couldn't actually find a piece of art that depicted it, in paint anyway, there are a lot of comic artists who draw rain really well, Will Eisner, Russ Heath and Nick Cardy to name a few...so anyway, I got my model, I used the same model for all my Hawkman covers, a guy who worked in Worlds Apart in Liverpool, Paul and we went back to his house. This was going to be a location shoot using a regular camera, I didn't have a digital one at the time.  

So, to get the effect I needed, a downpour, PAul crouched in his bath on a crate and then I turned on the shower. His girlfriend held my studio lamp just over the top of the shower and I used up a roll of film. Paul was really good at acting which made this work. There are a lot of people I've used in the past who look right but have one generic expression. Paul was better than that. A lot of times I have to make do with the ref, just to make a deadline, but it makes a massive difference when I can get decent ref, acting. 

The painting was pretty straightforward, I photocopied the pencils and traced them onto the canvas board. I usually prime the canvas board with gesso, sanding it until I have a surface that it right to paint on. I then did a quick wash using Indian red Winsor and Newton artists oil paint, watered down with Liquin to rough in the dark areas and get rid of all the white, so I have a ground to work out of.

Then, pretty much, it was a case of just painting it, no layers, just painting each section as I went along...I maybe went back into it a little to put the hair on his arms and chest when the flesh colours had dried. 

I thought the rain was pretty effective, especially the drips on the face/beak and the rain hitting the shoulder. The straps on his chest aren't great. At this point I was still using yellow paint, usually Cadmium yellow, to paint yellow things...about a year later I started using Gold Ochre. It's great!

Any questions about it, email me...

John Watson...

....no, I'm not Sherlock Holmes' sidekick. I've not changed my name because of the Sherlock TV series. It's always been my name. I draw comic books, more specifically I paint covers. 

I've worked for various comic book publishers for about a decade now. 

And this is my new, more interactive site. I've been ordered by pretty much everyone I know to not rant on this blog...so, there won't be any controversy on here...but what I am going to do is post what I'm doing here and also talk about some of the stuff I've done previously, some I still like, some I'd do differently now. 

I'll also be showing the creative process when I can. Some people may find that interesting...