Below is the basic creation process of the "Slinger" illustration. I was much more paranoid at the time I was doing this piece that I was going to screw something up, so I was making photocopies and prints almost every step of the way. Not too long ago, I thought I was pretty silly for recording all of it, but now, I am glad that I did. It is nice to be able to look at the process from sketchbook to watercolor.. and now you can see it too..

 

 

To the left is the very first sketch of the piece. Originally, it was more of a character piece - an idea for an "Undead Gunslinger" for The Deadlands card game. This sketch was discarded for another one that eventually became the final and, what I assume, finished piece (I say assume since I have yet to see the actual finished card version). The thing is, I really liked the attitude of the character and the stance so I decided to see if I could do a final of it. This might be a lesson to some of you that just because a sketch isn't appropriate for one idea, doesn't mean it won't work somewhere else!

You can see that I thought of putting a hat on her head or hanging behind her to keep with the whole 'cowgirl' theme. The background here was very sketchy, since I wasn't sure what I wanted exactly.. But all in all, the final elements are pretty apparent in the rough drawing.

Oh, one thing for you guys to keep in mind.. If you want to make a focal point in your work, circles are very nice ways to do it.

 

This is the pencil drawing of "Slinger". The image is reversed from the sketchbook drawing because I used tracing paper and simply transferred the sketch to watercolor paper. With the rough down, I could clean up the drawing easily, then put in the background and the elements. I used to usually start with the character, then did the background around them. That isn't the suggested way of working and I can't say it's the best way to approach an illustration. Now I try to work on the illustration as a whole instead of piece by piece. At this stage of the drawing, I used reference for the guns and worked out the details of her outfit.

I can't tell you exactly what is going on in this piece.. She is just one of those creations that sort of made themselves happen and I was just there for the ride. The cowgirl hat was lost since "Slinger" made it very clear to me that she doesn't wear hats! Who am I to argue?

 

Not much change here, I know, but if you look carefully, you will see a difference. The character and some of the back ground has been inked.

One of the most daunting tasks for me is inking a drawing. Especially when I first started inking at all. I was, and to a certain extent, still am, nervous about blotching up what is a lovely line drawing with a huge spot of ink, or making a line too thick. I've learned now that sometimes you just have to dive right into it and do it with your eyes closed and both hands on the wheel. Happy mistakes are the fairy godmothers of artists but they don't visit when you are huddled in a corner afraid to touch the artwork.

I almost always use waterproof ink with either pen and nib or a brush. As far as suggesting to another person what to use - its all in comfort and control. However, I do suggest practicing a lot before touching the final drawing.

 

 

Normally, I don't do color tests on my artwork. I probably should, considering how many times I end up sitting and staring at black and whites wondering what color they should be. This was a photocopy of my inked work that I colored with some pencils. It was pretty quick and mostly instinctual - meaning I didn't sit and think about the color wheel or opposites or much of anything. I did a few of them, but this was the one that seemed to look the best. Doing this color test also allowed me to play with the lighting a bit, since I hadn't really decided what the direction would be.

I don't know where the other color tests are. Probably I threw them out or they are hiding up in the studio among the other piles of papers.

 

At last the finished picture! "Slinger" all painted and pretty. Obviously, I didn't stick to the color test exactly, but the basic colors are the same. Looking at the drawings and such, there are things I wish I had done or hadn't done, but in the end, I like her and best of all, I love the attitude! Perhaps that is what the piece is all about anyway. One of the cooler elements in it, I think, is the metal and the rust that I did. I didn't know what I was doing and was really just playing with the watercolors to create the look I wanted.. and it worked!

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about this illustration so I can only believe it is successful as a piece as a whole. The only 'negative' comment was from someone at a convention who came rushing up to the displayed illustration only to look downcast when she got close saying, "Oh.. I didn't see the playing cards.. never mind." and walked away. Guess you can't please everyone!

If you'd like to order a print of "Slinger" got to the Prints Section!