We had fun last week doing 9×12 portraits of an old DC Comics war character called GI Robot. Would you like to see how we put him together on a 16×20 in. piece of Fabriano Artistico paper?
First, we played around with a small set of Inktense colors. These come in little bricks like pastels but, when exposed to or brushed with water, turn into colorful rich inks.
Maybe the vintage copy of The True Story of Smokey Bear we read before bedtime inspired this fiery, angular background — or perhaps Franz Marc, or both.
Next, we use white chalk to lightly sketch the outline of GI Robot’s big areas of color. We then fill them in with pastels. We blend the first layer of pastels with our fingers, go over the area with the same color again, and blend a second time. This did a good job covering up the background, and it has a kind of ghostly cool where it still shows through.
Once the color takes hold, we outline the color areas in black pastel. Then, right over the white areas, we fill in the black shapes in and around the face. For several areas, achieving the right darkness of black requires the same process as the color areas: apply, blend, apply, blend.
We hit GI Robot with a couple coats of spray fixative. Then we went back to the black and white areas of the face and gave them another coat or two. After another layer of spray fixative, GI Robot rocks, ready to frame.