Black Widow illustrations

Black Widow illustrations

Portrait of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Marvel’s Black Widow has finally been released, in theaters and on Disney+, and it provides a lot more detail on Scarlett Johansson’s alter-ego. The long-awaited film provides more detail on Natasha (nee Natalia) and her brief time in America as a child of Russian spies and what led her to become a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Black Widow illustration

Black Widow has been a fan-favorite since she arrived in Iron Man 2 and this film is long overdue. The story is very engaging and the cast is excellent with Florence Pugh stealing most scenes as Natasha’s younger “sister”. 

Portrait of Florence Pugh as Yelena from Black Widow

These illustrations are my tribute to the fandom as well as examples of my continued experimentation in combining traditional techniques to the digital realm. I am replicating the style of traditional engraver’s marks into these pieces, while also combining the digital painting techniques in the first portrait of Scarlett in the post.

Portrait of Florence Pugh as Yelena alternative movie poster for Black Widow

Ultimately, creating a few alternative movie poster concepts that I share with the artist community over at PosterSpy.

I was recently asked about my illustrations and the reasoning behind their creation. And, simply put, I am an artist. I create for my vocation as well as my avocation, just different topics and motivations.

These illustrations allow me to think about something else with no limits and it rejuvenates my creativity and inspires me as I look to solve other problems in my other career – enterprise software design and design leadership.

The ability to detach from the focus on X-problem increases my distance and perspective on the challenges at hand and helps to deliver clarity in: 1.) creating a piece of artwork I like, and 2.) percoluting solutions to the challenges of leading a large team of designers on complex enterprise software for a global company.

I find this a great way to create a balance in my creative energies.

Black Widow illustration alternative movie poster

All of these images were created using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, while the first image also used Corel Painter in its execution. 

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Heimdall

Heimdall

Portrait of Idris Elba as Heimdall

Portrait of Idris Elba as the all-seeing Heimdall and protector of the Bifröst from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Detailed image of Heimdall

Detailed image above, shows some of the integration of the engraving marks or strokes to the painting as another evolution in the transposition of my traditional training into the digital realm.

This piece was created using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Corel Painter. 

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Tatooine

Tatooine

Portrait of Luke Skywalker on Tatooine

It is not often one of your heroes acknowledges your work. Yesterday I posted this piece of Mark Hamill as the young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine at the beginning of the Star Wars universe of stories.

Well, Luke Skywalker himself, @HamillHimself on twitter, liked the post…which was enough to set this fanboy agog having seen the original film in theaters back in 1977 and hundreds of times since.

Twitter exchange with Mark Hamill

Mr. Hamill came back and commented that he didn’t like the piece, he loved it. This may seem inconsequential to many, but to an illustrator and fan whose life has walked alongside the Star Wars stories for the past 40+ years, this was everything.

Someone whose work I admire and has brought joy to me, and millions of others, noticed my work and was kind enough to tell me so. Almost speechless…almost.

Portrait of Luke Skywalker on Tatooine

Kindess is a superpower; no matter how small or large the gesture. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Its ability to shape behavior and change the outcome of any situation is boundless. Thank you Mr. Hamill for your kindness. 

This portrait was created using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Corel Painter.

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Engraving experiments

Engraving experiments

Engraving test of the film maker David Lynch

When I was at university, I studies all forms of image creation: from charcoal to oils, and watercolors to engraving. Over the years I have tried to replicate some of those traditional techniques to the digital tools I use today. 

Engraving effect test portrait of Tom Hiddleston as Loki

There are countless plugins that claim to work magic at reproducing the look of traditional media but I have found throug my work, that is rarely the case. 

It takes a lot of effort, applied skills, and understanding of both the traditional and digital tools to really make it work well. 

Engraving test portrait of Robin Williams

These images are a few of my recent experiments at achieving such an effect for the classic engraving. They involve custom patterns and brushes in Adobe Illustrator and lots of layers within Photoshop as well as numerous channel operations to achieve a reasonable facsimile of an engraving. 

Social share image of Robin Williams portrait

You can see in the detail image above of Robin Williams, the variable lines building up a representation of the actor’s likeness. There is still much to be explored with this technique, but I believe experimentations like this are part of a continued growth as an artist. The successes teach us as much as the failures, if we are attuned to the lessons.

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Cyclops

Cyclops

Cyclops portrait style I

I continue to work on transposing my traditional skills and styles to the digital realm. Most of my portraits rely on a process of vector-based linework and bitmap painting using programs like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and some others. 

Within the painting programs I use custom brushes for painting as well as channel operations to achieve certain effects that replicate natural media as well as introduce special effects like lens flares. 

Cyclops comic book cover layout

For this portrait of Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops, from the X-Men I was trying to achieve a more comic-book style for the final piece. I worked through one portrait in my established process to create this image above but I wanted to experiment with some other brushes and techniques to see if I could achieve a style approaching what I might see on the pages of some of my favorite authors.

Cyclops portrait style II

With this second iteration of the same illustration I worked much looser with the brushes and pushed the saturation up to achieve a brighter palette on Cyclops’ costume. I also pushed the optical effects using a tilt-shift blur that also pushed the bokeh on some of the highlights in the background. 

Cyclops portrait style III

I also played around with combining multiple illustrations and played with blending between them to see what effect I could achieve through simple channel operations. The version above has more of the realism of the first portrait but introduces that blurred effect to help focus your eye on the blasts coming from Cyclops. 

Alt comic book cover for X-Men featuring Cyclops

I am happy with some of these recent experiments with brushes and techniques. There still is no feeling like pencil on paper for me, since that is how I was trained, but I continue to push on the digital tools to get to an equilibrium between my Mac and my moleskine.

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Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn

Alternative movie poster for Harley Quinn

A portrait of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in this alternative movie poster for her performance. Oone of the few breakouts in the DC cinematic universe has been Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. 

Despite some of the missteps of the latest incarnations of Batman and Superman, the casting of Harley Quinn has been a rousing success.

Portrait of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

The above illustration started out in Adobe Illustrator as simple vectors. Then transferred to Adobe Photoshop for painting while also using Corel Painter for some textures to the image.

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