The Pilot: Steampunk (1 of 2)

First let me say, sorry for the gap between postings. It’s been a very busy time with work and with life: freelancing is not a predictable time management endeavour!

At last, a “steampunk” themed illustration! I have been dying to do one for a long time: I love that theme: great visuals, great elements, etc. As always my deadline was tight, as always the freelance reality was there: make it quick and on time: here we go again. One of the many reasons I like the steampunk theme, is that it covers of lot of my interests when painting. It has an historical angle, a costume element, a science fiction flavour and a touch of “fantastical” machinery!

Like previous posts, it will be a step by step process demonstration: I always hopes that it helps someone in their journey into creating an image.

This process and the image was also featured in ImagineFX magazine, as a step by step featured article using Corel Painter software.


This illustration, literally came out of a doodle sketch: I had and idea from the start, of what was needed for the assignment: and mostly the dynamic of the elements: shadows, textures, etc.


The composition was almost there: the problem with doing an illustration in a theme you enjoy: like: steampunk, created, in my case, some personal issues. How much stuff can I jam in there: I did mentioned earlier that I LOVE the steampunk theme: therefore: cogs, gears, rivets, brass, rusty metal…, so how much “bling” do I put in and still retain a final look without looking too busy. Just so you know: I employed a lot of self control (mostly dictated by the deadline): maybe the next steampunk themed image: I’ll let it rip!

Like most of the images I created before: I block the areas that I need to paint and like most of the time: no colour sketches: I like the process of discovery.

First the figure is tackled: after all that’s where the eye will go first.




While in art college (OCAD), a great teacher : Paul Young,  conveyed the notion of observation which solved all issues regarding painting any material. What does velvet look like, what does steel make you think it is steel?

By observing lights and shadows one can tackle almost anything in the process of rendering. I spent a lot of time in art galleries and art museums: the MET, the MOMA, The Frick in New York and so much more. A lot of painters had a big impact on me and I should list some of my influences. As much as I am a big fan of the great icons of illustrations like: Edwin Austin Abbey, Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell, Frank Brangwyn, J. C. Lyendecker, Maxfield Parrish, N. C. Wyeth and some more recent illustrators:  Mark English, Bernie Fuchs, Brad Holland, Thomas Blackshear and so on.

Even if I have such respect for the illustrators mentioned above: I draw most of my direct answers from some of the big names from history’s painters. Painters like Johannes Vermeer, Caravaggio, J. W. Waterhouse, Annigoni, Alma Tadema, Bouguereau, Frederic Lord Leighton, Mucha and John Singer Sargent, Van Dyck, etc. As much as I appreciated such a wide range of art: from classical, Monet, Matisse to Lucian Freud and abstract art: the painters that I listed are for my illustration assignments and immediate needs:  a source of inspiration and in a lot of cases: the solution of many visuals issues.




The reason why I brought up all these names of illustrators and painters is what I learned at art college and what I observed looking at paintings: we are painting an illusion: the belt is not leather: but it has some of the characteristics of what leather looks like. That is a little pleasure I get from painting different elements and hopefully give these elements their appropriate perception.

I remember coming across a Norman Rockwell show in Battery Park in New York, years ago, and admiring the level of skills that Rockwell had: the shoes look like leather, the wool or cotton look like what they were suppose to look like: observation, analysis are the answers of depiction.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the impressionists  and a lot of different art movements: as it refers to the realist style that I use: those illustrators and painters have shed some lights in my process.

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