About a month ago I was reading through James Gurney's blog (http://www.gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/) and came across one of his great posts on how to make models as reference for illustrations. He got the info from Dragan Bibin's blog (http://draganbibin.blogspot.com/2010/09/maquettes.html) for this particular method. They both made it sound so helpfull, cheap and easy that I wanted to give it a try for myself on my recent dinosaur illustration. Below is a series of pictures showing the process. You start by making a basic armature of the subject with aluminum wire. build bulk onto that with aluminum foil which is then covered with masking tape to give the gesso something to hold onto. I wasn't going for a super detailed look so for the most part I was happy with the structure after the masking tape stage. However you can also go on to add wads of cotton saturated with acrylic gesso which is easily shaped with a small brush. I did do a bit of this and was surprised at just how easy it was to get detail with this method. Now you cover the whole thing in acrylic gesso and let it dry. From here you can chose to use it as is or paint in the rough colors of the subject as I did.
Next I was bale to get into the business of lighting the whole set up as I wanted it in the final illustration. The idea is to allow these models to show you where the light hits the forms. For this Dino illustration I needed light coming from below (the rainbow road), and light coming form two weapons in the characters hands and from behind (the black hole).
The final illustration is below. Click on the image for a larger view
I'm finally near finish with the dino illustration. I'm sure the client will still want a few minor fixes to the faces and such but overall it is done. 121 hours to date. WOW! It's times like this that I wish I didn't keep such close track of how much time these illustrations take. Actually this time isn't accurate because for a good part of the painting process I was recording video to make a video demonstration. At first I was only getting about twelve minutes of recording at a time and I kept having to stop and upload the vid to my computer every time it stopped. Needless to say I stopped recording at some point. Mostly I stopped because the video was coming out beyond terrible. The painting is larger than 24"x36" and had some weird light glare issues on the video and I kept stepping in front of the shot. I might still try to salvage some of the video but may just take the time to make some good tutorials on the topics that the video would have touched upon. Painting metal, painting space and stars etc. So for now I'm just posting the near finished product. I do have some good photos of the painting process and models I made of the dinos. Hopefully some good info that will help others.