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Imagine FX 67 How To



Year: 2011
Client: Imagine FX magazine
Media: Media: Pencil, PITT Pen, COPIC marker, Dr. PH Martin's Hi-Carb India Ink, and Winsor-Newton's process white on Strathmore Drawing paper, then colored with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

On sale in the United Kingdom on February 8th! It will be available in North America a few weeks afterwards...

Here's the link for the digital version! [link]

Here's the final art:


In the issue, I only had about 1100 words to cover how I did the piece. I elected to focus on the digital coloring aspect, since IMAGINEFX is about digital graphic arts.

But! Here you can see what I didn't have room for in the actual issue: the step-by-step of the actual physical art. In case you don't now, I drew this piece with paper and pencil, and then scanned it & colorized it in Photoshop. If you read above, you can see the tools I used.

Let's begin!

1. Hand in a sketch for the editor/art director/head monkey. If you're lucky, you won't have to deal with an editor. The sketch you like the least will invariably get picked, so - have fun! That's life in the Bigs, punk.

I doodled several, and this was what was picked. You won't see the others here. I don't like running unused sketches, because, well, you might get to use them for something different someday. If you run them publicly, some bottom-feeder will steal your ideas.

2. Gather reference! At this stage in my career, I love working from life as much as I can. I'm a big fan of classic American illustration, and if using reference was good enough for Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, and Dean Cornwell, it's good enough for the likes of us.

While I've used Audrey Hepburn as inspiration for my Catwoman in the past, it's dangerous to rely only on the reference you can find in books or online. Your resources are limited. Find your own, if can. The lovely lady in this pic is the fabulous Ashley Taffar (you can see her on page 205 of my book COVER RUN). She shares a few facial features with my take on Catwoman, so I like to use her as a face model! While not matching the final drawing exactly, this angle was close enough! I eyeballed the mouth and eyes. If you're inclined to ask "How do you eyeball something, Adam?" the answer is "Learn how to draw!" Reference is an aid, not a substitute.

3. Some nice body reference will help as well. Seen here providing more than just nice body reference is the wonderful Riki LeCotey (she's so pretty, she's on page 204, twice!). I'm not running all the pics I took, because that's too much space-wasting here. Suffice to say, I never use ONE IMAGE as a source for reference. I use an arm here, a leg from another, a face from somewhere else. It's all about the final art! In this shot, I like the basic pose, but ended up using arms from a different shot.

4. This is my tight sketch, made using my reference, and a lot of pencil lead and erasers. You'll notice I didn't show my latex reference. Well, there's a couple reasons. One is space; as I said before, I use bits & pieces and showing all the reference would take up tons of space. Too many to show. The other reason is because I find a lot of reference online. When you use an elbow for reference from a picture you find online, you don't the elbow owner running around going "I posed for ADAM HUGHES!" Trust me - people do this. Can you imagine someone running around boasting "NORMAN ROCKWELL used a tree from my back yard in a Saturday Evening Post cover!!" It's that level of insanity. That being said - thank you, Bianca Beauchamp, for not modeling parkas.

In my sketch, I try to work out proportions, expressions, anatomy, and all the crap that you'll end up drawing and erasing 20 times. In this version, you'll see I contemplated giving Selina high-heels, even though she doesn't wear them in this current era.

5. Once I'm happy (enough), I transfer the art to a fresh, virgin piece of Strathmore Drawing paper, using a light-box. That's not how I do EVERY piece, but it IS how I work much of the time. By transferring it, I now have the pencils on a fresh piece of paper with no canal-lines gouged in with my pencil & then erased. I decide it's best to go with Selina's regular shoes, even though the high-heels provide a sexier silhouette. Continuity is best.

6. I start by lightly inking the piece with a Faber-Castell PITT pen, size XS. I do this so that I can erase the pencils, yet I still have some guide to where the shapes and forms are, when I head in with the COPIC markers.

I do the face first. Why? Because every piece is a roll of the dice. The face could end up not sexy AT ALL. I hate finishing a piece and realizing the face is ugly, so.... I do the face first. If it sucks, you can just transfer your sketch to a new piece of paper and start over with a minimum of lost work.

7. I work light-to-dark with the COPICs, and usually water-color style (wet-on-wet). That helps with the blending. Sometimes you can get some nice effects if you allow the area to dry and then go back with the same value. Play around & experiment!

8. Once the face is done and doesn't suck, I feel confident in attacking the rest of the piece. The latex is fun to do because you can really sell shiny latex with a minimum of values. It's all about where you put the highlights and reflections. On this piece, I learned at this stage that the client wanted a red background, like the cover to CATWOMAN 70 [link] so I drew in the reflection of a lighter background behind Selina, all around the edges of her body.

9. Once finished, I beefed up the shadows and highlights. Why? Because the contrast wasn't strong enough for me, and I didn't want to do it in Photoshop. I added India ink to the blackest blacks, and white ink to the highlights. At this stage, I go over the piece with bold ink lines, beefing up the thin XS ink lines I did earlier. I do it this way to minimalize smudging. Basically, I'm inking it AFTER the markers are all done.

That's pretty much it! I then scan it into Photoshop, and.... of you want to know the rest, please pick up IMAGINEFX #67, available on UK newsstands February 8th, and in North America a few weeks later! It's also available as a digital download (you'll have to Google it; I don't have the link handy).

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