A father who sees his son as his own superhero asked me to paint his little boy in the highly fitting image of Iron Man. Not only was this an exceptional honour, but the pressure of getting it right was… overwhelming… to say the least.
Nevertheless, this is why I do what I do: I create for joy, for pleasure, for tribute… for others. The process of this particular painting took me through some very painful and rewarding lows and highs, respectively.
So I thought I’d share the process, so you can see how a blank canvas goes from “potential” to “finished”.
Step 1: The lines
Always the hardest part, but when the lines are done, the fun part begins.
Step 2: Base coat
The base coat sets the tone for the painting. I’ll admit, I was a little worried about the high contrast between the red and the blue, but I knew that there would be some blending down the line, so it was alright.
Step 3: Facial likeness
Portraits can go one of two ways: “That looks exactly like my son!” or “Who’s kid is this?!” As a result, there are probably about 6 layers of paint just on the face, so that I was absolutely sure I got it right. What I’ve also learnt about painting very young kids is that it’s a good idea to age them a little so that they “grow into” the likeness of the painting. It sounds terribly arrogant, but it just works. With the likeness out of the way, I could relax a little into painting the Iron Man suit.
Step 4: Dark layers
Painting from the lowest layers and working up is my standard technique, so when the back layers are also the darkest colours, it works very well.
Step 5: More details in the shadows
(Clearly some night painting was done here… 😉 )
Step 6: Finishing the suit
It was at around this point that I began to get a bit impatient. The suit was turning out really well, and all I wanted to do was finish it because I couldn’t wait to show the dad.
Step 7: Almost there
At this point, I’d put my head down and just painted non-stop for a good few hours, but took a breather to recharge and get ready for the final straight.
Step 8: Keegan is Iron Man