Painting Process: Iron Man 3

This is going to be a longer process post than normal.

Several months before Iron Man 3 premièred, the final armour from that movie debuted at the San Diego Comic Con. Seeing the design in photos from that event, I decided to take a shot at doing a painting of it.

Here's the basic pose I came up with. I wanted to do something showing the armour in motion, but still showed off the overall design.

Using the photos from San Diego for reference, I start building up the design on the pose I created. I do all this in Photoshop on separate channels. Oh, and to those interested, I'm using Photoshop 5.5. I like how stripped-down and streamlined this version is to the later versions. Eventually I will probably be forced to upgrade to the latest CS version, but, honestly, this version does everything I need it to do and runs a lot faster on my laptop.

I dropped in the plating and trim elements, noting the difference in the chest plate design from the earlier movie designs, how it was a bit less rounded, more angular.

For a background element to give it scale, I went with an illustration of the SHIELD helicarrier. Now, I deliberately went with the 60s-style comic book version to tie the armour into the previous universe, just to put my own spin on the whole thing. Besides, I love drawing the original helicarrier, and I don't get to do that very often.

Removing the lineart for Iron Man, I start dropping in separate colour layers for the helicarrier, building it up the same way I do all my robot and other character pieces.

Here's the final collection of colour layers for the helicarrier. I'll be adding more to it once I start the modelling on it, but it's a good place to start.

With that done, I start in on the colour layers for Tony. It is at this stage that you can begin to see how much grey is actually in this design, along with the yellow and red. Most of the major colour plates are framed in silver/grey.

More colour layers being dropped in. I'm working back-to-front with this design, which is interesting as, in all of the more recent robot paintings I've been doing, I've reversed the process, laying down the front colour layers and moving to the back. Strangely enough, when I switch to modelling, I tend to paint back-to-front. Just changing things up as I go along, I suppose.

All main colour layers dropped in. While these aren't the final colour choices by any means, they do demonstrate something I was trying with this piece. That is, in the movie, the reds and yellows are fairly muted, especially the yellows. It is almost a beige rather than yellow. My intent with this piece, however, is to go a bit closer to the traditional comic book colour scheme, much more saturated and bright.

Painting the deep background. Like with all of the character stuff, everything in the background is hand-painted, rather than relying on textures or filters. That is one of the reasons I can keep using an older version of Photoshop, the fact that I mostly rely on custom brushes and hand-painting, rather than filters.

Starting on the helicarrier painting. It needs to be less saturated, more of a neutral or cool colour, to keep it in the background and far behind Tony, to give the piece lots of depth.

I've added a visible interior to the helicarrier through the main window bay as well as enveloping the whole machine in a cloud bank, further pushing it behind Tony. I also started in on painting the armour, and you can see the differences in my colour choices to the actual movie design, going with the more yellow golds rather than the more beige look for the movie.

Armour painting completed, polish and shine added, including some lighting effects on his arc reactor, as well as jet boot effects.

More digital paintings like this of mine can be seen at my Comic Art Fans gallery, and information on commissioning pieces like this can be found on my commissions page.