Painting Process: Retro Robot and The Fyxx

Here's another in my series of Painting Process blog posts, going over the steps I use to create one of my robot paintings. As with all the other pieces, this one was created in Photoshop, 12"x18", 300dpi, in RGB.

This piece started with a photograph of Monique, a model I met during a panel we were both speaking at at Keycon last year. She got in touch with me to tell me how much she liked my work and wanted to get involved in this whole project. So, we set up a shoot based around more of a retro 40's or 50's look. The first idea I came up with was her leaning against a car inspired from designs of that particular era, but still using my regular robot design work. One huge change, however, is the hairstyle she had for the shoot, which will show up better later.

Laying out the background. Incorporating a lot of design ideas that people used in the 50's as their concept of the future, everything blended into something of a retro-future, similar to the notion of Gothic Raygun from The Gernsback Continuum.

In addition to the 50's-inspired backgrounds, I also named the diner she is standing in front of The Fyxx, which is the name of my favourite coffee shop in Winnipeg. I can quite frequently be found there painting or drawing many of these designs.

Laying out the various colour layers for Monique. As with all of these paintings, the various colours serve only to indicate that the machinery and plates are on separate layers, and won't necessarily reflect the colours used in the final painting. As I've been developing this process, I tend to use the same combination of blues to delineate the machinery. 

Dropping in colour layers for the car. This is a rather aggressive vehicle design, loosely based on the classic '57 Chevy, although there are styling hints from later designs as well.

Flat colour layers for the various background elements dropped in as well, leading to starting the actual painting process.

Very basic painting done for the deep background and the wind-tunnel-designed apartment complex as well as the pavement. It's a simple idea, but it really works to have more complex and detailed textures closer to the viewer, leaving the background with much simpler textures, adding to the sense of depth to a piece. I've already begun to establish the cool background colours and warm foreground colours as well.

Some of the elevated roadways painted and fog effects added for additional depth.

Remaining elevated roadways painted as well as the diner, with even more atmospheric effects added. Starting to turn on the background lights.

Signage painted, lighting effects in the background elaborated on.

More drama added to the background lights.

Vehicle painted. At this point, it's looking less like the 50's and more how the 80's were interpreting the 50's. Which makes sense, as I was a teenager in the 80's.

Hair design painted. Very warm colour used on the hair, going along with the warmer tones of the background and the red of the car.

Basic metal painting on Monique finished. Fairly neutral colours on her metal right now which will all be fleshed out closer to the end.

Final metal polishing and lighting effects added, as well as more colour and subtlety added to Monique.

The final version can be seen, and prints purchased of it, at this link. And don't forget, if you are in the Calgary area in mid-April, I'll be at the Calgary Expo, selling original artwork and prints like this at the Winnipeg Is Nerdy booth.