Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Birth of a painting: Bela Lugosi portrait


When I sold my only Lugosi picture two years ago there was a void on the wall to fill. A moody, dramatic shot of Bela from an (at last to me) unknown film was found and so I was inspired to paint a new portrait...

I'm using mainly Vallejo Model Color - a Spanish acrylic paint brand I usually need for the model kits. But they are great for 2-d painting as well and I love the great selection of odd color/tones. After priming the acrylic/oil paper in yellow ocker, I traced the under drawing and started blocking the shadows....the first skin tones....


The hardest part is to imagine the areas that are tinted in black on the reference Pict. Flat black shadows don't work to make him look "dimensional"... so I choosed a dramatic blueish back light, while leaving the collar, neck and background out of focus.....



The next steps: More work was done on Bela, making him look more dimensional, highlights added and blending the colors. Unsatisfied with the background and missing smooth transitions due to the use of acrylics, I put out my water based oil colors (I hate the smell of turpentine).


And to my surprise, they worked like charm! But on the downside - especially titanium white takes an eternity to dry....so I had to pause for a couple of days in order not to ruin the past achievements.After the oil paint had dried I am happy to present the finished painting of Bela Lugosi. I fixed some problems with the hair and the right side of his face, including the transition to the background. The white oil paint was great for beefing up the lightning. 

I'm glad he turned out not too "Dracula" and shows more of the man behind the cape....

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