I’ve been wanting to do a process post about one of my art pieces and actually remembered to take pictures to do it this time!
Usually if it’s a small piece, I’ll try and do a speed video of it but this is less work and let’s me get into my process more.
Background and highlights laid out
The Xenomorph is a very cool mix of organic and mechanical parts. It’s smooth and has a lot of rounded parts, but the pieces that make it up are very machine like. You have tubing and this oil slick look all over. I actually like that because that means you can piece it together part by part. So I started by laying out the mouth and then doing layer after layer of green and black to made the shading.
This painting was almost entirely free-handed. I didn’t do a sketch before hand and only looked at a few reference, some from the film and some close ups of toys, for shading and to see how the head pieced together.
I would see what connected to the mouth then what connected to the head and this pipe and that pipe. And then once the layout was done I started laying down the lime green everywhere as the highlights. Until the very end, I only used two colors. The whites so far are just exposed canvas or light washes.
A lot of the texture and grungy look is layered paint. I would leave it messy and while the paint was wet I would go back with darker shades to clean it up.
Head placement adjusted
You can actually see from the past few pictures that I completely changed the shoulder and perspective on the head. Initially I had it going off canvas but it didn’t read well. Then I wanted more of a leaned over shoulder rather than straight up profile so I brought that shoulder up more and put it more in focus.
When the paint is really thick and wet, it’s easy to make these changes. The best time though is when acrylic is half dry because then it’s thick enough to move around but not blend.
Black shading clean up
I rounded the back end of the head for perspective and finally started detailing the mouth. With a dry brush and only a little bit of black, I did strokes to give all the side piping on it’s head ridges and dimension.
Clean up, Shadow work, and White highlights
Finally I added the darkest blacks, cleaned up the background, added more dramatic shadows and put a touch of white on the highlights to try and get that glossy look.
I gloss varnished it and it’s all done!
In total, I used 3 colors: black, lime green, and white. It took roughly 6 hours total over about 3 days. It’s a 18×24 canvas.
“Big Chap” (a reference to the Xenomorph in the very first Alien) was a really fun piece to work on mostly because I gave myself the freedom to just throw paint on the canvas and not worry about the outcome too much. Yes, I need it to at least resemble the creature but the Xenomorph is a creepy monster that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I was inspired by it’s slimy, glossy frame and wanted to use the lime green and black colors from the poster and I loved the outcome.
If you’re in Lubbock, you can see “Big Chap” currently on display at Star Books & Comics (916 16th Street) during business hours or this Friday 6 PM- 9 PM at the Villains Artist Collective Gallery!
It and pieces from about 20 local artists will be on display and available for purchase! Go check it out before the event is over at the end of the month!
Let me know if you like this process blog!