Thursday, December 16, 2010

Raiders of the Lost 'Raiders' painting

I thought I had lost it for good. Accidentally thrown out and gone the way of the landfill. But I was wrong. Right before I went back home for Thanksgiving, my mom and daughter found it. It was hiding underneath the dark, treacherous and claustrophobic cavern simply known as "under the bed." The long lost object that I had desired and thought to be gone was my "Raiders of the Lost Ark" painting that I had started my freshmen year in college but abandoned because of the lack of time to finish it. I found out very quickly how little spare time I would have while earning a BFA and ended up using it to concentrate on my portfolios for school. After school, life continued to be busy and I kinda forgot about it. When I remembered it  several years later, it couldn't be found. Mainly because we were looking for it in the wrong places. The whole time it was sitting underneath my old bed in my old bedroom, which is now occupied by my daughter when she visits and has dubbed it the "Princess Room."

Anyway, the painting:
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is by far my favorite film and not having a Raiders poster, I decided I would just paint one. I wanted to do it in a bit of an homage to Drew Struzan, but add my own touch to it. I started it with gesso on illustration board (24" x 36") and then used acrylic for the rest. Here's how the painting is today, unfinished.

Indy looks kinda freaky with just the one eye painted there, doesn't he?
Here is the painting with the "Raiders" title card that I redrew and planned on using it as a template:

Here is a detail pic of what is the "most finished" portion of the paining:

I do plan on finally finishing it, now that I've found it. With time permitting, I plan on finishing it next year for "Raiders" 30th anniversary. Looking at it now, there's a lot of changes I want to make to it, like stuff to add to the background and also I found a pic of Indy I like better for it. So yeah, I'll be completely repainting him. While photorealistic portraits aren't a constant part of my style I can still do it, and I had forgotten just how much fun I have doing it. Finding this lost piece has given me some new inspiration, and new ideas for more Indy or "Raiders" paintings I'm jonesin' (*snicker) to do in the new year. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Audrey Hepburn piece for my niece

My niece Katie graduated high school as valedictorian back in May and went on to attend Texas Tech this fall. I was unable to make it to her graduation, so I wanted to do something special for her. Especially since I dared her to end her commencement speech with "May the Force Be With You" and she delivered big time. "I would like a piece of your artwork to hang in my dorm" she said, when I asked her if there's anything she wanted.
I was more than happy to oblige.  I decided to paint a portrait of her idol, Audrey Hepburn, in my comic art style with minimum color. Since the one color I did use was pink, this is probably the girliest thing I've ever painted.  

Needless to say, she was very surprised when I finally gave it to her over Thanksgiving: 

Congrats again on making Valedictorian Katie and all of your success! 
We're very proud of you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

When We Last Left Harry Potter…

It's been a long time since I had done anything photorealistic. So when I originally pitched the idea to paint the cover to The Salt Lake Tribune's Harry Potter section instead of photoshopping it, I thought I had bit off more than I could chew. Fortunately, it was just like riding a bike — you never forget.
I had a blast painting it — even though I was working with a nasty cold at the time. It came out far better than I had hoped. 

Below is the finished piece, by itself. It's 15" x 20" acrylic on illustration board. The pictures after it are minimized step-by-step of my process.

The basic idea of the painting was to give fans and readers a short rundown of what happened at the end of the last movie, but in the style of an old pup fiction novel or serialized movie poster. Props to my wife for the idea!

First, after I figured out the size, I did a very (VERY) rough comp of how I wanted to compose the images. I went through several sketches before I decided on this one. Then I scanned it in, colored it and added text in Photoshop.

Then  I did several pencil sketches of Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, Hermione, etc., scanned those in and composed a tighter comp to use as a guide. I also used photos for certain elements like Draco, who was a last minute addition.

Then I printed out the comp and projected it onto a gessoed piece of illustration board. I lightly drew the basic features so I wouldn't get graphite smudged all over the gesso.

Then I proceeded to paint it using thinned acrylics. 

And here's the how the final piece appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune's special Harry Potter section. The final layout was done in InDesign.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Purrcasso Art & Craft Gala pieces

This year I've donated 2 pieces of art to the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society's 5th Annual Purrcasso Art & Craft Sale & Gala . The pre event gala will be held Saturday, November 6 fromm 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and the Art & Craft Sale will be from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, November 7. More info on the event that benefits the shelter and how to get there can be found at their website here or at the Purrcasso site
First is an 81/2 x 11 piece done in watercolor, gouache and ink on watercolor paper called "Astro Cat Turns His Enemies into Kitty Litter."

I also did a companion piece made from a Munny World DIY Vinyl toy.  He's called "Astro Cat in the Third Dimension." He stands about 6" tall.

A silent auction and art sale will be held Saturday night with music and entertainment and more arts and crafts will be sold Sunday. If you live in the San Francisco area, please be sure and check it out. You could get a really cool piece of art and help out a great cause at the same time!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Winchester Shaun Munny

I recently, made a custom Shaun of the Dead 3" Munny with the Winchester rifle upon request from a fan. As always with doing a custom Munny, I had a lot of fun making it. It was really cool to make Shaun from later in the movie since I had already made one of him earlier in the film. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy 30th "The Empire Strikes Back"

The original Star Wars movies had quite the influence on me growing up. Of the first 3, "The Empire Strikes Back" has always been my favorite — in fact, I can consider it my second favorite film of all time ("Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my #1). I really wish I still had the crayon drawing of Luke fighting Vader in Cloud City that I drew when I was four. I'm sure it's at my parents house somewhere...
Anyway — for "Empire's" 30th anniversary, I decided to do some Empire themed sketches and give them away on Twitter (@hefnatron). I gave away the black and white ones over the last couple of days but the one below is still up for grabs (contest ends May 23). For info on how win it, click on over to

I had a lot of fun doing the sketches as Star Wars is such a rich subject to explore. I hope to find the time in the future to do many more.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How I made my Spaceman Split

Since I haven't anything new to show you at the moment – the freelance stuff I've been working on isn't for public consumption yet — I thought I would do a little post on how I made my "Spaceman Split" bowling pin sculpture from a couple of months ago.
First, I had to clean off my work table. It had been a while, but was crucial to doing the project. Besides having a clear workspace, I did find my Queen's Greatest Hits cd's underneath all my crap.

Next, I took the old bowling pin that was provided by The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah. It was a retired pin, with lots of dings and dents and a chunk of wood missing from the inside. I filled that hole with spray foam and the other dents with wood filler.

After letting the wood filler dry, I took a rough grit sandpaper (100) and knocked off all the excess from my sloppy filling job. Then, I took lighter grit sandpaper (220 and higher) to smooth it out. Then, I spray painted a couple coats of primer. Oh — and yes, those are vintage Star Wars curtains you see in the background. 

After the primer dried, I filled more dents that I missed the first time. The dark color of the primer helps show ones that weren't visible before. At this point I'm starting to wonder if it's worth filling in all the holes, but I know in the end — it'll be worth it. So I sand those again and give it one final coat of primer. Then I give it a couple coats of white.

Now it's starting to look like a brand new pin! Still, the gray primer is showing through the white, so all the white in the final piece will be painted using Liquitex Acrylic Paint.

While I was prepping the bowling pin, I was also trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. Normally, I would have done this first, but there was a short turn around time. So I decided that I wanted to do something retro and keep the shape of the pin without altering it. That way, I could go ahead and get it ready so when I decided what I was going to do with it, I could get to painting the image right away. 

Eventually I decided on a retro-ish space man smugly holding a ray gun but unsuspectingly standing on top of a large green alien about to attack him. The sketches above are the rough sketches that I did. As you can see, I decided the switch the arm holding the ray gun in the final sculpt.

After doing some color tests, I decided to go with a limited color scheme and keep it simple. It took 2-3 coats of paint to get the look I wanted. 

In between coats of paint, I sculpted the Spaceman's arms, hands and ray gun. I used Sculpey baking clay and pieces of a coat hanger for armature. The barrel of the ray gun is a small nail. Oh, and before I got too far along in the painting process, I drilled holes on where I wanted the wire from the arms to go. For the alien's tentacles, I used wire for the basic shape, wrapped them in tin foil until I got the desired thickness and then finished it off with a layer of Sculpey. I'd love to show you what that looked like, but I forgot to take pictures.

The alien's face is beginning to take shape. Later when I painted the face of the Spaceman, I noticed that when I was done …

… it looked like John Locke from Lost!!! This was completely accidental. Maybe subconsciously I did it on purpose. Anyway I kept it. It's Locke in Space.
Once I was done painting, I glued on the arms and gave him a coat of sealer. Here's the finished product below:

I had a great time working on this for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah auction and am really looking forward to doing it again next year!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The King of Cool turns 80

Today, Steve McQueen would have turned 80. I whipped this up last night in his honor.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pins of Art Charity Auction

Right now, a piece I created from a bowling pin, along with several other great artists including my co-worker — award winning political cartoonist Pat Bagley — are up for auction online for an event benefitting the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah. 100% of the proceeds go to BBBS of Utah, so it's a really great cause plus you get a snazzy piece of art made from a bowling pin. Talk about a conversation piece for your home! Please check all of them out and bid on them here. Mine's on the bottom of page 3. The auction ends March 18.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Wolf Man

Last Halloween I did an illustration for In Utah This Week's Halloween issue featuring Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, and a zombie. After the issue came out, I wasn't 100% happy with the final result. With the new Wolfman movie coming out, I decided to rectify the situation, at least for the Wolf Man. I redrew his face, finished his left arm that was covered up by Frank and retouched and redrew bit here and there for a stand alone piece. Also I recolored him as well. 
I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Now I might just have to do it for all the other Universal monsters.