-By Dan dos Santos

In the first part of this series I shared with you the initial sketches that I gave my client. When I work for a Publisher, I typically do just 3 sketches, and email them to the client. But because my client was actually commissioning an original work of art to hang on his wall, I did things a bit differently.

Firstly, I did a LOT more sketches than usual.  Secondly, I mailed him printed copies of the sketches. Mailing versus emailing some sketches may not seem like a big deal, but it actually makes quite a big difference. Because I was sending him print outs, I was able to enlarge them to the actual size I had planned on painting them. Looking at a life-sized painting in person is a completely different experience than seeing a small image of it on your screen. This way, the client could tack the sketches up on his wall, sit back, and see which one he liked best, taking their intended size into account.

My client got back to pretty quickly, and said he liked sketch #3 the best.

Now that I knew which sketch he liked, my next goal was to find out WHY. We emailed back and forth a bit and discussed what he liked about the concept and why he selected that particular piece. He said he liked how resolved the scenario was, and that the image seemed more like a movie still, rather than a ‘pin-up’. He also liked the idea of adding the demon Lash I included in a previous sketch, and wondered if there was any way I could add her to this image as well.

From there, I went about revising the sketch, and offered him a variety of poses to choose from. I also made two notable revisions in these sketches:

Firstly, I turned Harry’s chest toward us in two of them. I did this for two reasons. One, I wanted try to show Harry’s pentacle pendant, which is an important part of the story. Two, I felt it would be better to have the warm light of the fire, and the cool light of Harry’s shield on opposing sides of the figure. That way, the colors would compliment the form, rather than compete with each other.

Secondly, I slipped the visage of Lash’s face into the flames, whispering in Harry’s ear.

Because this painting is ultimately a portrait of Harry, I wanted to make sure I refined his actual ‘look’ a bit more in this second round of sketches. To help me do this, I shot some reference of a toy model. I also purchased a head specifically for this piece that I thought was close to how I envisioned Harry looking.

I really love using miniature models for reference. Not only is it pretty fun, but I feel that it helps me explore more options, and break away from my usual solutions. Rather than just imagining a pose, I was able to physically place my toy model in a variety of real poses. This helps me ‘act out’ the scene in my head a bit, and quickly eliminate, or expound on, any silhouettes and lighting schemes I find interesting.