Friday afternoon I began this rush painting of Busta Rhymes for Vibe magazine. The deadline was end of day Monday, so I knew I would be putting in some late hours. I don’t want to talk too much about the direction for the piece since the issue isn’t printed yet. I’ll just say the story is pretty crazy, so you might want to pick up the magazine.

This piece a prime example of how I ALWAYS under estimate how much I will spend on a painting. Initially I thought I would fly through it, since it is just one likeness. Of course, that was not the case. I ended up putting about thirty five hours (two all-nighters) into completing it. Once again, “Coffee to the rescue.”

I’ve been a fan of Busta since he was in Leaders of the New School, so I was happy to take this job. I’ve seen some really good “over-the-top” caricatures of Busta over the years, so I kept my exaggerations minimal. I didn’t want it to look too photo-realistic or cartoony. I am showing a few extra steps since I’ve gotten requests for more tutorials lately. When I get some free time, I’ll work on that!

Pencil Sketch.

Background Color Rough.

Skin Color Block.

When painting someone with tattoos like this, I aways save them for last. Since they need to feel like they are actually a part of the skin, I first make sure the muscle forms below are properly defined. Next I block in the solid silhouette of the tattoo and finally shade it to match the arm. I used this same technique on my Lil Wayne Vibe painting.

Arm render (step one).

Arm render (step two).

Finished Painting (Click for large version).


The bulk of my time was spent in the tattoos and chains. As I said earlier, you can see this piece in next month’s edition of Vibe magazine. Hope you dig it.