To all the folks who are patiently waiting to see new posts each week, thanks for hanging in there!  I seem to be jammed with new work each week which seriously cuts into my tweets and these posts.  I’m not complaining, it’s been a fantastic blur of a year.  Still waiting for more Joes, but I’m more than busy in the mean time.

The piece I’m posting this week is my most recent work for Hasbro, the 12″ Paratrooper box art.  I got the call to work on this guy early this year, and I couldn’t be happier.  It had been nearly two years since I worked on the Rise / Pursuit of Cobra figures.  After the extended break I was more than ready to jump back into the Hasbro business.

I decided to take a little different approach to my pose reference for this guy.  Toward the end of my run on the Pursuit figure art I got wise and picked up a John Conner large scale figure from the company Hot Toys.  If you aren’t familiar with Hot Toys, they make the best 12″ license figures in the industry (In my opinion).

After posing him, I broke out the old light box to add some interesting back light options then took a number of photos.  As you can see this guy already looks awesome, which only makes my job easier!

Once the pose and lighting were nailed down, I needed reference for the parachute rigging.  I went online and found some great military images.  This piece posed an interesting challenge, in that I had to fit the guy and the open chute on the box.  Normally you would need almost a bottom view to see everything.  I had to take a few liberties and create a forced perspective to make sure everything fit.

After submitting a couple of rough sketch options to the client, I got an approval and quickly moved on to my line drawing.  Having great photo ref saved me some serious drawing time!  I wish I had the John Conner figure for my other paintings.  I used Corel Painter 11 for my line drawing, to save time.  Not to mention, “Who really enjoys scanning and cleaning pencil drawings?!”  I have to cut corners whenever possible to make my deadlines, so I bypass the scanner when possible.

Since the placement of the paratrooper was so critical, I put the guy and open parachute on separate layers.  This way they could be moved around If needed.  I completed the clean line and got the exact dimensions of the box from the Art director.  He provided me with a spec sheet that showed me what active area I could paint into, and what areas to avoid.  When the drawing was layered on the box, I noticed it didn’t quite fit. Better to notice at the sketch stage, rather after I paint.

After a little adjustment the clean line was approved without any major changes and I began painting.  I decided to fill the background with a neutral sky blue-gray color.  Unlike the 6″ figures I’ve done in the past, this guy would have a graphic background.  Meaning I didn’t need to paint the plasma background.  This allowed me to spend more time detailing the uniform.  That was great, since this art would be reproduced at a larger physical size on the package.

Referencing some of the photos I found earlier online, I started on the parachute.  Again, the angle was totally forced in order to make the composition work.  I decided to paint the entire chute on it’s own layer, in case I had to move the guy around.  Also, YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED AN OPEN PARACHUTE ILLO! …Now, I have one.

Painting the parachute was easy compared to the cords.  Since the angle I painted the parachute didn’t match the guy, the rigging was way off.  I am probably the only person who noticed or cared, but my OCD kicked into overdrive.  With a quickly approaching deadline, I got it together and moved on to paint the guy.

The process for the paratrooper was my usual.  Block in my large areas, then work the details.  “Rinse and repeat.”  Once he was finished, I added a cobalt blue rim light to match the graphic he would eventually be placed on.  Total time spent cooking this painting was between 40-50 hours using Corel Painter 11 and Photoshop CS5.  I think I had to do a couple of all-nighters to make deadline, but it worked out in the end.  I would probably paint these things quicker if I didn’t obsess, but that is easier said than done.

As always, click the images for a larger view.  Here is how the painting looked on the retail box. If you think this tutorial was helpful, please like and share it! More to come!  Oh, I need more Twitter followers, so please tell a friend.  Seacrest, Out!