James Bond, Dr No – Part 2

Following on from the previous post this is Part 2 of my look back at the work involved in creating a poster for the first James Bond film ‘Dr No’. This post collects together a series of posts from my Patreon back in 2018. Most of these posts show video clips as I worked through the painting in gouache and you can see the whole painting in a full video at the end.

10th September 2018

“I was curious to see what kind of man you were.”

I had planned to make a start to this painting over the weekend and several times I had a couple of hours in front of me with nothing else planned but for one reason or another I just couldn’t begin. This happens every now and then, I wouldn’t call it a creative block as such as I don’t really get those, but just the wrong frame of mind. I ended up rearranging my shelves and tidying up the studio instead. All useful things to do of course and it also took a while to set up the camera for recording again.

Not a bad start today, always begin with a likeness and always start with the face furthest away opposite to the hand you are using, so in this case top left for my right hand. Wish I’d got more done but then I’m happy with what I painted so that is the main thing. Again I’m doing this in gouache a medium I’m starting to enjoy more and more and with that I’m going to have to put buying gouache paint and brushes onto my to do list.

This video is sped up (I record using the iPhone’s own time lapse settings) but in this case you get to see me paint Julius No’s face over the space of one minute whereas in the final edit it’ll probably be about 20 seconds as I’ll speed it up again.

11th September 2018

“Careful. The whole place is probably wired for sound.”

Two sessions for you to see and again although these are speeded up they’ll be even quicker in the final cut. Quite happy with how it is all progressing, the paint seems to be happy to do what I’m asking it to do which is great.

Dr No’s outfit might need some more lighter colours added to it but I’m holding off until I’ve seen how it looks with the green circle background added. With that in it may lighten the outfit anyway so best to wait.

12th September 2018

“East, West – just points of the compass, each as stupid as the other.”

On it goes, I’m hopeful that a good session tomorrow and the painting will be finished. Most of the main elements are done other than the metal hands and the circle background. Once those are in I have some small detailing to add but that should be it. After that the usual story of scanning it in and sorting it out in Photoshop.

14th September 2018

“Unfortunately, I misjudged you. You are just a stupid policeman…”

The final painting session didn’t take long, maybe just short of three hours, but the scanning and tidying up of the art in Photoshop took the rest of yesterday and this morning. Scanned in artwork always shows up all the little imperfections as you can zoom right into the art. You have to take a balanced view as it would be easy to correct every little thing until you have nothing left of the character of your brush work. I always remove dirt and scratches and correct the colour to match as closely as possible the original work. This might need adjusting or changing for the poster later on but I like to have a file that is as close to the original painting as I can make it.

I decided not to lighten Dr No’s outfit colour. In the movie it does come across as being lighter than the colour I’ve left it but I think it suits the colour scheme of the painting better. It gives the green circle warmth and fits in with the well tanned features of Mr Bond. Again if I decide to I can always create an altered lighter version for the poster but at the moment I’m liking the balance.

Next week I’ll figure out if I’m going to have time to paint the Bond ‘Girls’ for the poster, it might be that I can fit it in in time. And I’ll need to sort out the video recording too.

17th September 2018

“What should I say to an invitation from a strange gentleman?”

Over the course of Sunday and this morning I’ve managed to paint the three Bond ‘Girls’ for the poster and get  them scanned in. I thought they should be done in the same medium and style as the main image but kept them monochrome as they get coloured in the design. I need to set aside some time this week to sort out the poster, create all the text and logos etc.

18th September 2018

“World domination. The same old dream.”

The final full video of the actual creation of the painting. I spent way too long animating a little circle going across the screen last night 🙂 Probably a very easy way to do it but I ended up creating every frame in Photoshop and placing them in order on a timeline. When it comes to video technology I’m stuck ten years back. Anyway it looks okay and I wanted it to be like the start of Dr No in some small way which I think it is.

19th September 2018

“That’s a naughty little habit. Listening at keyholes?”

Just finished off the final design for the poster which you’ll all be able to get your mitts on at the start of October. (Editorial note: My Patreon supporters get to download a high resolution file each month which they can print for themselves, in this case the Dr No poster print was available in October 2018). I’m glad I made time to paint the three ‘girls’ as I think it suits the design better. I’m pretty pleased with the look of this one, it’s nice when it all works out well together.

Peter Cushing

This post uses a few ‘Work in Progress’ posts from my Patreon back in 2017 but also some new bits that I thought would be quite interesting. This is a chance to show the couple of times I’ve painted actor Peter Cushing but in two different roles. The first instance is really just the actual finished image and I have no behind the scenes progress to show for this Artist Card small (3.5″ by 2.5″) painting but I like to show it off anyway.

Watercolour and gouache Artist Card sized painting

25th February 2017

“This is, I think, a two-pipe problem.”

I guess everyone has their favourite actor in the role of Sherlock Holmes but like the Doctor in Doctor Who you accept all the other incarnations as a part of the whole. I couldn’t comfortably say who my first Sherlock Holmes actually was. I certainly recall seeing a season of Basil Rathbone films but more in passing than in a effort to see them. Probably around the same time I saw the Hammer Film version of The Hound of Baskervilles starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. As a young child I did take seeing any Hammer Film as big treat so I would have watched this film adaption as ‘must see’. My favourite Hammer Film was Dracula so I always had issue with accepting Lee and Cushing in these other roles but eventually I grew fond of Cushing’s portrayal through seeing a repeat of his BBC TV series from 1968.

I wouldn’t say there was anything unpredictable about the way Cushing plays Holmes, in fact it seems a pretty straight forward expected depiction especially for the time it was filmed. However Cushing brings a warmth to the character, you like the actor and therefore find it easier to accept the super sleuth. Lots of actors have played the great detective exactly the same way, especially during the 70s, but they’ve brought nothing extra to the role and the warmth has been missing. As much as I enjoy Cushing as the Baker Street detective he isn’t my favourite Sherlock Holmes but I certainly rank him one of the best.

A return to watercolour for this painting as I thought the delicate detail of the Victorian wallpaper and Cushing’s fine features would be best served in that medium.

Blue lead pencils

13th November 2017

“You have transferred us in time and space and I haven’t even set the controls.”

In the last few years I’ve had a lot of similar conversations about Doctor Who at the various comic conventions I’ve attended most of them to do with if I’ve actually painted ‘all’ of the Doctors. In general I’ve always said I have painted all of them with the added proviso of ‘all the TV series Doctors’ but you always have some people who mention the film Doctor to which I counter ‘why not Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Trevor Martin and a whole lot of other people who have also played the Doctor’. Most of the time that just draws blank looks though.

So to combat some of those who like to mention the two Peter Cushing films I’ve decided to get around to painting him as the good Doctor, not from Gallifrey but the eccentric English inventor who just happens to create a time machine and bump into the Daleks a lot. This painting is based purely on the first 1965 film ‘Dr. Who and the Daleks’ which sees Dr Who, his two granddaughters Susan and Barbara and Barbara’s boyfriend Ian accidentally travel through time and space. The films can be a tricky thing for avid Doctor Who fans to accept but I’ve always enjoyed the charm of them and it is easy to accept Peter Cushing as the loveable ‘grandfather’.

As you can see here are the pencils ready for painting, I couldn’t resist painting a film Dalek and I’m going to play with the plume of smoke that the film Daleks shot and make it more like the blast of fire/smoke that the film posters preferred to depict. 

I’m often asked about using sourced reference shots for painting well known actors. While some likenesses of famous people can often be based on just one good picture I prefer to use a few sources to try and come up with enough information to create something new or not just ‘oh they’ve used that well known publicity photo’.

Aside from that I like to create ‘mood boards’ in Photoshop to help give me an overall feel for the subject. Below is the mood board I created for this illustration mostly showing Peter Cushing but also the sense of colour scheme the used in the film. I ended up mostly painting the petrified jungle colours for the background but having a board to refer to is great for keeping you ‘on brand’ with the overall look and feel of the movie as a whole.

Mood Board
One of the film posters that I wanted to reference.

15th November 2017

Originally I was going to leave the background quite stark and fairly colourful in an attempt to highlight the quite brash look the film had but I actually realised that the petrified forest that Tardis lands in covers that brief well. It may be a dark forest but the colours used where very striking. Purple lighting against green lit tree trunks and yellows seeping into the ground, it certainly wasn’t dull.

I did think of adding a hint of the Dalek city through the trees but I decided against it as I wanted to concentrate on the figures more. I knew I was going to use gouache to add the brash highlighting so I was quite happy to slap on the watercolours and see what would happen.

The final painting scanned in and tidied up in Photoshop.

16th November 2017

“In electro-connective theory, space expands to accommodate the time necessary to incorporate its dimensions.” Granddaughter Susan explaining quite simply why Tardis is bigger on the inside. I’ll take her word for it.

As you can see the piece is finished and I’m quite happy with it even if I do say so myself. I think it looks nice and vibrant and I’m pleased with my likeness of Cushing.

Four artists paint one tree

Just as a quick follow up to my last post about my Sleeping Beauty homage painting I thought I’d share a link to a short documentary film made by Disney back when the film was in production. Here we see four Walt Disney Studio artists, Eyvind Earle, Marc Davis, Joshua Meador and Walt Peregoy all paint the same tree but with wildly different approaches. It’s a fascinating glimpse of the working life and way of thinking these artists had at the time plus of course amazing to see them actually create art.