My oldest niece, Sarah, had a birthday and I offered to create some artwork for the occasion. She pondered for a few days and then asked for a burning of her favorite Monster Hunter character: Zinogre Render. Yes, she’s a gaming fanatic, but the tendency runs in the family, so it’s not surprising. Armed with Sarah’s favorite image on the internet and a few others to help me flesh out the character, I went to work.
View the time lapse video on YouTube by clicking on the icon to the left (or above for those on mobile phones).
I drew in the monster on the board and started burning in the facial features. I kept most of the monster in pencil form as there were many areas I wasn’t really thrilled with.
Since the face was one of the few areas I was pretty sure of what I planned to do, it was a safe place to work.
I’ve always liked working on the dark areas first, so that’s the majority of what I’m doing on the face. Having dark areas blocked in helps me navigate the image.
The monster had quite the assortment of textures on him. There was fur, ridges, and horns to name a few. On top of that, I added a few of my own such as the little scales along the area on the neck between the fur and the armored throat.
Here’s a progress photo. I’m putting this one in here so soon because I want to point out the ear. I’ve burned lines on it as I had planned to give it a ribbed texture.
Fortunately I didn’t make many changes that required me to sand out the area, but I did erase my pencil lines numerous times and redrew in features like the shoulders, legs, tails,…ok, pretty much everything from the throat down.
The armor scales on the throat were burned in using pull-away strokes. Pull-away strokes can be quite dark at the start of them and the color fades gradually, so they are a burn stroke I use a lot.
Here I’m building up the basic color on the face. I wasn’t 100% sure how dark to make things, so I burned in different areas and compared the tonal values to each other. From there I decided what I liked and what needed to be darkened. It takes a little longer this way to get the artwork done, but I’ve never been one for planning out the burn beforehand.
In this photo I’m burning around the edges of each bone chunk to give them a 3D look.
The hair was fun to burn in as I don’t tend to do much artwork involving hair.
I actually thought the hair turned out pretty realistic looking.
Here’s a progress photo that is zoomed in on the face.
To get an idea of the size of this artwork, here’s a progress photo I took a little later of the entire board. I’ve got a LOT of work still to do.
Continued work on the neck and throat area. I’ve mentioned in numerous blogs that I slowly build up the color by re-burning. By doing so, I make it easier to alter things if I don’t like them. Removing color from a wood burning is not the easiest thing to begin with and it gets progressively harder the darker the burn.
I wanted the hair to seem like it was growing outward from the neck and then curving back by the breeze. I burned along the left edge of the hairline till it was a dark brown color to make it appear shadowed. Then as it curved back and the light could strike it, I lightened the color. I actually like how it turned out.
One very prominent feature of the fan art Sarah had picked out was the moon framing part of Zinogre’s face. I liked the imagery so well that I kept that aspect of the artwork.
The fan art depicted the moon as a solid yellow circle, but I did a cratered moon scene. I burned in some areas with the shader to give the moon some tonal variety. Then I used several assorted sizes of ball tips to apply lots and lots of dots.
I slowly worked my way down Zinogre’s body. Here I’m burning in the ridges along either side of the neck.
Continued work on the ridges.
There were several areas of fur/hair on Zinogre, and the chest was one such area.
I decided to add a row of small pointed horns next to the ridges. I thought they added an interesting transition from the ridges to the shoulder. I’m sure that one of the reference photos must have had something similar and I modified the concept for my purposes.
In this photo I’m drawing in an assortment of circles on the shoulder. I penciled in the circles before burning them in. I discovered that I have a tendency to get into a rhythm when I burn and then I end up with circles that have an obvious repeating pattern to them. I wanted them to be random, so penciling them in allowed me to easily remove areas of repeating patterns.
To make the horns look pointed and 3D is a simple matter of burning along the base and letting the color fade at the pointed top.
Continued work. The second row of horns is about 2 inches (5.1 cm) to the right of the first row. Right now they are the larger circles with tiny dots near the center. The tiny dots are where I want the point of the horn to be.
In this photo I’ve burned in the horns and I’m burning over the little circles. I wanted the circles to add a little visual interest, but not be glaringly noticeable.
Here’s another progress photo.
Adding more contrast to the horns.
I have no idea what this thing is. It was on several different reference photos, so I included it. Part of the problem I had creating this artwork was my unfamiliarity with the character. I wanted to stay true to the character’s form, but also wanted to give it lots of fine detail as creating fine detail is what I enjoy most with art. Plus I was working from 5 different reference photo fan art and each one had unique characteristics to it.
Back to work on the shoulder. In this photo the skin has been darkened up a lot and the circles aren’t nearly as noticeable.
As this photo shows, once the shoulder was darkened up, the horns really pop out from the surface of the skin.
Here’s another progress photo showing the entire artwork. As you can see, I’ve still got a lot of work to do. Even though the head and neck look like they are done, they aren’t. I’ll be adding texture and probably altering the contrast levels before I’m completely done.
Burning pull-away strokes are easier to do if you pull the stroke towards you, so I rotated the wood while working on the ridges along the forearm. Plus, with the wood rotated, it was easier to keep the pen tip in optimal position. That was important as I wanted the ends of each ridge to be very sharp and crisp. At least for now; I might change my mind on this later.
I tend to bounce around a lot when I work and this artwork wasn’t an exception to that. I’m re-burning over the fangs and if you look close you’ll see that I added texture to roughen up the ridge horns above the face.
Another reason for working on the face was that I was debating erasing the forearm and drawing in something different.
Now I’m adding lots of dark dots to the tongue. This added texture to the tongue and darkened it up; which it needed.
Re-burning another area on the face to darken it up. I probably re-burned the face 3-5 times before I was happy with the color levels.
I burned along the sides of the small transition area on the neck so that the sides were considerably darker than the center. This made it look rounded.
I liked the texture on the horns above the face, so I decided to add a similar texture to the armor scales on the throat.
The texture was created by burning dark lines with the razor edge of the shader. I varied the color and length of the lines.
Now I’m adding similar texture to the ridges along the left side of the neck.
Adding cracks to the horns and bone chunks on the face.
Since I burned the cracked texture on the ridges to the left of the neck, I have to add them to the ridges on the right side of the neck.
In this photo I’m burning in cast shadows on the ridges.
Now that I know how I want the ridges to look, I’m back to working on the ridges on the forearm. Plus I had decided that I wasn’t going to make anymore changes to the overall design. Working on the scales is a bit tedious, so I take frequent breaks and burn on other areas.
One such area was the shoulder/chest. Unfortunately this was another tedious area to work in, so I would work on one for a bit and then switch back to the scales. Eventually I got them both burned in.
As I neared the toes/claws on the forearm, the skin between the ridge scales became visible. Along the top portion where the skin wasn’t that visible I wanted it to be very dark, but down lower where more of the skin was visible I wasn’t so sure how I wanted it to look.
Here’s another progress photo.
One thing I like to do as I ponder problems, is work on areas away from the problem. In this case I started working on the spurs (?) on the sides of the monster’s foot.
I also burned in the monster’s rump. That was a super easy spot to work as it was going to be a solid dark brown color; perfect mindless work for me as I pondered the skin issue.
Finishing up the spurs.
In this photo I’m adding the texture to the weird fan shape thing.
Back to the forearm. During my ‘pondering the problem’ time, I decided I would create a valley along the skin. My goal was to make the area between the ridge scales look sunken.
While burning the pull-away strokes, I accidentally burned a couple of dark lines. The lined made the skin look ribbed and I kind of liked it.
In fact, I liked the ribbed look so much that I purposely burned in all of the skin between the scaled ridges that way.
In this photo I’m burning in the cast shadows under the toes/claws. As you can see, I used white charcoal to draw in the highlights on the claws. I wasn’t 100% sure where I wanted the highlights, so the charcoal allowed to me experiment with ideas.
The first claw I was very happy with the highlight placement, so I burned in the claw.
I got the second claw burned in and then started working on the ground. I had absolutely no idea of what to do here so I filled it with light brown color and added “bark” texture over it.
Having finally decided on the highlight location for the last claw, I burned it in and the cast shadow to the right of it.
here’s how the artwork looks up to this point. The remaining items I still need to burn in are the left legs, the tail, and the rest of the ground.
The back left leg was the next thing I started on.
I didn’t put near as much detail on the back leg since it wouldn’t be as noticeable. Plus the lack of fine detail would push the leg further into the background.
Now I’m starting on the left forearm and it was at this point where I had a gremlin infestation and lost all of the remaining video for this project.
Here’s the artwork at the point where I lost video.
In this photo I got the legs and the ground burned in and I still have the tail to do. The pencil lines for the tail have been burned in, but that’s it.
Now the wood burning portion of the artwork is done. I want to point out how the moon is not that noticeable in this photo, but that’s going to change very soon.
I covered the entire artwork with airbrush frisket and then cut away the frisket until only the moon and Zinogre were covered. The frisket is making Zinogre seem like the photo is not in focus.
With Zinogre and the moon protected, I airbrushed color onto the background. I used several different translucent blues for the sky. I applied the paint in a large circular motion and added darker streaks to give movement to the sky. The darker streaks were created by adding a small touch of black to the blue paint.
The ground was covered with a brown color and then I added some smoke to the mixture for the shadows under Zinogre.
Here is the artwork after I removed the frisket.
The frisket pulled up easily and cleanly except one semi-small spot on the mouth. For some reason a piece of wood came free here, but I was able to easy wood burn over that.
I want to share this before/after picture with you. I love to look at how contrast can alter the way something looks. On the left the background is pale wood and the dark areas, like the chest and shoulder, really stand out on the monster. After the background was burned in, the moon and the pale fur really stand out.
I will admit that I probably should have taken the time to burn over a few areas and reduce the contrast, but I didn’t. Mostly I wanted to finish this piece as I had spent a little over 37 hours on it so far.
The last thing I did was add a little titanium white to the blue I used on the sky and airbrushed lightning.
I extended the lightning down into the forearm area.
And I added a blue-ish glow to the eye. I had debated with myself about adding color to the moon, but in the end I didn’t. I’m still unsure if I made the best decision in that regard.
Below is the before / after picture once I added the lightning.
The lightning helped with some of the contrast issues, but didn’t fix them all. I wasn’t about to burn over the airbrush work, so at this point I called it good enough and declared I was done with the project.
Well, Sarah loved the artwork. I don’t know if she was expecting it to be as large as I created it, but it will definitely be noticed on her wall. I would have to say that I enjoyed working on the project. It was fun to add my own touches to the subject. Whether or not I stayed true to the character’s basic form, I don’t know. I figure when you’re creating fan art, or any art, it’s ok to add personal touches. Like I’ve said in my tutorials, let your creativity show through.
Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently. This artwork was burned on Baltic Birch plywood that measures 21 x 19 inches (53.3 x 48.3 cm). It took me 37 3/4 hours to complete the artwork.
Until the next blog,
Dec 21, 2018
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