Where Isss It?!

I've got to say, I'm pretty excited for the new Hobbit teaser to come out today! I just saw this piece of mine was spoiled over on the Fantasy Flight Games website, so in the spirit of my hobbity mood, I figured I'd share it along with some of the preliminary and process work that went into it.

"Where Isss It?!"
This creepy creepy painting is a companion piece to my other Gollum painting (released earlier this year) for a new "Nightmare" deck expansion of FFG's Lord of the Rings card game. The goal: make Gollum look as terrifying as possible. He knows you (Bilbo) have stolen his ring and he is NOT pleased. I was actually really inspired by the terrifying androgynous old man thing at the end of the movie "Quarantine". Sure, he's fun to play riddle games with, but infect him with a zombie virus (or in this case, steal his precious) and he's likely to come at you with a hammer and lots of loose skin flapping in the wind.

As with all my paintings, I start with very very small thumbnail sketches to help me figure out the overall composition in miniature form. I decided to develop the top left and bottom middle from this page into rough sketches to show to the client.

They preferred the composition and feel of the top left sketch, with Gollum climbing out of his boat, getting ready to throttle his unwitting riddle buddy.

Since this painting would be just one of a total of three Gollum pieces (all being worked on at the same time), I decided that I needed a good "hero maquette" of his head so that he would look like the same character in any pose and under any lighting conditions. I've been experimenting a lot with Pixilogic's Sculptris program lately and decided this would be a good opportunity to put some 3D sculpting to use. I digitally sculpted this Gollum head in Sculptris and then lit and rendered the model in Blender. The advantage of doing a digital model for me is that I can play around with all kinds of lighting schemes and colors that I wouldn't be able to with a clay model in real life. And things can be edited on the fly much faster than with a physical model.

After gathering all my photo reference material, I set out to do the final painting! Here's a sort of step by step below.

In order to keep my shadow passages rich and transparent feeling, I initially paint everything in a deep brown tone, after which I'll paint cooler blue in with a layer set to "color" mode in Photoshop, or "colorize" mode in Corel Painter. After all the heavy lifting value planning and temperature relationships have been established, the rest of the process is basically just using opaque color to paint details and model the forms.