Painting A Lean Mean ’67 Chevy Camaro
I have done a bunch of caricature type artworks that pertain to muscle cars, hot rods and their owners. The above ’67 Camaro is one of my favorites. The color of the car was a challenge and I found the driver himself to be a fun subject to paint in regard to his tattoos. So let’s get going with how it all came together.
The Thumbnail Stage
Initially the person who commissioned the piece was the subject’s significant other. She got him to pose in a variety of 3/4 head shots that I could use as reference. A straight on shot is not very interesting, typically, and the more I have to work with the better. Usually the client wants to see the car from the side. Sometimes not, but that is usually how it plays out. I did several thumbnails with differing angles for the car. In the end, #4 was the one that I felt captured what it was I was going after. The layout is highly exaggerated but effective all the same in capturing the power of such a Muscle Car and allowing me a way to show that arm with the tats.
The Final Pencil
The making of the final pencil came together rather quickly. I had a solid interpretation of the car. It looks like it’s hurtling through space and almost out of control. I have the driver pretty well rendered as well. He works out so I made sure his guns were looking in tip top shape. The pencil done on an 8×10 rough Strathmore 4ply bristol. When it was approved it was time to move on to the coloring.
Putting Down The Color
Usually I do an underpainting with Ivory Black and then put the color on top of that in transparent wash. In this case I opted out of doing that because I felt pretty confident in how I was going to put it all together with the gouache . Using the whites of the paper I would apply the color sort of like I would water color. This means I would allow the white surface of the bristol paper make the color pop. Which it will if applied thinly and not opaquely.
Because I had a pretty clear direction in how I would put together the face and figure I did it first. I just started applying thin washes of paint and building on top of each layer as the previous one dried. In some areas I would add more paint and mix it into a semi wet area so that it could be blended. The cheeks and nose are an example. Once the skin colors were pretty much set I started in on the arm tattoos. The reason I was really excited to paint the tattoos was because in place of what was actually inked into his arm I would instead put in items that related to the Camaro itself. And in doing so make a much stronger overall statement about the car and driver depicted in the artwork.
Once all of that was pretty well fixed I decided to move on to getting the Camaro itself built up in color. Once I had that set I could make better decision on how to finish the driver. At this point I still wasn’t sure what color to make the shirt and any other tweaks that would be needed to make it look done.
Painting The Car
This Camaro has a really unique pale green paint application. I’m not sure how to describe it. And I wish I could tell you exactly which I colors I used to get to the color I thought best captured what the photos where showing me. I factored in that there would be reflections from the outside environment and here again allowed the white of the paper to work for me in getting those cut out as well in the painting.
Once I had a the color I was happy with I started applying it in layers just like I did with driver. I had to decide from the start where the lighter areas would be versus the darker shapes. I wanted the car to look like it was outside in the open air and was reflecting, although in a nondescript manner, what was around it. As I put in the color of the body I also was painting the front end and adding paint to the tires as well.
As the car took shape I was able to jump around to whatever area needed attention. And it came together rather quickly.
Putting In The Sky Shape
Next up, now that the foreground shapes are pretty well established, it was time to put in some kind of background treatment. I wanted an abstract shape to be put in that would represent the sky. Something loose and simple I felt would work best. I wanted the darker values of the color to stay at the top and gradually get lighter as it descended. Just like in nature.
I turned the illustration upside down, at an angle on my drawing table, so the darker color wouldn’t drift into an area it wasn’t intended to.
I added a patch of blue color to the lower right to anchor the piece a bit and that was basically it other than adding some airbrush paint here and there. A shot of gray was applied to the wind shield to give it a proper look. As well in the dust cloud so it looked more atmospheric. At this point I thought a simple dark color applied to the shirt area on the figure would work well.
And that was that. Sometimes they are more involved for whatever reason. This particular piece came together pretty easily and it looks like I had fun with it. The way that all good art should look I suppose. Until next time.