OK, I know I normally review art books, but let’s take a moment to examine something a bit different: Comic book art.
I am not a huge fan of comics. The stories all alike. Kid gets bitten by radioactive critter of some kind, develops ability to fly or something, defeats disfigured villain. OK, whatever. What attracts me to comic books is the artwork. And one of the best artists is a guy named Alex Ross. And Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, is a great collection of his best work.
His are is not the usual black outlines filled with garish color and extreme perspective. This guy paints his comics. His images are executed in watercolor, in a photorealistic style. Tightly rendered faces, detailed backgrounds and a strong contrast between light and dark give his images an intensity that’s nearly cinematic. It is like you are looking at stills of some yet-to-be made Hollywood movie.
Mythology contains tons of full color pictures of Ross’ work, covering everything from pencil sketches, to storyboards, to finished paintings. And plenty of superheroes, many of which I had never even heard of.
While this book is about Ross’s art, not about how he creates it, there is a short chapter on his process. He starts with photographs of friends dressed in superhero costumes, with lighting and camera angles set up to reflect the perspective of the final image. From those photos, he creates preliminary pencil and ink drawings to design the final painting. The finished piece is created with transparent watercolors and opaque gouache, in a technique that is something like the grisaille method of the Old Masters. He first paints a fully-rendered black and white image, then paints over it with color. The color mixes with and displaces the black and gray, softening the edges and creating a nuanced final painting.
He makes it look easy, but I have tried to replicate his technique, and just wound up with brown mush.
You don’t have to be a fan of comic books to appreciate the artistry in Alex Ross’s work. Even without the word bubbles, it speaks for itself.
Chris York is a noted artist and proprietor of Art Instruction Books.com, a resource for sales and reviews of art instruction books.
does this watercolor set look good?
is there an art set that includes both watercolor paints and pencils? what are the best?
it’s worth it 🙂
Justin Gerard’s Watercolor Brush Set Demo
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