Above are the color and value sketches I used to work out big decisions. The first stage was to transfer my drawing to canvas and begin blocking in the shadows in acrylic brown paint. This is called an underpainting. The underpainting is the foundation of the darks and details of the painting. Acrylic drys fast and is easy to build up quickly.
Stage 2: The underpainting complete.
The underpainting or "Grisaille" is an old master painting technique used to lay a foundation for the painting. You can see in this photo that the overall lighting and values on the sword are blocked in.
Stage 3: The first oil glaze.
I painted the first glaze of oil paint using Liquin and thinner to wash in the oil colors. Liquin helps the oil to dry faster, usually overnight. Notice that the oil is thin enough that the acrylic underpainting shows through. I covered the whole canvas with this oil glaze and waited (usually 24 hrs or more for it to dry).
Stage 4: Build up the body color and background values.
Once the painting was dry, then I began building up paint in the background blocking-in the value and shapes of the clouds. The paint was getting a little thicker as I went but not thick enough to cover up the underpainting.
Stage 5: More background build-up.
I continued to build-up the background. Because I do sketches before hand, the main shapes and colors have already been planned out. If you jump into a painting without mapping out where you are going then the results can be a disaster. In this type of painting there is no undo key or crtl-z. Of course you can always use a rag and wipe it off and start over.
Stage 6: Background is blocked-in.
The background is completely blocked in. Now I moved on to the heart of the painting, which is the sword.
Stage 7: Start on the Sword.
Now I moved on to the sword, adding a layer of cool metal color. The warm underpainting shows through the overpainting. Oil is such a great painting medium. You can lay color down and move it around and blend it with other colors. Oil also has such a luminosity.
Stage 8: Adding detail to the hand.
I started working on the hand and continuing on the sword details. Notice how you can still see the underpainting in areas. I find that having the base detail underneath the oil sets up an easier method of putting detail in a painting. I main things I have to add on top of this underpainting were the overall color, pushing the darks darker, and painting the highlights.
Stage 9: Adding more detail to sword.
Now I was getting to all the fine jewels and details on the sword. The principlel I use is to lay the color glaze down, push the dark and then hit the highlights. If you look at the red jewel, I washed red over the jewel. Then I added shadow to it and then hit a highlight. That is the main process on each area of this painting.
Stage 10: Adding fine details to sword.
Here is a closeup of the detail work on the sword in process.
Stage 11: Finish details on sword.
Ok. Now I was ready to finish out the background and any final details.
Stage 12: Adding glow to sword and finishing up the painting.
I added glow to flame and highlighted the sword blade. Also I added a softer blue to the background and overlapping mist over the blade. This was a large painting: 30''x40''. It took me a month to complete.