This here is the second commission I painted for another one of our highest paying backers in our Tarot campaign. This time it was for my pal Saxon a.k.a. ‘Super Inframan’ who has joined me and Seriah in many roundtable recordings for Where Did the Road Go?
As his nickname implies, my friend is a big fan of the 1975 Hong Kong action movie “The Super Inframan,” and hence requested an artwork he could use as an avatar in social media —and here I have to confess that until he explained his nickname came from an actual movie, I did not know there was a Chinese precursor to The Power Rangers.
Inspired by the cheesiness of this flick, I sought to make the artwork look as if it was from an original low-budget 1970’s movie poster; meaning that instead of making it look like a super clean digital illustration, I wanted to use ‘messy’ brushes that simulated real paint, and use an approach that was less realistic with regards to the reflections and shadows, but more emotionally interesting.
I also took this opportunity as a chance to practice using the Clip Studio Paint app, instead of my usual ‘weapon of choice’ (Sketchbook). Clip Studio Paint, for those not familiar with it, is a Japanese painting application that is highly favored by amateur and professional artists.
I’d purchased the pro version for my Windows laptop some time ago during a Thanksgiving sale, but during the production of the Tarot card I’d only used it occasionally to create reference 3d models and such. CSP is a very powerful application but the learning curve is VERY steep and I felt quite intimidated by it; especially since I was already so familiar and comfortable working on Sketchbook, which I’d been using for more than 7 years.
Still, there’s no room for growth if you’re not willing to learn new things. So after watching several video tutorials and reading the instruction manual, I began to play around with the app. The first thing I noticed is that I was forced to change my desk layout by positioning my laptop close to my left hand, so I could type in the command shortcuts with the keyboard —the buttons in my Huion tablet were not as useful as with working Sketchbook for some reason, and I wonder if other artists use a separate keyboard if they have a bigger setup.
I also discovered the ‘logic’ of the brushes is quite different, even though apparently CSP allows you to control many characteristics in how the paint behaves —too many, in fact!
But the beauty in CSP lies in its superior selection tools, and the way you can work with the layers. Masking and selecting things so you can work on specific portions of the canvas is far better than in Sketchbook, and one of the main reasons I wanted to try this app. Having said that, I gotta say I still feel very uncomfortable with their rulers (especially the perspective ones) and during the production of this commission I greatly missed how with Sketchbook it is far easier to create perfect circles and ellipses just by using the predictive stroke feature —the one that compensates for the ‘shakiness’ of your hand and allows you to draw cleaner lines.
There are many other advantages in this painting app, and despite the fact I’m still very unfamiliar with it, and finishing this illustration took me probably 50% longer than what it would have taken had I used Sketchbook instead, I definitely want to keep using it in the future.
Oh, I almost forgot about the flying saucer! Saxon/Super Inframan thought it would be a fun idea to include Bob Lazar’s ‘sports model’ disk —the one he supposedly worked on while he was part of the ‘alien reverse engineering’ program at Area 51.
I (almost) never say No to a client, but since just putting the saucer in the background felt kind of dull, I thought instead of having my Super Inframan lifting it with his arms —I guess I forgot to mention that our Chinese super hero is also capable of increasing his size, just like Japan’s Ultraman (what a shocking coincidence, right?)
After I finished the commission I showed it to Saxon, who was very happy with it —especially when I explained to him that according to the Google translator, 大假！means “Big Fake!” in Chinese, which I think is a nice gag that works in many levels 😉