The Making of Spirits of the Zodiac

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.64″ custom_padding=”"0px|||"” inner_width=”auto” inner_max_width=”1920px”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.64″ use_custom_width=”on” width_unit=”off” custom_width_percent=”100%” custom_margin=”0px|||” custom_padding=”0px|||” custom_css_main_element=”width:100% !important;” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” background_size=”initial” width=”100%” max_width=”100%”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ background_position=”top_left” custom_padding__hover=”|||” custom_padding=”|||”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.71″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” border_style=”solid” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” background_size=”initial”]

I was recently invited by Thumbprint gallery to display art at Subterranean Coffee from September 2nd-24th. Check out my instagram for a look at my art on the wall at Subterranean.

I thought I’d make a sort of ‘behind-the-scenes’ post about how I created this zodiac art. This was sort of a new art process for me, and I see things that I could improve on, but I enjoy how it all turned out.

Virgo Test Piece
Testing all different mediums on this Virgo – different black inks, gold paints, gold leaf, pens, pencils, etc.

Overall, I took about a month and a half to complete these 12 zodiac pieces. The gallery sent me the invitation in June and, at the time, I was still working on Comic Con art for the end of July… so maybe I could’ve finished sooner, but I tend to forget the time when I’m making art. hehe..

So it all starts with sketches! I opted to do all my sketching and drawing on my Wacom Cintiq tablet because I love having the ability to easily redraw or trace over lines without erasing a hole into your paper. Having infinite Undo definitely helps me feel more free to quickly try new lines and compositions.

Aquarius inital sketch
Initial sketch for Aquarius
Final line art with gold coloring for aquarius
Final line art for Aquarius with gold colored in.

After getting my final line art completed, I move on to coloring. Simple, flat, digital coloring helps me see the overall composition of colors before committing to ink and paints. Plus, it also served as a good base color to better saturate my final ink/paint colors.

Wacom Cintiq tablet Photoshop coloring
Coloring in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq tablet

Once the digital coloring is complete, I printed them out on my inkjet printer using a heavy weight paper. I figured the thicker paper would help maintain a smooth surface for when I mount these to wood panels. I found these Premier Artist Panels from Dick Blick that were not too thick (size 8×10″ at 3/8″ thick) and had a pre-cut keyhole slot in the back. This was great because it saved me from worrying about hanging hardware.

I bought a couple different sizes as backups

I used gold spray paint to cover the edges of each board. I love that it looks like a story-book with edge-gilded pages. Plus, it gives the boards a little extra layer of protection against environmental effects.

A couple big cardboard boxes help contain the overspray.

Once the gold was dry, I glued each print to the board using Neutral PH Adhesive. I marked the corners of the print on the back using a window for back-light. The corner marks help me know where to place the board on the paper. Then, I pressed out any air bubbles I could feel with my hands and left them to dry under the weight of some magazines. I just waited until the next day for the glue to be completely dry before cutting off the edges of the paper so they were flush with the board.

Maximizing the flat surfaces in my tiny studio apartment with paper cups!

Now comes the fun part of painting in the sparkly black ink and gold paint! I used a Spectrum Noir Sparkle Brush Pen in Black Onyx mixed with some Black Cat Waterproof India Ink to get my perfect sparkly black. I found the brush pen a bit too blue-black and a bit too dense with glitter. Also, this particular India ink is rather watery and not very opaque. So mixing these together over my grayish inkjet print created a nice rich black with a more subtle amount of sparkle.

Blick Black Cat Waterproof India Ink & a Spectrum Noir brush pen in Black Onyx. I mixed these two inks into a little vial and tested the glitter coverage in swatches.

I also used this Jacquard Pearl Ex Powdered Pigment in Brilliant Gold mixed with Liquitex Acrylic Gloss Medium. I think I could’ve just used any gold acrylic paint, but I think the gloss helps this particular gold become a bit more shiny than the other just shimmery gold paints I found.

Pearl Ex Gold Pigment and Liquitex Gloss Medium

Once the black and gold parts were filled in and dry, I used some pencils to draw in more details and shading. As an added touch, I used imitation gold leaf for the constellations, brushing super small gold flakes and dust into the lines.

Gold leaf flakes in the constellation and a little pencil shading

To finish, I sprayed a light coating of Golden Archival Varnish in Satin over each piece. This extra layer will help conserve the imitation gold leaf and give these pieces an overall protection against UV light/dirt/moisture damage. The final step was writing and affixing a label to the back using black paper and a gold paint pen.

Black diamond labels with gold paint pen lettering glued to the back of each piece.

Bye Bye Spirit Friends!

If you made it to the end of this looong post, hooray!! You’re an excellent person!!! haha! Thanks for sticking with me! Leave me a like and comment so I can fully appreciate you over here on Facebook. 🙂

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_post_nav _builder_version=”3.0.64″ in_same_term=”on” hide_prev=”off” hide_next=”off” border_style=”solid” show_prev=”on” show_next=”on” /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]