I’ve had this crazy itch lately to draw a few really insane posters. My kids and I loved Infinity War and I knew I wanted one of them to be a huge pile-on fight between the Avengers and Thanos. I set down a few rules for myself, that I would try to include as many Avengers characters as I could fit on the piece. That it had to be one single moment from a fight between the Titan and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and that it would be 18x24 in size to fit on an 18x24 sized poster. I also knew I’d do it digitally so I could put characters on different layers if need be and do some different effects later on. With those rules in place I decided also I wanted to do a follow-along post so that you could see my work on the piece each day of it’s creation. So here goes.

DAY ONE

I always start off each drawing or page with a thumbnail. Unlike some people who like to really solve alot of problems in the thumbnail stage I have very little patience. I like to use the thumbnail stage as more of a way to ideate the story in my head. Just get down enough that I know what is happening. I don’t want to nail down the entire drawing, because it takes away the fun of being open to happy accidents and discovery. In this thumbnail I’m trying to capture a gesture of what I have in my mind. The idea that was swirling in my brainpan was very simple. Thanos really large in the middle fending off the Avengers as they try to pile on and take him down. I wanted it to feel as if it’s a frozen moment in time, that the next moment could spell victory or doom for our heroes.

Some things to note in this thumbnail: I had Thor’s arm and hammer being being held in a vice grip by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, the Hulk being crushed underfoot, Captain America being knocked back after Thanos uses Iron Man as a baseball bat, Ant Man would be flying in from the top and other heroes gathered about.

I transferred the thumbnail to a photoshop document and sarted rough drawing in the figures over the thumbnail. At this stage I made quite a few changes. The first was that I flipped the entire canvas. Typically heroes enter from the left to the right and villians enter from the right to the left. It’s entirely a western concept, since our eyes naturally flow from left to right top to bottom. So I wanted Thanos to be facing to the left. It also solved the problem of his Infinity Gauntlet being on the wrong hand in the sketch. I also changed Captain America. Instead of having him being knocked out I had him running in. I also changed Thor to throwing his hammer at Thanos rather than being held in the arm in an awkward way.

Some other things to note: I started drawing in Rocket Racoon and Grooth in the background but I think I’ll drop them, as I want this to be soley Avengers. I also had Spidey swinging underneath Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet, but may change that. I’ll draw it but it seems a little awkward at the moment.

You can see in this version I’ve started fleshing out the structure of some of the characters I’m pleased with. Thor was the last one that I was able to tackle before I had to call it a night. But really enjoying his face and Black Panthers neckline. Thanos works well as a centerpoint and I can’t wait to get to drawing Hulks face being smashed into the ground. Stay tuned tomorrow as I reveal more work that’s being done.

DAY TWO

Day two started off strong. I already had a good start on this piece and just kept going with the layout. The first big decision I made was that I wanted Hawkeye in the piece but just wasn’t sure where I was going to fit him. I was just doodling ideas on the page and came up with the idea of placing him in the foreground alongside Cap. This worked out really well and, although he covers up quite a bit of Thor in the piece it adds a huge layer of dimensionality to it. One of the things I really wanted here was a sense of space. I didn’t want all the characters to look like they were coming in on a single plane but rather exist in a three dimensional space.

After I worked out Hawkeye I made some adjustments to Captain America and decided I liked the idea of him throwing his shield. I’m not sure I’m sold on the shield placement yet but overall it works. I also needed to add Black Widow but again didn’t want her leaping into the air randomly as she can’t fly,… then it hit me. The idea of having Ant Man large instead of small. Originally I had envisioned Ant Man flying in on some bees but drawing him as literally part of the background really tied the whole piece together visually for me. It also had the added benefit of giving Black Widow a platform to interact with. Having characters interact is always a great moment.

Lastly I fleshed out Dr. Strange a bit more as well and just knew I was going to have a blast inking the Sorcerer Supreme when it came time to ink the piece.

Some things to note in this thumbnail: I had Thor’s arm and hammer being being held in a vice grip by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, the Hulk being crushed underfoot, Captain America being knocked back after Thanos uses Iron Man as a baseball bat, Ant Man would be flying in from the top and other heroes gathered about.

Here you can see that I’ve set my lines to blueline and started inking. I encountered a rough patch to begin with as for some reason my Wacom tablet was giving me some really janky lines. I had recently inked a piece with the same Wacom, same brush, on my laptop and it came out wonderfully. I was getting really great lines. But on my desktop setup it was just not working well at all. I couldn’t explain it. So I updated the driver and by the end of my inking session it was working much better. There are some places that I may go back and reink (much easier with the Wacom than doing it by hand) but the finished black and white artwork is starting to take shape.

Stay tuned for tomorrow as hopefully the inks will be close to finished.

DAY THREE

Day three as promised the inks are done. Something I set out for myself was to make sure that this piece was over the top. I wanted a huge knock down drag out fight of fun and I think I pulled it off. I struggled a bit at the beginning of Day three with the inks as I was trying to draw line first then add shadow as I normally do, but found that by drawing shadow first and then adding line the inks came together much quicker. I didn’t put much rendering on Ant/Giant Man as I knew when I go to color I wanted him to fade back a bit and would let the color handle his dimensionality. Regardless I’m pretty pleased with the inks and will be adding color over the next few days.

DAY FOUR

So we’re finally into the colors on Day Four. I honestly thought I’d only have time to do the flat colors as I had a set of sketches to do for another project but ended up getting those done and jumping back into it. I was able to start really pulling the piece together color wise. There are still quite a few decisions to make and I’ve not even begun to touch highlights (which is where things will really start to pop) or any special effects but I’m at the point where any huge variations will be happy accidents. I’m currently adding hard cut shadows and gradients for volume but I don’t expect it to be drastically different color selection wise.

DAY FIVE – FINAL

So we get to the final day. The finished piece. I don’t normally take five days to do a piece but this one was complex, had lots of moving parts so to speak and I wanted to make sure it turned out how I wanted it to turn out. All of that happened. The image tells a story, looks good and I’m not left with any shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. The only downside is that I had to put aside some of my Moon Hunters work to get it done. But it was fun and now I’m back to the drawing board with my other projects.

On this last day I mostly finished the shadow hard cuts, added a few more gradients here and there and added highlights. I then ran it past my field test and showed it on social media and got a couple pieces of feedback and added some last minute motion blurs to Caps shield and Thors hammer. Aside from that it was all just making decisions and going with my gut. And that as we say is that.

My next big fan art piece will probably be a Stranger Things piece similar in size and scope to this one. My daughter loves Stranger Things and she and I are on our third or fourth watching of season two. So for her, I’ll put Eleven and the gang on my list of to do’s.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this day by day update idea.

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