Over the past two weeks, we've been invited into look at what goes on behind the scenes of new series Combat. First, Osprey illustrator Peter Dennis pitched his interpretation of how Combat should look, and last week Commissioning Editor Nick told us how excited he was by the revolutionary artwork. Now those sketches start to come alive with colour....
After much deliberation, the thumbs up came from editorial for both ideas; a ‘Behind the weapon’ battlescene and the horizontal split for the twin view layout, and I set to work.
I decided that the Bull Run painting should have the Zouaves as foreground for two reasons: firstly the red shirts would be better placed at the front of the composition, and secondly the Confederate Regiment was still dressed in its militia uniforms with each company differently dressed. So, I could feature three different outfits as described by Ron Field in his characteristically complete art brief.
I set the viewpoint as a second rank man in the rather chaotic Zouave line. An officer is shouting at the viewer and we see through the smoke the oncoming Virginians yelling like banshees. I drew the scene roughly, then modelled the key poses for my digital camera wearing my loosest shirt and baggiest trousers. I’ve accumulated a reasonable collection of weapons in my workroom - mostly deactivated rifles - but I don’t have a percussion rifle, so a repro flintlock musket had to stand in here.
Ron quickly gave me the go-ahead . I sometimes find that authors have difficulty in reading the contents of what can be a rather … er… scribbly pencil, and I’m not always confident enough to put a lot of time into a drawing that may need dramatic editorial revision - I’m not paid by the hour!
No such problems with a veteran Ospreyista like Ron though, and I fixed the pencil with a thin ink wash- a good opportunity to reconsider the drawing -and set to blocking in the foreground uniform colours with the airbrush. It can be tricky to get a good even wash with acrylic inks and the airbrush allows me to get an even mid-tone to work into with a brush. The work progresses in my normal foreground-to background manner.
Thanks Peter! That's all until next week, when we get to see the finished artwork...