Over the past two weeks we have invited you to look in more detail at what goes on behind the scenes of new series Combat. First, Commissioning Editor Nick told us how excited he was by the revolutionary artwork, then last week the original sketches started to come alive with colour. Now, the artwork nears completion...
'Two of the Rebel companies are rather pale in colour. White shirts and grey tunics, both could have been designed as camouflage on a smoky battlefield and when I reached the ‘atmospherics’ the smoky elements added with the airbrush, I was very much aware that I could lose them and spent a lot of time increasing contrasts and then adding more smoke. The studio photographs of the work in progress tell their own story.
The last thing I finished was the hand of the viewer with the musket. This had somehow to place the reader in the scene. As soon as it was there though I could understand that whereas on a computer screen the weapon is still against a moving background and immediately establishes itself as belonging to the player, here it could not. Hmmm. I add more contrast to try and bring the weapon forward in the picture plane but I think I’ll just have to accept that In this case, that effect won’t hit the viewer immediately.
At last the painting was ready to be seen by the author and the editor, but before I sent it I treated myself to a period of rest from that one and work on the split page painting which is more straightforward as an illustration. It’s always good to have a spell away from something so you can see it with a fresher eye on your return.
After some tweaking[ I’m an inveterate tweaker] I sent a photograph of the picture to Ron.
Ron’s thoughts came in a series of waves. He reminded me that some of the Zouaves had shaved their heads – I’d not forgotten that but clearly I’d allowed them too much growth time and set to work establishing some grey stubbly hairlines. I’d misunderstood the officer’s coat refs and either needed to make him a major – with oak leaves instead of bars on the shoulder tab – or make his coat single-breasted. Not a difficult decision to make for me!
Deeper suntans for the men, quatrefoil decoration on the officer’s kepi , some battlefield litter and a general mucking up of the red shirts completed the first list. Then Ron remembered that the mounted officer should not be Stonewall Jackson himself as he had seriously disapproved of the Virginian’s impulsive charge. So I unstonewalled the officer.
Ron then discovered that the Virginian state flag hadn’t yet been issued to the regiment, could I make it the first national flag – 11 stars? For some reason I got 13 stars fixed in my head – probably from memories of the first union flag, so I repainted it… twice.
As I write this it’s been quiet for a few days now – I’d better get the artwork in the post to Nick...'
Thanks Peter. Don't forget, you can see the upcoming books (and their release dates) here.