Tiger women WIP painting

Work in progress of a recent commission for DAMN Magazine. The subject is ‘Tiger women” who inhabit a jungle environment on the front cover and a great snake on the back cover. The whole is to be painted as one picture using acrylics and washes on stretched watercolor paper. The paper will rumple when I apply the paint so I have to soak it, staple it down onto a piece of plywood and then let it dry before I start painting.


We start with a pencil sketch on stretched watercolor paper. When printed, the front and back cover will be split down the middle. Details are to include a tall, tower-like temple structure and a thick jungle. This is the pencil underdrawing which is ~80% done. With sketches to figure out the layout, etc., this represents 4 to 6 hours so far.


Once the pencil is complete and I am sure I have all the details where I want them, I start working in thinner washes of color. I think this is probably the most critical part of the painting… normally I grow impatient and want to dive in and start painting whatever I find more interesting, but when I do so I usually end up screwing it up. Through experience, I’ve decided I get better results if I start working the overall painting first, trying to work in shadow areas and the background gradually and building up layers of color. I’m guessing we are at eight or nine hours so far.


Once I have the first layers of background and environment done, I can start working on the figures and other elements. I don’t have lots of specific rules as to the order I work on things, but I like working cool colors into shadow areas in order to give it a more atmospheric effect and I have had more success in layers darker colors over lighter ones rather than vice-versa. In addition, foreground elements get a shorter edge and outline and greater contrast than background elements.


I’m reaching the point where everything has at least some paint on it. One of the obvious advantages to painting the ‘tiger women’ after I paint the trees and plants they are standing in front of is that I can get a crisper edge on the foreground figures that helps them feel more defined. I’m liking the way the orange figures are looking against the green of the forest but think the tiger women of the front cover and the giant snake of the back cover are too similar in color so I want to fix that… I want to make them “the same but different.” I’ve been working on the painting for around 15 hours at this point.

Tigerwomen cover 72dpi

The final painting in a good quality scan. Previous images were just photos taken with my mobile phone (I can’t scan the painting while it is attached to the plywood), so the colors in previous photos are are not as vibrant. I went over the snake with a thin wash of yellow… I think it looks much better. The last hour or so is spent on going over it and fixing little things or using various shades of white, blue and brown to pick out shadows and highlight areas. The treatment of the temple/tower is ‘just about right’ at this point in my opinion and I have to remind myself not to work on it too much… I feel like it currently has just the right amount of detail… too much more and it will compete too much with more foreground elements. My favorite part is probably the way those twisty tree trunks frame the temple. The last thing I do is add my initials to the lower RH corner. In total I probably spent about 20 hours total on this from start to finish.


One Comment on “Tiger women WIP painting”

  1. Well worth the 20 hours, I’d say!

Leave a Reply