Quick break from the usual cryptoart. I’ve been really getting into Doom Patrol recently, a TV show about a dysfunctional group of bizarro superheroes from the DC extended universe. I read some of the original comics back in the 90s, but not really enough to form any real affinity to the team.
The show (which premiered in February) is uneven and a little clumsy at times, but I really enjoy how utterly weird everything about it is. It cares very little about whether you think any of its characters are cool or bad-ass, and instead often goes out of its way to make everything look slightly janky. The only other show I can think of that has a similar vibe is the short-lived Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, based on the classic work of Douglas Adams.
I had a lot of fun putting this illustration together, so much so that I documented the steps below. (As with most of the recent stuff, I used Procreate on a 2018 iPad Pro for the entire process.)
Construction lines, for proportions and layout. This usually takes about 15-30 minutes of quick sketching and repositioning. The point is not to be accurate with the characters but to get their relative positions and sizes in the frame correct before penciling in more detail.
Pencil details. I’m actually a really lazy sketcher because I know I’m gonna go back over it when I start laying down the final ink anyway. All I really want to do here is add enough detail to give myself hints about what everyone is doing.
Robotman (voiced in the show by Brendan Fraser) is the backbone of this piece, kinda in the same way that he’s the backbone of the team. He’s also the easiest to draw since it’s all just closed shapes and curves, and a ton of shadow work.
Cyborg and Elastigirl are next, because it was important that I get their positions right before any of the surrounding elements. Elastigirl was pretty easy — these are the types of comic poses that get written into your DNA as a comic book fan of the 90s. Cyborg meanwhile just needs to look like hes trying really hard to look important, which is how he’s frequently characterized on the show.
And now we do the inks for everybody else. (Conspicuously missing here are the Chief, and Negative Man’s energy form.) At this point I’m pretty much locked in to the layout … which is not to say that I didn’t leave room for changes. Every character is on a different ink layer so I could theoretically still move them around a bit if it turns out that they don’t fit for some reason. I used a bunch of layer masks to allow each individual ink layer to overlap without violating each other’s space.
Flat colors, so you can catch clashes as early as possible. In this case, you can see immediately that there’s some merging going on between Elastigirl’s dress and Cyborg’s jacket, but I eventually decided that aggressive shadowing would be enough to visually separate them. I added Negative Man’s energy form last because I was struggling with the rendering, but I think it ended up looking pretty decent, all things considered.
Other than serving as a good foundation for the rest of the process, the flat color layers also serve another purpose, as clipping mask guides. When you have a solid color area, like Elastigirl’s red dress for example, you can create a Clipping Mask layer above it that restricts all painting that you do to JUST that red dress. This allows you to do highlights and shadowing without fear of ever going over the boundaries of her dress, which is a huge timesaver!
Hope you all liked this piece!
As always, your donations help me to keep creating this stuff regularly, so if you liked this portrait, please consider supporting my work by sending some coins to any of the addresses below.