A Look at Captain Alfonse Wilhelm Petard
Updated: Apr 2
It's time for another personal acrylic portrait painting challenge! I've painted a number of lovely ladies, but for whatever reason, male cosplayers/reenactors haven't come my way to volunteer as models. Luckily, I have a blast from the past; old reenactment event photos to the rescue!
Conceptually, my reference image was not a terribly good one; kind of dark, blurry/grainy, but I adored the pose. To work around this, I used other image references from the day, as well as present-day photos of the model, particularly to get a good look at the eye color. Still, this was mega-tough. Is it black on black on brown gear? Beard hair? Yikes! So... one step at a time.
As with all my paintings, I color corrected the image as best as I could, then printed a black & white reference image so that I could see the tones - if I got that right, the rest would work itself out.
One of the special challenges I wanted to experiment with was alternative ways to create a blurred background. Trying an airbrush, I got the colors I wanted, as well as a speckled look that felt gritty - fitting for a captain! Sadly, I couldn't take photos of the process, as it was kind of hard to control an airbrush and a camera at the same time. Sorry!
Yes, it looks like a lot of black here, but when looking closely, it is really a mix of black, blue-black, and brown tones. I've been encouraged to limit how often out of the bottle black is used directly, so I mixed it myself from burnt umber and ultramarine blue. The beard also is a mix of brown, black, and grey. The alternate reference images gave guidance on the "true" color in full light, I had to incorporate that knowledge with totally different lighting.
This is definitely representational portrait art - maybe how I might represent him in the 16th century. But I'm content - especially in that I wanted to bring him out of the background brighter, including his sparkling eye. I hope you like it too!
Click on the arrows on the left and right sides below to see the progress of the painting to the final.