Netherworld Arcade Mural (Part 3- THE GRAND FINALE!!!)


Welcome to the final instalment of how to become half-demon (the above guy is basically a self-portrait) by spending three weeks doing little else but painting a million frickin monsters on a giant wall for the Netherworld Arcade guys. What a dream. For a kickoff I'd really recommend checking out the other two posts below, otherwise this won't make much sense.

Right so with the basis of the monsters beginning to be sort-of-but-not-really fully realised, I decided to drop everything and start filling in the background and sky for a couple reasons. Firstly, I wasn't sure how my vision of the colours was going to work with the monsters and it suddenly occurred to me -with deadline looming - if the background colours didn't work well then it would be a pretty massive screw up to reconfigure. Also the characters and monsters I'd added in to fill space overlapped with the background (and foreground) quite a bit and I thought I'd save a bit of time here by loosely applying the purples and blues rather than meticulously painting around them. This is exactly the problem I was trying to avoid as specified in the second article, but I really had no choice. I figured it was better to block in the colours and then fix up the details of the monsters after the matter. I've tried to capture the issue I am talking about in the image below (ie the bits still uncoloured) ...

So If I get all whingy and emotional in the next bit please forgive me, but honestly, doing the sky in particular was a real, real, REAL pain in the butt, though I am happy with how it turned out! So. Spray paint. I usually loathe the stuff unless it's for bluffs of that airbrush effect or bulk filling in big areas - I just am just no good at using it and it utterly lack the skill to control it. THAT SAID, it quickly became evident I was going to need it in the work. The sky I had in mind was a big swirling vortex, but I needed to dark colour behind it first. My idea here was to actually make the best of the cruddy/watery dark purple (see last post for details)  and use it as my base coat for the sky, which I did in loose swirly blotches (below). From here I applied two different purples with spray cans to give it that cloudy, whispy look that I thought worked well, but just lacked punch so I then went in with brushes and filled up the sky in very much the same way I had built up the monsters. Again onlookers were a bit perplexed at this point , but I had an ace up my sleeve...but more on that later. Below is an early snap of the sky in progress.

"Hey what's all that blue stuff?!" I might hear you asking. "You skipped a bit, what gives..." Well, you're right. The reason is I was trying to put off talking about the blue stuff, cause it ended up being the most annoying part of the whole picture. I couldn't quite get the tones and colours right and dark blues were just simply the pits in terms of coverage. I ended up going through four cans of ultramarine to bulk up the area for a kick off, but again the spray-paint looked blotchy and gave it a texture I did not want here (note the difference from the sky). Unfortunately there was no easy way out and I pretty much was forced to three and even up to five-tone build the blue foreground areas with smaller brushes in order to bulk it up and give it the "rocky" appearance. Again it was one of those things where an artist battles with their materials, is losing the whole time, is about to stab themselves with any implement available and then things come together right at the and and it's almost surprising when it looks ace. I'm glad with how the blue rocks wound up and it's colour is really bright and yet subdued (an oxymoron I know) in the flesh. Another thing that was crucial, was the lighting. No matter how abstract or absurd an image is, a little bit of realism when it comes to lighting really helps add a believability to the image, especially in the backgrounds. Because I chose to apply different light to each rock formation, I really think it help the end product.

And so, about that Ace...the vortex! I wanted the vortex to have a lightning bolt laden twister thingy coming out of it. It really made the piece. Without it, I think the image would have been a little empty. This is where you need to organise your ideas and pocket ones. Its only experience and instinct that implore you to keep the best ideas vivid in your mind. A lot of trust is needed within yourself to handle these ideas. In truth the vortex was the first idea I had for the whole project and it wasn't really possible to communicate its end result, so just work on being passionate about certain things you know can't be left behind. Above is an early image of the first phase of this going down, before I went and blocked in the outline of the blue rocks with a final pass, which also helped make the image pop. The lightning itself was a process of using a build from deep purple to lemon yellow in a way that gave it a physical presence (sense a pattern here?). It was very much an adlib kind of thing that you need to paint and repaint until it is right. Oce the vortex was completed I went and did a final gap-filling/detail pass on each of the monsters, tightening and bouncing highlights as some looked a bit dull with the rocks and sky in full swing. Below is an example of the pink werewolf after that process (Note even at this point I was still filling in areas of background as I wasn't sure how bright to make it). I only stayed with medium sized brushes as they dealt well with the wall and I figured most people would only be viewing it from at least a metre away. Painstakingly filling in the detail at this point would've been time suicide and probably not worth it. 

And so you have it! It was a massive undertaking, but it was a million times worth it and I was stoked to be a part of what I'm sure will become an icon for Brisbane venues in Brisbane. A huge thanks to the guys at Netherworld Arcade, you are mega legends. If you ever have specific questions or queries on how I handled certain areas just leave me a message here, email me or FB message me. I'm more than happy to wax lyrical about the craft :-)

Thanks for reading! Below is me with my buddies...

Jon .8.