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May 27th
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Home Art Art Gallery Anatomy of a Portrait: Darth Maul
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Anatomy of a Portrait: Darth Maul

coyote_duran_art01Hey there, Howlers! As some of you might already know, I like to act as if I know what I’m doing with the paints and the pencils and whatnot. But every once in a while, I learn a thing or two! As one of my influences, Alex Ross, did in a special issue of “Wizard: The Comics Magazine” with “Basic Training” (a sweet-ass gouache watercolor of The Joker and Harley Quinn) 10 years ago, I’m doing now with something I like to call “Anatomy of a Portrait: Darth Maul.” It’s nothing too terribly technical but it’s just something I wanted to share with anyone who wonders how I do what I do when I’m not confusing readers with my writing.

It started with an idea to do a “tune-up” painting –kind of a fun, little practice work between paintings of fighters- and spiraled into a serious undertaking. It wasn’t intended to and that’s why I chose what I figured would be a simpler subject with a striking recognizable presence in the Sith from “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.” However, from the beginning, I wanted to catalog the steps and, thank Mother Earth, I think it turned out pretty keen. So read on, Howlers! I hope you dig “Anatomy”! At the least, I hope it’s pretty entertaining!

1. Roughing it out…


Just for sh*ts and giggles, I broke out some 12" X 16" canvas panels I forgot I had and started what I call a "tune-up" painting. I've always wanted to render a Darth Maul acrylic so I found a good photo reference in some picture book I had in my book collection and went for it. This is right about half-way through the sketch. Sorry 'bout the crappy lighting and quality...


2. Just face it…


Here, I did some pencil (2H hardness) fill-ins to establish where my lighter blacks are going. This piece is kind funny because, normally, I'll work on straight facial features first. Here, I had to work from Maul's markings to establish facial feature distance (you know...eyes, nose, mouth, etc...). Another interesting thing is that Maul has hardly any symmetry in his markings because they're an actual physical trait (Him being Iridonian and having Sith tattoos...). You can fudge a little bit, but not much!...


3. Getting hammered!...


Here, the darks are somewhat "hammered" in. In the next photo, I'll have started on a little shadowing to establish the actual facial form (bridge of nose, cheeks, etc...) as well as tweaking any mistakes I catch with fresh eyes...


4. Up close and personal…


This is a scan of my penciled work-in-progress of Maul. At the time, I still hadn't decided whether or not I'd have him bare that jacked-up grill of his but I DID know I had to get a small horn in above his left ear. I had to figure it all out before I started laying down my paint! Aside of his face and the partial show of Maul's neck, he'll be entirely surrounded in black.


5. Color me a “Sithhead”…


Here, I laid down the basic colors just to section off detail with a 3 sable brush to tighten things up. I threw down a single-layer of black to establish the edge of Maul's head. After I tightened the detail a speck, I moved in to the pale, pus-colored yellows that make up Maul's horns and eyes.


6. Pink and plum?!...I thought this guy was an ass-kicker…


So here, we have more color established. I pinked out some of my red mixture and added the highlights to your left of Maul's face. I had a deep plum hybrid from one of my last projects and incorporated a little black into it for the more shadowy areas. Now those aren't done yet in this photo! I had to introduce a deeper red in order to bring things together on your right of Maul's face. As you can see, I dropped a guide of color to Maul's eyes and kicked in a little bordering of black as well as a base for his horns. In the next photo, you'll see more subtle-yet-shaping tones in the face, horns and eyes as well.


7. To everything, tone, tone, tone…


Alrighty, here I've kicked in a black background, threw in more highlights, colored in Maul's right ear (needs reinforcing and detailing), lightly detailed the horns and established some gray tones where the front of his robe should slightly open. Guess what? I'm still not done! Stay with me, Howlers...It's gettin' groovy. :)


8. Ooooooohhh…shiny!...


...And here it is! Tiny little bits detailed, finished, signed and sealed in gloss varnish. I apologize for the mediocre photo but, at the time, I didn’t have access to the large scanner I normally use for my art. :)


9. Arriving at the Maul…


And here it is...Your final image. Pretty okay for a tune-up painting, huh? Gives me ideas for other things I can do based on this close-up idea. And I definitely will work on canvas panels again! :) Hope you all enjoy (and the line forms RIGHT HERE for commissions...hint, hint...)!

Associate Editor Coyote Duran once considered becoming a Sith apprentice. He changed his mind once he found out the only ceremonial Sith title available was “Darth Brooks.” If you’d like to challenge Coyote to a double-headed paintbrush fight, please e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at and or drive by and holler “TREKKIE!” at him at Man, that’ll really piss him off…
But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

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CICi  - Darth Maul Artwork |
Nice work on the Darth Maul artwork.
Cindy Lund |
Excellent art instructions Mr. Duran. Thank you for sharing the details. I think I will try
Arthur Ball  - This is great. |
I really like this. I'm going to try and recreate it for a class i have at SCAD.
Ray the Grey  - Nice |
Very Nice.
david  - Excellence |
Awsome work, Awsome series.
Chris Guzman  - Artist, Teacher, Beer Enthusiast |
Incredibly bad ass, Coyote! What an outstanding talent you have. . . .I can't wait to see where this takes you. . . . keep up the good work, my friend!
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