Frank Cho writes,
Though I share my cover painting process with you and the fans. This was for the Black Panther #2 variant cover.
Step 1 – I roughly sketched out the composition and figures for Black Panther #2 variant cover. I was surprised by how fully formed the idea was and how quickly I sketched out the image once I started drawing. I love the energy of this pencil sketch.
Step 2 – After I sketched out the figures. I decided to transfer the image onto a thick illustration board using charcoal paper. Once I copied the image onto the illustration board, I tweaked and tightened the pencil drawing more until I was satisfied. Then I inked the main figures in brown waterproof ink (Micron Pigma pen) in preparation for watercolors and acrylics.
Step 3 – Started blocking in the watercolor. I'm not too happy how things are turning out. Watercolor is one of the hardest art mediums to control. The colors are not blending as I wanted. The illustration board is so wet that it started curving up. Not happy at all.
Step 4 – Completely gave up on the watercolor. I switched to oil paint and changed the background to a dense jungle. I also blocked in the colors for the cats. I prefer oil paint above all color mediums. The colors are more vibrant and rich, and they blend easily. Unfortunately, the drying time is long and counterproductive if you're on a tight deadline. So I really thinned out the oil paint in refined linseed oil which will quicken the drying time if applied right.
Step 5 – Started defining the cats more, paying attention to the shadow and light areas. Also did another pass at Black Panther, layering in more blue and purple color and using burnt umber to outline the figure more. I'm still trying to figure out the tree shapes in the background. At this point, I'm walking without a safety net. I've done no color studies or using photo references. I'm just winging it as I go.
Step 6 – Did another pass at the painting with fresh eyes. The main focus was on the Black Panther figure. Since he's a very dark figure, I will need to lighten up the immediate background behind the figure to delineate him more.This whole process has been an education for me, realizing my limits as a painter.
Step 7 – I've completely redid the background trees, by reshaping the trees and adding textures and colors to them. I've made sure the whole piece has basic uniform light source by spotlighting the central Black Panther figure. Once the oil paint was dry, I varnished the painting with galkyd medium.