Here is a new oil painting I just completed as a commission for a private client. I’ve included a step by step process. .

It starts with me doing a digital comp in photoshop. I can easily work out all of my compositional problems at this stage.

I then print out my image and grid it so that transfer to the large canvas is quicker and easier. I grid the canvas the same way and begin to transfer the drawing.

Ugh!! A blank canvas…such a long road ahead!

Beginning to draw in charcoal pencil. I use charcoal pencil so that I am able to produce details in the drawing. I like to get as much information in the drawing as possible before I start to paint. Notice the grid on the canvas.

Continuing on the drawing…

The finished rough sketch on the canvas. Although I want a fair amount of detail in the drawing, I’m not trying to make it look pretty at this point.

This next step is very important to me. After sealing the drawing with Final Fixative, I then tone the canvas with an underpainting. I like to rough in the basic color of what the objects in the painting will ultimately be. I do this for two reasons: 1. If for some reason I neglect to cover a small portion of canvas, I won’t have glaring white showing through, but most importantly, 2. It knocks the white of the canvas down into the midtone range. When painting on a midtone you can more easily judge the lights and darks that you’re applying.

Now it’s time to start painting. Here I’ve started with the face of the male lion.

I continue into the mane. Notice that I apply my darks first then work lighter.

As the head of the lion began to develop, I felt it was time to start laying in the background to get the lion to sit in it’s environment.

I then jump back to the lion and continue with the mane and roughing in his body.

Here I’ve gone back to the background to lay in more savannah. Also, notice that I’m starting to build up color and texture, particularly in the body of the male lion. When I rough in an area, I like to let it set for a day or two and dry. I then can start to scumble other colors over the roughed in area. I particularly like to play with color temperature at this stage. This builds volume, texture, color and just generally makes the area more interesting to look at.

After adding more texture and interest to the background, it’s time to start work on the lioness.

I continue working on the lioness, but I’m also starting to jump around the painting at this point. Colors going into the lioness will get scumbled into the male’s body and vise versa. I’m also continuing with the mane.
Here I’ve finished with the lioness and have gone onto the finishing touches in the foreground and background grasses.

Here I am putting some of the finishing touches on the grasses. I particularly like this shot because it shows off the texture of the painting itself. I like paintings to have brush and paint texture. I actually like to run my hands over the painting after it’s dry.

Here I’ve posed with the painting thinking I was done. The next day though after looking at it, I decided to add a few more darks in the tall sprigs of dried grass.

“Protecting the Queen” 36″X48″ Oil on Canvas

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About Aaron Blaise

For 21 years Aaron worked with Disney helping to create some of the greatest animated films ever made. During that time he worked as an animator or supervising animator on "The Rescuers Down Under", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion King", "Pocahontas", "Mulan" and more. In 2003 he was co-director of "Brother Bear" for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. After "Brother Bear" he helped to develop several projects but ultimately left Disney to pursue an opportunity back home in Florida. Aaron recently served as 2D Animation Supervisor and Character Designer for the "The Bear and the Hare" an advertisement loved by millions around the world. He is currently also working on a new animated short film, once again involving bears called "Snow Bear".

7 thoughts on “Here is a new oil painting I just completed as a commission for a private client. I’ve included a step by step process. .

  1. I admire your novel essay and I would like to share a particular website with you. In there, you can not only find many famous oil paitings but also exchange your idea with other people who are admicted to the art.

  2. Incredible! Beautiful Oil painting!

  3. Your painting is beautiful and your narrative is very educational. I enjoyed watching you make adjustment as you proceeded. Thank you,
    Tom Bucher

  4. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Absolutely beautiful! I am fairly new at this but it shows me some of the things I can do to make it more real looking. Thanks

  6. You said in you process that you did your sketch in charcoal pencil, and you sealed it, I didn’t know that it is possible to paint over it with oils. Can this be done Always?
    Thanks Nina

  7. Absolutely brilliant thank you for sharing this Aaron . Every thing you do is excellent.

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