The Cutting of a King

The Cutting of a King

Well... what started as T-shirt design turned into a 5-foot canvas painting.

When Austin Post first reached out, he was looking for a couple different designs for some T shirts. After talking through some concepts, he quickly decided that both pieces needed to also be on huge canvases. This painting is one of two 5' canvas painting designs.

When doing large format paintings or drawings there's a technique called "griding". To do this, you take a completed small format painting or drawing and create grid squares over top of it. You then make another grid square over your large format canvas with the same number of grid squares that on your small format piece.

Essentially, you are scaling up your small drawing onto a large canvas using the grid squares to reference where your lines need to go. I've used this method quite often when drawing realism art pieces. This, however, is not the technique I used for this piece.

For this process I started with concept sketches on 10" paper. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted for this piece but needed a conglomeration of references to get the body positions and hand articulations correct. References for this can vary. You can use public domain references to get basic form and body position ideas or start taking pictures of yourself in positions you need. I used a combination of both for this project. After finding a handful of different woman figures, kneeling positions, and a ton of odd pics of myself for different head, arm and hand positions, I started the initial concept sketch.

The initial concept sketch was rough in order to get the basic form and composition down. Composition is something that is often overlooked. I played with this until I had a well-balanced composition.

When the composition was defined, I set my camera up and started taking pictures of myself holding a stick to represent the sword. This allowed me to get some references for hand and arm positions. I needed to do this for both the kneeling and standing figure. If you've drawn hands, you know it's one of the easiest things to screw up and throw off a drawing. I always use hand picture references when drawing hands. It's one of those things I have an extremely hard time drawing without looking at a reference.

After completing the initial concept sketch, I traced it and started to add more details. This was still pretty rough, but it started to give me an idea of how light and shadow will lay on the figures. It also let me play with different line strokes and widths quickly.

The final concept sketch was then drawn. This is the one that needed to be very detailed and nearly finished.

The next step here was a life saver for time. It may be considered a short cut by some snob traditional artists out there, but I don't care. I don't claim to be a traditional artist. Instead of grid transferring my small image to the large canvas, I had my final concept sketch scaled up and printed onto my canvas. This saved a lot of time but there was still a lot to do considering how much detail was left out and lost during the process. I left a lot of spots on the concept sketch bare, knowing it would be easier to work and draw when it was on the canvas. For example, the skull pictured above was purposefully left unfinished so that when I got it onto the canvas, I could easily draw in more detail. Hair is also one of those things I feel very comfortable drawing or painting on the fly, so most of the hair was left blank until I started painting.


Painting was slow. Very slow. I found that diluting acrylic black paint with water and a number 6 or 4 brush worked best for quick clean lines. The canvas was smooth but because of the texture, it didn't have the same buttery smooth lines I'm used to when using pen on paper. The shading lines that I'm so used to flicking quickly turned into long strokes that took hours.

Overall, it took around 4-5 days to paint this piece. Any mistakes were fixed easily by painting over a few layers of white. It wasn't too terrible. It just takes an absurd amount of patience and time.

Thanks for checking out the process, hope you enjoy the final piece.