Fan art fun

A Lesson In Shading in Yellows OR I Hate Brown

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I’ve spent most of the week doing mini portraits of Transformers minibots. I bought a pack of 5, 4×6 canvases over the weekend and painted one of my favorites, Swerve, as a test run.  I enjoyed it and my husband suggested I next do Cosmos.  That one came out nice as well (and I’ll post all of this set once I get the last one finished). Since those two were both minibots, and the third character I was planning to paint was a minibot as well. I decided to do a small series of minibots.

The first 4 were easy, Swerve, Cosmos, Tailgate, and Bumblebee.  They have been current within the IDW comic universes.  But finding one more was turning out to be a challenge.  Originally I was going to do a character called Rewind, he’s small.  But, he’s not a mini bot.  He’s a cassette.  That wouldn’t work.

I did a quick google search and found a list of minibots.  Most of who have not been any of the current comics for a long while, if ever.  Most references are from the G1 cartoon from the 1980’s which isn’t as detailed as the references I have from the comics.

I posted a small list of the minibots I was willing to experiment with onto Twitter.  I kept Rewind on the list, since I was in such an internal debate of him, Brawn, Seaspray, and Powerglide.  When I settled in at home to start searching for references and begin the process I had one response: Seaspray.

Look at this guy! These were the best references I could find that looked closest to the G1 design.  I don’t have any idea how this is going to look with his propeller do hickies. XD

Top Left,  Top Right,  Bottom

I set to work drawing up a few portrait ideas, keeping it along the lines of the other 4.  Nice and simple.  I asked my husband several times for some input on what he liked and didn’t like as he grew up with G1 and I’ve mostly been exposed to comics and later shows.  Once I had a general idea a sketched out a rough sketch onto my canvas (at first too big, it’s hard to erase on canvas).


Finally, I was ready to paint.  I sat down at my table and started looking over my references to get an idea on what colors I was going to need.

  • Helmet and mask: yellow
  • Chest section: yellow
  • Side wings: yellow
  • Propellers: yellow

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this.  Most transformers only have a few shades of color, but shading with yellow is a nightmare for me.  Especially when there are sections that are going to be deeply shaded.  The best way to shade would be to mix yellow with brown.  But honestly, I hate brown.  I thought it was just in my wardrobe, but having worked on older pieces and now on Seaspray I have discovered I don’t like having to use it.  I spent a long while mixing yellow, orange, blue, white, and brown trying to come up with some shades I liked.  I didn’t get very far.


I’ll admit, seeing it in photo form, I don’t think the yellow/browns look bad, but I don’t like it.  Since I’m using acrylics I’ll have to fight again to get similar colors when I have time this weekend to finish.  I do like the orange/brown color that I have used to line around his helmet and define the lines on his chest.  I think I need to make that color again.  I’ll also go over some highlight areas with a brighter yellow and white to give him some shine to his plating.

I kind of wish I had in progress pictures of the others so I could see how the start of those looked.  It just looks so flat at the moment, and I’m having a hard time visualizing how I’m going to make the light and dark shades pop from one another.

Probably won’t get to work on this again until Sunday.  Get to visit family this Saturday for a 4th of July get together.  I hope everyone has a fun and safe weekend.


Author: SammyPhoenix

Fanartist on the side. I mostly enjoy drawing Transformers, but enjoy many cartoon/comic concepts also.

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