Beauty and the Kaiju Project , Part 1


Those of you who follow me via twitter ( maxtoyco ) know that I’ve been burning the midnight oil of late ..I feel like starting with my trip to the Morikami Museum in Florida till now, I’ve been on a never ending treadmill of Kaiju Fun !

Well I can say that its been Fun now that most of the work is done.. I’ve just completed 6 pieces of art for the upcoming Beauty and the Kaiju giclee print release December 22nd-24th, 2010 – Design Festa Gallery Harajuku, Japan.

To recap, we asked 6 Japanese women artists to illustrate one of the Max Toy characters, so in this case, Eyezon, TriPus, Xam, Argus, Drazoran and Capt Maxx. The project is two parts, the first being the release of these signed prints in Japan. The second part being another release of the prints but with custom figures at Rotofugi in February 2011.

In the next post i will start to tease the artwork these women did ( Amazing !!! ) as well as a interview with one of them, artist Tulip ( Sachiko Yabe ).

So, stupid me … I suddenly realize what I got myself into … while each woman did one piece of art, I figured out I was paired up with each .. meaning I had to come up with 6 pieces of art ! OH FFFFudge ! ( you know what i mean ) …

Ok so after a few minutes of panic I had no choice but to get to work … below are a few of the many pictures I took and tweeted over the last few weeks. I barely made the deadline, but did .. phew !

So as of today, all 12 images are at the printers, Picture Salon ( http://www.picturesalon.com/ ) .. for giclees and prints I highly recommend them !!! Most excellent service and the prints are always perfect and awesome !

The format was to fit in a 8×10 inch dimensions .. so i cut 6-8×10 inch Crescent Watercolor boards, heavy weight.. and started sketching directly onto each board, each character. I really didn’t have much an idea of what poses or such i wanted for each character.. but I did know that several of them would be up close portraits .. like a High School photo.

Below, I’ll show the Drazoran and the process I used. For the most part it’s the same on the rest of the pieces and for that matter whenever I paint. I always start with a full pencil rendering on the board. Using HB to 6B pencils I sketched in a Drazoran head …


Once the basic shape is on the board I start to tighten the sketch, alternating between light sketch marks and using a kneaded eraser to remove unwanted lines …


this part of the sketch takes about 10-15 minutes…then over the next 30-40 minutes I add more value and darken areas like the mouth…


above, is the nearly finished under drawing, with some paynes grey acrylic paint blocked in the darkest areas.


and an over view of all the characters sketched in on the boards. The only one missing was Captain Maxx. Because I knew i would run out of time, I decided to use a pen and ink drawing I had of Maxx, and color it via Photoshop … something I really didn’t want to do but in the end had too .. and was Ok with it ( see below ) 😉


Once the under drawing is done, I use 3M removable tape, and tape around the outside of the figure. I’m getting ready to airbrush, so I need to block off the background .. to prevent any spray from getting on it, plus it helps create a hard edge around the figure. I use a Iwata HP-B airbrush, and sometimes a HP-C for larger backgrounds.


I go back in and using an Exacto blade #11, and lightly cut around the outside.. taking care not to cut too deep … I’ve airbrushed over 20 years now, so this part of the process I could do with my eyes closed 😉 and given that I was staying up till 2-3 am .. my eyes most likely were closed !

here I’m lifting up a piece of the tape that reveals the figure below. Sometimes i will save these pieces, like a puzzle, they can be replaced and the opposite one taken off to spray over …

you can see how the area around the figure is blocked off by the tape, I also use tracing paper to further block off any areas I don’t want paint to get on.


I know I want a bit of texture to the skin of Drazoran, so using my sponge I lightly press in some texture with purple paint.


I always remove the front tip cover on my airbrushes .. I find it makes it easier to wipe off excess paint build up as I spray plus I can get close down to the board and spray really tight areas… I slowly use Acrylic paint to build up the colors on the figure …

taking a step back, you can see the overall colors coming into play…

and here lifting the tape you can see how it has blocked off the background.

the basic spraying is done at this point, so i remove the tape and tracing paper and now do the same process but this time masking off the figure from the background. Again cutting around the figure and removing tape…


the background is a nice thunder cloud type .. lots of fluffy clouds 😉

I first spray in some blues at the top and bottom, with yellow tone in the middle part.. this will act as my base for the clouds to be on.

Again, building up colors and this time using color pencils to quickly drawing in the smaller details . and going over that with more airbrushed colors…


I will pull back the masking every now and than to see how the values are working .. I don’t due very subtle work .. I go for impact, I guess it’s the little Boy in me 😉
ONce all the masks are removed I spend many more hours with a paint brush and the airbrush going back in to tighten areas, add textures and soften edges.

Finally after several days and many hours the pieces is nearly done. Its good to go for the giclee, but I will be going back in to tighten a few areas and finally a nice varnished glossy coat to seal the paint.

Above, the 6 pieces I created for the giclee project ! Overall I’m quite happy with them all, and yes even the Photoshop one ;-P …I think they each hold up by themselves but also work well as a group… and i hope you like them , too.

The next blog, I’ll preview the super talented women’s artwork for this project. I can’t stop raving about their work .. and I know you’ll love them, too !

About toykarma

Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets. Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps. After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. “I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says. Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past. “Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.” Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection. Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world. In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show. As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas. “Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”
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