I always had it in the back of my head to do some Pin Up style artwork .. in the style of Vargas or Petty for one of my projects .. but really doing mostly Kaiju never had the chance (!) I suppose I could have done a Kaiju Pin Up ! Ha -ha .. well maybe not .. so when we developed the Lady Maxx character I knew this was something I could finally let my inner Pin Up artist loose on ! Below are the step-by-step pics of my process. These were actually tweeted in real time over several nights and days. By the way you can follow my antics on Twitter under : maxtoyco
I used a hot press watercolor board this time .. a bit different as I usually use a plain hot press board. What this meant was this time the board has some tooth (texture) to it … also being a watercolor board would allow for the paint to soak in a bit … something that as you will learn below came back to bite me in the behind !! This image and others to follow will be part of a ongoing series of Pin Up style giclees, posters, tee shirts (for Japan) !
By the way I can not say this enough, Lady Maxx was designed and the toy was sculpted by Makino-san of TTToys .. he captured Lady Maxx perfectly !!!
Materials : Iwata airbrush HP-C
Paints : Acrylics
Crescent Hot Press Watercolor board, extra heavy weight
I start with a sketch on the board of the figure, slowly I tighten up the areas …
above- breast size increased ;-P
At this stage the figure is fully laid out. I decided I wanted to keep the colors and flesh tones vibrant so I did not do my usual of painting in the darks with paynes grey .. but rather used the pencil sketch as my general guide to the final tones.
Using a plastic film called Frisket film, i laid a sheet down over the drawing.. this sheet has a sticky side that allows me to cut out shapes from it and remove / replace those shapes as i spray the acrylics.
Using an X-acto blade #11, I carefully cut thru the film but not so hard to damage the board .. I like to think it is very much like surgery !
I pull up each section to expose the board under it..this allows me to spray those areas. Once dry I can replace the shape, and remove another section to spray.. but care must be taken to align the pieces back carefully …
Using a light flesh color i begin spraying from light to dark flesh tones .. see below .. gradually darkening the colors …
I go back in and using an eraser lightly pull out the highlights, taking acre not to remove too much…
As you can see it’s a tedious process for each section … checking already sprayed areas that have been covered up, to make sure my values are working. If you look at the image above you’ll notice a very tiny red mark on her thigh (!) Due to my careless and late night blunder, that tiny section was not covered while i was spraying red paint … thus it left a mark ;-( Long story short i had to re-spray that area back down to white and starting with a light flesh, do the whole process again. That process took 4 hours total to fix the one mark. Well lucky for me I’ve been doing this for awhile so i knew what to do to save it.. wasn’t fun, but I could fix it. Your probably saying why didn’t you leave it and fix it in photoshop, which i could have done .. well I still believe in original art, so for me it was important to have this painting be painted perfectly.
After all the masks have been removed, using a 000 brush i go back in and touch up areas, paint in the hair and such.
Since i wanted to keep this on a white background I didn’t have to worry about one !
If you notice i also omitted her right glove , opting for more arm to be exposed !
I know this type of art is not for everyone and i respect those view points. My approach to Lady Maxx character is that she is a powerful, intelligent gal, but also has a playful side to her. Hopefully I can convey this through my artwork.
Later in photoshop I dropped in the red circle and text .. phew ! After a near disaster I was able to recover and finish ! I think it came out nicely .. I know I can do better and over this year as i do more hope to improve !
Look for a new Lady Maxx figure in the coming weeks via the Max Toy Company web site !
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.”