Lady Darkness … ! Step by Step process by Mark Nagata

Lady Darkness is the new character and mini figure that will soon be added to the ever expanding Captain Maxx and Lady Maxx worlds. Where Lady Maxx represents the good light, Lady Darkness represents the dark light. However, it’s not all that simple as Lady Darkness emerges from the depths of Lady Maxx’s psyche !

As many of you may know, my first love is illustration and of all the things i get to do with Max Toys the one thing that gets me going is to be able to illustrate what these characters would look like as a painting. To go along with the pin up style art i did for Lady Maxx I decided to make a companion piece for Lady Darkness 😉
I’m still finding my way doing pin up style work it’s not as forgiving as doing Kaiju or Monsters, where making it ugly is an advantage !

Below is the process i went through in illustrating this piece. I used acrylics on a 15 x 20 inch, Heavy Weight, Crescent watercolor board. My airbrush was a HP-B Iwata double action.

I started with a design of Lady Darkness by Yoshihiko Makino / TTToy of Japan. Makino-san has a background in designing anime type of characters. His design of Lady Maxx was spot on so it was no surprise that his rendition of Lady Darkness would be a homerun… and it is !

Using photo reference I actually photoshopped 2 different arms and altered the legs onto a body for the basic pose. Once the basic outline was on the board I further refined the drawing .. bring in the costume design and hair elements.


after the drawing was fully rendered I went back into the darker areas with a sable brush and paynes grey acrylic paints.
I covered the board with Frisket Flim .. a sticky clear film that will block out certain areas I will be cutting out while painting. I use an Xacto blade #11 to cut out all the shapes .. like the legs, belt, arms etc… this part takes awhile but is needed inorder to spray each section later on. I like to think of it like a puzzle..once the pieces are cut you can pick them up spray a color and replace the piece or mask and spray another area without spraying over the color underneath.

above you can see i have removed a few pieces where flesh will be sprayed .. but the other parts are covered .. thus not spraying them with flesh.. simple right ? 😉
Using acrylic paints i mix up some light flesh and dark flesh .. I use both to go from light to medium to dark while spraying. Below you’ll see how i build up the colors and contrast. I’ll spray burnt sienna and reds as i go along as well …. however I want as much of the white of the board to come thru ..so at this stage I want to spray in light transparent layers …. nothing heavy.


while i spray i also go back in and erase out the highlights …Below the flesh areas are pretty much done. I now replace all the pieces of film and concentrate on the costume parts. Later after I remove all the masks I might have to go back into the flesh areas and adjust them or lighten areas … but that will be later …
Process is the same for the costume areas .. but this time I start with a paynes grey and build up the dark parts …

I know I will go over these areas with a purple color …

and here I go ! Purple … !
Not shown here, but again I go back in with an eraser and light out highlights .. and go back as needed with paynes grey to darken areas…

At this point, above, i removed all the mask to see over all how the values and working .. not too bad. The areas left open will be remasked and sprayed black.
It’s far from done .. all the edges need to be worked on with a fine brush. Some parts are softened, some left as hard edges … plus the hair will be hand painted with a brush. Additional highlights will be added with gesso paint and further spraying in isolated areas as needed.
Below …and finally the illustration is done 😉

Had great fun painting Lady Darkness .. and have many more ideas for Lady Darkness and Lady Maxx pin up paintings !

This entire painting took about 3-4 days. While i would have liked to have a week to complete it, like my days as an illustrator we had a deadline and I had to paint fast. Lucky for me I’m not a perfectionist ;-P while there are always areas I look at and wished i had done a better job, I look at the over all impact of any art i do and if it’s gotten the point across that i had in my mind well I’m happy and move onto the next project.

It’s been over 10 years since i transitioned from full time freelance illustration to my toy company … and I’m always amazed at how what i learned during that time has lead to what i do now. I’m blessed to be able to use not only my art skills but to be able to travel around the world and meet master artists and fellow art toy fans.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the process I go thru and next time I’ll post up pictures of the Lady Darkness figure 😉 which you can also see on the Max Toy web site : http://www.maxtoyco.com !

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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