The original plan when starting this image was just to practice exaggerating a classical airplane design and to create a vintage poster with some retro-tag lines. At the time I was feeling kind of guilty for not using the huge sketchbook I was given at Christmas. Because of this I took a break from my usual tiny pencil sketches and started a bigger, more complete drawing.
After a few thumbnails where I tried to nail down a pleasing silhouette and camera angle, I sketched the drawing. The drawing you can see in Fig.01 is about 20 x 25 inches in size.
The final aircraft design was like a bloated plane where the engine was clearly visible in places, almost like an American hot rod. It was decorated with a savage-looking paint job and equipped with a ridiculously overpowered mini-gun (which would actually block the pilotâ€™s view, but it looked good so I left it in). The flying squirrel was just for fun at this point. I changed almost everything about it later, but by the end I liked to think of it as the pictureâ€™s heart.
Before starting on the final image I usually try out a few different color schemes to see what will work in the composition. I love to use Corel Painter to do this as the colors are incredibly fun to handle (and mess around with). I ended up with a muted, military green and silver for the airplane, contrasting with a bold red backdrop, slicing the workspace in two (Fig.02).
The next step was to scan the drawing and put it into Photoshop so I could start rendering. I firstly painted below the sketch with a solid color using the Lasso and Fill tools. In a layer above this I started working in some form and volume, and started painting in some lighting and detail (Fig.03 â€" 04).
I slowly started to notice that the background was looking a bit boring and began to think that there was an opportunity to paint in something awesome going on there. I took a little time to generate some good ideas and to think of a new composition, and then the idea came to me. The re-imagined Messerschmitt should have an interesting backdrop, so I enlarged the canvas on every side and started to block in some new shapes (Fig.05).