As we all know, every good T-shirt portrait starts with a detailed reference photo. In this case, I used a picture from Dale Jr.’s 2005 calendar. I usually spend an hour or so studying reference material prior to painting. It’s important to look for odd colors and shadow transitions. Now, lightly trace the photo onto the shirt using an Artograph Prism opaque projector and a lead pencil.
Tracing paper is glued to the entire front of the shirt using Duro all-purpose spray adhesive. Next, with an X-Acto knife and new blade, I cut out the outline of the face. This cutting method is much faster, but use extreme caution not to cut through to the fabric. Then, I remove the center mask.
The eyes are painted first. A perfect color is achieved by mixing transparent gray and sky blue. It’s not necessary to use any masks here; I just freehand the eye color, then use silk black for the pupils and opaque white dots to finish the highlights.
Opaque fleshtone is used for the base color of the face, as well as for details around the eyes , nose, ear and facial hair.
Color is introduced to the face by misting red onto the car, cheek, upper lip, and nose. Yellow and pink are then used to brighten up those same areas. Next, I switch to brown red to darken the shadow areas that are around the eyes, nose, lips and ears.
In this step, I further refine and detail the dark shadow areas. Violet and dark brown are used for the shadow under the hat, as well as for the eyelashes, nose, ear, hair and whiskers.
As a final step, for the face, I add highlights to the eyes, nose, cheek, and lips using opaque white.
Now that the face is finished, I remove all of the mask.
Before work can begin on the hat, the face and that must to be masked with tracing paper. Once more, I use an X-Acto knife to cut the outline of the hat and then I remove the center mask.
I begin this step by using dark brown to paint the dark lines on the bill and for the shadows on the side of the hat. Then the hat is inished by painting it solid red.
Next, I remove all of the masks and cover the face with unused center mask from Step 1. The letter B on the hat is finished by using transparent gray to draw in lines and shadows.
The hat is now protected with the unused center mask from Step 8, and the rest of the shirt is covered with tracing paper. Again, I use an X-Acto knife to cut the outline of the jacket and some of the letters. All the shadows, dark lines, and stitching details are painted with dark brown. The jacket is then painted solid red.
I leave the masks covering the face and hat and remove the rest.
Here I create a background by misting transparent gray around the entire picture.
Finally, I free hand the patches and letters on the jacket, throw in a few white highlights, and sign the artwork.