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Welcome to a new work in progress showing the development of a painting of a Spitfire XIV of 350 Sqn shooting down an Fw190 over the outskirts of Berlin on 20th April 1945. This painting was commissioned for a bookazine titled Spitfires over Berlin, due out in April 2015.
The first stage of the painting is to apply the background, so a basic sky is painted. This action took place in the late evening to the north west of Berlin so the light had to be behind the viewer. My idea therefore was to have the Spitfire lit by the warm sunlight under a reasonably dark cloud cover, reported at 12,000ft.
With the basic cloud and horizon painted, I drew the aircraft on in pencil as seen here.
The next stage is to block the aircraft in with colour to give me an idea of how dark it needs to be.
…then just as in making a plastic model, I applied the camouflage pattern to the Spitfire, making it slightly darker on the side of the fuselage.
…before applying the light and shade I needed to add the roundels and a few wing details. Being April 1945, the 2nd TAF fighters had yellow/blue/white/red in all positions which makes a tricky job even harder! I roughly painted them in as you can see here and decided to tidy them up later…I also worked on the sky a little, softening the clouds and bringing some colour into the ground.
…now comes the fun part as I add light and shade to the airframe to try to bring it to life. It’s a combination of thin washes of orange paint along with white and yellow highlights spread over the wings. As you can see I’ve worked on the port wing whereas the starboard wing is only half-complete. The important thing to remember is that the orange washes of paint dull the light areas of the roundel, whereas in real life, these areas would be very bright. It’s important therefore to go over these areas again to make them stand out, see the difference between the two roundels. I’ve also added the fuselage codes at this point. This is always a nice stage as it focuses the eye nicely and starts to resolve the overall look of the painting.
…Both wings are now completed and the fuselage roundel has been given the same treatment. Next up is the background. As this magazine is called Spitfires over Berlin, the editor wanted to see Berlin in the distance, which is why we chose this particular combat of course! I’ve therefore started to paint the impression of buildings being lit by low sunlight. It’s quite a loose style but it’s very effective from a distance.
…and the final result. With the aircraft reasonably complete I turned my attention back to the background. I felt the sky was a bit boring and a bit heavy so I lightened it, cooled it down with some blue paint and then gave the Spitfire a gap in the clouds to be climbing into. I also reworked the horizon to give a bit more natural movement in the picture. I finished the landscape by adding the foreground fields, roads and bomb craters and added vortices streaming from the Spitfire’s wings as it pulled away. The final thing to do was to add the German aircraft. I drew the one being shot down onto a piece of tracing paper and then moved it around until I was satisfied with its position. Then I added the three smaller Fw190s and the lone Spitfire turning to engage them.
The final thing I did was to look at the painting in a mirror to see it with fresh eyes and spot any imperfections. The thing I noticed was that the Spitfire appeared to be a bit of a cross between a MkIX and a MkXIV! After a lot of thought I realised that the nose was too fat so I slimmed it down from underneath and it did the trick.
Below you can see a close up section of the Spitfire itself. This is an unusual way to paint a spinning propeller but I thought that at this angle, this was the closest that I’d get to how it would look in real life.
Hope you enjoyed this one, it took about a week from start to finish and the original is now for sale in the originals section.