The Making of “Thor”

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I recently finished the eighth deity portrait in my Norse series, “Thor, God of Thunder.” I put off Thor for a while because he is far and away the most popular of all the Norse gods, and the combined forces of Marvel and Hollywood have painted a picture of him that the public has come to recognize as authentic. This version is stoic and handsome. In the original epic poem of the detailing the Norse gods, The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturleson, Thor is depicted as more of a bumbling oaf. He is a god for the common people. It was this version that I most wanted to emulate.
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I ended up studying a lot of professional wrestlers to give him the right sort of swagger. This is the Thor that is boisterous, loudmouthed and full of the bravado that a lot of the contemporary versions of the character seem to miss. I pull most of this general reference off of Google just for the basic feeling of the pose.
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I next develop thumbnails for the silhouette of the figure. These are still super basic, just rough ideas of where I want the picture to go. Because I often discover new possibilities when I shoot the photo reference for the pose, I don’t want to limit myself by making the thumb or rough sketch too detailed.
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My final sketch after shooting reference.
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Here’s the very beginning of the painting, just after I’ve transferrred the sketch to canvas and traced the linework with burnt sienna. It’s still pretty rough at this stage- I hadn’t decided to add his flowing cape yet, but it quickly became clear that it would be essential. Looking back, I can see that I lost some of the energy that was in the final sketch and some things got a bit wonky, like the angle of Thor’s neck and his back. I always aim to identify and fix issues like these when I start painting. It’s a gradual process in which I’m constantly correcting errors and stepping back to make sure everything remains in proportion.
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This is much further along in the painting, about 80% finished. I’ve shifted and corrected the angle of his neck and head, added more girth to the shoulders and made the cape much more prominent, tucking the warhammer behind it in a more natural way.
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And the finish 🙂 I ended up reshooting photo reference for the right hand that is above the belt, which was looking rather unnatural and wooden before. The end result has a lot of the original attitude that I was going for. This portrait ended up being much more of a caricature than the others in the series, although I think I like it for that reason. I hope you enjoyed this latest “Making of” post, thanks for stopping by!

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