Dominick Saponaro is an illustrator based here in Philadelphia, whose clients include Simon & Schuster, Holiday House, The Science Fiction Book Club, Solaris Books, and Bethlehem books.
When I first viewed his online portfolio, I was struck by a number of digitally painted works in grayscale, reminiscent both in that respect, and in the subject matter in some cases, of the early monochromatic oil paintings of Howard Pyle (who I’ll venture is a prominent influence).
I was fascinated to follow up by reading the section on his website in which Saponaro describes his working process, which is unusual among digital painters in my experience. He starts with a digital sketch, not an unusual step, but then instead of working up from the sketch by blocking in areas of color, he creates a monochromatic underpainting, over which he works in transparent digital “glazes” in an analog of the traditional process of layered painting.
There is a step-through of the process, accompanied by a slide show video, of the image of Lincoln shown above. Also interesting is his approach to modeling curved surfaces with a series of planes, smoothed to some degree in the finish, but left expressed in a way that gives his figures a geometric strength.
In his color finishes, Saponaro maintains something of the monochromatic feeling of his underpaintings, with color schemes that work with a dominant color, augmented with closely analogous variations and sometimes punctuated with the primary color’s complement.
His online portfolio is unfortunately brief, but Saponaro maintains a blog on which you can find additional images, step-throughs and sketches. When viewing his portfolio, take advantage of the links to the upper left of the images to view larger versions and detail crops.
Saponaro is a member of the adjunct faculty of the Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.