Dave Dorman Art Progressives: Recreating Classic Dave Dorman G.I. Joe Art

Dear Friends,

Most of my fans know that during the mid-’80s to the early ’90s, I worked with Hasbro producing G.I. Joe artwork for their Research and Development Department. This art was done as presentation for the Board of Directors to determine whether any particular character would move forward to future production. My task was to paint the characters designed as 3 1/2″ toys to look like real fighting G.I. Joe characters. None of this work was meant for publication, however, over the years, fans and collectors have seen some of this art via the Web or fan club communications. (One of the future projects I am hoping to get off of the ground is a collection of all of this unseen artwork into a G.I. Joe/Hasbro art volume. I will keep you up to date on information as this project progresses.)

I have many fans contact me directly about the art I did during this period. Recently one of those fans asked if I’d be interested in recreating some of those pieces for his private collection. This is not something that I normally do, but this particular fan showed so much enthusiasm that I thought that it might be fun to see how I would approach these paintings almost 20 years later. I took on his commission for the three recreations and now I present to you one of them as an art progressive:

Pencil on Illustration Board Recreating the Character to Be Painted

Progressive #2:

The original landscape for this painting had a textured rock pattern that I applied with very thick gesso. I repeated that technique on this new board as well.

Progressive #3:

Here I start laying in some of the b/g colors, starting with the explosion in the mid left.

Progressive #4:

The b/g is almost complete at this point with the main figure clean so that when I add color to the figure, it will be unencumbered by underpainting.

Progressive #5:

After the b/g dries, I now lay in the underpainting for the basic colors of the figure.

Progressive #6:

Continuing similar to the previous photo, I lay in the rest of the colors for this figure.

Progressive #7:

With the basic tones being laid down in oils, I now begin the detail work with acrylics, starting with the head and moving downward.

Progressive #8:

Work continues with the acrylics, adding more detail to the body and his equipment.

Progressive #9:

At this point, I've completed some of the finer shadowing details and refinements with various shades of gray markers. You'll note final details on the ground and some color corrections for the background. The above is the finished piece.

This piece was 16″ x 20″ oil, acrylic and marker on gessoed illustration board. It is the exactly the same size as the original Hasbro artwork. If you have comments or questions about this piece, please feel free to post them here.

Many of my G.I. Joe fans have asked me about commission work or recreations. This is the first one I have ever done, and I did enjoy bringing back good memories of working with the artists and creators at Hasbro. I would certainly be happy to do more of this type of work if any of you are interested. Please feel free to email me directly at  dormanart@yahoo.com or message me via Facebook

As always, I thank you for your time and interest in my work.


13 Responses to “Dave Dorman Art Progressives: Recreating Classic Dave Dorman G.I. Joe Art”

  1. Thanks for sharing this! As a design/illustration student, I find these step-by-steps just precious. Interesting how you did the textured rock pattern.

  2. Dave,

    Again, thanks for sharing the “how to” of your art. Do you by chance have a list of the characters that you might re-create? Or is there a place where we can see your unproduced character art? I see 8 characters (some were made into real toys) on page 80 and 81 of your book… any other place to go? I’m asking on behalf of Joe fans on hisstank.com

  3. Really cool stuff Dave, thanks for sharing some of your commission work with us!

  4. Why do you do the basic tones with oils and the detail work with acrylics?

    • i would imagine it’s easier to get ‘finer’ details with the acrylics since oils can at times be a bit globby and hard to control in small, tight areas.

      • Actually, I thin the oil paints so much that I get great detail with the oils as well. If you have any questions about my technique, feel free to ask me. I’m not secretive about my rather unorthodox methods!

  5. awesome! thanks for sharing this with us 🙂 as a beginner in painting military and historical figures, i learned tons!

  6. I’m rather curious about the acrylic-over-oil thing, too. How do you manage to get the acrylic to stay put over an oil base?

    • Hi there Scott,

      Because I lay the oils on fairly thin to the gesso board, there is some “tooth” to gesso available through the oil for the acrylic to hang onto; if the oil is laid on too thick, it causes a waterproof barrier, thusly, the acrylic has nothing to hold onto. Just use trial and error to figure out how thin you can go with the oil, but be sure to let it dry before you lay on the acrylic.


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