Monday, June 21, 2010

America vs Russia!

A couple guys at work let me know let me know of a Captain America redesign contest and I happened to have a hankerin' to draw CapAm so this is what I came up with. My idea was to match up Cap with a Russian nemesis I conjured up. Anyone who knows me knows I can't stay away from an opportunity to draw anything involving the most iconic communist dictatorship around. With that, I figured I'd try to date the style back to something WWII-ish. Muted colors. Visible dot pitch in the print. I looked at some Darwyn Cooke and Rex Steele Art to emulate some of that classic look. A little Bruce Timm in there too. The Russian guy falls more on the Rissetto side I suppose...

Without further adoo... on with the bad drawings and embarassing process!

This was drawing No. 1 for Captain America. I basically knew I wanted that chiseled, iconic profile and a chest-heavy body. The very first thing I drew was that oval for his skull. You can just feel my hand going in circles trying to visualize this mess. So often times I like to fool myself and think, "volume, volume - yep, I'm supposed to draw circles and cylinders and divide them in half and stuff..." And that's exactly what Captain's skull circle represents. After I got that out of my system, I think I just did whatever I wanted. Nose kinda should stick out, chin should be sharp, squinty eyes I think, etc. After I finish this first initial sketch I either feel like this is moldable, this is workable, or I should start over with a different thought, a different pose, a different direction. It's always ugly and I always feel like I have no idea how to draw, but I've done this "art thing" enough that I either I feel I can whip this into some sorta shape or not.

Doodle No.2. The face is the most important thing for me to get right in order to achieve what I want so while the body looks like a pile of nothing for these early drawings, I'm really just focusing on his head. I lost that bulbous skull in favor of some defined brow, nose, and chin lines. I still like this drawing for the Greek mythology feeling that's sorta instilled in it. I'm trying to flatten his face and pick out a few features to accent - a thick eyebrow and that profile. With that left arm I could point out the curve, straight, curve, balance within his shoulder, bicep, and forearm respectively. There's some solid design principles floating around there, but I lose such an example when the shield eventually covers his arm.

No. 3. I should note, all these drawings are light-tabled as I'm crankin' 'em out. Keep what I like, and start fresh with what I don't think is working right on top of the previous doodle. Still concentrating on his head here, but I feel enough confidence in his facial direction that I start roughing in the body some more. I tried bringing the round skull back because maybe I could manage some balance with curved and straight lines in his noggin. Dropped the back of his skull with a straight line to help it too. Plopped an "A" on his head which doesn't read so well in profile but Cap's actual costume design took a back seat to that actual lines and shapes I was puttin' down. Started thinking about his chest and abs and rib cage - not really how he's built or his proportions, but more about how to "mention" the important parts of a figure without being a surgeon. I'm a big fake really. I probably should be thinking about his costume, his figure, his volume, the big picture, but I have a day job where I have things I HAVE to think about. This is what I do for fun. Maybe I'll get good at doing what I want to do some day.

No. 4. A little more experiment/refinement. I like some of the lines in the head - just trying to feel out the ear, nose, mouth, brow still. It became more important to me to push the eye and brow up, give him a shallow forehead, than to keep that "A" up there. Just trying to clear up the chest and upper body a bit. Nice simple fist there. Big meaty forearm. The abs I was visualizing as a toy that might be notched/jointed right under the ribs/chest. Like this piece of plastic that comes up from the belt that the chest connects to. Ah, whatever - it just needs to look alright. Which is probably exactly what I said to myself.

Sketches 05 and 06 here on the same page. Something about that round skull still needed to get worked out of my system. Sometimes I'll still want to make sure I'm making the better of a couple options so I'll do a little doodle and not really care so much about it and it'll look awful and I'll feel like, "yep, I knew the round skull was still a bad idea" -almost on purpose so I can move forward. In No. 6 the head is less round, but I'm trying out the whole Roman nose/forehead combo. That "lightning bolt profile" is definitely simplified and strong. The quick trace-back lines on the body are just the important curves and straights that define his shape. If there is something wrong with these lines no amount of cross hatching or texture, or detail work is gonna save my opinion. That's not to say these lines are gold, but I'm still hoping to ride it through to the end making minor adjustments here and there.

No. 7. Face is shapin' up well while I'm trying to make the best decisions for all those internal lines. The eye is just a squinty wedge shape, crows feet, the mask working around everything, etc. He looks like he belongs on a box of Arm and Hammer from the 50s. I'll take that. And apparently I had some sorta offshoot idea of an "A" that was also a star.

No. 8. Flipflopped back to the forehead, brow, nose instead of the Roman look. I guess I felt like it still woulda been drawn like comic book instead of something too stylized. Eh, I still like the look of No. 7. You can sorta see the mouth and eyebrow have some dark, hard pressed lines - lines I knew I wanted for sure. The cowl was still going through a few tweaks. The legs are of note though: They're red and faded out because I drew them on the reverse side of the paper. The ol' look-at-something-flipped-and-you'll-see-mistakes trick. I know I have a tendency to skew things when I'm left to a single side of paper, so flipping it was probably my way of making sure the legs didn't lean too much or look weird.

No. 9. There - all done pretty much. Trace back those important upper body lines, streamline those legs even more, carry over the head, add a few details (buckle, ab lines, boot cuffs, etc.). I had a couple doodles for the head wings, I knew I wanted the radiating lines in the background between the two, I knew I was gonna do the shield in the computer with more precision. But with that, I had a solid sketch I felt comfortable building on in the computer with line weights and blocks of color.

The whole process is terribly enjoyable for me, but I realize it's a pretty mechanical way of drawing. I envy the guys that can fill pages of poses and layouts and really feel like they're "directing" the drawing instead of directing lines and shapes.

Rinse and repeat for the Russian Czar. He came more easily to me in 4 drawings. I should say too that it takes a lot more time to try to explain what my brain is doing compared to actually doing it. It's a rapid fire decision making process which is what I love. It's more about the process than the actual product in the end. Internally, if it was only about the art I was making in the end, I would have surrendered a long time ago to the people that can actually draw. Fortunately for me, art is subjective (Bah ha ha ha! You've been had!) and the intangible part is what I like most.


Miah Alcorn said...

Awesome stuff Bob.... from the process to final, really nice work man!

ridd said...

awesome style