Sunday, July 14, 2013


I recently finished up a Scott Pilgrim piece and aimed to share.

First a little history:

Scott Pilgrim has had a following through a series of big-eyed, black and white graphic novels, years before the movie came out. Somehow I had absolutely no exposure to them or the characters before the movie. I mean, I know I don't exactly have my fingers on the pulse of pop culture, but ya figure the big stuff cracks through the shell of even the most recluse hermits. Anyway, I started seeing trailers for movie about these kids in a band packed with comic book action and video game references. Directed by Edgar Wright too, so I had to see it.

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at a midnight show and the theater was completely packed with rowdy-mouthed college kids. Just the right atmosphere. I thought the movie, particularly the characters, were great and I immediately saw it again after work the next day. And again that same weekend with a couple friends.  And one more time with a different set of friends that were visiting from out of state. And I bought the set of books and thoroughly enjoyed them even AFTER seeing the movie. And now that I own it, it's one movie that I can watch, and immediately re-watch again. I dunno what it is exactly. I think every element of the movie is interesting and I'm always looking forward to the next thing: the introduction of a character, some amusing dialogue, an fight scene, the drama of young love, the music, just everything.

Plus, I like feeling young and nostalgic, and no other movie does it more effectively for me. I'm always reminded of my college life and my relationship (singular) and the games I played and the music I listened to and the people I hung around with at that time.

So, that said, it was easy to let the movie motivate me.

On the left is my initial digital sketch.  I decided to zero in on the eyes of the 7 Evil Exes.  There weren't many other ideas.  I've wanted to draw some eyes for a while and I wanted to come up with a look, a process, that I could replicate for each set of eyes.

Part of that process started with the sketches. You'll notice that Lucas Lee's eyes (Second evil ex) are crossed. All of the faces started out as a full sketch for the full head's proportions/sizes, and then I tightened it (slightly) within a smart object of one eye section. That smart object was flipped for the other half of the face, which is what you generally see in the rough here. It's a hack way to get some mirroring in Photoshop. As I started to update those smart objects I also painted over them to break up the symmetry a bit. Highlights, shadows, stray sketch lines, asymmetrical hair, etc. I made note of the brushes I was using, the sizes, the opacities/blend modes of shadow/color layers, where I was using masks and I kept the file very organized. As I moved on to each character, it was basically a matter of repeating myself. It was pretty satisfying because each character came faster and the end result was a process I had already proved out to myself with the first character so there was little doubt as I continued. Generally speaking, I can't help but think about every decision as I progress through an illustration, so this was a bit different in that there was little to second guess. Just repeat the process that I already approved of.

Color-wise I usually have something in my head when going into an illustration. Something bright and bold, something muted, rough with a lot of texture, etc. In this case, I really wanted an unusual, muted set of colors for Scott Pilgrim. A palette you wouldn't necessarily think of for the movie. And initially, it was a lot more desaturated too. Almost monotone with blue gray colors and only the hearts had some rich orangey-reds. You can see, I was kinda thinking of that even in the sketch. Eventually I had it looking alright, I felt I liked it, and then I left it for a few days. When I came back to it, I just felt like it didn't grab me.  I printed one off expecting the physical print to satisfy me instead.  But it didn't and I went back and started changing colors and boosting saturation. It's this type of situation where I wonder what is driving me to make changes. I certainly have a natural attraction to bold colors and illustrations, so why did I try to imagine something different and muted to begin with? I do like working in different styles and just about anything or anyone is an influence to me, so even though I got it to my liking with a desaturated look, it wasn't satisfying. And I guess, since I'm at the controls, I could easily play until I was satisfied.

And then on the right I'm just showing some close ups of a couple eyes

*** UPDATE ***

I don't do this too often, but I made some "fixes".  Some subtle color shifts mainly, but THIS is more how I imagined it.  Remember how I mentioned the muted colors originally?  Well I guess after more tinkering, I eventually landed on something "better" for my mind's eye...or whatever.  Pilgrim reference!  I lost some of the contrast buttchya can't have everything.  I did pull some white hot contrast out of Gideon's glasses and Todd Ingram's glowy eyes.  The most noticeable change might be that I included Scott's hands within his silhouette.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but previously I did feel like he was missing a hand or that it was connected to his guitar.
So, yeah.  Cool.  Again.  For now ;)