Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stephen King portrait pt1: thumbnails and roughs

I've always been inspired by creative individuals with a dark slant in their work, and having read Stephen King books from a very early age (perhaps too early?), I thought he might make a good subject for a new portrait.

At first I was thinking well within 'the box', imaging an over the shoulder shot of him working at his typewriter, perhaps with a glimpse of his iconic Dark Tower through his desk window. But in making thumbnails sketches, I quickly realized this approach lacked much dynamism or even any real concept... certainly not capturing the man's dark genius and obsessive, insane prolificacy. Somewhere along the lines early on, I don't remember when exactly, I shifted gears and started working on compositions of Stephen, typewriter gripped overhead, ready to crush his readers (or in my case, the viewer).

 I wanted to challenge myself in a number of ways (perhaps too many at once!). First, I thought it would appear more menacing for him to stare down at the viewer, which required that I work out an upward angle that foreshortens the figure. In my recent sketchbook work, I've been concentrating on better figure construction and breaking the bad habit of firing right into the rendering stage without getting the proportions planned out first. The second challenge would be to support the menacing vantage point by lighting him from below, giving the drawing an eery horror vibe. Both the upward angle and the under lighting were tasks that I lacked much experience with, so the stakes started high.  And all the while I knew that the largest challenge would be recognizably capturing the celebrity's likeness.  After a few google image searches, I had identified what I felt to be Stephen's defining facial characteristics.  Dozens of awkward and mostly unrecognizable characatures then followed.

kind of funny in their own way, but still way off

getting closer...

Finally I had a promising sketch in front of me.  I wasn't feeling the concept of Stephen popping out of a book (see below), but I liked the figure and face enough to based a larger rough drawing on.  I scanned, traced, and reworked the composition digitally with my wacom drawing tablet in photoshop, ultimately reaching a version that I felt confident I could transfer to scratchboard for a successful final rendered drawing.

promising thumbnail, minus book
final rough

To be continued!

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