It’s round two of the Knights Of The Round Tumblr competition, and this round’s theme is ‘Dark Knights’ in honour of the release of The Dark Knight Rises (which is excellent by the way, go see it if you haven’t already). Your illustration didn’t HAVE to include Batman; it could have featured a dark knight of any kind, but how many chances do you get to draw ole Batsy eh?
Be sure to check out the other great entries on the Tumblr, maybe even give Round 3 a go when it comes by 🙂
Here’s my entry for the D&AD Illustration brief – a front cover design for Little White Lies magazine. the brief was to create an illustration in the same style of most that adorn the front cover of the magazine, that of a portrait depicting the main character, with hand-written type stating the name of the film itself – there were several films to choose from; I picked the JJ Abrams film ‘Super 8’.
Why Super 8?
I’ve watched Super 8 recently and I thought it was a excellent film – it features a simple if slightly over-used concept, and the genre of sci-fi/horror is not exactly new, but that fits in perfectly with it’s 70’s setting and small american town folksiness. Brilliantly acted by it’s young cast and given the extra sheen (and lens flares) that has made JJ Abrams a popular name, the film reminds me of E.T, and other alien-orientated adventures of my childhood days, such as Flight Of The Navigator and it’s this sense of nostalgia I get when I watch it that makes the film so endearing.
About the Design
I feel portraiture is a strength of mine, but finding a theme-appropriate setting for this portrait was at first, somewhat problematic – I drew several different versions of this same head (that of main star Joel Courtney) each with a different style, and while they were all good in different ways, I could not find a way to link them to the film (other than the fact that it features the main character of course) – most of the screen shots I found on Google just had him looking terrified, so I wanted to try a different approach. Eventually I had the idea of building his face from the tiny alien cubes that make up the alien’s spaceship in the movie – and I think it works really well. I was worried at one point that he was starting to resemble ‘Pinhead’ from the Hellraiser film franchise, but I think by softening the lines I’ve avoided that. He looks quite sad, but then the character goes through quite a lot of emotional turmoil during the length of the film, so I think a slightly forlorn expression is more than reasonable given the circumstances! Putting the text in a Super 8 film strip seemed like a no-brainer to me, and perhaps it IS a little obvious, but I’m hoping no-one else will have thought filling the entire background with the same strips – if only because drawing them took the longest out of everything!
I’m really pleased with the finished design. What the white/grey head loses in depth that some of my other versions had, it gains in a sense of innocence, and spooky, other-worldly light. As already mentioned, I’m chuffed with the background – the time it took to draw paid off, and although I tried several colours, this dark purple/red/brown shade really makes a good contrast to the soft light of the head. The type lacks a little of my usual flare, but makes up for it in impact, and even looks kind of old-school too. Overall it was worth the time, hard-work and money I put into it, and even if I don’t win, I would be pleased to feature it in my portfolio.
Final piece – Line Work
Here’s the head and the film strips as I drew them, before they went through the Photoshop car wash:
As mentioned above, I went through several versions of the head while i was trying to decide which one I would use. Here are the best of the rest:
– Pencils: This is of course, the medium I’m most confortable in, and while it was technically quite accurate, it was the safe option, and therefore rather boring…
– Brushpen: This one was a lot of fun actually. I never usually given myself the freedom of JUST using a brushpen, as usually the inaccuracy bugs me… but I really liked this one.
– Cross-Hatching: This was more my usual sort of style – tight, controlled line – some parts (such as the hair) work better than others (such as the skin tones) but I liked this one too – it seemed quite striking as an image
– Lines: Back to pencil again, this time with the aid of a ruler. I’d never done anything like this before, but I REALLY liked the effect – this was my second choice if the cubes hadn’t of worked.
Just as a parting gift, I though i would share the different stages of my cross-hatching piece. I scanned them in as I was going in case A) I needed a more basic version of the linework for something and B) quite frankly, in case I ballsed it up completely.
Special thanks to Brogan, Martin and Andy for putting up with my MANY questions about the submission of artwork process, and Lucy for helping me make most of the important decisions!
I’ve been knocking out and putting up a lot of shop-based work in the last couple of days in an attempt to finance Christmas, and I couldn’t have done it with out my beautiful (and very well organised) girlfriend MIZZ Lucy Benson 🙂 (blog post with details to come…)
But as it’s a bit of a slog to get it up and running, I decided to reward myself by entering a competition I’d had my eye on, the afore mentioned “Invincible: Viltrumite Vogue” by Project Rooftop – a chance to redesign the costume of young hero Invincible (Image Comics) with the entries to be judged by the artists of the comics themselves!
The idea behind my design concept was basically… I thought it looked cool (hey, at least I’m honest!) but the finished design ended up looking quite armoured, and therefore rather redundant on a character who is as he is named… Invincible. So then I started thinking about WHY he would need such a costume:
1) Invincible loses his powers! – The new costume could be a ‘power-suit’ of sorts, designed to mimic his old abilities until he gets them back (if he ever gets them back!)
2) Invincible’s secret identity is at risk! – this costume covers him up entirely, meaning that if his identity were to come under suspicion, he could dress a superhero buddy in the new costume, and appear in his civvies right next to him with no-one knowing the difference!
3) Invincible needs to be in space longer than a week! – According to Wiki, Omni-man was able to hold his breath for an entire week once, on an extended trip to space – it wasn’t clear exactly how long Invincible could hold his, but even if it was the same, what if it took him longer to get there? What if he got lost? This costume could be a modified space-suit, with a small oxygen canister for the long trip (and a built in MP3 player to help relieve the boredom of flying for a WHOLE WEEK – yeesh!)
4) Invincible needs to avoid that virus like the plague! – The original Scourge virus wiped out almost the entire Viltrumite race, so what if Invincible had to fight a creature made of out of it? Or Zombie Viltrumites infected with it? Well he’d need a costume to protect him wouldn’t he! Or would he? (does being a hybrid protect him?)
I do like my finished design – the body proportions are way off in places, but the general design concept is fairly clear, with the extra heads showing that the character can still be expressive and ‘human’ (a feature I think is important to include in a hero character) despite having his head enclosed in a full helmet. This mini-project was pretty frustrating in many ways: it seems that i had almost completely forgotten how to draw superheroes, and at one point I thought my computer was going to crash before I could save it, but it was a fun alternative to the large, and in terms of the comic I’m working on, rather over-bearing projects I’ve got going at the moment – I just hope that, although I SENT it before the EST Midnight deadline, they RECEIVED it before too
And receive it they did! I got an ‘honourable mention’ and some very kind words from fellow Projects Rooftoppers! I really didn’t expect this, so big thanks to P:R and all the comments, I look forward to entering the next one!