Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Normal Guy Character Illustrations

Can you be a super-hero without wearing tights with your underwear on over them? After the jump I take a crack (no pun intended) at two such examples.

Technically these two guys are supporting characters in an adventure, and not super-heroes themselves. I bet sometimes they sneak on some tights when no one is looking, though, just so they can feel like one of the heavy hitters. First up was was Harry Kruger, who came with the following description:

Harry is a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair and usually a little bit of a tan. When he is working at NASA, he will generally be found wearing cotton dockers and a cotton long-sleeve shirt. On cool days, he dons a flight jacket with the insignia of the space plane mission that he remembers fondly.
From that came this illustration:

I like his jacket particularly, the leather pattern overlaying it really makes it pop. And he looks distinctive, too; I've been trying to make my character illustrations different from one another, so they seem like actual people instead of iconic stereotypes.

The next character was Benjamin Mokento:

Benjamin is a handsome, stocky man with very dark skin short-cropped hair slowly turning white. Although the muscles of his legs have withered over the years, his arms are quite muscular. Benjamin dresses conservatively, favoring crisply ironed clothes and distinctive ties. His wheelchair has a brown leather back and seat and chrome plating.
With some help from excellent photo reference found online, I came up with this image for Mokento:This is one of those illustrations that I liked much better in black and white than the final color version. Coloring is a very particular skill, and one that I am still struggling to master. In this case the problem was exacerbated by the character being African, with very dark skin according to the description. I ultimately had to cheat a bit to make his skin a bit lighter, because I really struggled with the darker tones. Getting ebon skin to show up without completely obscuring the ink lines is something I don't know how to do yet, and in the end I am not happy that I had to work around it rather than doing it right.

Once again I am reminded that when a non-artist looks at a piece of art, they see mostly the good things. When an artist looks at a piece of art (particularly his own), he sees only the bad.

Anyway, these were two quick and fun illustrations to do, each with its own challenges. I turned them both around in a day, which is pretty good. The balance between quantity and quality is an age-old one. I've usually been much better at cranking work out quickly, while sometimes sacrificing what could be better quality. But the gap is narrowing, and I am finally getting to the point where I can still work produce illustrations quickly while getting results I'm mostly happy with.

1 comment:

Rob Rogers said...

As I think you know, I love both of these, Jeff. And I think you sell yourself short on the coloring. I saw the black and white version of Benjamin Mokento (who, by the way is actually a player character, although by no means a superhero) and prefer the color because of the additional depth it brings to the character.