Monday, December 31, 2012

Doctor Strange and Clea - DANCING


In my most previous post [HERE] wherein I showcased a "recent" commission (uh... from *cough* August), I also noted that there was another commission request that I had worked up not too long thereafter (September/October) that I wanted to share here as well.

Well, I really wanted to get these on the blog here before 2012 comes to an official end, so... here it is.

You really need to click on the pics to see them at all.
There are waaaaay too many details to be seen in the small image that fits in the blog.
(and sadly, even the scan can't capture all the details and shading in the original drawing, so...)
If you REALLY want to see them BIG, then "right-click" and open in a new tab or window.
Otherwise, a simple click will open it in a blogger-slideshow big enough to see.

drawn in pencil (blue and graphite) on 11x17 vellum-finish bristol board
the typed URLs are only on the scan, not on the original

This commission came to me by a reader of my comic blog (which is why these scans have that blogs URL and email contact info on them), wherein she requested an image of DOCTOR STRANGE (yes, him again) dancing in the moonlight, with his long-time love; Clea, beneath the window of his Sanctum Sanctorum.

My first rough sketch, based upon the initial criteria of the requester - where she wanted it to be:

", energetic dancing -- in contact with the ground and with each other, but just barely. Clothes likewise -- anything that is relatively close to the body but still shows some 'flow' is fine with me..."

...wasn't quite what either of us were hoping for.

Certainly, I did get all the specifics of her request; "free, energetic dancing"? - check. "Barely in touch with the ground or each other"? - check. Sanctum window and full moon? - check. But still, it didn't seem quite right.

Personally, I love(d) Clea's pose and her coy smile, but Doctor Strange is usually a bit more stoic to be seen doing whatever "frug" I drew him doing there.

I also wanted to add a little something to the composition, as if it were just the two of them beneath the moon-lit window, it would have seemed... lacking.

So, I tossed in a variation of a statue of the Hindu deity Nataraja's most famous incarnation as the "Dancing Shiva".  The reasoning being that the character of Doctor Strange was tutored in the mystic arts in Tibet, and is (or should be, at least) learned in all Eastern religions, so it would be a natural thing to have around his Sanctum. Also, the fact that the Shiva is "dancing" helps to echo the actions going on in the background.
However, I hedged my initial bet, unsure if the buyer would want a religious artifact to be shown, so I instead inserted an "other-dimensional" variation of the statue (and to be comic-canon accurate, I found that just such a designed state was used in an issue of Doctor Strange's own comic [# 55 to be exact]).

However, much to my delight, and to the buyer's credit, she thought having the dancing Shiva present would be a nice touch.

She did have some minor changes, however - lose the curtains (easy, but not without consequence to the composition) and find a better dance pose (er...not so easy).

After a few email exchanges wherein we discussed just what sort of pose she truly wanted: dynamic, counter-balanced, graceful, with a mixture of "in-love" and "free" feelings.

At that point, I realized that the type of dance I should be aiming for was more "ballet" than free-form.

So... I whipped up a few.

While, I personally loved a few of these poses, none of them were quite what the commissioner was looking for, so I did another...

THIS pose, at least of the male figure, was what she wanted. Now I just had to find a better pose for the female figure.

So, I tweaked it a few more times.

That last one was the one she liked! It seemingly had all the criteria that was required. The only minor request on her part was that I not show the full rear-end of the female. That was easily done, and made for a better pose, as I was able to shift "Clea's" weight and pose to the side, thus allowing her torso to twist to better face (and allow her arm to reach) her male dance partner.

Of course, the entire time I was sketching the roughs, I had in mind to keep Doctor Strange "topless", dressed just in his tights and sash/belt, as it gave him more of a "ballet" flair. That, unfortunately, wasn't what the buyer wanted, as the character had recently changed his costume and no longer wore his flowing tunic and tights combo, but instead a more form-fitting combo with a "tails" extension which flowed behind his legs.

SO... it was that in which he was dressed.

However, there were other mediating decisions and circumstances surrounding nearly every aspect of the illustration. 

For example; Doctor Strange's outfit had been drawn in the comics as either being some kind of leather / latex  material; shiny and slick , or as a matte fabric.
Personally, while I preferred the matte fabric style if I were to render it thus, he would have blended into the black background, so I had to go shiny.

Also, the nighttime sky... I opted for a horizontal "foggy" look to counterbalance the swirling smoke emanating from the incense brazier and statue (the shape of the smoke helped take the place of the curtains drapery). It also helped to make the sky drop back into its own plane - separate from the black walls or the curved window pane.

A few design choices paid off quite well:
- The numerous circular motifs; moon, window, Shiva statue, moonlit floor.

- The pose of the dancers emulated the "tic-tac-toe" shape of the window pane

Certainly, I can see many things I'd like to take another crack at, but the buyer was thrilled!
When it arrived at her home, she told me that the scans did not do it justice, as there are MANY subtle details and rich shading values which a scanner simply can not capture.

She also took it upon her self to computer-color it as well, and I have to say, she did a fabulous job!

So, if anyone has an interest in getting some commissioned comic art drawn by me, you can see that I give a lot of thought and consideration to the job. And I always strive to deliver more than what has been paid for.

I'll post a price list in a new post to start off 2013.

Happy New Year!
Let's hope to get more commissions to showcase here in the year to come!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Doctor Strange


This post SHOULD have been made in August 2012.
However, I neglected to do so, and such it's being entered now before 2012 wraps.

Oh, so how to begin this post after...Lo! A YEAR or so has passed since my last offering.
Many quotes could be used, from Mark Twain's oft-repeated, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" to even to paraphrase Eva Peron's (by way of the play, 'Evita'), "Don't cry for me 'blogger-readers', the truth is I never left you..."

So what HAVE I been doing these past many months?

Well, a lot of real-life @#$%^&* (my car's transmission gave up the ghost and my wife's car had problems that in order to fix cost the money I had saved to buy a used one for ME).
After a summer of no real work (my current job with a school is "seasonal") I've been called back for the new school year, but it's a rough schedule.

But, the good news is that during the summer, I got to do some freelance artwork.

I had a few occasions to use my talents to earn some well-needed green - two for old employers, who - while still not able to rehire me - due to budgetary constraints - occasionally send me some requests for artwork. I won't bore you with those pieces, since they tend to be, non-comic-book, exploded-view technical specs for how to assemble assorted products. *yawn*

There's a promotional comic book project that has been given the green-light, but it's still in the planning stages, so that isn't anything I can work on at the moment.

However, I have had a few instances where I have either been asked (or, took it upon myself) to draw a comic-book character (or two) for a readers of my comic blog.

Sadly, I didn't scan in some of the other pieces, as they were more or less "quickies" ($10 - $20 "sketches" drawn on comic book backing boards, which, while I might call them "sketches", can be very detailed and often are what other artists might charge double the amount to produce).
Characters like Batman, Spider-Man and Green Lantern. Cool stuff, but, as I said, basic sketches and I mailed them off without nary a scan.

In fact, the object of this post (and my next) were actually drawn during the summer. This one having been drawn for someone who did not request one, per se, but did - out of the goodness of her heart - made a donation to the blog via paypal.

A kind reader opened her heart (and purse) to send a donation and so touched was I by her kindness that I made sure to draw her something "special" as my way of saying thanks.

click to enlarge

drawn by PTOR, ye humble blogger.
(so humble that I only sign my work with the mysterious -yet stylized-
 "?" question-mark-shaped letter "P".)
Oh, and the since it was commissioned via the comic blog I tossed that URL up top.
But no worries, the URL typed along the top is only on this digital version.

Drawn in pencil (blue and graphite) with copious amounts of subtle detail and shading, on 8.5 x 11 bristol board (the type of paper used for the drawing of comics), I presented her with this rendition of Doctor Strange (a large head-shot with a smaller full-body pose alongside).

Basically, I drew two different "roughs" and then dove into this final piece (which would normally fetch somewhere around $50 - $70 or so at this size and level of detail, but I gave to her "free" to repay a kind deed).

Just so you can see the process, here are the two sketches.

 2 ballpoint pen scribble sketches.

The first sketch I was looking for the right "mood" for Doc's face. Then, I just wanted to rough out the rest of the composition: smaller full-figure of Doctor Strange in his astral form, window design, but wasn't sure about adding the collar of the Cloak of Levitation.

The second sketch, I made the main figure / bust a bit smaller so I could fit in the cloak and the Eye of Agamotto, and then changed the position of the smaller figure to one that I liked much better.
But, the main figure now seemed too small for the composition, so I would have to lose the cloak and Eye entirely to accommodate the larger head.

And thus, once the final layout was deemed "right", I worked up the final piece that you saw above.
(Normally, if I was taking this as a commission - and not a surprise "thank you" - I'd have emailed the rough sketch to see if that was the direction the buyer would want before drawing the final piece.)

I sent her a scan of the final piece to see if she liked it, and then, with her approval, sent the physical drawing on it's way.

So pleased was she that she commissioned another item.
But that might be included in a future compilation post.