Friday, March 19, 2010


In February in March I gave myself a much needed refresh by attending the online Discovery Program. It was 5 intense weeks and just what the doctor ordered. The faculty was an all-star lineup of illustrators, painters, and entertainment artists. I'm going to post some of the studies I have been working on as a result of this program. First up: Conceptual Portrait assignment which was led by Anita Kunz and critiqued by Chris Payne In between I received great feedback from other instuctors and the amazing community of students at the forums.

Here is my process:
My subject - Stompin' Tom Connors.
My concept - Tom blowing smoke at the Olympics.

The first element about Tom that I wanted to play with is the fact that he supposedly smokes a 108 cigarettes every day. The man doesn't fly because he can't smoke on a plane anymore! The second element that I came across in my research is that he would have been all aboard for being a part of the Vancouver Olympics but he wasn't holding his breath for the call.

So from their I wanted to playoff the olympic torch and the lighting of one of his many many cigarettes. I was pretty excited about the concept of the olympic torch carriers obliviously running past Tom on stage as he juts his head forward - His cig being lit in the process. (bottom left thumbnail) In the crit the feeling was that this would be too much of a scene and less of a portrait. I tottally agreed and took Jon Foster's concept of the 'smoke olympic rings' into my second round of thumbs.

I struggled to make the rings work as if they were billowing across his face. I think I was trying to keep the composition of the thumb I liked from before and this was ultimately futile. After simplifying and tilting the angle a bit I landed on something I liked.

Ok this is the embarrassing part. I couldn't be farther in appearance from Tom but I went ahead and shot this quickly to help get a sense of the Frankenstein lighting that would be coming from his cigarette.

Struggling on tracing paper trying to hit the likeness.

Still wasn't feeling like Tom.

So I did a couple studies from some of the ref I have gathered.
That got me feeling pretty good and with a lot of tracing paper and photoshop layers I've arrived at:

At this point I was willing to accept that I wasn't going to nail the likeness. The fact that he was in profile was not helping.

Tommy Krueger - I got way carried away in Photoshop and I ended up transforming my drawing into exactly Freddy Krueger. Yikes!

So that obviously wasn't gonna cut it (bad pun)

And here is where I landed. Not a big success likeness wise - but I learned a lot!

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