Sunday, August 29, 2010

(M)ad Man

I feel like I'm touting AMC's original shows a bit much now that I've done a Breaking Bad piece as well as this new Mad Men piece. Still, the fact is that they are two of the most well-crafted shows on television. In fact, both won at the Emmys last night, with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul winning for their performances on Breaking Bad and Mad Men winning Writing and Dramatic Series.
With season 4 of Mad Men in full swing, I felt like taking a stab at a portrait of the man himself, Don Draper. Throughout the series, Draper has always been steadfast and confident, an enigma at his workplace. However, season 4 has shown the slight cracks in his facade as his family dissolves and his lifestyle catches up to him, something which was especially evident in last night's episode Waldorf Stories.
I wanted to show this version of Draper, alone and at the office after hours because there's no real home to go back to.It turns out Jon Hamm is really tough to draw. It seemed to be about lining up the features just right between the ridiculously good hair and the uber-masculine jawline.
After some struggling, I got what felt like the right fit. In wanting to show the weaker side of Draper, I also decided to show the stubble grown out a bit, his tie loosened, and wrinkles in his shirt. I feel like its really like letting his guard down now that's alone.When it came time to color, I fooled around with different color schemes for a while before settling on a palette that was softer and reminiscent of the 60s. Like my previous Predators piece, I decided to try out a very strong key light on one side of the face. When I was starting this, I took reference photos of myself and also looked at pictures from Scorsese's Shutter Island, because of its super dramatic lighting.I also began experimenting with more gradients and blurs, which is normally something I shy away from in fear that its over-Photoshopped. But I'm very pleased with the way they worked and how the gradients create a sort of film noir slice of light across Draper's face.Overall, this piece ended up being a real success for me in terms of experimentation and trying to capture a likeness.
Now for something completely different, I am working on an image for an album cover with knights and a dragon!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Guns of August

I've recently begun doing banners for the Capital New York, an online publication which is still in its beta phase. Capital New York was co-founded by former New York Observer editor Tom McGeveran.
What's great about Capital New York, apart from just really solid writing, is Tom's goal to include illustration as an integral part of the site, which includes a new banner every week. Other artists to create banners have been Steve Broder (one of my illustration idols) and Alex Citrin. My first banner was a portrait of M.I.A. during her controversial performance at Governor's Island, where sound problems caused her to throw her mic at the sound crew and spit at cameras before a huge downpour started.
This time around, Tom wanted to cover the theme of "the Guns of August" meaning all of the big, flip outs that have happened lately, which includes JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, David Dinkins flipping the bird, and K Rod assaulting his father-in-law as well as the giant police shoot out in Harlem.
Part of the challenge with these banners is creating an image within such a specific format (708x145 pixels) as well as designing the image to fit nicely with the layout of the Capital New York site. With the sketches, I tried to include all of the subjects in the same melee, as though this were some kind of conspiracy of ridiculous behavior. I also really wanted to include the text "The Guns of August" because it just seems so ominous and cinematic.Both Tom and I really liked the first sketch. I was jumping at the opportunity to do such dramatic poses as well as the detail of the Harlem buildings in the background. Although we opted to change the poses of the three central characters as to not imply that they were all fighting each other.After we agreed on this composition, I went ahead with the drawing. Because of the size of the banner I did nearly the entire drawing with a Micron pen rather than my usual brush to preserve as much detail as possible.From the beginning of the drawing, I already had a color palette in mind. In looking up reference photos of K Rod, I really enjoyed the colors of the Mets jerseys (maybe because of the similarity to that of the Detroit Tigers) and I figured that they could extend to the entire image, including Slater's JetBlue uniform.I'm very happy with the piece and how well the colors ended up working. I'm especially happy with how nicely it fits into the top of the Capital New York site.I always have a blast working with Tom and Capital New York and certainly look forward to the opportunity again!
Stay tuned as I'm working on a couple of new pieces that I'm very excited to show.