Yay it’s finally finished! The Article following the making of this Illustration is below
The Making of 321-PinUp — Studying Rockwell
I feel so old saying this, but I remember when the internet wasn’t a thing– at least not in my house! But when we got it– oh boy! I was already a fan of Japanese animation because I grew up watching Toonami which featured shows like Dragon Ball, Speed Racer… Sailormoon- TO WHICH I’M A HUGE FAN!– Sailor Jupiter foreva!!! *Clears Throat* So when we got the internet, those were the things I looked up. Naturally these searches introduced me to other anime like NGE, Tenchi Muyo– and also, Comics. I was fascinated by the photos of comic covers I would find, and in my search I discovered artists J Scott Campbell, and the late great Michael Turner of Fathom Comics. These two artists are the reasons I wanted to become one, and I begged mom to find me a comic store where I could purchase every title with their names on it just to have their art at my finger tips.
I studied Michael Turner’s work in particular, even learned how to draw like him at one point because I was soooo sure that if I became good enough, I’d get to meet him one day, and maybe even work at his side. Mind you I had no idea how comics worked, so that was my idea of things. I was heartbroken when he passed, but the dream was alive in me, and I was determined to figure out how to become an artist like him. The thing is, back then, it wasn’t easy to find tutorials or how toos on the net, so I developed a skill that allows me to pick art apart, by looking at it closely. This is how I learned how to draw, up until college.
Now we live in a day and age where many artist have how toos and tutorials, providing intimate details on the process they follow. What I’m doing here is much the same, only it’s going to be less about how to draw, but more about fleshing out an idea finding the right inspirations, and applying tips and tricks and problem solving. Overall, I’ll be siting sources, dropping names and links to the people and things that help me through the creative process and I hope what I have to share is helpful! With that said, lets get into the making of 321-Pinup, a Study of Rockwell.
Learning from Rockwell
Normally I would have taken a more dynamic approach with pinup, but since I was doing it in Rockwell’s style, and I had limited time, I made a conscious decision to keep this one simple. Fortunately for me, Rockwell has a relatively simple painting style. His compositions are usually straight forward and dead centered, his figures are a bit exaggerated and gestural, which breathes more life into them, and aside from the figures in his paintings, the backgrounds or surroundings have very limited shading– as if the flash from a camera washed out most the shadows and details.
One thing I had to pay attention to, when learning from Rockwell, is his Edge control– which is his ability to manipulate edges to create sharp contrasts between his figures and their backgrounds. Speaking of Edge control, it is an important tool an artist can use to create form, atmosphere and believability.
In general, edges are:
Harder in the light, softer in the shadow
Harder in the foreground, softer in the background
Harder on smooth forms, softer on textured forms
Harder on still forms, softer on forms in motion (on moving forms they are harder on the leading edge and softer on the trailing edge)
Harder at the center of interest, softer as you move away
Read more Here
In Rockwell’s work, you’ll mostly find his figures against a white background. Usually the strongest colors have the harder edges– and the brighter colors, like whites, creams, and grays have the softer edges– so soft in fact they almost blend into the white background. Putting this into practice actually helped me understand how to control my edges better making my work look cleaner. Definitely something I’ll continue to practice going forward.
How you display emotion in your work can be the difference between a nice drawing, and a nice drawing with soul. Faces, particularly the eyes are the most important feature, in my opinion, because of their ability to say so much. I’ve studied a many artists- SakimiChan, Kronprinz, Nebezial— all of which have one thing in common– they can draw some dang good faces full of personality. Body language is the second most important tell of emotion. When I was painting 321-Pinup, the leading lady went through at least 3 changes in her face and body. At first she was stiff, upright and smug, not a very welcoming character to meet coming into a diner. The second one was a bit more loose in her body language, but her face wasn’t quite right. Her stare seemed blank and void of emotion. Overall she was still pretty stiff. Third time’s a charm I guess. She loosened up more, leaning on the counter, and finally I could look at her face and hear her saying “Hey there!” Comparing the 1st draft to the final product, I’m glad I put in the extra work to give these characters some feels! After toiling away for almost a day on the lady’s face, I had learned so much that the guy’s face was a breeze. YAY! progress!!
Work through your Mistakes
I could have gone with a cleaner approach– smoothed everything out to make it look polished, but I deliberately left a sketchiness to it. I call it, showing strokes. In a way I think it adds to the personality of a painting, when you can see where the brush leaves its mark. A tip I learned from Cliff Neilson in one of his workshops, is to try to avoid using the eraser tool, in your digital paintings. Instead, treat it like real paint. If you make a mistake, paint over it, instead of erasing it. The residue it leaves after only adds to it.
There were some things I had to change. The background was altered to be more straightforward. After much consideration I decided the image would be stronger with one light source, and to keep the color pallet simple to mesh with Rockwell’s style. Overall, this was a wonderful experience. I honestly learned a bunch ! To close, I added a little gif, for your viewing pleasure! I’ll try to get better at making these