Thursday, September 9, 2010

Universal Monsters...Boris Karloff as The Mummy & Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera

Here are two pen and ink stipple pieces I did of two of the original Universal monsters. I love these movies, and always in the back of my head have ideas for images I'd like to create for Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman etc. Even though these are of practically the same subject matter and share the same style and medium, and done more than a decade apart, these were very different experiences for me...

This one was drawn over two years ago, and the actual image measures 5 X 10 inches. After doing this one, I immediately wanted to switch to a smaller pen tip on future drawings to be able to draw even smaller dots for more detail in certain "finesse" areas...that, or work larger...or both. One problem with this type of drawing is that due to the huge amounts of time these require, it can be discouraging to really want to "go big".

Additionally, I think the paper in the sketchbook that I was working in may have wanted to bleed ever so slightly. I am constantly learning the same lesson over and over again when it comes to the quality of the supplies I work with, and how working with the wrong stuff can easily sabotage your efforts...or make you work twice as hard as necessary. Still, I had fun doing it and I liked incorporating the text into this piece.
This one below was done at least 12 years ago and fills an entire illustration board measuring 20 X 30 inches. I couldn't even begin to remember how many hours I put into it, but the answer "too many" works for that question. Also, my scanner had to do scan this in 8 segments that I reassembled with my amateur photoshop skills. If anyone can recommend to me somewhere that I can go to get large images scanned at a reasonable price, I would be forever grateful.

Everyone who sees it appreciates it for what it is, but lets just say that if I could do it all over again I'd make a few changes. For the most part, it would consist of fixing all of the compositional issues. There's way too much black. I'd lower the 5 circle portraits, make the logo bigger and more interesting and make the large background face of Karloff much bigger to better fill the entire space instead of having all that black. I wish that I could find the old sketchbook from this time period to show the original 3 inch sketch that had the composition much more like I wanted it to be than how the finished piece actually turned out. 

Having drawn this one so long ago, take into consideration that there were much less easily accessible resources for me to use as reference. I know for sure that I didn't have a computer at the time, and that the internet would have been all but useless anyway. I actually made reference photos for this piece from pausing a laser disc to photograph  the TV screen, and then went somewhere to have the photos developed. Even that crazy process would be way easier today with a much higher quality of result using high definition TVs, blu-rays, digital cameras or even screen caps with a computer.

It would have to be a long time before I could pull a re-do with a new Mummy piece. I'd rather tackle some big ambitious pieces with some other classic Universal Monsters first but the Mummy just has such awesome potential for detail work with all the wrinkles and bandages that I'll definitely be back one day for sure.

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