And The Winner Is...

The final piece.
Me! Because I got to spend some time at work drawing; such a luxury these days. Deliberately, I kept a serious tone for this illustration. For my artistic workload, merriment and silliness are what I indulge in the most. I'd like to say that's an attitude I use as I would a heavy stick to beat some sense into the world, but I'm afraid it's just me being me.

I often worry aloud that I don't have it in me to create anything that doesn't wear a foolish grin. Internally, I know I can be dignified, but I don't have much to offer as proof that it is so. I decided to treat this assignment differently. It was difficult. I can't describe the power of my drive to have fun with the most overweening ritual of our entertainment community. Such a fuss over millionaires giving each other praise and trophies for pretending to laugh or to cry in front of a camera. I respect the art and the craft, but it's embarrassing that we inflate their importance. But, I'm a silly newspaper cartoonist, and I digress...

No more of this crappy attitude.
I fell from my declared intention before my first pencil stroke; or, should I say, prior to the first stroke of the stylus against the tablet. I doodled the Jeff Bridges character and the Black Swan lady dancing together. Fun! But, what was I doing? Playing. No play this time, I decided. Work!

I did a quick thumbnail -- not handy right now; I'll post it later -- that looked just like the finished piece. (Strike that. There was no Zuckerberg character. He was added in last, at the request of the editor.) I thought I would design it as though it were a movie poster.

Hm. Meh.
My first idea was to work in the pen and ink style of Charles Dana Gibson, or Montgomery Flagg. This is the experimental sketch of the Colin Firth character, referenced from one of the film's promotional photos. It's fun to work that way, but it didn't say "The Movies" to me. I don't think there's ever been a pen & ink movie poster.

There never will be, I'm guessing, unless someone makes a movie about Charles Dana Gibson or Montgomery Flagg. That's not likely, but I'd be happy to work on it if they need it done.


About half-way through.
I decided to emulate the old gouache movie posters; a flatter, more graphic approach. This was my first take on that style. I liked the True Grit character, and the statue came out okay. Black Swan? She wasn't quite looking like the actress, but just as long as you get the eye makeup close to correct, it's such an iconic image that she won't be mistaken for anyone else.

Colin Firth? He wasn't doing so well. You can see, in desperation, I've modeled his face a bit, trying to wrest a recognizable likeness out that mess. I wasn't quite getting it. Finally, I ran the "cutout" filter on that drawing, and he sorta looked like him! I drew over the top of that to squash all traces of the filter and felt that I'd gotten close enough. Nifty trick, I thought. So, I also filtered the drawing of the statue. That didn't help so much. I retreated from that.

If you look at the final piece you can see that in comparison to the first Bridges sketch, Firth is much more rendered. He contrasted too much with Bridges and the statue. I added more detail to the statue and a touch more modeling to Jeff B and to Black Swan lady to ease them into the same general style. No way was I going to keep wrestling with Firth.

It was very satisfying to hold true to a respectful approach all the way through. Work turns entirely into play when I apply myself, and this didn't feel like work after I got two or thee hours into the chore. There was struggle and there was doubt, but there always is. That's part of the fun for me.

And it's fun to show that I can, indeed, create respectful, humorless, charmless art. Ha!

The End

Update, March 5.
Here's that rough that I mentioned. Took a while to find it. Done it plain old pencil on typing paper. Do they even call it typing paper any more? How dinosaur.