The Ol' Vitruvian Man Bit

Even though I’ve been doing this newspaper graphics and illustration gig for a long time, it’s always fun when something I’ve made goes on a section front, paired up with the efforts of seasoned journalists. Here’s an illustration I created for a story by Brandon Bailey which ran on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. You can read his excellent work at this link.

Open in a new window for a very large version.

I suppose a possible reaction to this illustration might be, “so, the Vitruvian Man shtick, huh?” I know, I know, you can shake your head and say, “bit cliche,” right? I kind of feel that way, too; but sometimes illustration is about finding a common cultural touchstone and tweaking it to fit your message.

As I brainstorm-doodled, I was using a figure I had drawn previously for another medical illustration, hoping it could be a springboard to get an idea going. One of my editors said that it reminded him of the Vitruvian Man. Hmm. I thought hat might work! I decided to commit entirely to it and see what happened. I don’t believe I’ve made use of this image before –– this crutch, if you will –– in any of my illustrations; at least not that I remember, so don't hold me to it if you come across one in the blog backlog.

Here's how it looked in the paper.
Don't bother clicking, it doesn't get any bigger.

Ha! Now I think, “But so what if I did?” What can you do? Leonard DaVinci was a badass. Here we sit in far away modern America, almost 500 years after he died and you can riff on his work and everyone still knows who he was. He was an art monster.

I found a good size jpeg for reference and the instant I looked into that drawing’s eyes and started making my line on a blank document off to the side, I felt it. The profound weight of those marks on that paper shouting at us from the intense heat of the Renaissance as it exploded like a Big Bang of science, culture and aesthetics. The drawing is so amazing because of where it’s from, when it’s from, and what it represents. Such a beautiful drawing. I certainly enjoyed the experience of adapting it to my purposes.

Drawn in MangaStudio5 and Photoshop.

The End.

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