Concept: Baby Face redux

March 4, 2011

Of all my concept work the previous design for one of my villains ‘Baby Face’ received some of the harshest criticism, specifically in relation to the clothing. Even I’ve got to admit that in retrospect it was a terrible drawing, both in terms of the idea and its execution. Keeping what worked (the head) I decided to ditch the silly army-meets-Halloween vibe of the previous design and attempt to integrate the noir aesthetic I’ve been exploring more thoroughly, hopefully creating a shared style and set of influences amongst characters.

Generally I was thinking of Orson Welles’ in The Third Man when I was drawing it and how his dark suit in the role of Harry Lime gave the character a sort of ominous presence during daylight, while allowing him to disappear into the shadows during darkness. It perhaps makes the name connection with infamous bank robber ‘Baby Face Nelson’ more apparent too thanks to the fashion resembling that of his era. I’m also particularly pleased with how the old and new sensibilities mesh, the outlandish Cyclops’ eye and blank face lurking beneath the shadow of a trilby, not immediately apparent until you get closer keeping firmly in line with the cyberpunk tradition (yes again) of putting a strange spin on the familiar.

Admittedly having a villain in a dark suit is somewhat clichéd, but this isn’t necessarily for the worse; Baby Face is a henchman, someone doing the nasty work for the one who’s really pulling the strings. Being stereotypically monstrous simply furthers misdirection in the plot and all being well will stop readers guessing the ending and the true villain of the piece so easily.

So please, forget I said anything ;)

Concept: Fraison

March 3, 2011

Within the story world I’m currently writing, Professor Jasper Fraison is a key figure who is both respected and hated by the populace in equal measure. Having helped kickstart the cybernetic revolution he’s essentially the one thanked/blamed for making the first true cyborgs a possibility. In an attempt to steer away from more unfortunate mad scientist clichés I deliberately made him quite bland compared to the other designs, the intention being to have someone who wouldn’t look out of place on the street today – just an aging man with a lifetime of regret behind him who happens to be a genius in cybernetics…

On a related note; excluding a few other minor characters this concept marks the last design for my comic’s main cast! That’s not to say tweaks and redesigns aren’t in order here and there (because they are) but with this I have solid foundation on which to build and experiment, taking me one step closer to production :)

Concept: Feeling the Blues

February 19, 2011

This piece was something of an experiment in style. Being urged to leave my comfort zone and use new techniques I suppressed my usual crosshatching tendencies and tried something different.

Drawing Scratch I attempted to integrate some of the noir aesthetic I’ve been researching recently, creating heavy areas of pure black shadow across her figure to give the impression of depth and stark lighting. While I was basing this on the look of genre films I additionally drew on comics featuring appropriate high contrast styles such as Sin City and Savage, sacrificing detail for intensified mood. The trench coat she’s wearing resembles the kind Bogart wears in Casablanca and The Big Sleep, a new design which pushes her appearance away from that of traditional sci-fi with the prominent cyborg fixtures being concealed beneath it. This may seem illogical given my setting, however I feel it counterbalances by introducing intriguing themes of concealment and deception. Dressed like this Scratch could almost pass for being a regular human being, were it not for jagged circuitry mark on her neck and unnatural shine to her eyes.

The background interior was loosely based off one of Marchand and Meffre’s photographs of downtown Detroit – somewhere suitably bleak for the tone with a few additions to suggest a futuristic scenario. However, as with Scratch I’ve toned down the more obvious cyberpunk facets in favour of a more credible scene, with only the slightest hint it take place in the future. The focus being on the ambience rather than technological wows.

In relation to this I considered how Eduardo Risso’s artwork in 100 Bullets would often be given a specific colour palette for different settings and characters, giving stories their own distinct visual flavour and creating a vivid atmosphere. Here I wanted to reflect Scratch’s cynical personality with cold blues, also approaching the appearance of monochrome inherent in classic noir cinema.

My biggest complaint of the final image is that the lighting of the subject and setting don’t quite mesh with the background lacking the same sharp definition of light and shadow Scratch has. I’m pleased with the brooding atmosphere and look of the new trench coat, but I think I need more practice getting to grips with digital colouring and convincing lighting.

Concept: Scratch redux 2

February 12, 2011

With this new concept for my protagonist ‘Scratch’ I’ve kept much of the previous design but made a few tweaks which have hopefully resulted in a more refined look. Perhaps most noticeable are the changes I’ve made to the arms; the way I’m currently writing the story suggests that Scratch’s cybernetic prostheses are of a high standard – courtesy of a generous sponsor – and while I’m largely aiming for a used future aesthetic the clunky armour-like appearance in the earlier concepts was far too crude.

Here I’ve given them a more flexible look as though they were made of something rubbery rather than metallic, loosely modelling their shape and composition on the muscle structure of the organic equivalent. Also note how the design corresponds more closely with that of her neck, something which creates a greater sense of cohesion between details, while I’ve also taken elements of the arms structure and applied it to the feet in order to tie everything together. Clothing is largely unchanged, but on a previous criticism I received (thanks demontales!) I’ve rolled up her sleeves here to place greater emphasis on the arms’ uncanny presence along with a few minor adjustments to the braces and trousers.

A sizable improvement over the previous incarnations then and for the moment a satisfactory design. Now I just need to match this standard with a redesign for her coat.

Concept: Alexa

February 6, 2011

Considering her relatively brief (but important) appearance in the narrative as it currently stands I spent a disproportionate amount of time drawing up Alexa’s design. As an experienced neurological scientist I’d original envisioned her being much older, however her role and personality didn’t really fit my initial sketches and so I ended up making her appear considerably younger – assumedly being around 30-40 years as opposed to 50-60.

Dress wise I went for something a little different to my other characters, giving her the sort of smart wear fitting for someone of fairly influential standing and suitably formal for someone out on business. It does occur to me that glasses in a society of advanced cybernetics might be a slight anachronism, but just as laser eye surgery and contacts haven’t wiped lenses out it doesn’t seem too farfetched that the same might apply with future cyborg enhancements.

All in all I rather like this one, It’s just a bit of a shame such a minor character worked out so remarkably well.