SquaredCo - a company set on creating high quality art and events, celebrates the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride in a big way, with film screenings and an art gallery, featuring great giveaways and some fantastic artists such as Andrew Kolb, Cassie Hart Kelly, and Leire Martin.
I am so excited to be part of this show with these other talented artists. You can see the whole gallery of offerings on their site. Such wonderful pieces - be sure to take a look and pick up some of your favorites! If you are so inclined, my piece can be purchased here.
Now a little bit about the creation of my contibution to the show.
"He's Gaining on Us"
I love working in vertical dimensions. When I was watching the film doing my research and getting inspired, the Cliffs of Insanity scene came up I said "That's It. That's what I need to do". It came very easily.
The question was how to portray it and what rules to break. In the movie Fezzik wears a harness that Inigo, Buttercup, and Vizzini attach themselves to as he climbs the rope. For the sake of seeing faces, I re-positioned everyone and concentrated on just making a fun silhouette.
Here is my initial sketch on the iPad (using Procreate). Not much changed in the pose from the initial drawing. This shows 2 levels of refinement - I worked in a loose black color and then refined the idea in red. The biggest amount of noodling happened with Princess Buttercup, where I tried an option where her hands were tied together before going back to this.
Here is a view of the initial cleanup line - still working in Procreate. The "brush" I use is custom made and simulates a felt pen. It has a slight fade on the edges and a smooth clean look. I prefer to work the lines, giving it a more hand-done quality rather than constructing the lines in vector. I have done a lot of pieces in vector for linework (using Flash), but lately I have settled in on simply enjoying the process and not worrying too much about exact line perfection. Also - if I can draw on a tablet, I push that pipeline for all it's worth!
On to color. Everything is manually filled as I also generate self-color lines. I tend to pick the palette based purely on my instincts rather than selecting from reference. The beige colors mixed with muddy greens and vivid oranges and reds, gives that feel of classic fairytale book mixed with royalty. The Princess being the prize in this case - you can't pass up an opportuity to showcase a red dress.
The self color lines offer a cartoon look with softness. I didn't place shadows everywhere, but they do offer a tad of dimension and help with those big Fezzik arms. In the image above you can see the flatter stage before some of the self color and shadows are added.
The color decisions are made pretty quickly, but for some reason, Westley, with the black robes, threw me for a loop. I went back and forth on his line color about 3 times, coloring everything before changing my mind and doing it all over again.
The colors and costumes are loosely referenced from the film. I didn't force myself to stay too true to those verbatim, especially on Vizzini. Speaking of which, he was the biggest challenge of me out of all the characters. You can see here if you compare the images, I changed the shape of his head quite a bit and moved around the facial features well after finishing the coloring. I made him look more creepy than goofy. The idea was that he was indeed angered by noticing "The stranger" climbing the rope and challenging his plan. He's really more of a little monster here than a smug genius.
The image above shows progress further along. I'm working in Photoshop at this point because layers are beginning to add up and texture comes into play. I added bit of a "stained" look over the characters, and used it even more on the background. The background plan was to place the feeling of rock cliffs made of graphic shapes, and just enough vegetation to add interest without overtaking the characters. I added airbrushed areas of "mist" to tone back areas, and even more-so at the bottom of the art to promote the feeling of climbing up into the clouds. The bottom could be endless - this is a dangerous predicament.
The ornate frame was a last touch to cement the "storybook" feel - choosing colors on that was also tricky - about 10 or more options, balancing the line color and base color against the background with different tones. Also, because of the frame design, characters got slightly repositioned, offering a tad more distance between Wesley and the rest.
Here are 2 alternate ads created for the event. The Fezzik one was used, but I did make 3 just for fun and variety, utilizing the SquaredCo layout provided.
That just about wraps it up. Special thanks to Mark Morris (@emm_squared) for selecting me to participate in this great collection of art, and of course Rob Reiner for making such an epic film!
I hope you enjoyed reading! 'Till next time.