The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rorschach Pt.4: Cosplay!

Yes, I did it. I don't generally show my reference photos because most of them are either half-nude and/or utterly embarrassing. These are just embarrassing, but because you can't see my face they fall just short of "utterly." And in most of these Tips & Techniques entries I mention reference shots but rarely post any.

The dimly lit entry ways of the Austin St. Apts. meant that my initial conception of Rorschach being near the camera with the scene in the distance no longer worked. So, I decided to move him right up to the entryway of the door--after all, at night, the only way you could see him was to have him standing in the doorway's light. I would roll back the clock to sometime between 1964 and the Watchmen's alternate-universe date of 1985. By looking at Rorschach you can't tell what year it is--he wears the same basic outfit for most of 21 years. I didn't have any sugarcubes handy, but holding one is easy to pantomime. My first shots, which I will not show, had him lifting the mask and eating one, as he does on occasion in the story--a very odd but endearing detail they chose to portray. From no angle was it readable, however--the mask lifted up, the hand position, the ink that would be on the mask, and the distance all made for that portrayal to be an impossibility. So, I went for various poses that had him unwrapping a piece of "chewing sugar," and about to pop one.

We were now in our apartment in NYC. As it turned out, the door that closes off our kitchen/dining area has window panes almost exactly like the windows in the actual Austin St. doors. What luck! By blocking out some lower panes, I essentially had the door again, and the dining room ceiling lamp was positioned roughly where the hallway light was. So I could count on the door and the lighting, and I had most of the costume together. Not having a mask, we covered my head with a hand towel and just knew that would be where I'd have to make the most stuff up.

And now, what you came for:

Finalist #1 above, #2 below

"Really, man, don't do it"

We took a lot of shots, but these were my favorites. I liked the raking shadows from the window pane above, and the negative space of the one below. My wife, who was still in the middle of reading the book when we took the shots, noticed his left shoulder strap was constantly undone, so we undid mine. Point for her!

I honestly intended to have the painting done in time for San Diego Comic-Con for obvious reasons. I failed to do so, and so these were taken just afterwards. My next goal was to have it done for GenCon less than 2 weeks later.

A couple days later I found myself at dinner with a couple of industry folk, including a person I know who actually works at DC. We had our camera with us to take pictures at dinner, and my oh-so-lovely wife decided it would be fun to bring up my pending Rorschach picture. One person was working at DC, the other--an Art Director I've worked with for years--was currently reading Watchmen, too, having been handed a copy while visiting the DC offices. Mind you, the DC person is not in a position to give me work, and I am loath to impose myself on people out-of-context. So you can imagine my dismay at having it brought up at all, and my horror as Monica decided to show the reference photos, which I had failed to delete from the camera's memory card. Oh my. That's what I get for Cosplaying. Of course they greatly enjoyed seeing them; I just kept hearing "How To Disappear Completely" by Radiohead in my mind until it was over.

I had had difficulty in choosing which of the finalists I was going to use, but I was sorta leaning towards #1. I think the consensus at the table was that #2 was better. Since I was happy with either, it was not much of a decision to trust this early focus-group and switch my choice. So, thanks guys!

With that in place, we'll get to the final chapter--the doing of it. It sorta seems anti-climactic now--I think this backstory may end up being more interesting!