Reinstein Head Studies

Friday, March 28, 2008

I like to make maquettes for all the major characters that I need to paint for my comics. But what if a character only shows up on a few pages? I don't really have time to sculpt a head for everyone, but I still want to make sure they look consistent for the few pages on which they appear.

In the olden days, I used to try and get models (usually friends and family) to pose for me, but this has its obvious limits. Now, I like to "design" faces to my exact specifications and work out all the proportions on a character sheet. I've only started doing this fairly recently, but I find it to be a great help. I begin with a pencil sketch of all the angles and expressions I want, then paint it at my leisure. It's a great way to warm up for a day of painting since it helps me focus, motivates me, and is something that will benefit the larger project at hand.

With Mythos, the series of Marvel Comics origin stories, one of the recurring challenges is bringing well-known comic book characters into the world of reflected light. I often have a pretty solid idea of what these characters should look like in my mind's eye, but that doesn't always translate easily into paint.

Pictured above is Jack Kirby's drawing of Dr. Reinstein (also known as Erskine), the scientist responsible for creating Captain America. I gleaned what I could from his drawings, trying to capture the essence of the character's manner and expression. Because of the difference in visual language, it's a translation that can never be exact.

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