Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Operation: Look at Me

Welcome to the ground floor. I've been light on projects lately, so I'm starting to get proactive on the situation. I really liked working for Shadowrun. As I've covered in my previous posts, they liked me working for them, too. But like any child who knows that their parents love them, sometimes all they want is some attention.

'Look at me!' They scream, while doing anything on a spectrum from touching their nose with their tongue to climbing a tree while trying to juggle cats. The amount of attention they get is in direct correlation to the danger/impressiveness of their feat.

So I'm going to try and juggle some cats for Shadowrun.

My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness: I am a character artist. The faces/figures are crisp, clear, and individual, but the outfits are poorly thought out, lacking the required baubles and doodads that every post-magical-awakening badass should be fitted with. I struggle with the storytelling, not sure if I should go full leather chaps or 80's glam, and end up dropping a t-shirt and jeans on a bamf elven warrior. Even if they were Express Jeans, I should be doing better.

So I thought about it: I enjoy simple design. I like clarity of expression. But how do I get my cake and eat it? How do I tell a runner's story without chains and netting crisscrossing the frame like an S&M surplus store?

I looked through older (read: already published) Shadowrun illustrations, and I noticed another common theme: tattoos. Most of the tattoos are black tribals, which probably has more to do with their simplicity than a future cultural preference for frat boy tramp stamps. Don't get me wrong, they look cool and all, but for such a personal accouterment, you'd think there'd be more personality.

Which is why I did this sketch:

Meet Sparrow, the elven adept hacker. Adepts are runners that use magic to augment their abilities, rather than cast spells. Sparrow has augmented eyes, reflexes, speed, and stealth.

She also has one more important ingredient, badass-ness. After working on more than six illustrations with Shadowrun, it's the most important ingredient in every piece, and something I have to constantly remind myself of (lest my AD do it for me).

I was influenced by artists like Shawn Barber and Dan Dos Santos, who often let the skin of their subjects carry the narrative.

Now begins the hard part: painting an illustrated woman. I'll invariably have my share of stories on the process, but until then, make sure to introduce yourself. Just... don't make any sudden movements.

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