Princess Leia Pen & Ink Illustration
Inspired by the Drew Struzan Hellboy Cover dvd I decided to do an illustration in the manner that he works. Creating a full color image though proved to be a big involvement of time that I really didn’t have to invest so I opted to do a pen and ink version instead. This would get done much quicker than a fully painted image.
I put the layout itself together in Photoshop and then applied it to a 20×15 piece of rough Strathmore 4ply bristol. My intention was to primarily build the piece up with ink washes.
Rather than work the foreground first I put in the initial black shapes that would be representing deep space. Once this was set into place I would apply the layers of wash to to the figures it was surrounding and blend them into it.
This would allow me to create some atmospheric treatments and have the look of depth. As this is done I spatter in some white gouache with a toothbrush to create star patterns and an overall look of the cosmos as we would expect to see in such a science fiction piece.
Using a more watery application of thinned ink I create interesting abstract shapes into the areas that are the sky and space. In this case the I apply the ink to areas where the water has soaked into the paper. It isn’t super watery but just enough to allow the applied ink to spread out and follow the water. Because the water is fairly soaked in the ink feathers out nicely and has a soft edge which I wanted for the shapes representing space or atmosphere.
Further Embellishing the Characters
This shot of Leia I wanted to be part of the background but not distracting from the the middle figure which was to be the focal point of the layout. So I have it “ghosted” back in a sense using washes. It doesn’t really look transparent until a spatter some star patterns onto it. After I do that it recedes into the background nicely as I had hoped. The Death Star and the characters around it are dealt with in basically the same manner.
Now the rest of the characters involved in the piece are built up and finished. And here it starts to look like something.
The going is a bit tedious but it pays off as all figures begin to have a sense of cohesiveness. Bit by bit each shape is dealt with and treated with care. Using the white of the paper for the highlights and allowing it to show through the washes is ideal in getting the effect of light.
After around 20 hours or so the illustration is basically completed. Since Leia’s figure is essentially her in a white gown all it requires are some washes here and there for the folds in the material. Her face and blaster require the same attention as the other elements but they get done in quick time. After everything is embellished the airbrush is applied here and there for added atmospheric treatment.
One day I still hope to do a color piece in the Struzan technique. But I’m sure it’s much harder than he makes it look. If I’m able to tackle it I will do my best to blog about it here and we’ll see if I could make it work or not.
Until next time.