A Bold(ly Going) Commission

Here’s another recent commission: My friend Paul Kimball is, like me, a very big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I sought to portray him as a replacement of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a kind of alternative timeline.

The reason I prefer TNG over the original series may be entirely circumstancial. I was in my teens when I watched the show on Mexican cable –untranslated, so it was also an opportunity to hone my English skills– and I got to appreciate all of the characters; especially Data, who could be used as both a comic relief as well as to explore some of the most thought-provoking topics.

For the piece I decided to deviate from my usual ‘cartoony’ style –do I have a style at all?? People say I do but I’m not sure– and try something much more realistic. I found a really good photo of Picard on his private quarters, which seemed more interesting than the typical portrayal of him sitting at the Enterprise’s bridge.

It was then a matter of replacing Picard’s head with Paul’s. I didn’t use an actual photo of Paul, though, but instead studied several reference photos of him and came up with what I call a more ‘idealized’ version of him –leaner, with more accentuated features, and also I cropped his hair shorter just like Picard’s. I then proceeded to ‘paint’ the entire scene using a variety of different brushes and techniques, because I wanted to see if I could attain a more ‘paint-like’ look and erase all of the line art.

Now here’s a little secret: When I first shared the image with other friends, my heart sank when one of them asked “who is that?” I realized that along the way I had lost some of Paul’s resemblance.

This is an older commission requested by Paul, along with his co-star Holly
This is my original sketch. As you can see it’s not a bad resemblance, but because I exaggerated the chin and cheekbones, and made the stare too intense, it didn’t look too much like Paul

Paul didn’t say anything (I think he was recovering from an illness at the time) but after feeling like shit for one night, I decided that I would do my best to improve the resemblance. Fellow artists will know there’s absolutely nothing worse than correcting/re-making something you’ve already done once. Re-tracing your steps feels almost like an impossible task, especially if you’re like me and you fail to record the kind of steps you took and tools you used. But after I overcame the franticness I slowly started to deconstruct and analyze what I needed to do so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. I heavily modified the chin and cheekbones, slightly altered the mouth and the eyes, and finally came up with something that looked more like Paul.

Overall, I still have to admit I’m not 100% satisfied with the end result. Paul has one of those faces that, for some reason, are VERY difficult to capture. He was pleased with it nonetheless.

Remember, if you want to contact me for an original piece, you can reach me at:

absurdbydesign[at]gmail[dot]com

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