Here’s the latest illustration I’ve completed, commissioned by my good friend Paul Kimball; who once again asked me to do a fantasy portrait of his beautiful wife Linda (Linda, as you may already know, is the Spanish word for “pretty”).
Ever the hardcore Star Trek fan, Paul now wanted to see Linda as a Starfleet captain, sitting on that iconic (but not ergonomic!) chair at the helm of the USS Enterprise. As an addition, and following on the gag we’d started with the previous Star Trek commission, Paul wanted me to add Winnie Pooh next to Linda, as if he was playing the part of Spock –no telling how effective it would be to substitute a Vulcan science officer with a toy bear, but who am I to judge?
When Paul first requested the piece I was still finishing other things so I put it aside. But then as I was finally coming around to begin the ‘pre-production’ process, Paul casually mentioned she wanted to surprise Linda with it as a birthday present –which was due in little more than a week. Gulp!
Tight deadlines are never fun, but at least they give you a much needed mental focus so you don’t get distracted (much) with other things. I began scouring the internet in search of good reference photos of Kirk sitting on the captain’s chair, and after a lot of consideration I arrived at a good composition.
I sent my first sketches to Paul, and one of the first problems we hit was Pooh. My first idea was to have him make the famous Vulcan hand salute (a bit of creative licensing, since he doesn’t really have any fingers) but Paul wasn’t too happy with it. He suggested we had the bear simply standing next to Linda, so I proceeded to make the changes.
Still, Paul had issues with poor Winnie. He didn’t like the ‘evil’ stare produced by him having the typical Vulcan eyebrows, and he also didn’t like how the bear looked as if he was standing on his toes. I explained to him the ‘tippy-toe’ was a decision I made in order to circumvent the fact that Pooh is just to darn short! Had I left him standing normally, I fear the arm of the chair would be covering his head.
I tried another approach, but Paul flat out rejected because it felt… awkward (LOL)
In the end, Paul decided to take out the bear and focus solely on Linda instead. I welcomed the directorial decision because it meant less work for me, and my chances to finishing the piece on time increased exponentially.
Due to the short time, I decided to ‘play it safe’ with this one: No ‘synthetic paint brushes’ or experimenting with new techniques; stick with what you know, divide the work into sections to make it easy for masking purposes, and do it fast! If anything, one thing I chose to experiment with was with giving the background a slight “out of focus” blur, to give the illusion that the camera is only focusing on Linda in the foreground. This is a technique I see a lot of digital artists use to give an interest sense of realism to their work –even if it is not photorealistic.
But even without the focus, I spared no expenses with the details in the background! I even added letters to the brass plaque next to the elevator doors, and if you look carefully you can almost read the text, which I extracted from other reference material:
I sent the final image to Paul, and after asking just a few tiny corrections it was all done and ready to be shown to Captain Linda 🙂
Remember that you too can boldly go where no man and woman have gone before, by leaving a comment or sending me an email [absurdbydesign(at)gmail(dot)com] if you’re interested in an artistic commission.