Tuesday, 25 June 2013

IDW Covers: Dr. Who - Prisioners Of Time #9

Dr. Who: Prisoners Of Time #9
(IDW, September 2013)
Art by Dave Sim
This one was trouble from the beginning.

Going through the BBC stills that they sent me, they had three of the actor and actress with the Tardis where the photographer had obviously used a fixed camera placement and the actor and actress either improvised or were directed as to how they were supposed to look and what they were supposed to do.  So, right away I wanted to continue my motif from the #8 cover of multiple images conveying the "Prisoners of Time" quality visually. Of course, PART of me is thinking, "Well, in that case you're talking about doing three covers instead of one but you're only getting paid for one."  It's really a major problem with the creative mind that you always think of something "cool to do" before you think about how long it's going to take to do it.  And by that time it's too late: you want to do what you thought of.  Even though you're not going to own it and they'll be happy to pay you the same money for one image.  My thinking was: because of the fixed camera placement, the perspective on the Tardis is the same so I can just do an enlargement of the foreground image, a smaller enlargement of the mid-ground image and an actual size of the primary or background image. Which, theoretically, yes. Except that once you had the three Tardis' properly lined up, the picture was too wide. So, okay, I'll solve THAT by having the Tardis images overlap instead of standing in sequence. That quickly got into problems of -- well okay, I can't overlap everything so I need to do a kind of radiating effect and just pick how many elements in the foreground and mid-ground image that I need just to establish that they're there. And that got into problems of "Well how do you RENDER that?" at the inking stage. You need to have different densities.  So, as you can see, the ultimate solution I came up with was doing FOUR layers of the "POLICE CALL BOX" sign (the most identifiable element of the Tardis) but only THREE layers of the actor and actress and only TWO actual "bottom of Tardis" images. And I decided that I would render the foreground and mid-ground and then "spatter" it with white paint. Just load up the toothbrush with white paint and "flick flick flick".  Gene Day used to call it "cosmic s--t". It takes a lot of confidence because you are drawing a long time before you get to the spatter and then when you ARE spattering you have to do just enough spatter but not too much.

And I actually got that far along before I said, "Okay the upper right of the cover ends up unnaturally blank that way." So that was when I did the enlargement of the photo of the actor and actress and put that in behind the logo.

The CORE problem to the whole cover was the actress who is, as I've decided we call it in the photorealism game, an A.P.Y.L.  -- An Astonishingly Pretty Young Lady.  Which is, hands down the most difficult thing to draw in photorealism.  The actor, you have a lot of leeway.  His nose is sort of misshapen, he has character lines. If the nose is 1/300th of inch out of place it's still going to look like him.  1/300th of inch out of place with an APYL and what you have is a very bad approximation. That was one of the reasons I chose to do glamourpuss. If you're going to learn to turn photos into Al Williamson drawings, you might as well start with THE most difficult thing to do that with: APYL's. You're lucky if she's still pretty when you're done.  A good likeness is usually beyond the pale which it was in this case.  She is definitely the most iconically pretty of the Doctor's assistants over the years (now that I've seen all of them). I thought maybe the fact that I would have a much larger picture of her to work with in the upper would help. Uh, no. That's the fourth or fifth mouth you're looking at there, each one pencilled and inked on top of white-out.

No surprise she got "held over" to the next Doctor. She was marginally easier to draw in her later years but only marginally, as we'll see with the No.10 cover.

It actually worked AS a cover, I think. One of those situations where, when you're forced to admit you DIDN'T get her likeness, you never want to see the cover again. Pulling it out so I could write this, it's much better than I remembered. Three out of four quasi-likenesses with a APYL on that high a plateau of APYLness is not a bad track record. I'm very eager to see how it looks in colour.

It was a LOT of figuring when I should be mentally telling myself, "Just do a cover, hotshot." It says DOCTOR WHO on the cover, do a DOCTOR WHO and call it a day..

And I actually had the original enlargement of the background and mid-ground images and I said, "Mail it to Tim so he has it when he asks you about this" and of course I didn't. The point was that the original TWO image enlargement is actually a better natural composition than what I ended up with, and a better comic-book cover.  And it would have taken about half the time.

Live and learn. Or -- in some cases -- live and DON'T learn.

1 comment:

Jason Winter said...

An amazing cover. I love the sense of depth Mr Sim created.