“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.” - Jean 'Moebius' Giraud

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Here's the thing: If you have no concept of what a character is all about you're going to sometimes get into a situation where you're just drawing for the sake of drawing. And that's not really a bad thing, per se. That sort of thing allows you to explore nuances and details that you wouldn't normally be paying attention because you don't draw that person, place or thing on a regular basis. I think that's the fun part of drawing, designing and taking on commissions; sometimes you get asked to draw a character that's completely out of left field and the challenge is to have something original to say when it comes time for you to draw it. Because, let's be honest - why bother drawing it at all if you're just going to draw the damned thing just like every body else would?

All of the above is all well and good, unless of course someone is actually paying you to draw that specific subject. Then the added dimension of doing something that your client may want to own will naturally come into the whole equation.

In the case of this AH MY GODDESS! commission, I wasn't really all that familiar with the title character, BELLDANDY. Nor did I have anything to say about the series itself. So, to my folly I just started drawing. It wasn't until after I finished, went to bed, and looked at it again the morning after that I realized it was the most generic thing I'd drawn in a long time. It was, to me, very underwhelming to see, disappointing to realize that I was capable of that level of mediocrity, and I wasn't about to take a guys hard-earned cash on something that I wasn't very happy with. I believe the image needs to 'sing' as I'm drawing it and it was obvious that it really wasn't working from the very beginning. I was just really hoping that by finishing it, I'd come to some level of satisfaction with the final drawing. I didn't. Not at all.

Here's the saving grace of the whole experience: I now had blueprint of how I would do things differently. For one thing, I'd sidestep certain design flourishes from the original to keep things legible in the commission. I'd do a better job with the composition and I'd try to pose her smarter in order to make sure she had 'life', as opposed to having her come off as posed and unnatural. And last, I'd have an approach on how I would handle those large anime/manga eyes that, while seemingly commonplace in its original form, would look absolutely moronic once I applied it to my style.

And that's what I did with this - the new version of this commission.

The final image you see above is the second attempt at getting things right, at fine tuning, and finally coming up with an opinion about a character I wouldn't normally draw. It was frustrating to not to do that the first time I drew it as I pride myself in nailing things on the initial attempt, but sometimes that just can't be avoided. What I did walk away with (at least I think so - here's hoping the the owner of this commission believes it as well) was a better image over all because, as I've said already, I sort of knew what I was doing the second time around.

Anyway, there she is. Enjoy and have a great start to your weekend. BTW, poppy blooms are a b*tch to draw.

PS - If you'd like to see a snapshot of the first pass, all you need to do is go and follow me on my TWITTER account and you can see a link to it there. That's not too much to ask of you, yeah? I mean, I'm practically bribing you already.


j_ay said...

Siffting through Twatter just made me hate it even more. I didn't find the image but I'm betting that it's better than 97% of what most "artists" would come up with...

Have a good weekend, Eric.

Barnabas Abrai (geek) said...

Well it's not belldandy, but it is a very spirited and fun pic :)
Love it, especially the flowers and the hair

Amanda Li said...

I saw the hair and KNEW it was from ah my goddess. good stuffs.

ninja-kitsune said...

As a fan of the series, I think you did a great job of adapting her in your style.

Michael Pfeffer said...

I like that 5th pass because of the flowers.

This one makes her look like a giant.

Even though the bird is actually tiny, blah blah blah.

AlexTuis said...

The flowers are wonderful!!