Creating a pinup for UNLAWFUL GOOD

In my first post about UNLAWFUL GOOD, I mentioned that I had originally wanted to contribute an illustrated story to the Anthology. Unfortunately for me, Heather Antos (the editor of the book) already had a full roster of artists. But she did ask me if I’d like to design the anthology and contribute a pinup. As you’ve seen over the past couple of posts, I’ve taken you through how we established an art direction for the book, designed the masthead and started work on designing the inside of the book. Now I want to go through the creation of my pinup.

So right off the bat, Heather gave me a pretty blank canvas. Her only direction was to create an pinup around the theme of crime. To be honest, getting such a blank canvas can actually be a little paralyzing since it literally means you can ANYTHING! So this required a little thought because what exactly was crime to me? I wasn’t too sure.

At this point in time, my wife and I were also busy binge watching House of Cards, re-watching season 1 of Orange is the New Black, followed by season 2 of Orange is the New Black. So I kind of felt like I had crime on the brain anyway and there were a couple of things that I was pretty sure of:

  • I didn’t want to do superheroes (they were too obvious a choice and not “crime noir” enough)
  • I love crime stories and crime noir… so was there something in there that I could mine for a visual? I wasn’t sure.
  • I wanted to do a more typical comic illustration (as compared to my reMIND pinup which was more of an abstract/graphic illustration and matched my painting and illustration work that I was doing at the time)
  • I think it was because of Orange is the New Black, but I was really fixated on making the criminal female (plus, I thought this wasn’t typical… I figured most people think of men when they think of criminals… stereotypical, I know). I guess I really liked the idea of a “badass chick”!
  • I really wanted to draw a motorcycle (damn you Sean Murphy!)

To start, I did what I normally do and sat down and started working out ideas with rough doodles and thumbnails in my sketchbook…

UnlawfulGood-Doodles-1 UnlawfulGood-Doodles-2

Above, are scans from my sketchbook and a bunch of the concept doodles that I did while figuring out what to do.

I really liked a bunch of these ideas but had no real favourite at this point. I really did like quite a few of these concepts, so the next step from here was to scan some the thumbnail drawings I liked and get them into the proper format so they fit specs of a comic book page and see there was one that was more visually interesting than the others. I settled on 6 concepts that I really liked and put together rough drawings that I then sent to Heather for look over and give feedback on.

UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-1 UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-2 UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-3 UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-4 UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-5 UnlawfulGood-PinupConcepts-6

My rough drawings are exactly that: rough. At this point in the process, I’m really concerned with the concept in the drawing and the overall composition of the piece. All the details and serious drawing stuff will come later.

Heather really liked what I came up with and selected concepts 1 & 2 (which were somewhat the same idea but drawn differently) and 4 as her favourites. She also really liked concept 6 (crime noir really hit what the overall art direction of the book would end up being after all!). I still really liked all of these six concepts, even some of the ones that Heather hadn’t selected. But I was happy to have the help deciding what to proceed with, so with the proposed concepts cut in half, I sat down and started working up full pencils for concepts 1 & 2, 4 and 6.

UnlawfulGood-PinupPencils-2 UnlawfulGood-PinupPencils-1 UnlawfulGood-PinupPencils-3 UnlawfulGood-PinupPencils-4

Above are the pencilled pinups. At this point I really started working out the finer details in everything, so the motorcycles and cars are fully rendered, the map is complete and the characters are fully rendered.

Again, Heather and I went back and forth about which illustration we liked before finally settling on #1 (I had also been showing these around to friends and co-workers and it was the overwhelming favourite). I also knew that Heather really liked the crime noir illustration (#4), so I decided that I’d ink and colour that illustration as well just to see if the final artwork changed her mind.

UnlawfulGood-Pinup-TheGetaway-inks UnlawfulGood-Pinup-TheGetaway-colours UnlawfulGood-Pinup-Noir-inks UnlawfulGood-Pinup-Noir-colours

These are the full inked pieces of artwork as well as the colours for the two illustrations. For the colouring, I really wanted to do something very different from my ON THE VERGE stuff – something more like traditional comic books and pulp artwork. I settled on using the coloured halftones to add some depth to the otherwise flat artwork. I also brought in a few textures (because I do love textures in artwork) and some colour holds. Overall, I’m really happy with how both of these ended up looking.

So the final piece that will be appearing in UNLAWFUL GOOD I’ve titled “The Getaway” and I’m super happy with how the finished piece looks. It’s funny when I look back through this whole process at how the finished pinup really hits all those things that I  both wanted, and didn’t want, the pinup to be and I think that it really is a dynamic illustration that I’m excited to have included in the book.

As a bit of a postscript to this post… I’m serious when I say that I really did like all of the concepts that I pitched. I’ve since gone back and inked the other version of “The Getaway” and I’m sure I’ll do another when I have the time. Here’s the final inks for The Getaway: part 2.


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