I've been up to my ears with work recently so not had chance to post anything of interest. However I've recently joined a Weekly Themed Art Blog to get back in the habit of drawing on a daily basis, even if it is just using my dinner hour at the Day Job, which is also a useful exercise in drawing things I may not otherwise choose. Though I have posted two previous entries, Tron and my own suggestion Dieselpunk, last weeks theme of Video Game Icons was the first one I took progress scans of, so I could do a short commentary of what I wanted to do with the piece and what finally emerged. For the two people reading this blog, this might be mildly diverting for a couple minutes.
Though I have fond memories of old Atari games, it was Lara Croft that came to mind in terms of iconic gaming status. Many a night spent playing on the PS1 watching her fall to her death with a short scream and a thump. Tomb Raider 3 was a particular favourite back in the late 90's when I was still at uni. So I wanted to do a classic Lara, but at the same time avoid the more well used poses the character is recognised for.
I started with the above thumbnails. I had the initial idea of Lara surrounded by tigers (a situation I vaguely remember from the game) with her Desert Eagles just out of reach. After my researching, I realised this must have been inspired by an old memory of a very similar cover from the Tomb Raider comic. So I instead went with a double gun somersault/dive composition.
I played with the idea of having Lara fend off attack from some dinosaur or monster, while plummeting to certain death in an underground cavern. Relatively happy with the composition, I broke open my reference files and found my old holiday photos from 2008 when we visited Mexico. On a daytrip we went into a cenote, a deep sinkhole, where far more adventurous people than me went swimming or diving. It had the most gorgeous texture to the place, fantastic vegetation, light and water. I remember saying to the wife at that the time how Tomb Raider it looked. Though I couldn't capture the depth of colour or detail in the drawing, it was a very helpful guide.
For Lara herself I looked back over the many real life models who have played her, as well as screen captures from the game, previous comicbook versions, cosplayers and fan art, a disturbing number of which seemed to focus on the size of her breasts. While none of them were a direct reference for my Lara, they were useful in deciding what version I wanted to go for.
Knowing that the background was going to be tricky I drew the figure and cenote seperately so I could play around with the sizes in photoshop. I wanted Lara to be realistically proportioned, not overly endowed or muscled, just lean and toned. The background itself was very organic, I let the pencil take its own path when drawing the trees, roots and vegetation. I placed a couple of broken statues but didn't want to draw too much attention to them, as I wanted them to be almost indistinguishable from the vegetation that has grown around and over them. One of the things I loved about the games was the exploration of the different locations, and I was tempted to incorporate far more detail of where Lara was falling, but time and a rare moment of common sense pulled me back to what was doable.
While I intended to use my promarkers on this, they all pretty much dried up half way through doing the background, and not being able to get replacements on a sunday afternoon, had to redo the inking from scratch to allow for some photoshop colouring. I used a few custom textures to build up the light source, and added in highlights, printed it back out and went back over it with pens. Again I would have preferred using a fine brush but being without one at home limited me to just building up crosshatching for depth.
Before that though I used the initial scan of the background outline and roughly comped in a smaller version of Lara, to see if it would work. At this point I dropped the monster attack and made Lara the focus of the picture.
I fnished off the inking and colouring for Lara herself, then compiled both images together in photoshop, adding a bit more colour here and there to unify it. A bit of tweaking and done.