Thursday, July 29, 2010

Demonic Khan

First of all, let's make things clear: I don't draw celebrity portraits. In fact, I hate them (the portraits, not the celebrities themselves, of course). Yes, I did some movie posters when I was a kid, but that was different.

So why Roy Khan? What's so special about him that forced me to make an exception to the rule? I can't say for sure, but certainly being a Kamelot fan has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's his face, so alive, able to convey a cascade of different emotions in a single song -- from anger and contempt to grief and lust. The man does amazing things with his expressions on stage. This, combined with his brilliant vocals, captivates and energizes the audience no less than the band's ass-kicking music itself.

That said, let's move on to the drawing. My task here was to depict Khan's "demonic" nature, as he rules over the audience with his "dominating" poses and "spellbinding" gesticulations, often seen both on stage and in music videos. Speaking of the latter, the Ghost Opera video represents one of the perfect demonstrations of Khan's scenic image, so I decided to use a still frame captured from it as the reference for his facial expression. The solid black eyes fitted into the concept just perfectly.

I was unable to find any suitable images for the pose reference though, so I had to improvise. Since I have a terrible deficiency in male models, I had to stand in front of the camera myself. Luckily, I mostly needed only hands, and my hands happen to look quite like Khan's (at least, I have successfully convinced myself of that). For the rings I used the still frames from the same Ghost Opera music video.

Now the costume. I wanted something a bit fancier than he usually wears on stage, something insanely detailed to challenge my drawing skills. When searching for the Gothic dress references on the Web, I stumbled upon a costume (photo on the left) which I thought could serve as a good base. For extra solemnity, I decided to add a band collar to the suite. Finally, with all the references in place, I started to draw my first "official" celebrity portrait ever.

Since the dominant color had to be black, the choice of medium was obvious: graphite pencils. I hadn't drawn anything solely in graphite in years, so it promised to be a pleasant digression, reminding of my art college days. But it wasn't, as it quickly made me remember what a messy medium graphite can be. Below you can see the WIP shots, documenting every step of my pathetic struggle with this medium, once my favorite.

I can't say exactly how long it took, because it's hard to keep track of time when drawing occasionally, only a few hours or even minutes per day. Overall, it dragged on for about a month. Despite being long and exhausting, the process still was fun. However, I won't be drawing anything in graphite pencils anytime soon, that's for sure.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Perfect Reward

My copy of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 arrived a couple of days ago. It was sent to me by the Corel Corporation as a reward for my participation in its beta-testing. I honestly had no idea I would receive any software for my participation, so it came as a pleasant surprise. Besides the software DVD, the bundle includes a Collector's Notepad -- a hard-covered book with 200 blank pages to be filled with creative ideas and concepts.

I've been working in CorelDRAW since 1996, practically on a daily basis. It's my primary designer's tool of trade, so being presented with an opportunity to take part in the process of making it better was a great benefit for me already, and getting such a wonderful bonus for my humble contribution is certainly twice as rewarding.