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Sketchbook

Don Quixote de la Mummy

Or Mummy de la Mancha…I can’t tell which is better. Regardless, this is my entry into Chris Oatley’s first Artcast assignment, “Character Design: Classic Literature/ Classic Horror Mash-Up.” I’ve been following the Artcast podcast almost since the first episode & when Oats threw out this project to the community, I was in like Flynn. The inspiration for the first assignment was “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith. I bought the audiobook version the day it came out but, unfortunately, only listened to about a half-hour before thinking it was dumb. The character design challenge, on the other hand, that’s pretty cool.

After some deliberation, I picked Don Quixote & mummies.

I’m not a character designer & I’ve never done any character design before but one thing I know is that a good silhouette is key. A silhouette & a pose are a huge part of your character’s personality. So, naturally, I started with heads.

Not only did I do heads, but I mostly did non-mummified heads. A strong argument could be made that I was going about this all wrong but I was having fun. I spent a good amount of time on theCharacter Design blog & copied a few styles directly. After getting a few heads that I liked, it was time to look at the figure.

Don Quixote is old and a little sad – but he believes in his quest. I tried to do a range of feeling in these poses, some more pathetic, others more proud. Finally I found one that I like, married it with a head I liked & painted this:

First painting pass

And, y’know, I mostly like it. For my first crack ever at character design, I think I was able to pull off something that’s not terrible – but neither is it great. I went for a more dignified Don Quixote & while that comes across, not much else does. The pose is kind of bland and the illustration overall is missing some life. I went back to sketching poses & came up with a couple that I ran by PGOAT.

Hunchbacked Don

The one on the right was too defeated for her tastes so I ran with the one on the left.

I pretty much hate this painting now.

This is the one I sent in as my character, though I can’t say that’s it’s really loads better than my first. While I feel like I tried a bit harder with the pose, it makes less sense to me that he’s staring off into the distance so blankly. Also, his face & armor are a lot looser, not to their benefit. Nor does it feel like I got the balance of lights & darks right. Not that the first is perfectly balanced but I think it feels better.

Other critiques: the bandages are a little phoned-in. Essentially I drew a naked character & put some suggestions of wrapping over it. I think a good Mummy de la Mancha would have a sloppier, more interesting wrap. On that note, I’m not sure that the slight burlap texture on the bandages is helping. At the least, the scale is all wrong. Next, the background is pretty blah. The light sketch of a windmill in the back makes perfect sense to me but I could’ve done more on the environment. And the reins…? Obviously they’re attached to his faithful, skinny, steed Rocinante but should I even show them if I’m not showing the horse too? Probably not. I just didn’t want to reframe it & draw a horse (grin).

With all these self-critiques a good question would be, “why the hell did you stop?” Well, it’s a personal project & I gave it a time limit. I went over the time limit when I decided to paint a second version but I gave myself another time limit and stuck to it. I’d benefit from fixing these mistakes but I’ve done enough work to see them & that’ll inform my next personal piece. This here’s a blog, not a portfolio site & it’s exactly where experiments & WIP’s belong. For more justification for calling it done at this stage, I’ll turn to Bre Pettis & the Cult of Done Manifesto, which I quote all the damn time, in this case  #’s 2, 6, 8, 10 & 13:

Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes. Done is the engine of more.

I won’t call the final illustration an unconditional success but the process? Hell yes. I made something I’d never made before. it’s not perfect but I’m now better at making it than I was before I started and now I’m going to make more.

Cheers