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Behind the Scenes- Twins Poster

I received several emails and at least one comment asking about the process involved with going something like the Minnesota Twins team illustration above, so I thought I’d share a little about my approach to such a project . . . it is a little different than a typical crowd illustration.

I’m a big proponent of doing all the drawing on a given illustration as one organic piece. In other words, I don’t like doing separate caricature study “heads” and then pasting them into a layout, trying to get them to work together. That always results in a “disconnect” for me, where the illustration as a whole is missing a cohesive feeling or organic flow. In a MAD splash page, for example, I will draw all the caricatures along with everything else on the same board rather than paste them in separately. Even lareg crowd scenes with amny caricatures I prefer to do it that way.

These team posters, however, demand a different approach.

This Minnesota Twins poster contains 44 individual caricatures, which is a lot to fit into the relatively small area of a poster (this one is 16 x 28 inches). With that many heads, it’s almost impossible to draw them interacting together more naturally . . . I’m pretty much forced to have them in rows, like a real team photo. On top of that, the reference is limiting. I’m working from official player pictures where they all all facing front and looking into the camera. Had I a mix of front, 3/4 and profile references, I could have been more playful with the poses. I had what I had, so everybody is at the same boring angle. Finally, I had to keep in mind things like player height and build. I could cheat hieght variance by having players seated on the ground, on a bench, kneeling/bending over and standing, but it would make no sense to have a 5’8″ player standing in the background next to one who was 6″5″ and look the same hieght.

So, the only way to do this is to do individual caricatures of each player, scan them in and assemble them into rows based on the criteria above, and then draw the bodies around the heads. There will be a certain amount of stiffness to the composition as a result, but that kind of works in a ‘posed team picture’ setting. This also allows me to send the individual caricatures to the team’s promotions people for approval of likenesses, since you can imagine they need to do that.

So, here are some examples of the individual caricatures I did of some of the players and coaches, some which include bodies and some just heads:

Next I place them all into the layout. Here I can move them around, resize them (since I don’t stick to any scale in my rough studies), and in general work them onto a suitable arrangement. Then I go in and draw rough bodies around the heads, in this case I just did that digitally:

Clicky to embiggen…

Then I print the layout on larger paper at “original art size” which is whatever I want it to be In this case, the poster is so big (28 inches wide) I can’t do the art much bigger than print size. The original is 34″ wide, so I can scan half of the width at once on my 17″ flatbed. Then I use a lighttable to sketch the full drawing on the final board, working out the bodies batter and adding the background. Here is that sketch as a work in progress, partially inked:

Clicky to Embiggen…

Then I finish up the inks, combination dip pens and brush as usual:


Clicky to Embiggen…

You’ll notice there are no logos on the uniforms. Obviously teams are very particular about logos, so drawing them individually is a huge pain. Since I was doing the color digitally, I used an official logo for the hat and jerseys, placed a few to see how it looked and pasted the rest in later. After that it’s a straight digital paint job, doing the flat color first and then painting everything. Here’s another WIP:

Clicky to Embiggen…

And another a little farther along:

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And here’s the final again:

Clicky to Embiggen…

See? Easy as pie!

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