Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snake Charmer

I like this image. I want you not to like a way.

I want you to feel uneasy looking at it. I'd love if you felt the grime and grit oozing off your screen, onto your hand and that new trackball wireless mouse with which you are hopefully using to scroll and read more.

Warm and welcoming are two words I'm hoping are absent from your thoughts as you look over this illustration.

Aside from a slight tone, there is no color, no warmth. The charcoal I used to draw him echos the dirt and ash smeared across his cheek. The vantage point is chilling. The gun points and his unfeeling eyes are meant to knife through you, as they pierce the shadow of his helmet with the look of someone who's done this before.

What an awful last sight to see, as you -- the viewer, the target -- prepare for the anticlimactic pop of the pistol, and try to find something human about him to latch onto.

Theatrics aside, this was done as a sample for a project proposal. The client provided some photographic reference, on which this image is based.

The dirty texture was important. There needed to be a layer obscuring the viewer's eyes from any niceness of the charcoal on paper drawing. There had to be that splash of movement in the background, setting an active mood and defining the mess that exists in his world. The illustration ached to look as if it had been drug through the gray muck of some foreign shore to echo the distant and gritty mood of the wartime encounter and help further tell this man's story.

This is one of the series of samples I created for this proposal. Two of the others can be seen here and here.

Working on them allowed me to experiment with very expressive content and very dramatic and unique points of view -- which are 2 aspects of the magic of illustration.

Technically speaking, after completing the charcoal drawing, the tone and texture was added in Photoshop. I did much experimenting with various texture treatments in order to attain the right combination of splatter, movement, and filth.

His piercing eyes and steely, chilling expression were very important. There is a fine line between an emotionless expression and a chilling expression. I believe his tells, arguably, the bulk of the story.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
View more of his work»
Sign-up for his newsletter»


Flydesign said...

Awesome piece Allan, yes this one could tell a story a mile away. I think this fits in my all-top five of your artwork…haha. I hope all is well, from a buddy in arms.


Flydesign said...

Hey Allan, thanks for stopping by the old blog and leaving a comment on "Hellboy."

Yes, he was a fun one to do, wanted to change it up a little and kind of come up with something new. Have received a lot of great responses from him on IFX.

The art business on the side has slowed down to a halt, but my full-time job has kicked in on certain areas that need my full attention. In a result I have a lot of illustrations at hand that are not finished. :( I hope to get back in the groove again with my goals in mind.

Your army illustrations have triggered a lot of ideas in the old brain of mind, in the near future you might see one coming your way, so thanks.


Jakester said...

Mr. Burch, came upon your blog after punching the "Next Blog" button from my blog. Like your work.

Allan Burch said...

Jakester --

Thanks very much.

superior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.