Drawing: Giant Tess

Sketch of Giant Tess circa 2010.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with drawing very tall, thin figures so that I can cram them over to the side of the page and make stationery out of them, for a long time. I never dated this sketch because I never finished it but I scanned it in 2010 and it looks like my art style/skill level from about that period, so we’ll go with that. Maybe even 2009.

I never did anything with her until 2018, when I finally made lineart out of her. I uploaded her to the now-defunct PortraitAdoption.com but nobody bought her, so I get to keep her. She’s a very exaggerated version of my usual cartoony style but I seriously dig her face, hair blouse. The main difference between the initial sketch and the original lineart is that, at some point, I decided that she was a giant and added a human for scale. I also finished her left arm. I wanted it to be very long and thin, like the rest of her, to show that the proportions were exaggerated on purpose.

Today, I was on YouTube and found an artist named Sinix who paints over his Patreon supporters’ drawings and paintings. He took a fairly bland giant, warped it quickly using the Perspective tool, and — boom! The drawing was instantly more dynamic. I remember Tess and the fact that she never really looked like a giant, so I opened her up in Photoshop and played around with her.

I tried a few different things, but ended up shrinking her head before using the Perspective tool on her. The tool also adjusted the climber’s proportions, so I ended up copying and pasting the original climber over the warped one.

I finally learned how to use Illustrator a couple of years ago, but I’m still more comfortable doing lineart in Paint.NET, especially for finishing touches, so I opened Tess up in Paint.NET and got to work.

Initially, I was just going to fix her neck and have the bottom of the rope fly across Tess’ pants, for a bit of movement. But after I did that, I realized that the hem of her shirt should flare out toward the viewer, so I worked on that for a bit before I realized that the focal point was her waist, instead of her face. So, I thickened her waist (which is still ridiculously narrow but more in proportion to the rest of her body) and simplified her shirt. I also made the climber’s rope swing away from the viewer, instead of toward.

Lineart: Giant Tess in Perspective, 2020.

At first, I was really sad at the idea of making Tess’ face so much smaller because that’s my favorite part, but simplifying the bottom half of her and making her waist more proportional lets the eye immediately find her face. I also super dig the way that the pearls get smaller at the top. In the initial sketch and lineart, they’re all the same size.

I thought I was done but I ended up adjusting her chest, a bit. It’s far from perfect but it does look like you’re looking up at it instead of at the profile. I’m still not sure how to put the face in perspective without completely ruining it, but, hey, there are limits to my genius.

I’m overall happy with the changes, especially since it’s obvious that she’s a giant, now. She never quite read that way, even with the climber for scale. I might color or paint her at some point, but I’m good with this for today. I think it’s much easier to appreciate the details without having them compete with each other. I also think she’d make badass stationery, now. 🙂

Here they are together so that you can compare the changes. Essentially, I shrunk the head, warped her using the Perspective tool, thickened her waist, simplified the bottom part of her top, and had the lines of her breast curve up instead of down. I tried adding a second arm, but — neh….

Giant Tess Before and After

Oh, and bonus points if you can tell me what I modeled the climber after (Hint: a particular episode of the original 90’s MacGyver). You won’t actually win anything, but you’ll make me smile.

Drawing Thursdays #2

So, I’m a garbage person, and that is why you should never ask me to draw anything for you, ever.

My friend’s mom wrote a book and wanted me to draw her a cover. She had an old trophy of her mom’s that she won swimming. She also wanted some of her tchotchkes incorporated into the picture, along with a cabin that she owns in Maine. The book is called Diving Home by Catee Ryan. If you click on the link, you’ll see that the cover is not the one I drew below because Catee unreasonably wanted her cover art done, like, sometime last year. So here, it is 2018 and I finally finished it! Yay!

I mean, it came out pretty cool, only 8 months later than Catee needed it. Catee let me take some pictures with my phone of her tchotchkes and of the trophy, and she gave some a photo album with her cabin, so I used all of those as references for the drawing. In real life, the cabin is a reasonable distance from the water, not hovering over it, and of course, the railing doesn’t open in front of the doorway like that.

Anyway, I loved the tchotchkes and had a lot of fun drawing those. I took pictures of a lot more than two, but I chose the gnome because I love gnomes. I especially love that he’s reading a book. He was fairly simple, I basically just traced over the photo I took and resized him for the finished drawing. The otter (seal?) was actually a pain in the ass. The photo I took of him came out blurry and he doesn’t have a ton of detail to begin with, so he started out just looking like a blobby blur. I almost gave up on him but ended up Googling seals and otters (I still don’t know the difference) and ended up with something pretty cute.

The statue was my favorite. The look of determination on her face is awesome, especially considering the mold she was made from was probably done in the 40s when women weren’t taken particularly seriously. I also like that the artist didn’t sexualize her. I Googled 40s swimming statues and couldn’t find the exact one that Catee has, but I found a male version that is nearly identical.  I’m assuming it was the same artist who made a male and a female. I imagine that is why she isn’t posed like a pinup, and I’m okay with that.

Here’s a photo of Catee’s statue: 

She’s beautiful, isn’t she? I took photos from every possible angle, including the back, trying to figure out which angle I should draw from, but I loved her face so much that I ended up going with this one. I mostly traced her. Translating bronze into black and white lineart isn’t the easiest, but fortunately, I’ve been drawing chicks since I was a teenager, so I mostly used the photo for perspective because I could not figure it out by trying to copy the photo with a pen.

I’m not a trained artist, I took Art History in high school and a design class and one Drawing class in college, so I’m not great with perspective and whatnot. One thing I do remember David Attyah (great artist, teacher, human) saying was that you don’t have to have the thing you’re drawing be in the center of the picture, so I put the girl in the top right corner.

The door was super important to Catee, too, because she painted it those colors when they bought the cabin. I don’t know a ton about art, but I made sure that all of the straight lines helped frame the girl, and the splash of color draws attention to the figure. I also like that the lines of the house are a harsh but perfect contrast to the organic elements. That, honestly, is due more to my laziness than anything, but I think it works, and that’s all that matters.

I actually had the top part of the picture done about a month after Catee asked for it but got stuck on the bottom. For a while, I tried to have the house hovering over waterfalls, but I couldn’t get it to look right. Since I knew that Catee had already chosen another artist and another cover, I wasn’t in a hurry, and I let it go, but a few days ago, I opened up the picture again, gave up on the waterfalls, and went with a less grandiose water feature.

It’s not perfect, but I like it. It’s definitely the most complex thing I’ve drawn lately. I don’t generally even deal with backgrounds because I don’t have as much interest in them. I did use Photoshop brushes by redheadstock for the water and plants, which is how I got that part done in an afternoon instead of several more years. Because the composition was black-and-white, I used the pencil option and it took very little experimentation before I had a result I was pleased with.