I’ve been itching to do more ink work lately, and I decided over the weekend that H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday was a great chance to work something in.
The trick, of course, in doing art of a recognizable character (or person) is that you just have to get it right. Sure, there is some leeway here and there, some space to be an artist. But the essence of the character has to be correct, or all is lost.
With the ink art I’ve been doing in the last year, I’ve been trying to get as close as I can to the characters and still leave open that ability for my own art to sneak through. The Lovecraft ink was a great chance to try that.
I can create from my mind all I want, but working with established characters and real people, even based on photos, forces my brain to do it right. If it’s not right, if I don’t capture at least most of what I see, then as a character ink it’s failed.
The inks have really helped me see my other art differently, even those pieces that are right out of my head. They are doing exactly what I’d hoped when I started them, settling down the often random ideas I have as I work.
Working with reference has been good too, it’s something that for the longest time I thought was “wrong”. Almost as if the Art Police would be bashing down the door because I dared look at a photo. But, especially after reading many other artists that are far further along than I am, reference is a good thing. Many artists use references, and it can be a great way to figure out if something is amiss.
That said, there’s a fine line between using a reference and being a slave to it. To simply recreate exactly what’s in the photo, well, why not just stick with the photo and leave it at that. Reference for me has been a great place to start, and in fact integral when it comes to these established characters. But after a good start, and a double check here and there, the rest is up to me.
The idea that I had is pretty much how it came out, for once. Hopefully, Lovecraft’s face is at least somewhat recognizable above the tentacles, and that the Cthulhu idea is apparent enough.