Here’s something I worked on, on and off, over the past month when I had free time. I intend to do a little video shoot with it at some point. I’ve had the Russian MIG helmet for 6 years, and always intended to build a retro-looking suit to match it. The collar needs to be adjusted, because it rides too high over the shoulder straps, but otherwise, it’s quite comfortable, even with the heavy backpack.
In the 90s, while I still had a foot in the door of animation, I created and pitched a few ideas for series, including this one, which my brother Gunnar and I collaborated on. Gunnar put together a great text document, which I no longer have a copy of (Gunnar? Do you still have it?) describing the series as an animated riff on Vegas in the 50s.
The concept was to have this guy, Chesterfield Slacks, battling for gigs in the swankiest clubs in Los Vegas. His rivals include Dirk HiJean, a slick Pat Boone kinda guy and the mysterious mobster known only as The Chairman, his gang members resembling the infamous Rat Pack. Then there’s Lola Getz, the queen of Bossa Nova, and whatever Lola wants…
Even though Chesterfield Slacks is a lounge singer, the idea was to never hear him sing a single note. Every time he put his mouth to the microphone, we’d cut away. It was to be an adult cartoon, with drinking and smoking. Like Mad Men, only much funnier.
The style was going to be purely late 50s and early 60s, and we planned to get in touch with Capitol Records to make a deal to include swinging ultra-lounge music which had a short revival in the 90s. Alas, when pitched to Canadian networks, it was turned down for being too “American”. Here are my early sketches trying to portray Chester. I can see why I’m not hired as a character artist very often:
Some more Batwing designs, from when I was first exploring shapes. There were some pretty goofy-looking shapes too, but all part of the exploration process. The fundamental goal was to design an aircraft that was Batman’s first successfully working prototype, but still had to look mean and cool. VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) needed to be an essential part of the design. I added a rendered version of the final below, and you can see how it evolved from the initial designs and my final blueprints.
The modelling team really helped shape it into a credible and wicked-looking plane.
Now that Batman: Arkham Origins is released, I’m pleased to be able to show some of the things I worked on. Here are a few images of Batman’s prototype for the Batwing. There were many variations, and I loved designing it since it gave me a chance to get back into aircraft drawing. The blueprints below were drawn in Photoshop using the line and pen tools, which made for an efficient and clean look.
I’ll be posting more artwork in the next coming days – environments and props.
So here it is – the logo that I started in July, and didn’t get around to doing anything about till this past weekend. In the end, it took about 16 hours total. I used a Palomino Blackwing pencil, which has now become my favorite drawing tool ever. After so many years, what a pleasure to return to pencil on paper!
The final drawing is 32″ x 15″ and is on drafting vellum. The challenge for me was going completely the opposite direction of how I like to do logos, forgoing the pure minimalist style for steel engraving and Gaslight style. The challenge now is to design business cards and stationary around this. I want to find genuine vintage paper, similar to what was used for stocks and bonds.
I found an old sketch in one of my many unfinished Moleskin sketchbooks to use as an example for my class last friday. It turned out that I took it home on the weekend and decided to finish painting it. I’m quite happy with the results. Only one brush and never more than two layers in Photoshop. I will be doing this more often.
I found this Polaroid of me with the full-scale costume of Steely Joe, which I designed for ‘The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne’ back in 1998. This was at Texa FX in Montreal where all the creatures and prosthetics were made. They did incredible work for the show. I didn’t realize at the time that it was the first real steampunk television series, and it was my introduction to the genre which I love so much. What a trip it was, walking on sets and seeing life-sized versions of my designs. I had the pleasure of going through that experience on more movies later, but this was my first big production and I put my all into it.