Tuesday, September 29, 2009

M Squad

Last year a friend spoke with me about commissioning a portrait of Lee Marvin (1924-1987). This request fit right in with what is becoming an ongoing series of interpretations of famous tough guys. I've done portraits of Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, William Bendix, and a triple portrait of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach as they appeared in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I gathered about a dozen photos of the hard-boiled actor, and roughed out a first attempt in a little sketchbook:


At this point I'm just figuring out the overall shapes, and what I want to emphasize as distinguishing features. I posted this version without identifying the subject, to see if it was recognizable as Marvin. I thought it looked more like Tommy Lee Jones, but a few people pegged it.

I use a scanner and Photoshop to make additional sketches. I'll scan the art, then lighten it until it's very faint, print it, and sketch in pencil on top of the printout. I continue this process until I'm happy with the sketch.

Here's the second version, penciled over a lightened-up scan of the drawing from the sketchbook:


Now we're getting closer. I added a cigarette, because what's a tough guy without tobacco? After it was done, I compared it to the reference photos and made some editorial notes on changes I thought were needed.

I repeated the scanning/lightening/printing/pencilling steps, and came up with the latest version:



At this point, I'm pretty satisfied with the likeness, and figure that messing with it any more is a bad idea.

When I'm ready to lay out the painting, I'll scan this, adjust the size, and maybe reposition the eyeballs just a little.

Once again, when looking at a finished caricature, I see a huge Mort Drucker
influence.

1 comment:

HemlockMan said...

Yeah, the new version is pretty darned good and an improvement over the initial one (even though you can tell it's Lee Marvin).

The triple illustration from the western is great!!!