Asia Argento, 2nd Take
Asia Argento as Yelena
(xXx [2002])

Wow, has it really been five years since I first took a stab cat this photo? I feel old.

Anyway, even though Dark Side hasn’t seen an update in months, I’ve been drawing consistently. The focus of the last few months has been to experiment with different styles, different approaches, and to do drawings that don’t look like my drawings. It was (and still is) fun and educational, but I’ve been itching to return to my style and apply the new tricks I’ve picked up. So, here we are.

What I think is interesting about this drawing is that it’s clear I was having an off day. From the first few pre-lim lines, things just didn’t feel right. I drew the hands too small (I always seem to struggle with hands if they leave the frame and then come back in), and her features don’t quite line up correctly (don’t ask ... I know how to keep those in line, but I just didn’t.) However, despite all of that, it’s still better than what I did five years.

First of all, the frame better matches the square shape of the source photograph. Second, the linework looks crisper, cleaner, and far more confident; dynamic shading effectively creates the illusion of multiple textures--her hair looks different from her skin which looks different from her clothes which looks different from the phone. The ‘04 render looks like a toy where everything is made of the same material because of the universal shading technique; it also looks fuzzy, and, no, that’s not the scan either. Here in the ‘09 render, there’s a much greater attention to subtle, almost imperceptible, details which makes this render look like it has weight and depth. The hair flows more naturally, more realistically (and I drew it in half the time).

Another curious observation comparing the two drawings back to back. The ‘04 version handles her arm leaving the frame and coming back better (ie, it better handles aspects of Asia’s pose unseen in the original photo.) However, it screws up a lot of things that are actually seen in the pose (like, her neck.) In a way, this ‘09 render is the polar opposite of its predecessor—it handles the visible parts of the pose better, but the unseen stuff ... not so much. Go figure.

Once again, I didn’t mess with the details of her robe. I didn’t feel like spending hours (maybe days) trying to copy that spider-web-like pattern of opaque material sewn into an otherwise translucent garment. Maybe if I wasn’t having an off day I’d of tried it.

And lastly, a funny story: while drawing this picture, I was so focused on drawing Asia’s face, I completely forgot to shade the phone in her hands. It’s not terribly uncommon for me to neglect something while shading (I’m bad about forgetting ears for some reason), but I usually catch it in the later stages of rendering. However, in this case, it wasn’t until I had scanned the thing and was resizing it to fit Dark Side’s web format when I realized, “crap, the phone is still just lines ... how the hell did I miss that?!” I blame Asia. She distracted me. Honest.

I blame Asia. She distracted me. Honest.

Five Years Earlier: Asia Argento (xXx), Take One