Asia Argento (again)
Slack from George A. Romero's Land of the Dead

Once upon a time, I'd have looked at the source image (a desktop wallpaper from the movie's website) and said, "Hell no." The background ... the outfit ... the details, the details, oh the details! Once upon a time, I'd have ignored the fishnets, the bar, the woodgrains, the glasses, the jars, not to mention the metallic keg in the shape of a bird. And at key points during the drawing—after finishing the initial lines on her and the shading sans fishnets—I considered leaving it as is. But, ya know what? Times have changed.

Before I get too cocky, though, I will point out this is my second attempt. The first? I wasn't feeling well and drew while sitting back in a more reclined position which put my head further away from the paper on my work desk ... and, yes, that measely distance caused distortions via perspective which elongated my sketch and screwed it up before it could really get going. On the bright side, it is nice being able to tell a drawing is hopelessly flawed before the half-hour mark (although, feeling ill, I pretty much knew it was doomed before pulling out a sheet of paper.)

Typical of my style, I sketched her first, then did some light shading on her skin and blended it to give it a softer texture, but I skipped her outfit to minimize smearing. Next I focused on the initial pencil work for the background (even went all out and used a ruler for those straight edges) after which I took a light/medium toned pass at shading it. Now, keep in mind, I'm speaking in general terms; of course, I did not focus on one particular phase to the exclusion of everything else. I constantly bounced back and forth between touching up line work and refining the shapes and their shading, so the whole drawing evolved organically.

Anyway, things got complicated when I approached the dark regions. About a quarter of the way through I realized there was no point shading around her outfit anymore—if I'm going to render the black patches in the background, I might as well also render her black outfit (sans fishnets—those lines need to remain crisp and thus need to wait till last) so later on I won't have to draw from weird angles. And given the striped configuration of the shading (thanks to the horizontal bar), I made two sweeps across the page (top half and bottom half) which allowed me to turn the page upside down and work bottom-left to bottom-right, then I flipped the page right side up and was able to go bottom-left to bottom-right again, covering the whole page without my hand ever having to hover or come into contact with a finished area (I also lucked out that the bottom right corner—the spot I'm most likely to touch while drawing—is pretty simple and insignificant compared to other regions so I didn't have to worry about messing things up during the final fishnet phase of drawing.)

Given the complexity of the process and number of passes, it later occured to me I should have scanned in the drawing after each phase and uploaded them to show the entire journey and better illustrate my process. And also to demonstrate how very different a work in progress can appear from the finished product—how ugly and shaky my starter lines are, how far along misaligned features can go and still get fixed, how I use placeholder shapes in anticipation of future details (and sometimes how I forget or misinterpret the place holders and put the details in the wrong spot, a la, one of the jars), how medium shading can look plenty dark until you lay down a genuinely dark patch and suddenly half the image is too light. At the very least, it'll give me something to talk about in one of these commentaries.

But that's a future project ...

—Jay Wilson