Police Detectives
Police Detectives from Another World.

This is a character concept for one of the many story ideas perpetually brewing in my head, which will continue to brew and probably never manifest because I never seem to get around to writing anymore. Anyway, Science Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and these two have a number of influences including Cube, Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, HG Wells, James Cameron, and the history of space exploration.

Even though it was just a first shot character sketch, I really wanted them to be doing something and not just floating in an abyss of negative space in a boring pose that doesn’t obstruct anything important. Being just a character sketch, I didn’t want to draw a scene from the story, requiring designs for the setting which I also did not feel like doing. Basically, I wanted it to have something of a movie poster feel ... and not one of those dime-a-dozen floating heads posters. A decent movie poster. One problem, though: if I had these two interacting, more than likely they’d be facing one another which would mean one of them would have to have their back turned (or I could show them both in profile which I didn’t want to do either.) So, the trick was finding an activity where both can face the same direction. And, even though it doesn’t seem like much, simply having them walking does satisfy all of the above goals. They’re going somewhere, and by their body language one could get an idea of their destination and their agenda. I wanted them to have an authority and determination in their walk—there’s a problem, and these are the people in charge of dealing with it.

While I had an abundance of references for very specific elements, I did not have one for a figure midstride (not from that angle anyway) which has yielded a unique array of strengths and weaknesses. For example, with the girl the hairstyle was inspired by one photograph, and each layer of her clothing came from its own source, her bracelets from yet another, and growing up in a military family I added the dogtags from memory. So, in a way, her design is a composite of several sources. The exact same is true for the man behind her.

As a result, there’s lots of specific details that I picked up and was able to render—details in the folds and wrinkles in the fabric, the pattern of highlights and shadows on the various surfaces, the stitching of their clothes, a sense of weight to the bodies and their outfits (ie, his jacket looks heavier than her shirt). And over the last few years, I’ve tried to do figure drawings consistently in my little 5"x8" sketchbook so basic proportions, understructure, and mechanics of the two bodies appear correct. But, lacking a reference of figures in motion, I’m missing a lot of nuance that would convey that sense of movement. For example, the girls arms might be proportionally correct, but would her left arm (right of frame) swing behind her hip like that? How exactly would the momentum of moving forward coupled with wind resistance open up her top? What kind of wrinkles and folds would that create? Where exactly is her weight balanced and how does that affect the position of her hips/shoulders? I guess what I’m getting at is: the figures don’t quite look like they’re moving. They look like they’re standing still and posing.

Despite that, I think it came out pretty good and shows a level of confidence and ambition not often demonstrated here at Dark Side of the Soul (how many of my drawings have multiple figures?) I think the background of distant planet Jupiter is simple enough; creates an appealing composition; and appropiately conveys the futuristic space setting without cluttering the frame with sci-fi corridors, viewscreens, ray guns, robots, gadgets, spaceships, and what have you (not to mention it feels movie poster-ish). I think these two outfits are among the best I’ve ever designed (not hard, given my fashion sense sucks.) And most importantly, I think these two look unique among my drawing creations, and aren’t entirely just a remixed regurgitation of the same personal clichés I’ve been drawing for fourteen years.

—Jay Wilson