4 of 52. This week, I decided to tackle the Bowie persona I’ve been most intrigued by for a while: the mad, feral Thin White Duke. Station to Station is my favorite Bowie album, a striving mix of occult ideas touching on all sorts of spiritual traditions, created in the wreckage of stardom, excess, and addiction. Bowie said later that he barely remembered the sessions. It preceded his flight to Berlin, where he would disassemble and reassemble himself over the explorations of Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger.
This was also a way to play with shading by way of overlapping gradients, as well as using the cross-hatch Illustrator brush I used last week with my MLK piece. Vector illustration about tiny gestures - a slight change to an anchor point makes all the difference. The distinction between a hard corner or a curve in a particular spot can make or break it.
Once I was happy with the likeness (thanks to Jennie for critical feedback concerning Bowie’s jaw line), I brought the illustration from Illustrator to Photoshop and played with blend modes, using multiple copies of the original illustration over a speckled, deep purple gradient. Two blurred copies sandwiching the unaltered original create the glow effect. The bottom copy is set to Color Dodge, at about half opacity. The top one uses the Overlay blend mode, also dimmed back about half - this layer is masked so as not to affect the microphone. I added a pattern layer of vertical lines over the Color Dodge layer. Finally, I masked the bottom of the mic stand and cord with one ofKyle Webster’s charcoal brushes, as if it’s dissolving into space.
I wanted to close with a lyric from Station to Station. It’s really hard to pick one. I’ll grab a line from “Word on a Wing.”
“Oh sweet name, I call you again, you’re born once again for me…”
My second of 52 weekly illustrations for 2016 is inspired by Asa, the four-year-old son of my good friends Mike and Jessica. A week or so ago, Mike tweeted about Mario 3. The next day, I brought my SNES over, since I have Super Mario All Stars.
It blew Asa’s mind. Filled with delight, he would yell out “CATBOY!” whenever Mario got the leaf. When one of us would lose the raccoon tail, Asa would wonder where Catboy went. If Mike or I referred to Mario or Luigi as being one of ourselves - “I lost the tail when the Goomba hit me,” for example - Asa would be confused, because he saw those red-and-green-clad sprites on the screen as himself. Catboy, leaping around and flying to coin heaven. He also said he liked the music.
So this one’s for you, Asa. May you always find the canon of the stories you enjoy a little less satisfying than what you can imagine on your own.
I'm a graphic designer and illustrator, smitten with natural history. I also write a dinosaur blog called "Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs."|
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