By Boyann DJ
I have a very dear lady friend I’ve never ever met in person, actually. Thanks to the Internet magic, lots of liaisons are created that were unthinkable in the old pre-www days, with ‘ordinary’ snail-mail ‘pen-pals’ remaining mostly just that – pen pals.
Olga Yezhova soviet-superwoman.deviantart.com is a creative lady of Russian origin living in the USA. She writes inspiring kind of Sci-Fi superhero fantasy existing in a well defined ‘universe’ where the main girl is the USSR super-human female – Joe Stalin’s secret weapon against the Nazis called Soviet Super Woman. I have to admit that – apart from the physique and generic yet unusual black and white costume – the character appeared interesting to me because she fights NOT for God, mother, apple pie and the American Way but rather for Comrade Stalin, Rodina, borsht and the Five Year Plan.
She epitomizes the RETRO Soviet Communist ideal but presented in an unique American way as a PROTAGONIST, not the ‘female bad guy’. I’m not using the term ‘bad girl’ because it means something entirelly different nowadays, with Red Sonja, Lady Death, Vampirella and other ‘virtual beauties’ being bad in a good way or good in a bad way, whatever you prefer.
I was attracted to the concept visualized by many talented artists friends of Olga in breathtaking ways, to the extent that I needed to try my hand in contributing to the mythos. I did it on couple of occasions doing the heroine justice and making my new lady friend happy. Unlike most of her artists who illustrated her prose in stunning 3D I went the ‘old fashioned way’ – meaning 2D and on paper with pencil, using PhotoShop to manipulate and enhance the scan of the drawing.
This work-in-progress is done for Olga, of course — but at the same time as a sort of ‘self-flattery’, celebrating 8000th visitor of my Deviant Art site boyann.deviantart.com some time ago.
So, A4 sized printer paper under my 3H lead in a mechanical 2mm pencil, I went into a pencil rendering of the beauty, like intended for a Soviet propaganda poster of the yesteryear. Never intending to pay a homage, I didn’t bother to gather any reference materials – rather, I’ve stuck to my memory and the general feel I wanted to communicate.
I love to draw with hard-as-nail leads, being totally dismissive of those HB or B soft leads that always happen to smear, turn paper gray and generally look ugly [unless a master draughtsman handles them, of course]. The problem I’ve encountered after finishing the detailed pencil sketch was the decision NOT to ink the drawing but enhance the darkness in PhotoShop through contrast etc. — but this time it didn’t work as I expected. The sketch was turning ugly and I still disliked the idea of sloshing inks over the drawing on too thin paper.
Then it’s dawned on me: I’ll ink the drawing BUT DIGITALLY, in PhotoShop, using my stylus and pressure sensitive Wacom tablet.
I went for the rougher look, retro-impact with ‘ben-day’ dot-screen halftone pattern and final colour imitating the old propaganda posters as I remembered them. Added word balloons with SSW’s monologue appeared rather self-congratulatory but Olga didn’t mind – quite the opposite.
Neither direct digital drawing via tablet and stylus nor inking the same way of the scanned drawing appeal to me, in spite of not bad results at all. I prefer to colour and letter in PhotoShop — or play around with the line darkness till it appears black as inked, although remaining in pencil. Hard leads provide me with better line control and, truth to say, more joy whilst drawing.
But it doesn’t mean those boxes with soft leads I still keep in my drawing desk’s drawers will remain unused some day in the future.
Firm artistic principles serve the purpose of being broken or amended according to the situation and/or state of mind in a given moment.