I don't draw as often as I should and that's a shame. When I was younger I would draw almost every night. Star Wars characters and ships, monsters, car chases, war scenes and super heroes. Now, it's not uncommon for me to go a whole year without picking up a pencil. Life gets in the way of what we want to do in life.
After I posted the sketches of the Phase II Clone Trooper and the Scarif Shoretrooper which I did for my sons, interest was piqued, but not only from listeners of the Commonwealth podcasts but also within myself. I've caught the drawing bug again! And one thing everyone should remember is if you know anyone whom has talent in any field or is starting out in any art, please know that encouragement is the fuel we crave. Whether drawing, sculpting, writing, playing an instrument or even creating a podcast, it's the encouragement from others that sees us through to our goal.
I get asked a lot about my training. "Where did you study art?" Well, I didn't. I'm usually a humble person and find self aggrandisement a bit sickening in most aspects which is why I stupidly feel embarrassed to say that this talent has been with me all along. I was self taught. My parents have drawings I did in kindergarten which are pretty good for something that came from a 5 year old kid. I enjoyed art in primary school (KG - 6) but never took art in high school (7 - 12) when it was an elective subject because I didn't like the teacher. Looking back, I wish I had gone to university to study painting because I'm a crap painter. I can paint a fence better than I can a portrait. I just can't get the detail I want from a brush. That's why I like drawing. It's the tiny detail from a 0.5 pencil tip under a magnifying glass that makes this art nerd grin.
Requests for pieces happen a lot, people asking me to draw this or that but most of the time the topic they want done just flat out bores me. And if I have no interest in the topic I know the art will suffer so I politely tell them no. It might sound selfish but I only draw what interests me. I guess I'd never make it as an artist on commission. But when someone says "can you draw me something from Star Wars" I'm happier than Jango on Father's Day.
I came up with the idea to do not just another Star Wars inspired piece, but an exclusive piece for Talk Star Wars, a piece that Marc could give away to one deserving listener of the show. Someone would take home an original, one-off drawing...but I had no idea what to draw.
Chatting online with the Tumbling Saber boys, a few ideas were tossed around and one of them was to do a Vader drawing on black paper. I did an A4 test run to see if it was a good idea but I wasn't happy with how the bright colours failed to stand out with such a dark background, so I kept on looking.
I own quite a few art books and began skimming through them looking for ideas. There's a plethora of art devoted to Vader or Luke or any of the main characters but I wanted to do something different but still have it be instantly recognisable as something from Star Wars. It had to be (are you ready for this?) iconic.
All is as the Force wills it because as I was searching for that inspiration, my two sons ran past shooting at each other with their Star Wars Nerf guns. Bingo! I knew what to draw. The Rodian killer, the Trooper splitter, the Mynock griller: Han's Blastech Industries DL-44 blaster pistol. Ask someone to name a weapon from Star Wars and they'll say a lightsaber, and rightly so. But ask someone about the blasters and it'll be Han Solo's sidearm that comes to mind.
The DL-44 prop is based on the German Mauser C96 semiautomatic pistol which was produced in both 9mm and 7mm variants. It carries the nickname "Broomhandle" due to the shape of its distinctive handgrip. With the real weapon already standing out from its contemporaries with its looks, by adding the side mounted Hensoldt Dialyt 3X scope and the large flash suppressor from the MG81 machine gun, it became iconic. It became the blaster every young fan pretended to have when shooting Stormtroopers in the school playground.
Now I just had to put the image on paper.
Before I do any drawing, I'll research the hell out of it. I'll pull up countless photos to look at something from as many angles as possible to find that one perspective that looks just right. With the blaster, I looked at photos from the RPF website which had dozens of replica shots and every angle imaginable. The best thing about these type of fan sites is the attention to detail in recording their work. Most photos are in HD which allows me to see detail that I couldn't see from archive photos of the real prop.
With the right angle found, I get down to business. The hardest part, for me, of any drawing is the outline. The rendering and blending is easy but if the shape isn't spot on, it throws it out of whack. We recognise shapes, so getting the outline right makes the image work later when it's completed. Once I’m happy with the outline comes the fun stuff. I hate doing outlines but love shading. It's here where I can make something seem three dimensional on a flat piece of paper.
I'm not an evil person therefore I'm right handed so I work across the page left to right to avoid smudging. I don't build up the entire drawing gradually. As you can see in the photos I'll complete the left side and move on, only coming back to lay shadows or highlights later on. Using a magnifying glass, I only work in small sections, maybe nothing bigger than an inch square at a time. I'm not even thinking about the bigger picture at this stage. I just concentrate on each little square inch as I go.
To get smooth rendering I just use the tip of my finger to smudge it. This gets rid of individual pencil lines. For highlighted areas, like the shine on the edge of a piece of metal, I'll leave the paper untouched or slice a piece of eraser to a fine edge and then drag the eraser along where I want the paper to come through. Sometimes it's easier to fill in an area with shading and then come back in with the eraser to take away the pencil I don't need. To avoid smudging as I work over areas that already have pencil on them, I use a blank piece of A4 paper to rest my right hand on.
I was happy with the blaster once fully rendered but it seemed a bit flat so I went back in and placed a drop shadow under it to give the effect of a solid object resting on the page. I think it works and I hope it's appreciated by whomever becomes the proud owner of it.
With a universe as large as the one we're all obsessed with, there's countless images which could be run through an artist's head to see what comes out the other side. The hard part is picking just one. I already have plans to do some droids and aliens and hopefully, one day, that Darth Vader picture that I need to get out of my system. There's also plans for an art collaboration such as this one but with the Tumbling Canadians. I'm not sure what I'll do but know that I'll be smiling away with a glass of wine or beer next to me and either the Star Wars soundtrack or a podcast playing in my ears.
A Commonwealth podcast of course.
Note - We will be giving away Matt's incredible drawing soon. Keep an eye of the Talk Star Wars facebook page for more information.