Central to my ‘scientists as heroes’ concept is Galileo. I have been interested in this historical figure for some time and have been reading more about him. Here I will post some of my sketches, ideas and experimentation with media as I try to create images of Galileo as a hero. My task is to make his image contemporary and heroic whilst ensuring that he is instantly recognisable to anyone with a passing interest in science. I plan to include other scientific heroes as I progress but feel that Galileo is my starting point – I will then look at who might have been Galileo’s heroes and who in history would have held him up as a hero. Heroes only exist in context of other people – so I might look at ‘antagonists’ to Galileo’s story too.
Above are pencil sketches of clothing from images I have found of Galileo and other pictures from the time period. I feel that it is important to get the costumes right and this is something that I want to develop in my own practice. Some of my own illustration heroes such as David Roberts, Alex T Smith and Martin Brown all go to town on their characters’ clothing and I feel that this is something I can do to improve my own character design. Images from the Internet, however, can only go so far so I am planning on finding other sources such as books or to visit a museum with costumes from the time period.
Here I am beginning to experiment in making Galileo a ‘hero’ by using Superman’s primary colour scheme (coloured inks, above). I found an image of Galileo wearing a red robe (in contrast to most images of him that depict him in black). This is something to bear in mind as I move forward. However, the image is still very ‘staid’ and still – if Galileo is to be a hero in the contemporary sense, he’ll need more movement and ‘pizzazz’!
The portrait above is created using black ink. I used accidental ink splats as the basis then worked into this quickly with ink on a big brush. I like the effect and hope to use ink splats more as I move forward.
Here I imagine Galileo in a more cartoony style. This is after a few attempts – it helped to imagine him use a quick pencil stroke to start with (something I learnt from reading about how the Looney Tunes characters are drawn – I’ll blog about that at a later date). This added more energy and gave him more of a heroic stance. Also here I am looking at different shoes from the period. Below, I use an initial stroke of charcoal as the basis for the character which again, I feel, adds smoother movement and energy. The ripping of the old model of the universe is inspired by Sanjay’s Patel’s ‘Rama shooting an arrow’ image from my previous blog. I don’t feel the composition is right here but I like some features such as using the historic image and the universe eminating from the telescope in the background.
I remember illustrator Alex T Smith saying at last year’s SCBWI that the best characters need to be recongisable from their silhouette. Above I use ink to create Galileo’s silhouette. I feel that this is successful and that he’s recognisable with his costume and props. I also used ink splats for the planets around his hand, which I think works well. This brings to mind Marvel character Doctor Strange who conjures circles and spheres with his hands. I will look at that link in more depth soon – but it is interesting that contemporary superhero characters are coming to mind after I rejected the idea of looking at them earlier on. I am going to reconsider this – which contemporary characters match up with historical scientists and how can I use iconic comic book/TV/film characters to iform my own character design?
The above two sketches, primary drawn in ballpoint pen, show some development in the cartoon-style character design. The bottom image is more successful I feel and shows further development of the ink splat idea. The image below uses Galileo’s view of the universe. I am not happy with the purple silhouette but will continue to try to use Galileo’s actual images of the universe as I progress.
Exploring the ‘comic book’ angle further, here I have experimented with pointellism in the style of Lichtenstein. I feel this is a backwards step in terms of the portrait created (Galileo is back to being staid rather than heroic) but I will continue to consider the use of pointellism or comic book art. Incidentally, the circles are created using cotton buds and acrylic for the coloured dots and ink for the black. The ink worked much better and gave a more defined circular ‘point’. I then experimented using coloured inks which again worked much better.
Here (above) I experiment further with making ink splats, dropped from different heights into squared paper (which I like the idea of using given the scientific subject matter).
I am now starting to explore other scientific figures from history – I want to get moving now creating a ‘cast of characters’ to explore how they interact, making ‘heroes’ rather than the singular ‘hero’. Here is an intitial sketch of Copernicus, who inspired Galileo. How will he differ from Galileo?