Michelle Christensen as "Miss Scarlet"
Selected Head Pose
It's important to get the gesture right.
"It Wasn't the Revolver in the Lounge that Killed Her"
Acrylic on Illustration Board- 12"x13"
Here is the second painting I did for the Truth Against Tobacco public service campaign. This one called for the right female model to play the part of "Miss Scarlet". I asked one of my former students Michelle Christensen, an up and coming illustrator in her own right, to model for me. She was fantastic, having done some professional modeling before, she jumped right into the role, bringing her own red dress and strand of pearls to the shoot. I always do concept and composition sketches before I ever shoot models (more on that next post), so I thought I knew the direction I wanted to go, but I figured since I had the model available I would shoot multiple angles. Michelle gave me more options than I asked for. I think it's very important to recognize when you are getting good information in a photo shoot and run with it. I have about 70 shots on disc and only about a half dozen made their way into the final piece. Some of the unused ones may make it into another painting some day- they were just too good.
When I shoot for a project like this, I always do full shots as well as detail shots. The full shots help establish the overall pose and angle and the detail give me the minute information that I need to polish the finish painting. Even with digital technology, you can only zoom in so close to the subject. Many students frequently make the mistake of not compensating for camera distortion (hence the long angle) or they completely forget to take any detail shots. This makes it very difficult to decipher the fine details and translate them to the final piece. I take care to shoot the long shots and the details at the same eye level and also I pay attention to the gesture if things like the hands and the angles of the limbs. I want the best possible silhouette- one that reads well as the actual object. Notice how much better the hand holding the cigarette (paintbrush) is than the one in the full shot.