Over the summer, illustrator Toby Thane Neighbors asked me if I'd like to participate in a new collaborative blog he'd started called Illostribute. The idea for the site is to pay tribute to famous illustrators and fine artists by "investigation through interpretation." And he's been able to gather up quite the impressive roster artists, including regular contributor Nate Wragg. I missed the first few rounds because I was crazy busy, but was able to carve out some time in September for the current artist, Norman Saunders.
...which details Saunder's career as one of the most renown pulp fiction illustrators, creating more than 800 covers in his time—and includes well over a dozen outstanding tribute illustrations.
I began my investigation by poring over cover after cover of Saunder's work. There are many great resources, including this one over at PulpArtists.com. After much searching, I settled on the Mars Attacks trading cards he co-created for Topps in 1962—a good online index of those can be found here. This is apparently the set that inspired Tim Burton to make his movie of the same name. I chose the image on the left because it features one of Saunder's trademark women in distress, and of course, because I knew I'd have fun drawing the alien.
Here's the sketch I started with.
Which I then scanned and inked in Flash.
I imported the inks (with transparency) into ArtRage, where I did all of my painting and coloring. Above is an in-process screen shot. As always, I highly recommend this program for digital painting.
And the final rendering, which I imported into Photoshop to design the typography, added texture, and to crop it to match the trading card (see image at the top of the post).
The process of visual investigation was definitely a fun one, though I'd consider it a cover or tribute more than a unique re-interpretation. Still, it was enjoyable to take one of his images and remake it. Plus, I normally work in flat colors, so moving the paint around and rendering the forms was a welcome exploration.