So tonight I started working on one of the backlogged commissions that had built up over time; it was actually commissioned in December (I think it was), with the understanding that it would take me a while to get to it. And… it’s a bear.
I don’t mean, it’s a picture of a bear. I mean, it’s a huge, complex, amazing request that will sorely test my artistic ability. It’s going to require patience, and stamina, and attention to detail of a level far beyond anything I normally put into a work.
Oh, and it’s ponies. Go fig.
I didn’t realize just how big a task it was going to be when the commissioner asked for it– not because they didn’t make their wishes clear, but rather because I didn’t really wrap my mind around it. Thinking rather cavalierly that I could probably just bang out something loose and fun and everyone would be satisfied, I completely failed to take into account that some monstrous part of my brain would put its metaphorical foot down and say, “NO. Gneech, you’re doing this picture, and you’re doing it right.”
“But–!” sayeth sloth. “That’s gonna be haaaaaaaaaaard!”
“But–!” sayeth doubt. “I’m scared! What if we pour all that into it, and nobody cares?”
“But–!” sayeth avoidance. “Isn’t there something else we could work on instead?”
“NO!” sayeth the monster. “We will do this. We will do it hard. This level of work is something we should have done long ago. We have long bemoaned the fact that we never went to art school. We have long looked on the work of others with envy and regret. We will do this.”
And so… it is being done.
Tonight was almost pure laying-of-groundwork. I did a page-size sketch, storyboard-style, to establish the placement and position of all of the figures involved, as well as to highlight certain flourishes that were not specified in the commissioner’s request, but were implied by the subject matter. Then I created a canvas in Photoshop and began to lay down guidelines and a perspective grid.
I’m drawing a perspective grid. In Photoshop. For ponies. Ye gods.
This work is so large and contains so many “moving parts” that I suspect I will end up doing it in large chunks, and then bringing the chunks together at the end. The background will be rendered first, including some elements which are themselves almost individual pieces worth a commission. Then figures will be drawn individually or in clusters, and moved into place.
My commissioner, for his part, is paying what is for my ratesheet a quite hefty fee (even if he doesn’t see it as such), and I have to admit that’s certainly a motivating factor. I can’t stomach accepting a fee I don’t feel like I’ve earned, and this is a fee I would hate to turn down. But it’s gone beyond that, for me. Having looked at the thing squarely and with both eyes open, I’ve been given the option to back out and refused it. Monster brain, once it rose to the challenge of creating this thing that would normally make me flinch and slink away, is hungry for it.
So bring it on, OMG commish. You’re going down.