Sounds simple, right? If something is wrong, make it right. But lets be honest. Sometimes as artists we kinda suspect an area of our painting isn’t as good as it could be. Maybe we don’t know how to fix it? Maybe we show it to some folks, and hope they wont notice. And if they don’t notice, we are like, “Sweet, fork that shiz because it is done!”
And if they do notice, we are like the kid caught with melted chocolate on his hands before dinner.
When a painting or even a sketch for a client has already been approved, it is sometimes tougher for us to act on our instincts to improve a piece. Even if you know it could be better. I ran into this in my early days of illustrating. There would be a poorly drawn hand in the approved sketch, and I felt tethered to that crappy drawing, like they would get mad at me if I made it better. Sounds crazy when I type that, but man those approved sketches felt like hand cuffs. But eventually I just made it better, and you know what, most times they didn’t even notice. But I noticed.
We all make mistakes. We won’t catch them all. (And it helps to have a bad-ass critique group that can catch the mistakes we missed.)
So here are a couple of my re-dos.
(Disclaimer- I don’t claim to be the king of likenesses. They are tough. Even if you trace a likeness it can be tough to capture it. My hope is to get it close enough that when the title is blasted over it we have no doubt who the character is, lol. But I do my best, even if it means redoing it.)
This was the final art for Angel & Faith issue 5 (season 10). It was approved as you see it.
It didn’t totally suck, I like a lot about this one. One of my favorites in many ways. Except dude, Angel is such a blubbering baby in this version.
Get that lil guy a diaper and a warm baby-bottle STAT. (Full of blood of course. (The bottle you sickos.)) I mean I get it, Angel is a ‘Weight of the World’ player most of the time, but come on. Try to get a little bad-ass back in there.
This was oil and acrylic on Duralar, already done and approved. Traditional art. A pain to fix. So what did I do? I attacked it with nail polish remover and redid it.
That felt better… Fork it!
It isn’t the only time it has happened to our favorite brooding blood-sucker. Somehow he got a bit too much Alec Baldwin in Angel issue 3 (Season 11). Again, traditional art. Pain to fix. Out came the nail polish remover.
I grabbed a little vid of the destruction and reconstruction…
Both of these were self imposed changes. On work that was already finished and approved.
It is about taking ownership of the work. I reached a point in my career where suddenly I wanted the art to be improved FOR ME. Not just for the client. And my stamp of approval on my work became as important as the client’s approval. I think we need to be selfish like that to make our best art.
Great post, thank you so much for sharing! Gosh, I could watch your video on a loop. All day. It's so satisfying. And so true about being selfish to make it the best art.
I'm always afraid I make things worse. I never seem to be able to catch it just as good a second time. No idea why, maybe it looks forced? Not brave enough? Need more practise? (yep, definitely that)
I did a custom on a guitar once, one of the Yngwie Malmsteen cover. It turned out great, but I used the wrong type of varnish, and the whole thing melted and peeled off like skin on hot milk. Once it had dried it could have been repaired, but I decided to do it all over again as it would have shown. Did I nail it??? Nope. Oh, that frustrated the hell out of me, until today… Maybe I should have tried it a third time.
One of my hang-ups is getting it perfect. I'm tenacious. But, I know there has to be a balance esp. if deadlines are involved.
I had no idea Duralar was so versatile. Really cool process working on both sides!
Thanks @Esmeralda Acosta! I did a whole post here on working on Duralar last month. Check it out!
Yngwie! I remember his scalloped-fret Stratacaster well. I've come to find, when I wipe something out and re-do it, it takes way less time than trying to save what was there, and really, much less time than it took to paint it the first time to begin with.
You poor soul! I knew the first time I saw one of your covers that David Boreanas' face probably plagued your dreams. He just has one of those challenging likenesses! It's inspiring to see the lengths you went to maintain authenticity to that likeness. Hat's off, man!
Hey thanks Angela! Yes David is TOUGH. Part of it is that he looks like he has a really wide nose in most shots, but it actually is pretty sharp at the tip, but has these bulges on either side of the tip. Add the wide node-bridge, and yeah tough indeed.
What an awesome article, thank you for sharing it Scott, I sometimes worry about the same thing but have recently taken to doing the same thing… well, I know you approved this but I think I can make it better. So far everyone has been super happy with it.
Glad hear it!
This is great to see, Scott. I rework my old pictures ALL THE TIME. Like, constantly. Usually it’s when I learn something new and want to retroactively apply it to something I’ve already done, to kind of set the record straight or clean out my dirty laundry… or something.