Tuesday, 20 November 2007

First glimpse of Caesar

Yesterday, out of the blue, I thought I would draw Caesar. Aside from a few very tentative sketches of Veridicus (my OC, from the Gens Tullia), that makes Caesar the first Roman who gets a face in my story. That, um, leaves only Labienus, Volusenus, Marcus Antonius, Sabinus, Cotta, Cicero and a few others...

The situation with Caesar is of course much different from that of my Gaulish characters: we know what he looked like, because we have portrait busts that can definitely be identified as representing him. I don't know about you, but even before I started working on this comic I was able to recognise Caesar's face when I came across it in museums; I'm sure I'm not alone in that. As a consequence, I feel that I can't just go inventing wildly when Caesar is concerned, and I copied his face from several portrait busts. The merits of my copying capacities are very relative, but I am nevertheless rather happy with the result - I don't think anyone could look at the pictures on the left here and say, "hey, isn't that Caligula?" or something. I am glad that the man has a few expressive lines in his face; they help me individualise him and make his expressions more lively too. I guess I am making his nose larger and more hooked than in the busts, but I like a little exaggeration; my style isn't that realistic.

I have found another portrait bust that shows a more fleshy Caesar. We mostly see him as lean and even somewhat ascetic-looking; I opted for that image because - well, after all, Vercingetorix's best moves against Caesar were those that cut off the food supply.

I do need to try more expressions as I sketch on; right now all the old bloke ever seems to do is smirk. But he has an excellent type of face for smirking, too... I already know I'm going to enjoy drawing Caesar. He is greedy and ambitious and totally immoral, if you ask me, but he's also brilliant as well as quirky. You just have to love a bloodthirsty general whose nickname was "the Queen of Bithynia", haven't you? Every time I have to draw his hair I am reminded of the fact that he was balding and hated it, and grew very long hair at the back of his head so that he could comb it to the front to make it look as if he did not have a bald patch on his scalp :D. Oh, and he depilated, which is great because I don't particularly like drawing hairy arms :-).

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Here's to show that I shouldn't be allowed to play with Photoshop colours because I obviously don't know how to use them properly. I should do a decent version of the picture, perhaps in watercolour or something; this is just some quick sketchy thingy.

I have been thinking at which points my main characters interact with Caesar personally. There aren't that many. Comm must have met him most often, joining him on the British campaign. I suppose Vercingetorix must at least have been introduced to him. Ambiorix, I'm not sure. I think I do need to know, or determine for myself, whether or not Caesar knows what Ambiorix looks like. I wonder just how much of the business with local dignitaries Caesar conducted himself... If he delegated a lot, that would make him something of a ghostly figure in the Celts' imagination - the man who is behind everything, but who is at the same time unapproachable, a kind of nemesis more than a human being. That could be interesting for the story.


Cecilia said...

Good luck with your new blog for originals! It's even easier for me to post comments... Cecilia (cabepfir)

ampersand said...

Squee! Hello Cecilia! It's great to see you here :-). Not many people have found their way to my Blogspot yet... And I'm dying for feedback XD!

Cecilia said...

I've read your post about styles on lj, but I'm posting comment here because it's easier for me.
My usual messiness of course fits well with the first picture (I usually draw tons more messy...), but with clean lines, what I can think of to give the brutal sensation of war are a couple of tricks like:
- spraying ink blots for blood, dirt, etc;
- dramatic black shadowing;
- kinetics lines for movement/emotions;
- add very little segments of lines to define shapes; I am thinking of Moebius, for example.
French bandes dessinées I know use clean lines with watercolour colouring (well, now digital colouring rulez, but I still prefer traditional tools).
Personally I'm horrible at inking with brushes (too less practice) and even with brush pens, I still feel uneasy. My favourite medium for inking are fountain pens, but the result is not as soft as brushes.
I know that some people are utilizing directly their pencils as inks, adjusting the contrast with photoshop.

ampersand said...

Thanks very much! Those are useful tips :-).

I think I am going to try combining my usual inking with watercolour and see where that gets me... I adore watercolour - I have just feasted my eyes on Enrico Marini's Aigles de Rome and am green with envy :P - so I intend to work hard on my painting technique. I just bought a book about colours, their properties, and how to mix them; hopefully that will help me along. Maybe as I exercise my painting skills, I will also become a bit more confident with brushes as inking tools...?

Woohoo! So much to learn! XD