Friday, April 25, 2008

Character Portrait: The Brief

So begins my series of posts on the "project" I've been keeping under wraps, which some of you had already guessed was the portrait of Alec and Elspeth I commissioned back in January.

For this project, I've had the privilege to work with a very talented comic/graphic novel artist, the inestimable Jason Badower.  I found his blog through the 9th Wonders boards and a discussion about his work on some of the Heroes graphic novels for NBC.  I stopped by hoping for some behind-the-scenes info and/or spoilers, and stuck around because I liked his art and his funny stories.  *g*  When I emerged from the self-induced haze that was my last days finishing OHN and started reading my blog subscriptions again, he was posting about commissioned portraits he had done, and I decided I had to have one.

So I zipped off an e-mail and received his reply in short order.  Could I prepare a "brief" outlining what I wanted, and then we could work out terms and details.  I set to work.

The Brief

My brief...was anything but.  As regular readers may know, it's hard for me to "write short" hehe.  What I sent Jason was a 10-page, single-spaced Word document full of descriptions and pictures, explaining my thoughts on pose, emotions, detailed info on each character, ideas for background, etc.  Some highlights:

Pose: leaning towards ¾ of both.  (Or perhaps ¾ of one and full frontal of the other?)  I'd like them standing close to each other, touching in some way, but not in full contact.  (Okay, this is for a romance novel, but I'm not looking for bodice-ripping cover art here.  *g*  However, I do want their pose(s) to indicate their relationship – which includes friendship, trust, and deep love/affection.  In other words, a casual pose that still conveys their connection.)

One way would be have Elspeth standing slightly in front of Alec, and both of them angled – like / – again in ¾ profile.  Alec's back hand could be on her shoulder or waist.  (His free hand could maybe be on his sword-hilt.) ...

I then went on to offer a few other ideas on pose and then went into the characters.


Okay, here's the kicker: this is time-travel, so the characters are from two different centuries, about 300 years apart.

Alec (Alasdair Colin MacGregor) is a Scottish Highlander from 1691.  This means full kilt (the big, cloak-y kind), bloused shirt, bonnet, dirk, sword (basket-hilted broadsword), sporran…the whole shebang.

Elspeth (Elizabeth Renee Martin) is a modern twenty-first century physicist.  I see her in jeans and a t-shirt, possibly with her knapsack or a bo staff.  Oh!  And the crystal.  (I'll get to that in a minute.)

So, the specs for each character…


General appearance:  He has shoulder-length chestnut (reddish brown) hair, very blue eyes, dimples.  He's right at 6 feet tall, muscular but not bulky (think lean and strong – he's a warrior, trained to fight with a sword and walk the Highlands all his life, not a scrap of fat on him, his muscles are well-defined but he's not a bodybuilder…or, for that matter, a typical comic-book hero).

I went on here to give him the chunk of MS where Elspeth meets him for the first time and thus he is described.  Also a handful of pictures of Martin Henderson and others that I used for reference, and quite a few screenshots from the movie Rob Roy and pics of men in Great Kilts for clothing reference, along with close-ups of basket-hilted broadswords and Doune pistols, etc...


General appearance:  Mousy brown, slightly-wavy hair, just past shoulders; large, dark brown eyes, oval face.  She's 5'6", 140 pounds, size 12, 34B cup size (not huge breasts! on the small/average side).  She carries her weight through thighs and butt, so a little bottom heavy but not grossly disproportionate or lumpy – still very attractive.  (Alec calls her his "callipygian Venus".) 

She's a trained fighter herself, a black-belt in kempo, and she carries herself like it.  Aside from a little extra fluff (mainly on her rear, see above), she's pretty fit and athletic.

I don't have as many pictures of her, mainly because I haven't found a real-life counterpart.

I gave him what I had for Elspeth - mainly a Yahoo! avatar and a few other odds and ends, suggested some accessories, mentioned the crystal, and then suggested Kilchurn (where else?) as the background image and gave him the Flickr links to the pics you see here on the blog whose photographers generously gave me permission to use them.

He was impressed with my thoroughness, and likened my writing to his art: they both required a lot of research to do well.  I could tell already this would turn out to be great, but life intervened for both of us.  I got pulled away from the book for a few months, and he took on a few major projects that kept him busy.  We left things at the brief stage until about 2 weeks ago...

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