Monday, February 4, 2013

Making of a Toons On Tap Poster - Session 21: She-Ra Princess of Power

It began with a rather ugly Christmas card.

What you can expect in the mail from me at Christmastime

The subject was the delightfully offensive drag performer Daytona Bitch.  Jeremy and I had made dirty Christmas cards to sell at Red Herring’s Reveal Me at The Rivoli in December.  Of the four cards I made, the shiny lipped, beady eyed caricature of Daytona was my favourite.

I was unsure how she would react.  At this point, I had seen Daytona at previous shows eviscerate hecklers with her biting wit.  I prepared myself to be torn a new one.  And yet, I hadn’t expected how Daytona actually reacted- with joy. She loved the cards, especially the ugly one.

Red Herring highly recommended Daytona as a potential Toons On Tap model.  When a performer meets Red’s high standards and earns a recommendation, we take notice.  Jeremy and I researched Daytona after the show, and found she had a She Ra outfit among her costumes.  It was love.  The very next morning, we booked her for Toons.

For the event poster, I wanted to create the feeling of heavy metal album art.  If Toons On Tap was a dictatorship and not a team effort, every single session would feature drag queens and metal music.  To begin research, I sketched out the compositions of various albums and fantasy art.

I decided to make the poster square, like a vinyl cover, rather than the usual letter size.  "Toons On Tap" would be placed across the top like a band name, with the model's name positioned in a bottom corner like an album title.  Importantly, I knew I needed enough negative space to place the event info.  The image I had in mind was She-Ra menacingly posed on a jagged cliff against a night sky and a full moon.

I grabbed a toy sword and had Jeremy takes reference photos of me trying various poses.  The pose I decided on had interesting angles and fun foreshortening... and yet, I had one big problem.  In an effort to avoid cheesecake, T&A poses, I ended up with a rather angry pantyshot.  Should I alter the costume to be more modest?  Would She-Ra wear booty shorts under her dress?  Or, should I give the Princess of Power a hefty package?  I would revisit this later.

Next, I drew the pose and tested the composition and colour in Photoshop.  This first draft was eye bleedingly bad.

Poor She-Ra had giant banana hands, and was standing on rocks the colour of an ugly insurance office.  The cheery, Saturday morning colours of her costume looked silly against a purple and black sky.  I still wanted the image to look ‘metal’, but I decided not to use a dark background.  Just ask my poor teachers- it is nigh impossible to get me to stop using black.

I thought back to the albums I looked at while researching, and one in particular came to mind.

Colour can be metal

Rather than set the white and gold She-Ra against a dark sky, I decided to put her in the heat of a midday sun.  As an added bonus, I found the solution to the upskirt problem- the lighting!

So, round two.

Much happier with the colours, I spent the next week of evenings hunched over Photoshop. The poster was birthed.

Jeffrey approved of my use of the Megadeth font

Overall, I had far too much fun making this.  My favourite part to paint was the red jewel in the sword as I had no idea what I was doing and it still turned out how I wanted.  If I were to redo the poster, I would draw She Ra to resemble Daytona more strongly.  I’m not sure if the facial features and large feet read as the character being a drag queen, or if She-Ra just looks like a strange looking woman.  Plus, I’m still not happy with the hands and will focus on improving my hands in future posters.

As for the session?  Daytona Bitch was a flawless She-Ra.

Photo courtesy of Toons On Tap photographer Jeffrey Adam Danyleyko

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