April 27, 2011

The Real Thing, Baby!

Keeping with the whole Jack Kirby/superhero vibe, I've decided to tackle ol' bashful blue-eyes himself, Ben Grimm - the Thing. I won't even go into why he's simply one of the greatest, most memorable characters in the history of American literature (seriously.) Instead, let's just stick with the visuals and remind ourselves why Kirby was "The King of Comics."

Here's a panel from Fantastic Four #85 that I'm using for reference. I've quickly colored in Reed Richards and Ben to emphasize the scale and bodily proportions of the Thing beside those of a normal, albeit athletic person. This panel also displays where Kirby got it right and a lot of today's artists don't. Look how even though Ben's arms and legs are massive compared to Reed's, the overall impression of the character is one of compactness. Also, his waist is not that much wider than normal, which seems to give him a low center of gravity. Too many current pencilers make the mistake of expanding the torso to ridiculous extremes, or make him top heavy by inflating the arms to the same size as the chest (click on images to view full size.)

Below is a sort of test arm I did a while back just to see if I could recreate in 3D the Thing's distinctive rocky exterior. It came out good enough to encourage me to give the whole figure a try (although you can see how adding a sketchup line 'style' is a little hit-and-miss with complex surfaces like this.).

And this is where we're at, so far. I'm trying not to exaggerate his proportions too much and I deepened the cracks between the rock plates to help with the shadows. Not too shabby.

If he looks deep in thought, it's 'cause he's thinking about where his eyes are and how hard it is to make them look natural when placed in a 3D head. I'm sure the hands and feet will provide me equal frustration. Let me know what you think and keep checking back.

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SketchUp/Screw-up by Timothy P. Butler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.