So, as far as the props and costume go, I am wearing a replica of a Union Army private's uniform from the American Civil War. While this is not authentic to the Napoleonic era, it is a lot closer than jeans and a t-shirt. At the very least, the uniform is made of wool, and thus will drape similarly to the Hussar uniform. Additionally, in order to replicate the various elements on the Hussar uniform, I used copious amounts of masking tape. Absolutely not authentic at all, but it does provide me good reference points to keep things feeling natural. For a sash, I used a winter scarf and am ignoring the excess which hangs down in the back. As you can see, I'm leaning on a stool, and holding a dowel. Originally I was weilding a sword, but being as athletically disinclined as I am, it proved too awkward and heavy for holding the pose for any prolonged period of time. Valentine, I am clearly not. If I had an assistant, or a powerful fan, the jacket would be blowing about appropriately. As I have neither, I will just be forced to once again do some mental math.
Alright. On to the painting.
Again, not tons of progress, but true to my word, I concentrated on the face. I'm not sure I'm completely sold on it quite yet, but I think the majority of the ground work has been done. The difficulty with this particular face has to do with the fact that I am trying to interpret comic line drawings and translate them with my own sensibilities. In case no one has taken a look at the character, here's an example of what our hero looks like:
There's a decent amount of information to go with there. I know he's got a strong chin, I know his general coloration and I can glean the overall shape of his face, cheek bone structure, etc. So, it's my job to reinterpret that and bring it into my own visual language. This is a challenge to say the least.
Were this a novel, and I was being asked to depict the main character for the cover, there'd be a little less legwork. I mean, there isn't any art, just words. I'd absorb the description as best I can, then try and depict it as accurately as possible. If someone subsequently read the book and felt that I'd missed the mark, they could just brush it off as "that's not how I imagined them." Here, I have something to live up to. If I've missed the mark, someone can point to a given page or panel and say, "look, idiot! Here is proof that you suck at this!" ...or something to that effect.
Adding to the challenge is that I've been asked to make him a bit more historically accurate for the cover (which requires changes in the hair, changes in the uniform, etc.), thus taking him further away from the pages of the book. What I'm left with is an attempt to strike a balance between two Valentines. I must figure out a way to reference what is in the book, but still adhere to the demands of the art order.
To get a visage that accomplishes this, I started by ignoring my own face in the reference as much as possible. I kept the lighting in mind and some of the coloration, but the structure needed to be thrown out. I then started digging up additional reference of models and photos of my friends that were a lot closer to looking like Valentine. I looked for people with strong chins and similar facial structures to the comic. I took these various images, put all of them into my mental blender, start painting, and hoped for the best. Admittedly, there are still elements in the face that feel a bit too similar to my own, but I've used the faces of a couple models and few friends pretty liberally (I'd prove this with photos, but none of them are mine to show). I've had to do a bit of age regression, but I feel like it's pretty close to what I wanted it to be. I think.
Anyway, up next for me is starting to work out the pose, the uniform, etc. Then, I'll likely go on a background bender. I'll be sweet. You'll see.