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Friday, September 10, 2021

A Flawed Dejah Thoris

It took me forever to paint this mini, and even with all that work I'm unhappy with the final result. As you can see, I messed up the skirt, couldn't figure out where skin began and clothing ended, and I'm not happy with the skin tone. Sure, she's supposed to have red skin per the novels, but this red? I was hoping for something more like the Michael Whelan art of the 1970s editions of the books--more red-tinged than literally red. Oy, me. 


Jeff Shyluk said...

In the movie they simply used bronzer, prefiguring American politics by a few years. There's even a credit for it, probably because you couldn't expect the actors to get all-over suntans in England.

I don't know Edgar Rice Burroughs' intentions with respect to the look of his heroes. He certainly wrote the characters as having very saturated skin colours. That, and he injected a lot of racial bias into his work. Frank Schoonover was the illustrator for A Princess Of Mars, most of his watercolours show up in greyscale or ink, but he did do colour covers at least.

Schoonover was a member of the Brandywine School of Art, which pioneered a purely American aesthetic (as opposed the teachings of the popular European schools). The Brandywine School emphasized nature and adventure, and Schoonover proved to be an excellent fit with Burroughs' writing. Based on that, he presented Dejah Thoris as a naturalistic beauty.

Schoonover's models wear quite a bit more clothing than are described in the books, though. Redness seems to come from a gentle wash, which is common to both American and European folk art. There is a technique called "petit lac" (tiny lake), where you put a drop of wash on your painting and then spread it outwards from the center of the drop using a wet or dry brush. The effect is a subtle round spot, like the pinkness of Dejah Thoris' cheeks. If you use a dry brush, the spot will have a defined edge, if you use a wet brush the edges are very soft.

Another example of this kind of wash you see in J.C. Leyendecker, who would have been a generation later than Shoonover. Leyendecker is achieving some new popularity as the result of association to Marvel.

Either way, the models were caucasian who would then have had their skin tones altered with wash. It's kind of late to say this, but had I been you I would have made colour tests first! I kind of have a crush on Dejah, so I can't say I'm happy with your version as she stands, either. However, happy or displeased with art, this is how we learn. Unless you are results-oriented, the journey to mastery is the most important thing. You've gained XP, you're closer to levelling up.

Jeff Shyluk said...

My fortune cookie today:

"Failure is opportunity in disguise". A wise cookie we can all learn from.

Jeff Shyluk said...

My wife's fortune cookie today:

"If you want to win anything - a race, your self, your life - you have to go a little berzerk."


That might be the wisest fortune cookie fortune I've ever come across.

Earl J. Woods said...

The journey is definitely more important to me than the results, though good results are always nice. I purchased a couple of flesh washes to try out next time I have to paint a Red Martian!