Back to Black (Beard, that is)

An old friend sent me a request for a painting of Blackbeard. He originally liked the group portrait I did here but I’m afraid I’ve already got that one on my wall and I’m not ready to part with it (it was a bear to get done and I guess I’m still attached to it) . He wanted something cool but humorous, more cartoony than the Blackbeard Still Sails shirt. So, I started into sketching.

My first attempt began with me working out a face that was funny yet also good and piratey. Unfortunately, I ended up with a head that was too large. I also wasn’t too fond of the billowy pants with stockings and buckle shoes. NC Wyeth-type fashions.  I figured that Mike would want a more slickly dressed dude with the high boots and fancy schmancy coat.

I think this guy looks less like a captain and more like a scurvy crew member.

Back to the drawring boord!

I actually ended up drawing a ton of sketches and erasing them, I’m notorious for erasing sketches. Wish I could resist, it’s fun to look at the stages as a drawing or character progresses. But, alas…I’m saving paper I guess. Mike had requested that Blackbeard be brandishing his pistols too. Here’s what I ended up with :

I think he still looks goofy enough but also sort of cool . You can see the legs in this drawing but I’m planning to ink it bretty heavily and fill in that space. I think It’ll be nice to have the boots be a solid black.

I Traced the drawing onto a nice sheet of watercolor paper and inked it there. When I was done with that, I added color with my handy-dandy set of watercolors. Fun.

I wanted bright colors and a sort of loose feel.

I often wish that I’d drawn the original sketch on the watercolor paper and to simply ink and color over that, leaving whatever pencil I want to keep behind but, due to my excessive eraser habit, I can’t do that. I’d ruin the paper! I try not to lose any of the character in the process of transferring the drawing.  

I think I pulled it off on this one. I like the crazy look on his face.


Well, I guess that’s it for today. Who would have figured I’d be drawing pirates so often? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining!

Here’s the scan:

Rich Powell

I'm an artist/illustrator residing in a small, North Carolina town. I worked for a few years as a conceptual artist and art director in the computer game industry but set off on my own to freelance. I currently do humorous illustration and cartoons for publications such as MAD Magazine and Highlights for Children.

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