Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Knockout inside look Part 1 Preparation

Knockout 1930   23" X 29" pen and ink, partially finished on the drawing board)

In an attempt to be original I came up with 'an inside look'. I already had used 'anatomy of'' to describe how Circus 1930 came into being. In this latest pen and ink illustration, I'll take you on a similar journey with a few more insights into how I plan an illustration (an inside look) to make your read more interesting. 

 The initial idea was taking shape years ago based on quick sketches done while watching boxing matches on television. I have several ideas in mind. Over time one will surface. Something said, done, timing felt right, seen an image...some intangible will set the project in motion. Having laid down my base of quick sketches, I'm ready to start.
 Quick sketch pages from TV (below).

(Above, bottom pose, boxer on left used in illustration.)

 Research begins with watching 1930-40 movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), consulting the internet and book and magazines from that era.
 Black and white movies give insights on how scenes were planned out using light and shadows to highlight characters, backgrounds, clothing and anything that the director thought important or in some cases, unimportant. Keeping in mind this is not a black and white movie but black ink on white paper.
 The internet unearthed items still used today but designed differently (microphone) the ring/rope/ mattress and pole set up.
 Book and magazine photos gave me insights on how a photographers flash would cast an image on paper and how best could it be emulated. Clothing styles, body attitudes/language and how the subject was presented influence the illustration.
These thumbnail sketches are what I refer to as quick sketches with a purpose. I ask myself how would this look?, how would you hold a hand gun and what type would I use? Yes, there is a gun in all the action.
Men's jackets with lapels of all cuts and sizes and how would I depict the folds of fabric?
 I determined early on that hats and caps would be a major part in the storytelling of this piece. Each head covering would be as unique as the individual wearing it.

 More research through thumbnails for cameras and how they were held, boxing shoes, a stool and possible body attitudes, faces, grouping and from what corner of the ring would be the best way to show the announcer?
  All these questions and more are worked out and answered through thumbnails. (below).

 What will be the strongest angle to showcase this illustration? (below) 
The angle of the ring is worked out early  as this will set the stage for the whole presentation. How close to the ring do I want to be? Will this work with seeing  half the people from behind?  Thumbnails will help me determine.

The knockout punch.
 I had wanted to show how people react emotionally to this most violent of sporting events. Boxing is as close to a Roman gladiator, kill or be killed spectacle, as civilized humans can get. Deaths have occurred over the years to these modern day gladiators.

Early  ideas on how to best show the victim of the knockout punch.

 These thumbnails (below) gave me insight as to how this story was to be told.
I wanted to show on the faces and body language of the attendees what had just, in that moment, transpired in the ring.
 I wanted the knockout victim to be unconscious before he lands on the canvas. 
These thumbnails  (below) found that moment for me.

 This is the image I would build the illustration around (below). This photo of the Ali-Frazier fight (right) was the pose I wanted for the boxer on the left. Not to just copy the pose but to make adjustments for a better silhouette.  A stronger silhouette was achieved by separating the right arm and straightening it out showing the trajectory of the punch. Lifting the left arm away from the body, again for a better silhouette . Adjusting the left foot and leg forward, again seeking a stronger silhouette.

Once  the ring size and angle were determined, I fleshed out the key figures on tracing paper (below).


To be continued...


1 comment:

  1. Hello Ron. Your work has served as a great inspiration to me over the years. I really dig the carnival art.