Thursday, 3 January 2008

Painter X marks the spot...

Happy New Year one and all. My obvious New Year's resolution should be to keep this blog in a more up to date fashion, but first of all I'm going to have to make it through the things I intended to post last year. So for a while its going to be a bit of a review of work done in 2007 (and in a couple of instances even earlier).

Back in February Imagine publishing's Corel Painter Magazine was launched to coincide with the release of Corel Painter X. The Premiere issue included a competition which gave you a chance to win a copy of the software in limited edition paint can packaging. All you had to do was use a trial version of Painter X to produce a piece of artwork which included the Painter X can somewhere in the composition.

I wanted the software, I liked the idea of having to work the product into the design, all I needed now was an idea. Here's how my simplistic mind kicked into action. The X of Painter X was what I focused on - 50s and 60s horror films that played on their X rating sprang to mind - "X the unknown", "The Quatermass Xperiment" etc - maybe a schlocky 50s style movie poster could have been the way to go, with something sinister creeping from the Painter X can. This probably wasn't what Corel would want their product to be associated with so I moved on. More recent X type imagery in the pop consciousness include "The X files" again probably not a wholly positive association in terms of the product.

A more upbeat path may have been The X men avenue - Painter X as a mutated superhero version of your everyday paint can. 2007 however was the year of the Pirate, they seemed to be everywhere- we'd just had our second instalment of the Pirate of the Carribean trilogy, and number three was heading our way in the summer, the skull and crossbones were everywhere from children's bookcovers to T-shirsts and leggings. Pirates have treasure maps - treasure is marked on maps with an X - Painter X as sought after treasure definitely had possibilities.

I liked the idea of perhaps involving a treasure map as part of the artwork. Drew Struzan had used Treasure maps as backdrops for a number of his movie posters of the years including, Cutthroat island, Hook and The Muppets' Treasure Island and I thought these might serve as inspiration

Struzan is probably better known as the artist behind the Indiana Jones movie posters and the covers for the spin-off novels. Surprisingly he never used his treasure map trick for these films but it certainly would have been appropriate. I was a little worried about jumping on the Pirate bandwagon so a Saturday Matinee treasure hunter style character gave me another interesting option.

Another aspect of Struzan's work that I felt would help with the treasure map idea is the way that a lot of his posters are a collage of scenes or set peices from the films. I was interested in using the treasure map as almost a peice of sequential art with a different scene marking important stopping points on the map. I thought the little triangular and circular windows that he 's used on many of his book covers could work as windows onto the treasure hunters journey.

At the end of the map's trail where X marks the spot I intended to have a larger image focusing on the treasure hunter as he finds the fabled Painter X can.

One thing that I wanted to avoid however was a complete steal of Struzan's style, which can at times be almost photographic in its realism. I was looking for a more pulpy comic book feel. Something that inspired and legitamized this approach was the work done by legendary comic book artist Jim Steranko in the concept art for the original Indy film "Raiders of the lost Ark".

As far as I can tell Steranko's artwork seemed to be responsible for the iconic look of the character, Fedora, Leather jacket, bullwhip etc so in a way I was going back to the original concept in reverting to this pulp cover style ( I also felt I had a better chance of pulling the thing off this way.)

So with my trial version of Painter X downloaded, my inspirational material in one hand and my whip (well wacom stylus actually) in the other I set off into perils unknown to seek fortune and glory... And in true serial fashion you'll have to wait till next time to find out what happens next.

To be continued...