Case Study 006: Celeste Mitchell



Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2016


I began working for a media company that owned a small radio station, which had a lot of interesting on-personalities. One of them was the tallest girl ever, named Celeste. She was was easily 7’2” (She’s probably a bit over 6” in reality, but I’m only 5’10, so…yeah).




See, I wasn’t exaggerating; this girl is taller than a beanstalk!


Not only is Celeste an amazon, she’s the gingeriest ginger that ever ginger’d! She is always joyful, can belt out a tune like no one else, has a captivating radio-voice, is a model, and an actress—whew!




Celeste has the best voice in radio hands-down!


I’ve illustrated Celeste a few times before for her DJ profile page when we worked together, but they were more standard busts, and although you get a hint of what Celeste is like personality-wise and what she looks like; you don’t get a lot of that other stuff.




The many versions of Celeste through my years with her at the station. I like winter-braces one the best.


The Story

I was scrolling through Twitter one day and saw that Celeste had a part in Independence Day: Resurgence. It was a very brief if-you’ll-blink-you’ll-miss-it cameo, but it didn’t end up on the cutting room floor and to me that’s pretty darn impressive.



Watch out landmarks of earth!


With that in mind I thought it would be fun to give her a much larger part in the film (albeit in the form of a still caricature).

Research & Development

It had been a while since I had seen the original ID4 and from what I could tell of the previews of ID4R, the overall design of the alien didn’t really seem to change much. So I was able to find som pretty decent references online (and I also used this as an excuse to buy an ID4 Pop Figure…for research…yeah).


This is still a cool-looking creature design.

Thank goodness we live in the age of social media and selfies! It totally makes my job a lot easier trying to find images of people. Celeste is pretty active on social media so I knew I wouldn’t have a problem finding some current images of her. I also know Celeste pretty well so that is always helpful when you’re familiar with a person’s face mentally.

Celeste is also one of those subjects that is really great to work with because her natural features are larger than life and a bit exaggerated.

  1. She is very tall (as mentioned above), so it’s fun to play with people’s height when they’re above or below average height.
  2. She has a Cheshire Cat smile with prominent upper teeth.
  3. She has very large, innocent wide-eyes.
  4. She also has fire-red hair (queue “This Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys).


The most challenging part of this was creating and resolving the action pose. Trying to create a punch that looked dynamic while placing the awkward figure of the alien into a space that didn’t overcrowd the main subject was difficult.





Let me just say that the ID4 alien looks cool, but is such an awkward looking creature. It is really top-heavy, it has all these gangly and spindly limbs, and whipping tentacles to boot.

At one point I had to re-draw the punch because I realized the one I settled on actually covered too much of Celeste. It was like she was getting in her own way of being drawn!




This is not a bad punch and I think technically it is more accurate for how it’s landing, but her shoulder and arm are covering her face — I mean, it could be anyone under that shoulder!



This was a very early draft. Everything just looked very flat and uninteresting.


Because I was spending a lot of time trying to resolve the spacial and size issues between the two characters I decided that I would re-draw them separately with a tracing paper template, scan, and fix the issues in post.




Tracing paper has saved me a lot of redrawing time and time again!


Those tendrils were a pain to draw!













Digital Recreation

I recreated the two characters separately using Adobe Illustrator. I was really able to play with the scale, adjust the placement of the tentacles and limbs of the alien and move them in front or behind Celeste. By doing this I was able to make the figure have more relation to one another and not look separated and it also gave it some depth.

I used Blambot for Digital Strip and Destroy Earth BB and adjusted them accordingly using probably the most famous quote from the original ID4.





I’m not the biggest Will Smith fan, but this line was pretty awesome.


I tilted the ground they were standing on and added lots of action-lines to make it more dynamic.


I used a limited color palette and one that was a bit more like some of the tones seen in 70’s/80’s era comics. I really enjoyed the way the original Marvel Secret Wars was colored and I was inspired by that era of comics.




These are some of the references I used for that 70’s-era color as well as for drawing dynamic action poses. A regular punch in real life looks awfully boring compared to these.


I also brought in the vector art into photoshop so I could add some noise and a slight halftone effect on the shadows and highlights. Vector art can be too clean-looking sometimes and I like to give it just a bit more personality. Photoshop is great for those kinds of touch-ups.

The Final Artwork

The final artwork was saved out and sent off to print using PosterBrain for a 16×20 poster print. I framed it, packaged it and sent it off to Ms. Celeste Mitchell.


I made this box with nothing but old foamcore, butcher paper, packing tape, and a lot of gumption. It even survived a rainstorm!


I am sure Celeste would have been just as pleased with a screen shot of the artwork, but I wanted to 10X the value on this project especially since it was very labor intensive. I was proud of it and wanted to make sure a physical copy was made of it.




This is the final artwork framed. I think it’s ready for a museum (modestly speaking).


Conclusion and Post-Script

She responded in kind by giving me some shout-out’s on social media and also sending me a picture of her enjoying the artwork.




The likeness is uncanny — am I right?!


For that Celeste Mitchell is on my list of favorite red-haired actresses along with Ann Margret, Amy Adams and Alana Pancyr — sorry 2004 Lindsay Lohan; you’re off the list!



Here is an expanded view of the final artwork created using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. I just love that “Ka-Pow!”