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).
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
- 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.
- She has a Cheshire Cat smile with prominent upper teeth.
- She has very large, innocent wide-eyes.
- 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!
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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!