Noise Reduction – Amy Winehouse

the introduction

how it all started
In early September Brazilian advertising agency, BlackNinja, contacted me, in regards to my Elke Vogelsang caricature. They sought to hire me to design and build two new (maybe three) caricatures for a Noise Reduction advert for a sound company. The idea was to have famous celebrities in situations that would make it hard for them to continue to function as singers.
After some discussion it was planned that the two starter caricatures would be those of Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson. The basic brief was to have Amy Winehouse trying to regain a microphone from a screaming child in carriage. For Michael Jackson, it was designed to have him wrapped in a dog leash, with the dog in attendance and barking his head off.
Due to the nature of the commission it was decided to repeat much the same procedure as Elke‘s caricature, by having them on white. This would then be passed to the client with a transparent background, just in case there was aneed to make the background more detailed. So these would be output as TIFF and PNGs.

Amy Winehouse

about the caricature

Amy Winehouse didn’t really cause too much issue in the building of the design. If you look in the WIP, you will see there was two versions that was discussed with the client. The need was to have her looking as agressive as possible to give the idea that she was really desparate to get the microphone back. So the pose was adjusted to give more force to her stance. The baby was altered and then had the carriage lift slightly from the floor.

the final image

the resulting render
After the Elke caricature it was now a common practice in the method by which I developed these images. A very simple process of doing the pencil sketch as a guide, building the image son layers, and sampling the colours via found images on the web. Amy has a characteristic look and pose that makes it easy to turn a female figure into her. The hair is a feature that needed to be included, as her bee-hive is one of her calling cards. Apart from that her ethnicity creates certain facial features which were exploited, and using reference images the face was achieved relatively quickly. The second pencil drawing put her in the final pose, and due to the fact that it’s not possible to find reference images of her in these awkward poses, then I employed the help of my daughter to get the hand shots just right.
The colourisation of the piece was quite easy, and I noted that it should take about 3-4 days to do all the painting. This threw me after the second day, when I realised the complexity of the tattooes that she has on both arms. Luckily I found a clever way to emulate these and it all came together in the same timescale I had predicted. The dress although not exactly the same as Amy‘s red dress, is typical of the type of clothes and the addition of the polkadots enhanced that ‘Amy‘ feel.
The baby was literally designed by me, and although a few reference images were used, again, it was hard to find one in that pose, so I constructed it best I could using the references. As for the pram, this was in fact a 3d model that was used from Google Sketchup and simply posed in the right angle and exported out as a graphic for use in the composition.
File size: 588.3Mbs/1.54Gbs (open)
Layers: 57 uncompressed
Dimensions: 19000x19000px
Hours (Pencil): 10hrs
Digital rendering: 69hrs

the process

from start to finish
The process of drawing Amy‘s face and body took two different paths. The head was relatively easy, and was done using the image seen in the Reference photos (to the right). The expression changed, which was done by doing the classic animator’s trick of looking in a mirror to understand the necessary changes.
The body was constructed out of several images, which also include non-Amy one’s for the extreme postures. Though her general shape was taken from as many photos as possible, along with the detailing of the tattooes and the dress, as seen here.

the brush

how Amy was painted
Even though recently I made a purchase to buy a set of oil brushes to work in Photoshop with, I have developed a technique that suits my method of painting, and rely on one brush only for this painting style. The funny part is that it is not a brush that emulates a real brush, instead it is intended for fur. My thoughts were, as I can do multiple strokes it is much the same as a real brush, which is made up of hairs. To help the process along, I set the opacity and flow lower than 100%. This is to aid in the blending of colour at their cross-over points. It should be pointed out that these images, and this one in particular, are in the region of 19,000px wide.

the animation

an animated gif of the Amy Winehouse render
As part of the process of every caricature I do, I prepare a screen capture from every possible interesting part of the image, as it’s being painted. I then collate these into an animated gif, hoping to help show the process by which I do my images.
Most of the time, I begin with the eyes and then complete the faces. As there were two face, you will see that these were all completed first before I attempt any of the other parts (although I do block in parts). The reason being is that the faces, and especially the eyes, are a focus on a viewers captivation of an image. So if these are weak then the rest of the image will fail.

the details ~ Amy

looking at the set-up for the Amy image

Detailing Amy was based on a combination of several researched reference images. It wasn’t possible to find an image of her the way I wanted, so it was important to find several shots so I could combine the lighting, and needed colours. I did find a magazine cover that showed this well known dress, so sampled the polka dots from there. As I build the project up I tend to section the areas off. This allows for error recovery. In case I make a painting fault only certain layers are affected. The head alone, as seen in the palette image takes seven layers.

Overall, the most complex part was tracing out Amy‘s tattoos and getting them to wrap around the arms in the best way, but over all I think it all worked out well.


the details

a closer look at the details on the image



1 creative person, slightly matured
2 tablespoons aptitude
1 piece of aesthetic flavouring
6lbs hard work and sweat
4 ideas more than most
salt of the earth to taste

Take a creative person and stir in some aptitude, thoroughly from the start. In time, mix in the aesthetic flavouring with the most appropriate tool at hand, and then, fold into the mix as much of the hard work and sweat that the mix can take. Sprinkle in the ideas; the more the better. And finally, as all is cooking, a pinch of ‘salt of the earth’ to give it the necessary character. Leave to cook over time and serve when required. Tasty treat in a tasteless world.

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