It was suggested that it might be a nice idea to have a regular-ish slot on the blog where you get to hear about the doings of an Osprey illustrator, focusing the scribbling on a particular piece of illustration. I\'m into blogs at the moment and I can\'t resist a challenge, so here goes!
I\'m currently working on the future Campaign title Amiens 1918, and the plate I\'m going to deal with is a dogfight between a bunch of Se5s and Fokker DVIIs.
The first thing you need to understand is that being an illustrator is also being part of a team. The author, in this case Al McCluskey, who, like many Campaign writers, is an Army officer and Marcus Cowper, the editor. It\'s part of the author\'s job to come up with two or three briefs describing what he wants to see in the plates and supplying some references. In this case, Al, not being shy about these things, supplied sketches too.
Some illustrators don\'t like authors to do this, but I do. It gets me much more directly into the author\'s mind, and it\'s his book.
Now you should also know that I\'ve been a WWI air warfare buff since reading Biggles as a lad. My Grandad was a Nottingham milkman before the war and delivered Albert Ball\'s milk. This is the first time in thirty-odd years that I\'ve been asked to paint anything like this, so I was in a state of boyish excitement… which is bad, as a sort of nervousness can set in. I also know that painting aircraft is a life\'s work in itself and I\'m a first timer in this, my favourite period… Can I come up to scratch?
So to start with, I do a thumbnail sketch of my own to show Al and Marcus. It\'s based on Al\'s drawing, but I want to get in closer to the action. I love the weird geometry of biplanes and I want to chop up the picture area with disorienting angles.
While they\'re considering that I start to assemble my cast. I long ago gave up drawing this sort of thing freehand. I need models. My WWI guru is Dave Andrews, who besides having the world\'s best job as a model-maker for Games Workshop, is a fount of knowledge and hardware for Great War subjects. He has 1/48 Se and Fokker, the latter with beautifully painted Lozenge camo. He also drops the pebble into the pool that sets the whole thing alive for me. Almost as a PS to an email he says "Check out vfx Red Baron on Youtube."
I watched it.
Now I knew that a German film on Richtofen was being made, and I\'d seen stuff on the web about the production, but this couple of minutes of "teaser" is a revelation. CGI has reached a stage of complete perfection, and I was blown away by a blizzard of superb imagery. These planes are alive! Wheeling and spinning, control surfaces flickering as they contest the skies over a deeply-shaded land. The ground looked like a pit of darkness through the clouds and I wanted to use that idea. See for yourself what I'm talking about here:
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