Step-by-step: Draw a con­vinc­ing clash of heads

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First I use 3D pos­ing soft­ware to es­tab­lish my com­po­si­tion of the vi­o­lent en­counter be­tween two com­bat­ants. This helps me align all my core ele­ments prop­erly by en­abling me to ad­just the po­si­tion­ing and an­gles of ma­jor ele­ments with­out hav­ing to fully re­draw them. As well as pro­vid­ing ac­cu­rate pro­por­tion for the fig­ures, this ini­tial ren­der can be very use­ful for light­ing ref­er­ence – less so for anatom­i­cal de­tail. Here I com­pose a sketch over the top of the 3D ren­der. I’m us­ing Pho­to­shop for demon­stra­tion pur­poses here, but in most in­stances I would use pa­per, a pen­cil and a light-board. The sketch en­ables me to en­hance the de­tails that I want to em­pha­sise: in this case, I make the anatomy more an­gu­lar and tensed, and add more char­ac­ter­ful fa­cial de­tail. I may also make use of photo ref­er­ence for some of the phys­i­cal niceties. I then go on to pro­duce a more de­tailed draw­ing, clean­ing up some of the line work and at­tempt­ing to achieve con­vinc­ing shad­ing. I’ve kept the lines a lit­tle ragged here to em­pha­sise the raw ag­gres­sion of the scene, but tried to avoid over­selling the ef­fect. Clar­ity is still para­mount and I don’t want to sac­ri­fice vis­ual con­sis­tency by chang­ing my ren­der­ing style too much just for one panel.

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