May 9, 2017

Freehand airbrush portrait of Johan Cruijff

After a long time of not having touched an airbrush, I took up the tool again to make yet an other portrait of Johan Cruijff. He was one of soccer's all time great players along with Pele, Maradona and Messi. Off the pitch he was a warm blooded man, who was moved when seeing a disabled child playing near a swimming pool. In that moment he decided to help common young people and the disabled in particular. In my mind that sets him apart from many of his glamour seeking peers. Cruijff looked past the boundaries of the world of top level soccer and saw human beings who were in need of a little help that they were unable to obtain anywhere else.

Remarkable things happened during the airbrushing of this portrait. When I planned to set up the portrait, which is drawing the image of his face onto a blank canvas frame, I picked up my cellphone to see what time it was. It read: 00:14 hours. 14 is the number that Cruijff wore on his shirt... Two day later my daughter sms-ed me, I picked up my phone and it was 14:14 hours... This blew me away. I often have such synchronicities when creating portraits, but I felt in this case they were extraordinarily strong and clear. I suspect some artists to have had similar experiences.

Below you see a sequence of various stages of the portrait; the oldest at the bottom, the newest on top. I used the Iwata HP-BH and Custom Micron SB airbrushes and Inspire H2O paint. The original photo was a black and white picture and I decided to spray the portrait in monochrome, since the visual impact of the image was powerful, beautifully expressing Cruijff's mindset. At this point - May 9 2017 - it is a work in progress, advancing quite slow since I am having lower back discomfort. I will post significant updates when ready. Stay tuned and please be patient.

Update nov 26 2019
Becoming increasinly displeased with the result of the airbrush portrait, I edited this work (that no longer is in my possession) in Affinity Photo. You can view the result in this blog entry.

May 5, 2017

Digital cartoons

Apart from analog airbrushing, I create digital artwork on my Huion graphic tablet from time to time. The advantage over crafting analog art is that digital tools have an undo function and allows to work in layers. It is also possible to apply filters with which the appearance of objects can be changed at will. These properties are hue, color, contrast, brightness and texture while a range of other manipulation tools can be used as well.

The programs I use are the Adobe and Corel suits of which both the vector and bitmap applications I use. They are increasingly integrated, which allows to combine organic shapes with geometric forms. Making cartoons is a somewhat tricky business, not unlike making portraits, but there's a twist to it. While exaggerating certain facial features and reducing other ones, the likeness to the subject's appearance has to be preserved. Depending on the character this is at times a thin rope walk.

Dutch TV presenter Sierd de Vos

The cartoon above is one of a Dutch TV presenter who specializes in Spanish soccer, the Primera Division. He has a unique way of reporting that often is hilarious, giving all sorts of background information about the players, their girlfriends and / or wives and local restaurants in Barcelona or Madrid during the match. Although some think he should restrict himself to talking about what is taking place on the pitch, the humorous anecdotes he weaves in his accounts, caused him to gain a rather large number of fans, which resulted in him being awarded a TV program of his own by the broadcasting company.

Regular guest in a Dutch TV show Johan Derksen

One of the persons who thinks he wanders off too much while reporting a soccer match is an other Dutch TV presenter, who is a regular guest in an other program that focuses on football. This program is well known in Holland for casual football related talk as is often encountered in the pub before and after the matches among supporters. An attempt to a cartoon of this man you see above this paragraph. He has taken grumpiness to a different level, never worrying about political correctness or consensus. It got him onto trouble a few times, but that didn't bother him too much either.

Second regular guest in the soccer show is Rene van der Gijp

The second regular guest in the soccer show is an ex top player, who could have gotten more out of his career is he had put his talent to proper use. His urge to clown and do whatever he felt like won the battle. He can nevertheless look back on a reasonable record. He tends to solve tense situations with a humorous response that disarms whoever tries to escalate matters. This talent lets him get away with saying things that other people would probably be wise to keep inside. The soccer show is one of Hollands most watched TV program.

Dutch TV football talkshow host Wilfred Genee

The TV show referred to above, is hosted by the bloke you see above. In view of the guests he has on the show this isn't always an easy task, since the regulars are at times unguided missiles that blurt anything that pops up in their minds, unrestricted by what is commonly regarded as civilized conversation. He also appears in radio shows in which he is allowed to take part in discussions not related to football, which he does quite well too, casually switching from surprisingly in-depth remarks to witty nonsensical rants.

Ajax Amsterdam coach Peter Bosz

Finally, yet an other football related cartoon is one of Ajax Amsterdam coach Peter Bosz who managed to transform their game from numbing to exciting within less than one season. Quite an achievement, since his predecessor Frank de Boer won four Dutch league championships and as a result was granted sainthood by the fans, even though Ajax' play was rough on the eyeballs. Moreover, Bosz has a past in Ajax' mortal enemy camp Feyenoord. Many fans initially weren't pleased with that at all, but Bosz simply ignored that and went on to teach Ajax his game of continuous pressure and attacking style.

He made Ajax return to playing the type of football that gained the team worldwide acclaim. They made it to the semi final of the Europe League this year, which hasn't happened in 16 years. If they survive the away match against Lyon they may even make it to the final... So kudos to him for that.

In the cartoons I tried several different techniques, in attempt to find the best way to make them. As those who use digital programs know there are many ways to achieve certain effects. Other cartoons I made (digital and analog), can be found in the cartoon section of this blog-site to which you find a link in the navigation bar at the top of each page.