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Tag: conan the Barbarian

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Conan On The Brain

conan_sketch_03_effect_blog

Five minutes, Manga Studio brush.

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Sketching Conan During Class

While students are working on their final projects, noses down, I've plenty of time to sketch. Here's just some from yesterday...

Sketches_Conans

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TothPix: Conan Pin-ups

1980, Alex Toth did a series of pin-up/poster illustrations for the interior pages of presumably The Savage Sword of Conan magazine. For all of these he used a black & white tonal wash technique which served the material and Toth well, and suited the magazine. All are strong pieces, though I've a favorite.

This first, above, shows Conan coolly walking the gauntlet of a complex slash of angled swords in the foreground. In the background, throws the two other characters and drapery in semi-shadow, adorned by interesting dress and decoration. The secondary figures are prominent and backlit, but de-emphasized by the mid-tone wash and cropping. The curves of the stone and drapery lead the viewer's eye into the picture and towards Conan, as does the criss-cross of swords. Despite the complexity of the composition, the eye is drawn to Conan's face, by high contrast, the sword behind his head, and the dark strap across his upper body. Beautiful piece.

This second is the weakest of the five, but I still like it for the use of negative space and shapes, and weird, large-toothed egghead creatures.

The third (above) is bathed more in shadow, a strong action shot, made all the moreso by Toth use of cropping and angles. Conan's enemy has the upper hand and leverage in the struggle, leaning in on the barbarian, and ready to strike, as we can see from his sword in hand on the upper right. Both faces of the primary characters are obscured, so we focus more on their violent battle. Conan has dropped his sword, creating a strong parallel angle with figures, and though he's at a disadvantage, we feel his evident strength will see him through.

Like the second piece, we don't see the attackers, but rather their weapons. The dry-brushed slashes above indicate a fire below, creating a dramatic underlighting with which Toth emphasizes the weight of the stone and Conan's strength, which also throws a shadow across Conan's face, making him once again the center of interest. He's peppered from below by pesky arrows, which zing through the foreground, mid- and background, even over the title Toth has place atop, creating graphic depth throughout the piece. Toth uses some well-placed negative areas: on the lower left, to show the debris and where the stone is headed; and just below his hand, so we see clearly how Conan is lifting the large rock.

This last is perhaps my favorite, as Toth has created a clever quilt of black and white shapes with the weird giant jury and their dark hoods. Their faces are left a stark white with a minimal use of unvarying line for their features, while Conan is set apart, modeled and toned with a grey wash.

With each piece, Toth set himself a graphic and compositional challenge, approaching the material in a way no one else would. These are fine examples to show what made him such a unique comic book artist and illustrator.

Next week: Cartoony Toth.