Here is the latest illustration I created for Grantland.com for an article about the best fictional quarterback of all time. The illustration needed to include the top 4 fictional quarterbacks in the countdown – #4 Johnny Utah from “Point Break,” #3 Shane Falco from “The Replacements,” #2 Matt Saracen from “Friday Night Lights” and #1 Willie Beamen from “Any Given Sunday.” I’m supper happy Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite” made the top ten but I’m disappointed I didn’t get to include him in the illustration.
When I create illustrations for Grantland.com the deadline is usually the next morning. I fuel up on black coffee, crank up the rock-n-roll and draw all night. I usually end the night with a bag of ice and a dose of ibuprofen to kill the pain in my drawing hand. Grantland has been a great client and they give me fun projects to work on. The tight deadlines are rough on my body but I enjoy the challenge of meeting the deadline and creating a quality illustration. I would argue that I create my best work when I am under pressure because I don’t have time to overthink the process and second guess myself.
I thought I would share the original illustration I created and the revised version that ended up being used on the website.
Grantland gave me 2 days to complete the illustration but I stuck with my usual routine of overdosing on coffee and burning the midnight oil. I wanted to make sure I had time to make revisions if needed. I finished the illustration in about 6 or 7 hours. That time includes searching for reference photos and taking breaks to rest my drawing hand.
Later that morning, I received an e-mail from Grantland with a couple revisions. The original illustration was more colorful and the background was really busy. I have a bad habit of overworking my illustrations and going a little overboard with the drips and scribbles and halftones. Grantland wanted a more monochromatic look and I decided to go with Yellow rather than the Blue. They also wanted more emphasis on Matt Saracen and they wanted to kill Johnny Utah. There can only be ONE Keanu!
The next morning I awoke to discover an e-mail from Grantland requesting one final revision, make Keanu bigger. Unfortunately, I got the message too late and the deadline had already past. Grantland ended up using the 2nd draft of the illustration.
The third draft has a bigger Keanu and a better overall composition. I think it is a better illustration than what ended up being used. It feels more balanced. I kick myself for not making Keanu bigger in the first place. If I had more time I would probably redraw Keanu’s head so the line quality would match the other two portraits better. When I drew Keanu I used a really chunky line knowing that he would be off in the distance and I wouldn’t need much detail to capture a likeness.
You can read the article at – www.grantland.com/features/the-best-fictional-quarterback-of-all-time