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Dig Cover, or the Mysterious Pony Head

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Originally uploaded by Pocheco.

No, not the Big Dig, the Weekly Dig.

The Weekly Dig is the best free paper in Boston for humor, news and nightlife. About a year or so ago, the Weekly Dig underwent a design transformation that openend my eyes to its wonder. It used to be kind of a small, ugly, text-dense newspaper that I never could get into all that much. I used to default to the Boston Phoenix or The Improper Bostonian for my free local news.

Then, in early 2005, they must have hired a new art director who changed the entire format, look and feel of their newspaper. I can’t say whether their content has been revamped as well, because I didn’t really read it prior to their new design. However, the new look of the paper has got me addicted to reading it. The whole design of the paper is so easy to understand. It’s friendlier to the eye and showcases the articles in a way that makes them shimmer. Always one to turn my eye towards something shiny, I have began to read the Weekly Dig avidly.

The best part about their redesign was their decision to start featuring full-color covers that showcase the work of local artists. Since I’ve been totally impressed with the design and content of the paper, I would consider it the highest of honors to have my art printed on the cover. I’m not sure if my work is good enough, but I’m gonna give it a try.

I have a great concept for the cover; it’s a little inside joke for us Bostonians. On the super-busy corner of Boylston Street and Massachusetts Avenue, there is an overpass to the highway. If you stand near the intersection of these two streets, you can look about 20 feet below to where the traffic whizzes by.

Supporting this overpass are several metal girders and beams which help hold up Mass Ave where it passes over the highway. There is a huge huge fence around the overpass, so that drunken Bostonians don’t fall into the rush-hour traffic yeilding a rather messy death.

Anyway, someone, at least three years ago, somehow managed to throw a horse head over the fence and it landed on a girder.

Here is a photo of it, and you can see the huge fence that it made it over, somehow

Not a real horse head, but the top of one of those little pony-heads-on-a-stick that kids ride around on. It has been there, reportedly, since 2003. It’s pretty awesome that it’s survived like three winters now. Through all the snow, wind and rain, it’s managed to stay put on this flat, narrow beam.

Here you can see what it looks like if you were to walk by it on Boylston Street.

Seeing it used to creep me out a little, but now I’m happy to see it as I pass by. Anyway, a surprising number of people that I’ve asked have seen it, and wonder what it’s all about too. I think it’s time to idolize it and make it one of Boston’s little locals’ attractions. Anyway, I just wanted to pay a little hommage to it, because it’s mysterious. I wonder if anyone knows the story behind this little pony?

Here is a detail shot of it. It used to be pink, but is fading now to a sad gray. Hang on, ‘lil pony!

I went down last Friday and took some photos of it, and then I began sketching it over the weekend. I don’t know if the Dig will like my illustration or not, but here’s hoping. I hope to have it done in a couple of weeks.

I’m going to post my process here, similar to my Bob Portrait post, so that you can follow along as I work on it.

June 9th
Here is an initial sketch I did while standing at the intersection. This drawing represents the realistic view of the horse head, and some of the details around it. Although I kind of like all of the diagonal lines, I think that trying to include too much of the scenery detracts from my main subject, the horse head.

I decided I wanted to do a more graphic composition that highlighted the two main factors of the image, the head and the traffic below. So I re-thought the design of the page and came up with this:

This is my first rough sketch of the revised composition, where I work out some ideas on a perspective and scale. Here, its almost like you’re looking right down on top of the horse from above, instead of the photorealistic view, which is foreshortened and at a distance. It’s a little more intimate, while (I hope) still getting across the same point.

Here are some little sketches I did of cars. I wanted to keep the cars fun and simple, since they are supposed to be kind of far away. I didn’t want to get too much detail in them, so they will be kinda cartoony.

June 10th
Here is a more developed sketch made the next morning. I actually made two of these, but this is the better of the two.

June 15th
I start the final drawing. I didn’t include the horse head here; I’m going to draw it separately so that I can draw it really large to capture as much detail as possible. Then I’ll scan it, and shrink it down to fit on this image.

The cars were really labor intensive. I kept erasing and re-drawing them. I don’t have much experience drawing cars, so I needed to make sure I got the perspective, angles and proportions correct. Or at least relative to the other cars in the drawing.

That’s all for now. Ariana and I are having a party today so I need to start preparing for that. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this up in the next week.

June 28th

Ack. I took a break from this for a while due to the poison ivy.

I’ve started experimenting with color. I want the cars to sort of reced into the backkground. And I think that the gray of the beams may be too dark. I’m gonna let it sit for a while and come back to judge the color.

July 17

Well, I let it sit for a couple more weeks. Truth is, I was terrified of drawing the horse head for fear I would mess it up. I finally forced myself to sit down and draw it last night. The most terrifying part was the mane. However, it turned out a lot better than I thought it would, I’m pleased. It was labor intensive, but worth it in the end.

Here’s what it looked like after I cleaned it up a bit after scanning it into Photoshop.

Here I’ve placed it on the background. I decided to get rid of the shading I did at the end of June, because the main purpose of making it blue was to make it recede, but with all the different variations of blue, it stood out too much. I don’t want it to compete with the foreground, which is way more important.

Here I’ve added some color. I used the curves to get the background to be a nice cyan, and then I used a *slightly* darker cyan to fill in the cars, so there is a tiny little bit of subtle tone difference. Then I started filling in the mane with magenta. Of course, this is a bit more free than the real color, I’m just putting it in as it pleases me.

Decided that the composition would be stronger if I cropped it a little bit. I hope it hasn’t lost it’s context now, and as a result, the joke. Finished the color, tweaked the saturation and levels a bit to make it pop more. Still don’t know if I’m 100% happy with the color, but I’ve been working on this so long today that I’m going to give it a bit of rest and come back to finish it tomorrow.

Currently listening to The Sounds of the Sounds of Science by Yo La Tengo


Written by pocheco

June 15, 2006 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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