Wednesday, October 27, 2010

H. J. WARD: ILLUSTRATOR

H. J. Ward was incredible, wasn't he? I thought it might be fun to take one of his pulp illustrations (above) and see how it was done, step by step. I'm not aware that those kind of pictures exist, but maybe we can get the same kind of effect (sort of) with Photoshop filters.  Let's try it!


Wow! A "squint" (daub) filter really helps to simplify things.  It's possible that when Ward laid in his first colors, the canvas looked something like this (above). Without distracting details it's easy to see that the picture is mostly red, yellow, blue and orange, the classic newsstand colors. There's some green and brown in the part of the picture we can't see.

Hmmmm. I see a mushy "X" pattern, with a creamy flesh-yellow on one diagonal, and an orange on the other. I also see a large triangle consisting of three dark points. The triangle might have carried our eye out of the picture if the point on the lower left hadn't been so small.


Sharpening the squint a little (above) gives us our first shadow colors. Maybe this is how Ward handled it. He laid in basic color fields first, then started to add shadows for volume and modelling.


Maybe next he spotted his darks (above).  The filter reveals spatters of dark all over, but not on the girl's abdomen or stomach, and not on the cowboy's orange shirt. The middle and top of the picture form a cascading wedge of light.

Notice too, how the villain cowboy's hat touches the blond hair of the hero in the foreground. Ward probably had a fit wondering if he should let them be or disconnect them. When you see the finished painting it doesn't seem to matter.


Here's (how) how he spots his lights...sort of. The balance is distorted because I used an infra-red filter. I love the way the white of the hills cascades down across the girl's stomach, and further down her arm.


There's a new book on Ward that looks pretty good. I ordered it, but it hasn't arrived yet. He's one of the all-time best illustrators. After WWI, illustration and cartooning partly displaced fine art, then later on photography partly displaced illustration and cartooning. Where does it stand now? I'm not sure.

12 comments:

Jorge said...

Awesome post! This like like vintage Eddie!

Rooniman said...

Nice analysis. His steps to creating his illasturations seems interesting.

Alberto said...

What a great idea! I think I'll try that with Frans Hals!

Paul Penna said...

I wonder if Ward modeled that mug's face after frequent Laurel & Hardy heavy Walter Long; he's almost a dead ringer.

See if you don't think so...

Roberto Severino said...

I can't believe I haven't heard of this illustrator before. That one painting alone is brilliant and I'm glad you took the time to break it down with Photoshop. Amazing what technology can achieve nowadays.

pappy d said...

His brushwork is so deft & his colors are so clean & saturated. He really seems to understand how to work with the primitive color printing of those pulp covers. I looked him up after your Hallowe'en post. A lot of his early work feels over-modeled & a lot less confident.

Jack G. said...

What do you think of FRANK R. PAUL

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Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jack: Woooooww! Thanks a million for the great links! I got a million ideas from the artwork there. And there's even articles by Paul...my cup runneth over!

I love the man. He sometimes had trouble drawing people, but his ideas were marvelous. I heard that Gernsback sometimes gave Paul cover drawings to writers and told them to write stories around the cover.

Pappy: I only judge people by their best work.

Paul: Walter Long...so THAT'S who that actor was! Yeah, I see the resmblence.

Jorge: Thanks, but geez, have I been doing this so long that my early posts are vintage? Maybe they are.

Alberto: Hals? Good choice!

thomas said...

Two fisted drawing... but doesn't it look like the woman's neck would be closer to her right shoulder than her left, and she looks as though she'd be extremely petit, if she were to stand up... maybe drawing with one fist is better....

Jack G. said...

You're welcome.

And you're analysis of Ward gave me a new way to study a piece of art or design. I like those kind of posts (hint, hint)!

pappy d said...

No criticism of Ward implied. You can only get that good by doing.

Sherm said...

I was up till 4am last night reading the HJ Ward book. I mean reading the biography part, not just looking at the fantastic artwork. Just saying that the text in that book is as compelling as the artwork. They did a great job!