Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Smeaton

One of our other gamers, the inimitable naamah-darling, posted an awesome mock tintype she made up of Tom Gentry, her character from our Atlantis game.

And after she made her character, she made up some of a couple of other characters, which wasn't hard because the female characters are apparently based on two vintage lovelies, Maude Fealy...

And Gabrielle Ray.

(Those aren't the pics she actually used, BTW)

So then, of course, the challenge was up to me to make up a portrait of Smeaton for my own tintype. Which is harder than it sounds, because I can't point to any one person and say, "That's Smeaton." I can find pictures that come pretty close in one aspect or another, like the Hibernian FC player from 1889 whose face I used for my first Smeaton photo. But the source pic was in horrible shape and the face was tiny and lacking any detail, not good for a portrait.

The historical Sundance Kid comes pretty close as well...

though a little too good looking.

Tangent time: a guy in my very first screenplay class at USC almost 30 years ago wrote a short script about a graphic artist being asked to draw a hot dog for an advertisement "like that orange you did before."

"You want a hot dog that looks like an orange?"

"No, but that orange had the quality I'm looking for. So draw another hot dog, but make it more like the orange."

Which sounds ridiculous, but in searching for a model for Smeaton, I can totally relate. Because when I think of the qualities I want Smeaton's face to have, the guy who comes to mind is the big, bald German who fights Indiana Jones in the Flying Wing sequence of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (played by the late Pat Roach).

Roach is not Smeaton, but that character has the weathered, rough-around-the-edges, old campaigner vibe I'm looking for. So take the Sundance Kid and make him look like Roach-as-bald-Nazi, and you're in the ballpark. But like the kid said in "Live Free or Die Hard,"

"I mean, more like a plan, like, a way to do that."

So finally I found a pic that looked like it would be a good starting point, an old tintype of a guy from about the right period with a bushy mustache.

And after a lot of GIMPing around, I came up with this.

Now, I don't know if I'm actually done or not, but this pic comes close. Bushy mustache, long sideburns, a dour-verging-on-angry expression, high forehead to indicate intelligence (though I think I may have gone a little too Frankensteinian here), just a little gaunt with a nose that looks like it has seen some hard times. The hair is not as unkempt as I picture it, but it wouldn't be in a formal portrait.

I won't bore you with the process unless someone asks for some step by step pics. And if any of the Atlantis crew have any comments on whether this look like the Smeaton you know, please let me know.


Bat-Cheva said...

Awesome job!

And I love that pic you found of Maude. :)

Marc Carlson said...

Um, to be pedantic, that's not a tintype - that's an ambrotype cabinet card. Still late 19th century, mind you. It also has some issues with how it's been stored, leading to the fading around the bottom edge. Otherwise it's in pretty good shape. Nice job.

Naamah said...

It looks enough like him that yeah, I think that could be Smeaton. The changes to the picture definitely work. There's an indefinable something that it needs, though, and I can't think of how to even describe it, let alone DO it. He needs to look older, perhaps, but that's not all of it. Mostly, I think he just needs to look a little more weathered. And how the hell do you DO that? I don't know. So that's pretty useless advice.

But that picture has beautiful resolution, and once you're through tweaking it, shoot me a copy and I'll do a tintype printout. Because holy crap, those things are fun!

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

MArc - yeah I figured it might be something different, but no idea how to define it. You don't know what you don't know.

Bat-Cheva - yeah, I love her hair in that pic, and the eyes just kill me. The pic of Gabrielle is not my favorite, but the othersI have are big and I didn't want to mess with resizing.

Naamah - Yeah, I tried a couple of ways to add some kind of wrinkles, but it just wasn't working. I definitely would like to get some creases in the the forehead and maybe in the nose/mouth area, but I need to find a good method for that.

Plus, I think I went too small with the eyes, so I may bring them up just a tad. One of the big problems with GIMP is that you can't zoom in and deform. So I probably won't be messing with the shapes of anything else.

Marc Carlson said...

"yeah I figured it might be something different, but no idea how to define it. You don't know what you don't know."

There are many things I don't know, but vintage pictures -- those I have pretty well down. Although sometimes I *type* the wrong things - that should be _albumin print_ not ambrotype.