Process, sketches, inks and colors
The client asked for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as bikers. They didn't have many specifics in mind, which leaves me with a huge amount of freedom, but can also lead to doing a ton of work that doesn't get approved. I could easily see this happening with the character design on this one, so I did the following 43 character heads to narrow down what they really want for each of the four riders.
These sketches proved to be extremely helpful in figuring out the character designs without having to do a billion revisions. Huge time saver for me and the client. I did want to have a few of the riders be girls, but they didn't go for that (so watch out for the female versions of the riders in the future).
The various numbered heads allowed the client to easily navigate each design. Instead of saying, "The one in the upper right-ish area that kind of looks like a sailor..." they can just say, "number 7." You'll notice that they liked a few of these designs with very few changes.
I did the same for the bikes. A lot of people would tackle this scene with the riders riding down the freeway, but I pitched the idea of have them be posed for a club photo. I have some riding experience and I've found that the real hard core dudes don't feel the need to front and show off. The biggest threats would be casually standing next to their bikes not caring what you thought of them. I took that into the poses of these guys and wanted them to be intimidating (low camera angle) but casual about it. I explained why I wanted to do the fanned out
After I nailed down the arrangement of the bikes and the four riders' heads, I got out my big paper. I like sketching really large, especially since this will be an 8 foot wide sign. You'll notice that I was playing a little with the symbolism of each rider and how their attributes might translate to clothing, weapons, bike and physical appearance. The riders, War, Famine, Death and Pestilence, are each described with what they do and the color of their horse in the Book of Revelation.
Speed Time-lapse Videos
I outfitted War with as many different types of soldiers' gear that I could. I used uniforms, gear and weapons from different time periods and countries including Ancient Greece, Colonial UK, LA streets, Medieval Europe, WWII and Vietnam. His bike is a red modified WWI with mounted ammo box and rifle.
Famine was a really fun one to do. First off, I was trying to decide whether he'd be really fat, as if he was causing the famine or whether he'd be really emaciated. I decided to go with the latter because I wanted these guys to be the embodiment rather than the cause of what they represent. So, Famine looks like he hasn't eaten in a long time. Everything in the verses is represented here.
He has the judgement scales and his sleeve tattoo references Rev 6:6. His Converse Chuck Taylors and bike are thin and stripped down. I went with tall narrow ape hangers to elongate the bike and make it feel thinner.
Death was interesting because The Reaper has been pretty well defined by many artists and writers in the past. I went with a thick Roadking style bike to add to the weighty idea of death. The color of the bike is described as "pale," but apocryphal writings often depict and describe this color as a sickly light green, or the color of a corpse. I added the bandana because I want these riders to feel authentic and not cartoonie. I used to roll with a dude that just used a bandana over his nose and mouth when he rides.
Pestilence (aka conquest) has a white bike. Again, with the embodiment idea, Pestilence wears a modified steampunk gas mask to protect against the pollution, poison and plague. He's wearing a shearling lined Swiss Army Sniper jacket called the m1909 field coat. This is the same jacket worn by Batman's Bane and Vin Diesel in XXX. There's a lot of symbolism here, firstly, it's part of a military uniform, but it also has the symbolism of the sheep's skin, or in other words, something had to die to make that jacket.
Podcast Video and Show Notes
Good clients come from good relationships. Good relationships come from managing/meeting expectations. Expectations start in contracts.
Too often, creatives work without contracts. An early client of mine, and somewhat of a mentor, said, “You know what keeps good relationships good? Paper” I had suggested that since we knew each other, we could dispense with the formalities and didn’t need a contract.
I can't express enough how important contracts are. They are not mean, they will not make you lose good work.
Contracts clearly define the relationship between you and your client. They clear up and avoid misunderstandings and protect BOTH parties.
Recently, I had to refer to a contract with a client and they said, "Oh, cool. We'll do that then." No hassle, no fuss, no hurt feelings.
Also, a contract helps set the expectations up front BEFORE there are problems.
Payment can FEEL kind of icky to talk about (it shouldn't, you're providing value), in fact you’re providing something that they need and can’t do themselves. Value in exchange for value is how these things work.
The contract clears that up and everyone agrees before the work starts how much value to ascribe to the work.
There's no surprises with a contract. No: "Wait, you want to get paid!?” "You want attribution credit!?” "You retain the original artwork?”
Go get the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook and use their contracts. Stop whining about "bad" clients when you haven't started the relationship correctly
One more thing, if a potential client is uncomfortable signing contracts, bail immediately. Contracts are a standard business practice.
Negotiation is fine, no problem there, but if a client won't sign a contract, that is a deal breaker. Also, don’t undersell yourself or let anyone convince you that your work is significantly less valuable than your initial bid.
Should be a win/win for both sides. No problem kindly and professionally walking away from a deal. On the other hand, you should seek to add as much value as you can. Do excellent work.
Contracts should AT LEAST contain the following:
explanation of rights
I know the non-fun/art/creative/etc stuff can be intimidating or seem overwhelming, but you NEED to understand it all to protect yourself.
Look at the recent past. Some creators didn't see a dime their whole lives while others made billions off of their creativity.