6-6-2011 - RoboDuk
In the 80's & 90's I did a number of notebook covers for Mead Paper Products. The Art Directors at Mead had a stable of artists they used for binder and folder covers. Each year they'd ask for a number of concepts, which were presented as pencil sketches. In 1989 (according to the date on the sketch), I presented an idea for a character called ROBODUK.
ROBODUK was only one sketch in a half dozen or so ideas presented - pretty rough, really - and lacking the environment it needed. Other concepts were chosen, so I kept the sketch with thoughts of developing it myself. The idea of a ROBOCOP type duck appealed to me.
A couple of years later I walked into an emporium of comic books and comic book art. What struck me was the graphic nature of the violence and sexuality that oozed from the walls of the shop. I thought I'd like to try to do something that would appeal to a kid in terms of cool, but wouldn't be objectionable to parents.
That's what me brought me back to the ROBODUK concept. I realized that my original sketch was too stiff. AND, since that sketch had been done, the sequel to ROBOCOP had come out, so the ROBOCOP 2 poster became the jumping off point for my parody.
Since there are some anatomical differences between duck & man, I needed to work out how those physiological differences would translate into machine, particularly in the lower torso - the hip area in particular. All the time trying to keep the mechanisms looking believable, but also keeping the figure humorous. Daffy Duck is one of my all time favorite cartoon characters and he was definitely influential in the creation of my duck.
Through the Showcase talent directory, I found Wayne Watford, the RoboCop 2 poster artist. I contacted Wayne by phone, a very nice guy who was very open to discussing technique. What I was particularly curious about was the concrete, specifically, how to create such a believable texture.
The texture looks so real, because it is an actual texture. I masked off the sky & figure with frisket, then dabbed on a mixture of modeling paste & matte medium. Then the whole wall was coated with Gesso, to give a consistent surface for paint adhesion.
By laying the board flat and spraying from the bottom toward the top, paint collected on the near side of the ridges, but skipped the other side, which heightens the effect of the texture. The side of the ridges or bumps facing the airbrush gather paint, the shadowed side, while the spray skips over the far side, creating the highlights. It gives the illusion of more texture than really exists by accentuating it.
After the wall and sky came Robo, starting with the darkest elements.
This detail of the hand also gives a good look at the wall texture. The highlights were scratched away with an X-acto knife, with the cracks brushed in using a sable watercolor brush.
Not much else to tell, really. The rest came together bit by bit. The finished piece is 30 X 40 (inches) and hangs in our rec room.
Ken Westphal is an illustrator/designer who lives in the Kansas City metro area. He is best known for his humorous illustration & cartooning. For a good number of years he worked with Brad Morgan (DDB Needham, Chicago), the creator of Chester Cheetah, on ads for Cheetos, which ran in a variety of publications and network TV.
Having freelanced since the early 80's, in 2003 Ken took a job with Kid Stuff Marketing as Senior Product Designer. During his 6 1/2 years with KSM, he designed character based toys for kids meals. Kid Stuff remains one of his clients.
Over the past decade, Ken has become more involved in creating art for the music industry, exploring another side of his creativity, tapping into his love of SciFi & fantasy.
Ken's clients include Frito-Lay, American Airlines, Logitech, Betty Crocker, Sports Illustrated & SI for Kids, Golf World, Citicorp, Southwest Airlines, Saatchi & Saatchi, Bozell Jacobs, Time Magazine & Nike, among others.