Portrait in process: Quint (Jaws)

I really love the monologue delivered by Quint about the mission to deliver the atomic bomb to Hiroshima. It’s a genuinely frightening tale about shipwrecked, desperate men of USS Indianapolis in the midst of shark infested waters in the Philippine Sea. Robert Shaw delivers the speech in really embittered, realistic way: It’s no wonder why his character hates ”the doll-eyed sharks” so ferociously. It is truly a character defining speech and written long before Quentin Tarantino became famous of writing similar story driven dialogue to his movies.

The monologue was written by screenwriter/director John Milius (Big Wednesday, Apocalypse Now!, Conan the Barbarian). It was originally 15 pages long but was reduced to about five pages by Shaw.

Above is quite lengthy introduction to my motivation to do the portrait of Quint. This is a self-initiated project so no clients or commission were involved here. The following process is similar to my previous ”Portrait in process: Han Solo”blog post. However this time drawing the portrait took about 27 hours and 45 minutes whereas drawing Han Solo took about 12 hours to complete. I want to take you through the whole process and explain various phases and difficulties I met during the process.


Picture  1: Paper; Canson 160 mg2, 490 Bleu Clair (Light Blue)

 Picture 1: Above is the finished line drawing of Quint. I have added the vertical and horizontal lines to check out if facial features are in balance. At this point I use pretty light color because it is easy to erase and leave no undesired markings. Colored pencil I used at this stage was Primerose (242). The line drawing took Me 4,5 hours to complete.

Picture 2: Preliminary light, halftone and shadow.

Picture 2: After the line work was finished, it was time to add preliminary light, halftone and shadow areas. I concentrated mainly on eyes and nose at this point. This phase took Me 2 hours.

Picture 3: Coloring all areas

Picture 3: I started to work on the mouth area at this point. I added the eyebrows and started to work on the eyes more intensively adding more color to the eye-sockets. Mustache was added to give more  form to the upper lip area. This phase took about 3,5 hours to complete.

Picture 4: Giving more shape to the eyes

Picture 4: At this point, the picture is getting really defined on the half of the eyes and forehead. I also added more color to the chin area on the right side. I used three colors this time: Primerose (424) to the light areas, Burnt Ochre (069) to the halftone areas and Burnt Sienna (069) to the shadow areas. Some Slate Grey (495) was used on sideburns. This phase was completed in 2 hours.

Picture 5:”Tightening” the drawing

Picture 5: Now the picture has real ”tightened” feel to it. Every major color area is properly worked on at this stage. Eyes and forehead are in the shadow more firmly than in the picture 4. I added some grey color to the eye balls so that they are more rounded and have the proper ”form feel” to them. The cast shadow on the right side of the nose is still somewhat hazy and it isn’t understandable e.g. you can’t read the form properly from it. My main concern was to give the eyes the right, angry feeling. The sideburns are developed as well by adding some hair texture to them. The skin is also being colored more at every aspect. This phase took 3,45 hours to complete.

Picture 6: Adding some wrinkles below the eyes

Picture 6: At first glance there seems to be no progress between pictures six and five. I started to concentrate on the nose and it’s cast shadow on the right side. To do a proper shadow, one must analyze the light and form of the object. At first I did not understand what the shapes were and it shows in the picture 5. I tried to analyze carefully the primary light coming from the left upper corner. The bottom of the nose (where nostrils are) is not in full shadow but instead in half-tone. Upper lip illuminates some light to the nose too. Quint’s cap casts shadow to the upper part of the nose and therefore it’s the most darkest area just under the right eye. Shaping of the nose and the cast shadow took 1,5 hours to finish.

Picture 7: The cap

Picture 7: After I had finished with the facial features, it was time to concentrate on the cap. Usually I try to do the clothes as simple as possible but this time I felt that Quint’s cap is really part of his presence and character. The cap looks like it’s been on him since he was born, so it was crucial to do it properly. To color the cap I used green pencils Raw Umber 50% (846) and Olive Brown (039). There’s not much details on the cap apart from few stitches here and there. I had to concentrate on the cap as a  whole because lack of details didn’t allow it otherwise.

Picture 8: The completed nose

Picture 8: In this picture you can see the cap is completely ready. I added some black color to the visor which is facing the forehead. It gave surprising amount of depth to the whole forehead area and also giving the stare more framed, nuanced intensiveness. The making of the cap took Me surprisingly long time to make approx. 5 hours.

Picture 9: The jumper in progress

Picture 9: We are now at the final phase of the portrait and I think this required more creative problem solving than any phase prior this. The jumper really has no structure at all to grab on to. It’s only full of random zig-zag pattern which translates very poorly to a drawing. I took deep breath and started from the neck and advanced from there downwards. After the neck part took some shape I was thinking to leave the rest of the jumper as light grey; Silver Grey (002). But it is too large area to leave without precise form or pattern. Also at this stage the neck area looks too much like a renaissance era neckwarmer and it draws too much attention anyway. The Jumper took about 5,5 hours to complete.

Picture 10: The fully completed portrait of Quint

Picture 10: This is the final, fully completed image with carefully adjusted colors and a little bit of framing. I also added some sharpening to give it more defined look. The portrait took almost 28 hours to complete which is really the maximum time for me to spend on a work like this.


Fire of Unknown Origin

Film poster project continues with a poster that draws title from a Blue Öyster Cult song titled ”Fire of Unknown Origin” off their 1981 LP of the same name.  This time my visual influence led me to use late great Hammer Horror star Peter Cushing and make a tribute poster for him and acknowledge his crucial input to classic horror.FoUO_collection3_AleksiHaaristo3

In the first sketch of the poster there were to be three faces: Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. The poster was also meant have a scene depicting masked secret society circled around a massive fire. However,  I soon found out that these actors had, in fact, made a film together entitled ”House of the Long Shadows” released in 1983. At this point I decided to strip the elements in the poster to minimum; only Cushing and his hand in flame. Use of black and white paint underline the simplicity of composition.


As the painting advanced nicely I found my sketch lacked proper volume and chiaroscuro (=light and dark). The sketch is fine in it’s own right but was no help for me at later stage of painting process. I took several shots of my face in dark and luckily one was exactly right for the painting. The photo reference helped me to finish the painting more quickly than without a reference.FoUO_collection3_AleksiHaaristo2 copy

Back in the day when poster artist didn’t receive reference photos in time they had to do some modeling on their own. For example: Tom Chantrell used his likeness when he was painting ”Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” standing in for Christopher Lee in the late 1960s.* Drew Struzan was his own body model in quilted jacket when he was working on ”The Thing” poster in the early 1980s.**


*Sim Branaghan: British Film posters, BFI Publishing, 2006

** Drew Struzan, David J. Schow: The Art of Drew Struzan, Titan Books, 2010