I’ve translated a lot of 2D to 3D. A lot. Translation is an education. You learn a good deal from the exercise. For many 2D artists the limitless possibilities of a creating worlds populated by beings not bound to the physical world, the real physical world, and how a 2D character translates to 3D isn’t a concern. And why should it be? They’re telling a story, not designing statues.
One of the first things you learn is to recognize the possible and try and find a way to make it look not possible. What will the material not do and how can you make it look as if it can?
You learn to look for the preponderance of evidence, stylistically. If an artist draws a forearm the same way in fifty frames and then changes it up in two, you go with the fifty. And most importantly, you have to teach yourself to get out of your own way.
By the time I started Frazetta’s Ghoul Queen, I’d been around that interpretive block a few times. I knew and loved Frank’s work from the very early days of Creepy and Eerie, when I was but a callow faced boy. No sweat. No worries. Easy-peasy.
Three days in, there was some sweat. Worries were mounting. Easy? No so much. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t Frank. I left the studio frustrated and discouraged. The next day, I found a bunch of things to do and successfully avoided looking at or working on the Queen. The following day I realized I’d broken the cardinal rule. I was so far in my own way I couldn’t see Frank. It was the belly. The Frazetta Belly. For three days I tried everything I could to alter her shape. Because of my own aesthetic bias I was redesigning the Queen to what pleased me, not what pleased Frank. When I embraced the belly, there was meager perspiration, virtually nary a worry and I was headed toward the path of Easier Street.
There was the issue of designing the base. Changes had to be made, in part, because if I did a literal interpretation, I’d have to address what those Ghouls were doing with each other. I mean, really. There could be no good to come of it. So, keeping true to the spirit of the piece while addressing the more practical issues, I reduced the number of her admirers to one.
Then came Moon Maid. I chose Ghoul Queen because the art was so specific. Moon Maid was defined by Frank’s mastery of brush work, vague and evocative. Having learned my lesson, I embraced the rump and hardly broke a sweat.
After Moon Maid, I was ready to tackle more Frazettas. I had my list. At the top, Swamp Demon. But the best laid plans….
A few years later, my friend and fellow Geezer, Arnie Fenner, commissioned me to do a Frazetta Barbarian. I knew the painting. Hell, everyone knows the painting. The trick was how to interpret it. I spent some time designing, trying to break it down to its essentials. He was a full figure. He was a bust. She was in. She was out. And combinations of this and that until I came up with a design I thought worked. Rather than default to my usual buffed and polished finished, I let the painting, in particular, Frank’s brush strokes, dictate how I worked the wax. We knew, going in, it would be finished as a bronze, for all intents and purposes, a monochrome. So, texture became even more important. Arnie was patience personified. It was some months when I started the clay to taking the piece to wax, to finish, molding, casting and bronzing.
I think we’re both pretty happy with the result. Now, Swamp Demon?