Friday, 8 August 2014

Femme Fatales in Progress

I've been really busy over the last few weeks working on an illustration project. You may remember last year I drew a short comic about mice. It was for Bordertown, a little journal with poetry, art and short stories that Mr Macska and some classmates had to do for assessment at uni.

Well, they had such fun doing it that they decided to do a second issue just for kicks! I thought I'd do some drawings for it, and as the journal has a neo-noir theme (and my favourite thing to draw is glamorous ladies) I decided to do a little cocktail booklet with classic cocktails, each illustrated with an archetypal femme fatale.

The femme fatales I chose were: The Dame, The Seductress,The Showgirl, The Cabaret Singer and the Dragon Lady. I wish I'd had room to add in The Gun Moll too, but I didn't have enough time or space.

Here's the inking process of The Seductress. I started with a pencil sketch and then added the lines with a fineliner. Over that I did some ink washes. I decided that the picture was a bit too pale, so I made the cushions black so that the her figure would really pop, rather than fading into the background.

I bought my first Copic markers for this project because I wanted to add a little colour to each drawing. Also a white Posca and and white fine liner for something else...

A close-up of the negligee coloured in with pink Copic markers. I love the way you can blend them, and will definitely be doing some more experimenting with these.

Here are some comparison photos of the pencil sketches and the inked drawings (still in progress). I really wanted to do a girl in a cocktail glass, so she became my Showgirl. 

For my Cabaret Singer I found some fantastic reference photos of black jazz singers from the 40s and 50s with really glamorous outfits. The hairstyle, which I adore, is taken from a photo of famous jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.

I had so much fun drawing her outfit! I found two tutorials on how to draw sequins here and here, and did a bit of each. I used my new white Posca pen and a white fine liner, and then also did some extra bits in Photoshop afterwards.

This one was going to be my dame in a detective's office, but I ended up using her for the little cover of the booklet. I'm really pleased with the way her face came out as I don't often draw in three-quarter profile (it's hard!).

This drawing is based of course on Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star who was best remembered for her stereotypical "Dragon Lady" roles. That bead curtain took so much longer to draw than I thought it would! I think this is the one that I'm most pleased with composition-wise.

Next time I'll show you the finished drawings and some photos of the launch party!


  1. Gorgeous work! I love the dame in the detective office especially, but they are all brilliant.

  2. They are all very nice works. In the "dragon lady" illustration, is the revised order of the Chinese words for a particular reason?

    1. As far as I can remember, I copied the Chinese characters off a poster from the 1930s. I don't read Chinese so if they say something odd I'm afraid I was unaware.