A commission acrossed time and space. 一张穿越时空的订件。

Someone told me that she wished to hang my drawing on her new home's wall. Then she send me the photo of the repainted wall and size (luckily, no deadline). The size was 15X19 inches, it was the largest size that I had been commissioned for the last 3 years. I was so excited and got to started immediately.


As a fan of SimpHoo and CoolNoodle, my client certainly have no problem about seeing my 2 characters standing on New York street. I had a lots of fun by drawing these sketches:



These are the snapshot of the city where I lived: The street side of Soho, the studio of SimpHoo, upperWest twilight, laundry downstairs, and the iron bridge on east 125th Street. 


My client chose the last one without any hesitation. Her comment was: I can smell the spring on it!


But client is always client, she also showed her "dislike" about CoolNoodle's orange short. It wasn't about the color, she just simply didn't like the style of the short. To me, the reason I put this short on her was because I need a complementary color to POP-UP girl's blue Knicks jacket.


2nd round sketches.

So I tried another round for the combination:



This time, the client chose the 1st version with denim short. Actually I like girls wearing that too, especially the low-rise and you can actually see the lower half butts. I didn't draw that at the 1st time simply because I drew it too much. BTW, I really don't like the the high-waisted loose short!


 Further sketches, confirming the tones and color combination. For the first time I tried this "curve perspective".  进一步,确定构图,黑白灰和色彩关系的两个阶段。第一次尝试用了一个“弧形”透视来框住背景中的铁桥。

Further sketches, confirming the tones and color combination. For the first time I tried this "curve perspective".


When you have the same taste with your client, things always get easier. But I had to find a way to solve the complementary problem. I tried this: Adding a yellow traffic light on the left and choosing a more cheerful posture for CoolNoodle by raising her leg and turning her head toward the camera. And that did make the difference.


By the way, no matter how I tried, I could never reach the vibe of the sketches on the final drawing. Sketches are always better drawing than my final ones. I was quite struggled until I saw the great masters of renaissance and impressionism. They are all the same, drafts are always their best works.


I think there are 2 reasons why the sketches are always so vivid, one is when you are making a sketch, you are starting from nothing, empty; second is the mind is aware of this is a "sketch", but not a precious final work. These two mind reason make the difference. The funny things is: Top 10 most precious calligraphy works in Chinese history, were all drafts.


The 60% of the final size

Being as a slave of the "Ctrl+Z" for many years, I need an unofficial version before I screw up on the final paper. I treat this one as a preparation, and some test with my brushes and colors. I used Canson Mixed Media 11x14 inches Sketchbook. You can check the drawing video here.

由于这一次正稿的尺寸很大,常年被Ctrl+Z所奴役的我心里没底,于是便在约60%的康颂 Mixed Media 27.9x35.6cm 绘图本上先画了一遍,检验下构图和色彩搭配,还有笔和颜料的特性。绘制的过程请点击这里

Broken back table!


The final finally started! I used Canson Foundation Bristol 260gsm paper, with vellum surface.

正稿开始!使用的是康颂 Foundation系列的260g卡纸,左图是此纸裱在四开画板上的样子。

My client lives in Shanghai, so this drawing need to be rolled in a mailing tube. (Flat cardboard is also an option, but I was worried the long distance traveling will damage the cardboard)


Another case is, with this size of the art, I should draw it vertically. After an entire day laying on my desk, I felt my back was broken. So I went to the art shop and bought this easel (below).



New desk easel, and the "illustrator guidebook" on my chair to support the height.



This scene-breaker is PiDan. Rather than CoolNoodle's rising leg, he was more interested in a foam brick under the drawing board.



The drawing process

1. The process from penciling to inking. 从铅笔到勾线


2. I always color from the skin. Once the skin tone was set, I will have controls with other parts. 我习惯由肤色开始上色,这样最容易奠定整体色调。


Detail: The escape staircase, and the graffiti on the Honda Monkey. 

细节 公寓上的消防梯,和摩托上的涂鸦。

BTW, The tiny little moto that SimpHoo was driving on was Honda Monkey Z50. It was once teen Michael Jackson's riding! While I was drawing it, I use a 1/12 plastic model as the reference. Every component was based on real.....plastic model. 


 Honda Monkey model unbox, found it on amazon.jp. The illustrated manual helped a lot when I have a reverse angle against the one on the box.  本田猴子模型,购于日本亚马逊,其中的说明书为找不到反方向的细节图帮到了大忙。

Honda Monkey model unbox, found it on amazon.jp. The illustrated manual helped a lot when I have a reverse angle against the one on the box.


Behind the scene. While it get close to the end, you do need lots of different pens for those details. 


The finished drawing(right below) and the drafts.  


 The finished final drawing, before the shipping.  完成的正稿,寄出前。

The finished final drawing, before the shipping.  完成的正稿,寄出前。

I spent entire 7 days on this drawing. Plus the sketches and testing, it took me 2 weeks to finish it. And I spent hundred dollars on the supplies, package and shipping...

But how much did I earn from this commission?


The payment was $0,




plus, thirty years of friendship.



For my oldest friend, my desk mate, who supported me since I was 8,

Good luck for your new home! May our secrets keep remaining between us forever!