Monday, February 10, 2014

Make tea (and art), not war!

Okay, the title’s a bit of a goof. That little sign sits in a place of honor in my office. I saw it in a shop on Granville Island in Vancouver, grabbed the last one on the shelf, and rushed to the register so fast I nearly flattened a little old lady on the way. But this entry is a bit about tea, and a bit about art, and not very much at all about war.

As a teenager, I became allergic to just about everything with caffeine in it—coffee, Coca-Cola, even chocolate. It all triggered horrible migraines, which (at least in the case of chocolate) is just not fair. After years of forced exposure, I developed a tolerance for chocolate, and from there branched out to Coke and tea. Coffee still kicks my butt for some reason, though, so I pretty much run on tea, and my retailer of choice is Adagio Teas. They have fantastic teas of all kinds, and they let you make your own custom blends—even crazy fandom blends. (I am particularly partial to Cara McGee’s Sherlock and Avengers collections.)

Now, because I can’t watch other people having fun with my favorite things without wanting to jump in myself, I’m preparing to try my own hand at making fannish tea blends, custom labels and all. And I’ve got a shiny new pen, and I’m working on a technique that may become the style for future Masks illustrations. So now you’re going to put up with my terrible experimental fan art.

I decided to do a small set of blends inspired by the upcoming Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier. As you may have noticed, I’m not exactly a professional artist, so I decided to do a relatively simple two-layer design that you’ll see more of later. The most difficult part of the process was probably going to be representing the faces of the characters  around whom I was designing the blend. That meant faces. I suck at faces. But I’ll try anything once … or twice … or more …

I started with this picture of Chris Evans from the Winter Soldier publicity materials:

And then I did a freehand sketch version, scribbling in the rough areas where I was going to be shading:

Then I went to town with the lightest gray brush pen they sold at the art-supply store, and got this:

Not bad, all things considered—especially since those are photos of the sketchbook, not proper scans. You’ll see the labels when I get them done, not least because I will probably be quite proud of them. And if they go well, there might be some Masks teas in the offing.

Not that I think you guys are going to rush out and buy my teas. (Also, I wouldn’t make any money if you did—all Adagio does is give me a discount on future orders if I design popular blends.) But it’s fun. And hey, tea!

Now, what do you think of the process? Would you want to see Rae and Trevor done this way? Or is it insufficiently comic-booky? I think it might do a better job of preserving the original sketches, which are often better than the inked and watercolored finished products …

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